From “anti-ageing” to “topical regeneration“, buying facial beauty products can be confusing for even the shrewdest shopper could break out in a nervous rash. Not that it stops us. It’s a giant industry reliant on shoppers desperate for the next big thing to brighten and tighten.
“It helps to remember there is no Holy Grail product in skincare,” says Melbourne-based skincare expert Christine Class, aka The French Facialist. “If a claim seems exaggerated, then it probably is – so always follow your intuition when you’re shopping.”
Here’s all you need to know to buy skincare products with confidence:
1. Know your skin type
Before hitting the beauty counter, find out your skin type – combination, oily, normal, or dry – this will help you settle on the type of products you’re looking for. “You don’t have to get bogged down in the scientific aspects of diagnosing your skin – you just have to know a little,” Christine says.
To work out if you’re prone to oiliness or dryness, wash your face, let it dry naturally and see how it feels 10 minutes later. If it’s screaming out for moisture, you’re dry.
If you have a light shine, you’re oily. If it’s neither thirsty nor shiny, you’re normal. If you have patches of dryness combined with oiliness or some normal areas, your combination. Having that basic understanding of your skin type makes buying skincare products clearer.
2. Keep your skincare ritual simple
Christine’s skincare ritual is only a short 3 minutes, here what she does:
- Cleanse face, neck, and your upper chest area (60 seconds)
- Apply eye gel or cream to the eye contour area (30 seconds)
- Apply face cream and sunscreen to the face, neck, and upper chest area (90 seconds)
3. Develop trust
Whether you prefer pharmacy products, department store brands or salon-only supplies, Christine says it’s important to be able to trust the person advising you on buying skincare. “You need to see someone who specialises in treating skin every day,” she explains.
Ask your friends if they’ve had a good experience buying skincare and get the details. Or go shopping together and get your friend to introduce you to their beauty expert – chances are you’ll both receive excellent service.
Another tip is to visit the salon or counter of a brand you’ve liked in the past and strike up a conversation with the staff working there.
“You might prefer talking with an older woman because much younger women have very different skincare concerns,” Christine suggests.
When you find someone who you have a rapport with, find out how they care for their own skin and what works best for them. “They don’t necessarily have to be trained as a facialist, as long as they have a passion for skincare and use these products for themselves,” Christine advises.
4. A little q&a
Any time you’re considering a new skincare purchase, ask plenty of questions – including how and when to use each product and whether you really need it.
“Ask about the ingredients and test the knowledge of the person you’re talking to,” Christine explains. “If they look at you blankly then maybe they haven’t had the right training, so you’d be better off going elsewhere instead.”
Likewise, you want a skincare consultant who asks you the right questions too. Be open to answering queries about your complexion concerns and what you’re currently using, as well as describing your general health and lifestyle. “You cannot separate your skin from your body and your life,” Christine says.
Finally, if you’d like to try a new skincare product without committing to a purchase, ask for a sample – they’re not always available but there’s no harm in asking!
“I’m always very willing to give samples, especially when someone has reactive, sensitive skin,” Christine says. “In department stores and pharmacies it’s perfectly fine to ask for samples as well.”
5. Check the ingredients
Beauty companies spend big on packaging but Christine suggests looking past the pretty metallic lettering or smoked-glass bottle to the list of ingredients every time. “You must read the label,” she insists. “The first ingredient is usually water because it makes up the biggest component of the cream.
“After water you’ll usually find ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerine, coconut oil, and shea butter that are conditioning to the skin,” Christine says. “The last ingredients are likely to be preservatives or essential oils.”
Educate yourself about the various skincare ingredients so you’ll know what to look for and get a feel for those kindest to your skin.
6. Resist sales tactics
If you’re shopping for a new moisturiser but the skincare consultant wants to sell you a cleanser, toner, and eye cream as well, it can be tricky knowing what to do. Especially so if they’ve spent a lot of time with you, letting you test each product. Happily, this is one occasion when the customer is always right.
“Don’t be intimidated,” Christine says. “If someone is pushing you towards products you are not ready to buy, you can just walk away.”
It may also help to remind yourself that many skincare professionals prefer to mix-and-match products from a range of brands and price points to create the ideal routine. “That’s the way I get my results,” Christine says.
7. Christine's secrets to beautiful skin
Here are three tips from Christine for a gentle and nurturing French skin and self-care routine:
- Create a ritual: “Pampering your skin twice a day is about self-care and self-love,” Christine says. “You are caring for yourself.”
- Be gentle: Always use suitable products and never sluice with piping hot water. “No stripping the skin’s natural barrier, no inflammation and no trauma,” she says.
- Be consistent: “You don’t need to spend hours on your skin to get noticeable results, but sticking to a daily routine is the key to helping keep your skin healthy,” Christine explains.
How long do products take to work?
“Your skin renews itself every 28 days (later with age) so any new product you use will need at least a month to show its real effect on your skin,” Christine says. “But if you have a major skin concern, such as adult acne, it can take six months to a year, although you will see a gradual improvement along the way.”
This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.