Finding the right product for your skin can be boiled down to one word: ingredients.
So, you've got the product in your hand. The packaging is lovely and the name is catchy, but the truly important part is what's inside.
So, let's talk about those ingredients. I believe that the key question here is: What's necessary?
In my opinion, the only ingredients needed are those that are critical to the benefit of the user and the product itself. This includes active ingredients (the elements that make the product work), and those that are needed to make the product behave correctly to ensure its efficacy and shelf life. Sometimes, those particular ingredients are what we call "preservatives."
Being a holistic, integrative practitioner, I like to use products that contain natural preservatives. Some preservatives, i.e. parabens (like ethylparaben and methylparaben) have been a buzz word for some time and their health safety is questionable. Personally, I prefer product that does not contain synthetic ingredients like parabens, petroleum based chemicals, "fragrance" or dyes. There are natural and/or organic alternatives for all of these additives: for example, the use of essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.
So, find the list of ingredients on the product label. Is it three inches long in tiny type? Does it contain words that you might have trouble pronouncing? Odds are, those are chemical additives. So, how do you know what's what?
You can take notes and do some research or, alternatively, you can enlist the aid of a dedicated skin care professional (an aesthetician) who can help you decipher the list and make recommendations based upon your skin type. In my practice, I research and test all new products before I use them on or sell them to others. (Yes, this is what I call fun!)
This is one of the benefits of working with the help of a skin care professional that you trust. You can rely on this person to do the footwork for you.
Now, here's an interesting tidbit: Some of us choose to use natural or organic products. That's great! However, here's the difficulty: Sometimes we think that just by virtue of a product being located at the health food store makes it a good and healthy product. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There have been times that I've discovered inappropriate ingredients in such products. It's not that the ingredient isn't healthy -- it's that it might not be beneficial for the skin type. For example: witch hazel, which can be drying, in products for dry skin. So, it's no wonder that the product wouldn't work correctly, but what happens when people self treat is that they will then oftentimes blame the resulting problem and failure on their own skin. This is another area where consulting someone who can offer suggestions based upon your particular complexion helps.
In summation: ingredients are vitally important to what's healthy and effective for your skincare and should be suited to your individual needs.
Stay tuned for Part V, which will help you find your skincare match!