Hype Or Hero? Separating What Works From What Shirks When It Comes To Skin Care
So many products. So many ingredients. So many claims. It can all be a little overwhelming. Fortunately, armed with a bit of insight, you can be a savvy skin care shopper. Here’s the inside scoop on choosing the best products and making sure they work for you.
Formulation Is Key
When you read a label, keep in mind that the ingredient list goes from the highest concentration to the lowest. There’s also a difference between active and inactive ingredients. The FDA defines an active ingredient as any component of a product that has an effect on treatment. These are the heroes, the ingredients that fulfill a product’s promise. Inactives are things like fragrance, waxes, glycerin, coloring agents, petroleum, basically the stabilizers and fillers. So the best formulations will have all the active ingredients at the top of the list.
Beware The Pretty Package
Some products come in elaborate packages designed to look like rare jewels or some kind of glistening gift from the sea. That’s lovely, but may indicate a product that is more hype than help. It may also mean you’re paying a premium for that specialty exterior, rather than what’s in it. Many of the most efficacious ingredients can be difficult to stabilize and require specialized packaging that reduces exposure to air and light. That’s why you’ll often see dark bottle with rubber stopper style lids. These may be less exciting than a bottle that looks like it was stolen from Neptune’s private vault, but it means the product inside is protected from light.
You’ll often see a percentage of the active ingredient on a label. The higher percentage means a more aggressive product. It’s best to start with a lower percentage and work up to the higher percentage. You skin can become acclimated to a product, at which point, it may seem that it’s suddenly not working for you. That’s a sign that it’s time to bump up to the higher percentage. Conversely, if your skin shows irritation from a high percentage product, it means you may need to bump down to something a little less aggressive. Vivant’s product percentages are tiered so you can find your skin’s comfort zone and progress as needed.
Is Expensive Better?
There is a wide range of prices for skin care products. High quality ingredients and the research that goes into developing products are costly. A cheap product probably means it doesn’t have the highest quality ingredients, or it may have them, but in amounts too small to really make a difference. A bargain product may also mean little time or research went into the formulation. And of course, that ornate package will add to the cost, but not the efficacy. Look for a reputable brand, solid formulation and simple packaging.
Don’t Count On Samples
Getting samples of skin care can be fun, but they are really only good for telling you whether you like the texture, fragrance, weight and other physical properties of a product. Treatments for anti-aging, acne or hyperpigmentation require time and consistency for real results. A sample will run out long before the product has had a chance to really show you what it can do.
Listen To Your Skin
The best way to judge whether your products fall into the hype or hero category is simply to check in with your skin. Your skin will tell you whether your products are working or not. Products that contain vitamin A retinoids, for example, will cause a slight bit of redness and micro-flaking as exfoliation occurs at the beginning of use. This means it's working. Whatever the product purpose—anti-aging, anti-acne, skin brightening—you should see correlating changes in your skin. But it doesn’t happen overnight. It can take six to eight weeks for results to become visible. Be on the lookout for smaller pores, brighter tone, fewer blemishes, more elasticity, more radiance. Your skin doesn’t lie. If you’re not seeing results, ditch the zeroes and find your heroes.