Wednesday, 17 April 2013

How To Be A Discerning Cosmetics Consumer

Since I started, I've learnt a lot about skincare, make up and other cosmetic products. I've learnt to differentiate between true and false claims, and look past some of the hype of a product. Far too many people take a product's claims at face value and tout the product based on its own advertisements. I'm sure readers would be sorely disappointed if they bought the product based on such reviews and it did not live up to their expectations.

Today I'd like to share with you 7 tips on how to be a discerning cosmetics consumer. I use these pointers every time I'm thinking of buying a product so that I can make better choices without breaking the bank and buying every hyped-up product in the market.

1. Avoid impulse buys

I've been there. You've had a hard day/week/month and want some retail therapy. You walk into a store and grab the first shiny, attractive looking product that is being touted as the newest thing in the market. Before you ring it up, stop and ask yourself: do you really need this, or is it an impulse buy? Sure it's fine to indulge in some retail therapy, but if you're the sort who usually regrets your buys, you have to rethink your spending habits. Just take that few minutes to consider whether it's something you need or want. You'll have a lot less unused and underused products that way, and your wallet will thank you too.

2. Read the ingredients list

Yet another often overlooked thing. It's far too easy to accept the products' claims (brightening! tightening! anti-ageing!) at face-value and stare at the attractive packaging while convincing yourself to buy it based on those claims. It's much more tedious to read through the ingredients list on the back, and try to figure out what that annoyingly long word means.

Don't just glance at the list - note the positions of the ingredients on the list. The higher an ingredient is on the list, the higher its concentration in the product's formula, vice versa. If the product is advertised as having a specific "miracle" ingredient, and it's really low down in the list, you can bet that that ingredient probably doesn't do much for you.

3. Are you allergic to anything?

This is related to no. 2. If you're aware of any allergies to any specific chemicals/ingredients, you should read the ingredients list to make sure you're not going to end up with an allergic reaction to the product. If you don't have any known allergies, but use a product and realise it's irritating your skin (e.g. redness, itchiness) you're probably allergic/sensitive to something in it. Test out which product you're sensitive to (you can do so on the underside of your wrist) and stop using it - don't be afraid of wasting your money. Remember, your skin deserves to be treated well, and while money can buy many things, it can't undo all of the damage done to your skin by some ill-suited product.

4. That said, certain ingredients are skin irritants. Avoid!

The biggest culprits are Sodium Laureth Sulphate and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, otherwise known as SLES and SLS. They create the soft, cushy foam that leaves your skin feeling squeaky-clean because it's stripped of surface oils (that's not a good thing, by the way). They are also inexpensive, which explains their presence in most soaps and shampoos.

Solution? Find soaps and shampoos without SLS/SLES, if you find that they dry your skin out too much. They're fine to use on the body, but avoid using them on your face. Since using non-SLS hair care products, I noticed that my hair has become less oily (SLS strips hair oils, causing more oil production in reaction to this) and healthier.

5. Expensive products may not necessarily be better than cheaper products

This is a myth that I love to debunk. The price of the product is not always related to its quality and effectiveness. Drugstore brands with good formulations can be better for your skin than high-end skin care brands with skin-irritating ingredients or formulations that are less ideal. Do your research before breaking the bank on expensive products. This brings me to no. 6...

6. Research, research, research.

This is again linked to no. 3 and 4. It's important to know what goes into the things you're putting on your skin, whether it's make up or skincare products. The internet provides many differing opinions on ingredients, and it's hard to separate fact from fiction, so you'll need to use your discretion on the matter. Be mindful of ingredients that are likely to irritate your skin, such as sulphates, and keep an open-mind on others. Read up others' opinions and form your own.

One website that I find especially useful for researching information on ingredients is the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics database. You can pretty much find every ingredient and its potential benefits/hazards over, so  you can use it frequently to evaluate your products!

7. Review your skincare/make up regimes

Once in a while (maybe once a month), review the products you're using in your regime. Are they effective in delivering their claims? Are they cost-effective? Would you repurchase these products? Evaluating your regimes allows you to make better judgments in future. It also becomes a habit, and you'll benefit from this reflective habit, which could prevent impulse buying.

Interestingly, this blog is a way for me to evaluate my skincare regime. I look back on older posts and realise how much I've learnt since then, and in sharing information with my readers, also force myself to do more research and become better-informed. I'm always open to readers sharing more information with me too!

Just a little note...

I could make a never-ending list on this How-To, but I'll leave you with these 7 tips for now because I use them regularly as a sort of checklist in deciding whether or not to buy certain products. Allow yourself the rare indulgence, but don't flit from product to product, hoping for a miracle. Good habits will go a much longer way in looking good and feeling good too!

Rachel loves sharing about the beautiful things in life from different perspectives. She writes on beauty and lifestyle in Cherchez Beauté , and does more abstract stuff on Antelune . When she's not writing, she's playing with her dog Holly, doodling and reading fiction. You can follow her on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .