Skincare Aisle Guide - How to pick the best skin care products

To say that buying skin care is difficult would be an understatement.  I’ve often found myself needing a new moisturizer, dragging feet into the skin care aisles, trying to decipher all the bottles and potions, becoming confused, and walking away with a new lipstick and no moisturizer.  The whole process of skin care purchasing is overwhelming and ranks up there with going to the dentist or working on a holiday, or any other “grr” moment you can think of.

For the past few year, I decided to learn more about skincare routines and skincare do’s and don’ts. From MakeupAlley reviews to actually researching completed studies, I wanted to become a more informed consumer.  This skin care info-graphic has been in the draft stage for a while and it’s now ready to share.  And because I’m an attorney where graphs and flowcharts reign supreme, I thought to may as well put my “analytical skills” to work (not to worry, lovely, pretty photos will resume after this post).

Now, let me walk you through using this skin care guide and how-to:

Step 1: Skin concern - In my research, I’ve found that “universal” products do not tend to actually work.  Skin care items that have targeted ingredients are more effective than the “do-all” items.  For example, I’d rather pick a moisturizer that combats dry skin and wrinkles because the ingredients will be formulated and concentrated to target those skin concerns (if a moisturizer combats redness, impurities, pores, anti-aging, and dry skin then you should be skeptical). For Step 1, pick one or up to two concerns you’d like to address.

Step 2: Stage in Routine - Here it is - the five steps in a skin care routine and the order in which to apply products (I needed it written down because I always forget).  To continue with our example above, know exactly what step in the routine you are trying to find a product for.  Are you looking for a treatment such as a serum or are you looking for a moisturizer? Skin care products are formulated based on a specific routine and their effectiveness depends on this routine.

Step 3: Personalize - This is an essential step with three major variables that will help narrow down your search. Consider price - if you have two products that fit step 1 and 2, pick the product that matches your budget.  Consider skin sensitivity - many products will state if formulated for sensitive skin (also watch for language on the packet that informs how strong the product will be).  Lastly, consider if you’ll be using for the day time or night time - for example, a day time moisturizer should have SPF and a night time exfoliant could be left on the skin overnight.

Step 4: Dos and Don’ts - The skin care market has a million and one products available - so narrowing down your best choice for you is the secret to finding the best skin care routine.  If you’ve gotten to Step 4, now is the time to make the final decision and walk to that register and walk out with a product. Consider the dos and don’ts above - if a product has fragrance and other doesn’t, pick the product without fragrance (sometimes listed as perfume) because fragrance is a known skin irritant.  If packaging differs, opt for the sealed, closed container product because ingredients are more likely to be stable and thus more effective.

Skin care is unique based on each individual but there is a universal code and method for picking the best skin care products.  Print this skin care aisle guide or pull it up on your phone next time you go shopping and the whole process will hopefully be much easier!

Do you have any other skin care process advice or tips or tricks when purchasing products? I’m still working on this chart and would love to update it in the future - let me know in the comments!

Stay Pretty, Miranda M.

  • Pretty Squared
  • Pretty Squared

    skincare buying used to be so intimidating when I started out, but now that I’m more informed I know what’s best for my skin. psshh you’re a beauty blogger I bet you know what to get! hope this helps as well :)

  • Pretty Squared

    Oh this is such a great post for dummies like me! 😛 Its really difficult to buy skincare if your are just starting out or are less experienced with the jargon!

    TheConscienceFund | Bloglovin’

  • Pretty Squared

    I discovered Paula’s Choice a while back and I’m obsessed, their skincare reviews are awesome. More than half of my routine is using their products (that’s why I linked a few of my favorites in the post). I wish more skincare companies would be “better” about their products, I know the purpose is good but sometimes products are such a miss. Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll be sure to add it to the DOs list!

  • Pretty Squared

    thank you so much for your kind words, Lys! that’s how I started getting into skincare too, researching everyone’s reviews and forums. I agree about the staff, they don’t know your skin best and they may have a reason to sell a particular product so it’s really only up to you to make the best decision.

    Amen to stop buying random products! I used to do that so much because the shelves would be full of stuff I thought I needed, my routine is the simplest now but it’s also doing really good things to my skin. Glad the guide is helpful! :)

  • Pretty Squared

    Paula’s Choice has a great resource, Beautypedia that has reviews on just about everything out there. They look for products containing known irritants, clinically proven active ingredients and their concentration. Whenever I’m looking for a new product these days I go to the category I’m interested in and find the “Best” rated items. It takes the burden of research out of the equation.

  • Pretty Squared

    Everything about this blog post is perfect! I hope lots of people will find this helpful because you explained it so well.

    I usually research on the internet for a while before I go to the pharmacy/counter to ask more advice about the products I’m interested in, because to be honest I don’t always trust the staff 100%. The internet is such a great help to learn more about products and their ingredients and to help you decide which would be the best option for your skin. At least for me it’s made a huge difference :)