Finding and buying the right skincare products can be a daunting task. I mean, there are thousands and thousands of skincare brands to choose from. Even within your favourite brand, there’s a wide variety of products. All claiming to do this for you, improve your skin this way, make you glow like the sun. All the usual. To make shopping for skincare a lot simpler and economical, there are certain things you should always have in mind. These steps should be your guide.
This is a comprehensive but easy checklist on the steps you should follow when buying a new product. Let’s get to it.
Step 1: Don’t Rush
As with anything that has to do with spending money, you want to make sure you’re in the right state to do it. Buying a skincare product is not an exception. Pick a period when you have ample time to spare and not emotionally aggravated.
Don’t buy a product in a hurry
Don’t buy a product when you’re excited
Don’t buy a product when you’re angry or sad
Don’t buy a product when you’re stressed out.
Take your time and do proper research before you invest in anything.
Step 2: Know Your Skin Type
I know this sounds easy enough. Like duh… of course you should know your skin type. When most people come face to face with the line of products on the beauty aisle or on a device screen, it’s a lot harder to commit to skin type.
Knowing your skin type should be the foundation for all thing’s skincare. Your skin type helps you figure out what your skin might be more accommodating of. It also helps you know what ingredients to draw the line with. And most importantly, it gives you a better idea of your skin challenges.
For instance, going by facts, someone with oily skin has no business with coconut oil or cocoa butter on their face. You should have little (or no) business with comedogenic substances or oil-based moisturizers.
The opposite is the case for the dry skin type. In this same sense, someone with sensitive skin shouldn’t be using astringents or going wild with the DIYs. Micellar water and mild formulas should be your best friend.
If you’re dealing with acne, physical exfoliants might not be the best choice.
If you’re still uncertain about your skin type, stop the shopping process right now and take this quiz.
Step 3: Be Aware of Your Skin’s Concerns
This step involves two things…
- Know what your skin struggles with the most
- Know your allergies
It’s the easiest step, and what most people take as step one. They be like ‘Oh, I have pimples and visible pores, I need something for it’ and then off to the stores. That pimple is your skin concern, very true. But sometimes, it goes deeper than just the surface pimple.
Look at it this way.
Instead of, ‘I have pimples’ think ‘I produce too much sebum’ or ‘I need a more effective cleanser’ or ‘I need something to control hormonal imbalance’. The difference between ‘I have pimples’ and ‘I need a better cleanser’, is the latter has been able to pinpoint what’s causing his/her breakouts. Improper cleansing.
Or again, instead of ‘My skin is always burning’ think ‘I need gentler products’ or ‘I have to cross X and Y from my routine’. Knowing your allergies.
These might all sound synonymous, but figuring out your skin’s concern should to an extent go beyond the obvious. Yes, everyone can see you have acne, but why? In most cases, it’s hormones or too much sebum. From there you now have a more direct means of approach.
Let’s say you have dull skin, it could be that you’re not hydrating your skin enough or certain ingredients are lacking.
Sometimes, it could actually just be face value, but still, it helps to try to figure things out. Do a bit of research, I’m here to help with that.
So now we know our skin type and it’s helped us to know our skin’s concerns, let’s get to the next step.
Step 4: Know Your Ingredients
This is another crucial step you can not skip. At this step, you figure out the right ingredients that can actually treat your skin’s concerns and works with your skin type.
I see many people just buy products because ‘Oh Esther said this cleared her spots’ or ‘Ahn ahn! you never try this one? It removed Funke’s pimples o’
There’s nothing wrong with going by here say or recommendations, absolutely nothing. But making a purchase solely on it? That’s a no!
We have to always remember, hard as it might be, that all skin is different. Almost as different as our fingerprints.
A simple explanation of this step is a cross-match puzzle. Match your skin concerns to the ideal ingredients.
I’ve created a brief list to help you with that here.
And of course for you to completely ace this step, make a conscious effort to check your ingredient labels. I’ve made things a thousand times easier for you in this post.
Step 5: Mix and Match
When it comes to ingredients, you want to make sure they’re active. That star ingredient you want to benefit from should be the top 3/5 on the ingredient list. Don’t settle for less or you’re wasting good money.
The list of ingredients that could help goes on but you do not have to buy/use everything at once to see results, I don’t even advise that. Some ingredients don’t mix well together.
Niacinamide and Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is not usually advised, same with retinol and AHAs. Ascorbic acid and AHA are a match in heaven, the same goes for niacinamide and retinol.
Pick one or two active ingredients that your skin type can accommodate and go from there.
You could use ascorbic acid during the day (with sunscreen) and retinol at night. In fact, it’s best If you only use Retinol at night. Or you could alternate products every other week.
The easiest way to manoeuvre this step (and step 4) is to always read the labels and have your phone when shopping or a knowledgeable friend.
Step 6: NOW You Can Look at Brands
Many people shop by brands and although I can’t say this is a bad thing because I do it too, you can’t neglect the basics and base an entire purchase on just a brand name.
What do I mean?
‘XY have this good facial wash, I’ll buy that that one’ or ‘Ahn ZK just dropped this glow oil for pimples, let me buy it’
If you haven’t done step 1 through 4, you shouldn’t be buying it just yet.
When you’ve gone through the previous steps, you can then search the range from trusted and reliable brands to see which best suits what you need.
Although popular brands have more backing in terms of research, reviews and recommendations, it’s not always the best option. Smaller brands CAN do better. This is the part you have to do the good ole trial and error. Sometimes we just can’t escape it.
Step 7: Know when to invest (AKA splurge)
If you’re trying to cut costs or be economical, there really is no point buying a ₦12,000 Facial wash. Biko why? Cleansers are important and all, but they get less face time compared to a serum. So instead take that 12k and buy a serum.
If you want to invest good money in something your skin will benefit from, invest in a serum/treatment of sort; invest in sunscreen; body oils and moisturizers. Don’t splurge on a face wash unless your account doesn’t mind at all.
Pure retinol, hyaluronic acid, rose essential oil, gold additives, argan oil, caviar, saffron, niacinamide, etc. are a few ingredients you might find in more expensive products. Despite this, keep in mind that expensive doesn’t equate effective.
Expensive doesn’t equate Effective
In essence what I’m saying is, the lesser the face time, the less you should spend. If you must invest in anything, make it a serum or two. The good thing is, a great serum doesn’t need too much product to work. This makes it last for months.
The lesser the face time, the less you spend
Step 8: Read reviews
This is something I always do when I feel I’ve found the right product, it’s not really making my decision for me but rather telling me what I should expect. Although it can make me change my mind if I see a lot of bad reviews.
This step is you gathering other people’s experience with that product, I always check the bad reviews first. Try to avoid reading sponsored reviews as much as you can.
How I read reviews
Let’s use when I wanted to buy something with benzoyl peroxide.
This is a really powerful ingredient and most people recommend 2.5%. If your skin is strong or used to this ingredient, you could use up to 10%.
Now I’m checking reviews of one containing 10%
I check the bad reviews and I see a lot of, ‘this product burned my skin, not good’ or ‘I had a massive reaction, not buying again’. I literally feel like screaming ‘WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?!’
Pay little attention to feedbacks like this in this scenario, but please do if you have sensitive skin. Or feedbacks that hint at inconsistency and impatience.
PAY attention to constructive reviews, good or bad. If you see someone really breakdown the pros and cons; how it helps; setbacks encountered; all that jazz, you’ll want to pay attention.
Another important thing is to make reliable review sites your best friend! Don’t just go by the store’s review (if it’s online), go further. It’s your skin after all.
Personal favourites (review sites):
Amazon (a store yes, but has pretty solid reviews)
Skincareaddict (I had to add myself biko🤧)
Try to gather enough user opinions before buying a skincare product.
Step 9: Shine Your Eye (Know Where to Buy)
For real, shine your eye! There are a lot of fakes and knockoffs, especially if it’s popular. And you don’t want to be buying any of those products. Make sure you’re shopping at reputable stores and only there. Don’t compromise your wellbeing for anything.
Where to Shop
If it’s a Nigerian brand or something like that, try to buy from the official store or a direct distributor.
Step 10: Be patient
Be patient with your skin and the products you end up buying. It takes from 6 months to see visible changes. Unless you’re using a very strong formula, then it could be a little less.
As long as you remember to put your skin type first; shop by ingredient and give your skin time, you’ll see beautiful payback in no time, so don’t fret.