Ask A Woman: A skincare primer.
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I am moving into anti-aging and more serious skincare. (I spent well over the last year tweaking my shave routine and trying a whole bunch of products.) I am essentially playing with the idea of buying luxury/non-drugstore skincare products. Any ideas on how to save on these things? Do places like Sephora or Macy’s run sales on skincare? Should I be sticking to drugstore brands?
These are all great questions, and I’m excited to address a topic previously undiscussed here at AAW. I’m going to use this opportunity to give a skincare primer for beginners, so bear with me Rafal, since it seems like you’re already pretty well-versed on the topic.
First, for those readers who don’t even know where to start when it comes to skincare, you need to figure out what your skin is doing. Do you have oily, dry, aging, sun-damaged, wrinkled, scarred skin? A combination? The best way to find out is to seek expert advice–a dermatologist or an esthetician (someone who specializes in skin care, like a person who gives facials at a spa) or a makeup artist even. The sound you just heard was half the Dappered readership slamming the door on this post. That’s fine, see you next week.
Kanye handles an Editor’s note.
For the rest of you still with me, the reason I advise seeking out one of these people is as follows. Let’s say you frequently break out. Intuition would tell you that you have oily skin, so you might seek out drying products that would eliminate oil from your face. But many times people break out because their skin is too dry, which leads to an overproduction of oil as the skin tries to compensate. So when I was starting to pay attention to my skin in a serious way it was easiest for me to just book an appointment with an esthetician (yes, men get facials all the time, it’s not a big deal) who helped me figure out what kind of skin I have, and I’ve made informed decisions based on that information.
Once you know what your skin is up to, you are faced with the overwhelming decision of picking from literally millions of skincare products. A successful skincare regimen is largely dependent on an individual’s skin, and so an informed trial and error process is the best method for discovering your ideal regimen. One source I regularly use is Beautypedia. I featured this resource on our sister site full clutch last week, so head on over to get the full scoop, but the gist of it is that this website gives thousands of reviews of products by the site founder and her team, based on science. Yes, they read labels, check for any known toxic ingredients or irritants, try it out, then write it up. Unfortunately, the products they’re reviewing are almost entirely for women, but they’ve started to review men’s products as well. For instance: Clinique for Men; Dove MEN+CARE; Lab Series Skincare for Men; and Neutrogena for Men. But even if you don’t find your brand on their master list, you can still read up about what ingredients to look for and what ingredients to avoid–simply search for products rated “BEST” to find out what ingredients make them that way, or search for products rated “POOR” to find out what ingredients make them that way.
Which leads me to finally answering your question, Rafal (you still there?). It is a misconception that when it comes to skincare expensive always means better. Many times the same good (or bad) ingredients are in top-of-the-line department store brands as are in drugstore brands you find in the aisle across from incontinence products. So don’t rule out either. You can find great drugstore brands, but you have to read labels, and you have to give each product time to show you what it’s doing to your skin, and then you decide if it’s for you. Here’s the bad news about department store brands: retailers make a TON of money from these skincare products. They know this, of course, and so it’s been my experience that luxury brand moisturizers and cleansers and anti-aging treatments rarely, if ever, go on sale, and if they do, it’s usually a crappy product that consumers aren’t buying…because it’s a crappy product. Also, if you’re a cardholder for Macy’s or other stores, you often get great coupons in the mail–read the fine print, it usually doesn’t allow you to use the coupons on skincare products. If you find that the luxury brands are just better for your skin, you may have to commit to spending a significant amount of your discretionary income on them.
If you go this route, Sephora can be a great place to shop because they have a section with products just for men, from all different brands. They allow you to try all the products right there, and they usually will give you free sample sizes to take home and try out (be bold and ask if they don’t volunteer it). If a product doesn’t work out for you–your skin looks like an oil slick after four days of use–you can return it for a full refund. This is typically the same policy that department stores have, too (but verify this at the time of purchase to be sure). Hope this helps, Rafal.
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