It may be a First World problem to be overwhelmed by too many beauty brands—and certainly not an issue any of us experienced even five years ago. But today we are faced with shelves filled with enticing looking serums, cleansers, and companies with no clue where to begin discovering which one is right for us.

How do we narrow down the choices, spot the fakes, and sift through the hype?

In this post, five experienced estheticians—read: skincare pros—who are also formulators of their own successful brands answer: what is one important question to ask before buying into a skincare line? Their answers will surprise you.

Julie Clark, Province Apothecary

What kind of skin do they have? Because that will give you a good idea of what kind of products they make.”

Province Apothecary founder gives the insider scoop on THE BIG QUESTIONS to ask before buying into a beauty brand

Before I buy a product I try to find out more about the creator or brand. What kind of skin do they have because that will give you a good idea of what kind of products they make. Do they have perfect skin? No issues, sensitivities, acne etc. If you have great, normal skin I bet their line will work well for you if you have ‘normal’ skin.

If you have any skin issues I suggest looking for a line that has products for sensitive skin and specific skin issues.

Also I like to find out the background of the creator + products—are things made in a lab? Made by hand? If so, what kind of training do they have? Aromatherapist, herbalist, hobbyist?

As an aromatherapist, I always look at the essential oil blends of a brand and then ingredients. I want to know whether or not they are using the right oils for the skin.

As an esthetician, I look at ingredients.

I try to educate my clients with ingredient information:

If they have breakouts, pimples, blackheads, acne, I suggest they avoid using coconut oil, witch hazel, walnut or apricot shell exfoliators (everyone should avoid these—too harsh on the skin) and anything too drying or astringent on their skin.

Eczema/Rosacea—avoid essential oils in your products and use balms to protect the sensitive skin.

Avoid soaps or foaming products on the face and neck.

I see so much hyper pigmentation and sun spots. Avoid using products during the day that contain citrus essential oils—exception: bergamot Fcf (Bergaptene free bergamot) because it’s not photo toxic.

Jordan Pacitti, Jordan Samuel Skin

“1. What is my skin type? 2. Do I really need this product?”

 

Jordan Samuel (shown here: etOILe, Hydrate, Plie) is an esthetician-made line

The consumer should ask two questions of themselves. 1. What is my skin type? 2. Do I really need this product?

1. Knowing your skin type is of utmost importance as you’ll be finding the right fit for whatever product you choose. So many people go out on a limb and spend money on products that work for someone else, when in reality your skin could either: A. Be completely different than the person recommending the product or B. Just not get on the same. There is no one size fits all with ANY brand. If you haven’t been to a professional esthetician, that should be your first step. Many offer free consultations where you will find out your exact skin type. Make sure it is in a treatment room under a magnifying lamp not on a department store floor. This will be the most important step in getting the most out of your skin care choices.

2. I say to ask ‘Do I really need this?’ Because I find that people are doing too much to their skin. Obviously with more product comes more choices, and people are either confused or doing too much. Over-cleansing, over-exfoliating, over-lubricating. The skin isn’t performing to its optimal condition. It is just getting along with band aids covering the situation. So really make sure you NEED the product in your line up before you take the plunge.

Vered Back, Vered Organic Botanicals

Why are you buying this product? Because of the expensive packaging? Because of the following? Because of image? Or because you really care about the quality, pureness of the ingredients, and the story behind the maker?”

  vered herbal balancing oil cleanser

I don’t think that there is a key question, I think that the consumer should do their research about the company, the founder, their background, what did they study, how long they are in business (very important). Then you know who is copying who. Questions, questions, questions!!!

Call the founder ask them questions. See their depth of knowledge. As you know I had two people with no knowledge or experience at all copied all my marketing names, formulas, but they will never know the right ratio or combinations of the oils, herbs, and essential oils. So from the outside it can look the same, but it’s really really different. So that is why it’s super important to do the research before—also for bloggers not just consumers.

There are so many other things that makes the good, real, honest caring founders. Most of my work is actually helping people over the phone with their diet, supplements, herbs, how to clean the body first, and not just use clean products—because that is just half of the job to good skin. So I’m sure those amateurs would not be able to help you.

One more thing I was thinking about is that it really comes down to integrity: of the store owner, of the founder/creator/and the consumer. Why is someone buying this product? Because of the expensive packaging? Because of their [impressive] following? Because of image? Or because this person really cares about the quality, pureness of the ingredients, and the story behind the maker? Even store owners—usually it’s online stores. If they just want to order products and they are not interested in training about them, that tells me a lot about the integrity of that store.

Leah Klasovsky, Leahlani Skincare

1) What was their education and hands on training and what is their background in formulation and skincare?

2) How long have they truly been in business?”

 

If you are buying into a skincare line, I think it is very important to do the research in getting to know the actual formulator a little more. Especially now when there are more and more indie brands popping up. With skincare, there are so many contraindications.

My hands have touched hundreds and hundreds of faces in the past ten years and each face told a story, each skin type different and unique. My inbox is full of emails from people who are looking for guidance and my expertise in advising which products would be best suited for their skin type.

While I may not have their precious face in front of me on my table, I do feel confident in my suggestions based on my background—and some people do provide me with a photo if they have specific questions and this is always helpful. I get asked questions all the time, and I always welcome them. And know that it is O.K to ask questions as well.

Questions I would specifically ask are:

1) What was their education and hands on training and what is their background in formulation and skincare?

2) How long have they truly been in business? This is important because proper product development is essential, it takes a substantial amount of time to develop a product before releasing it to the public. There can be beautiful packaging and clever marketing and even a story that may sound very authentic, but the importance lies in the actual product itself and the knowledge and expertise that was involved in its formulation.

I honestly cannot tell you how many times in my practice a client would come to me with a skin concern that occurred because they either tried a DIY gone wrong or they were recommended a product addressing a specific skin concern by someone who wasn’t really qualified and the end result was completely counterproductive.

There are some amazing formulators with strong backgrounds in the industry in and outside of the green beauty community. My mother went to Esthetician school in her early 50s because she wanted to feel confident in answering peoples questions in regards to Leahlani Skincare. Then, when she decided to become a professional soaper, she took additional courses in cosmetic chemistry to make sure her sea salt soap was perfectly formulated. Can we say bless?

I cannot tell you how much I loved my education and how much I truly enjoy connecting with people, I could talk skin for hours.. and who knows? Maybe one day I will bring my ultimate dream into fruition and open my own school 🙂

Anne de Mamiel, De Mamiel Skincare

Is this real and does it have what I need?”

De Mamiel founder gives the insider scoop on THE BIG QUESTIONS to ask before buying into a beauty brand

That’s a difficult one to narrow down, when you are speaking to a big researcher, but I think it’s about making sure you are getting what you are paying for—that there is integrity and authenticity in the brand and what they promise matches what they deliver in the bottle.  So it’s not all bells and whistles!

So I think: is this real and does it have what I need?

It’s important to look past the marketing speak and really examine what is in the bottle to see if there is evidence of what it is professing. What are the ingredients at the top of the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) and what else is on the INCI? Are these safe?

 

The bottom line: don’t trust marketing hype. Do your research. Get to know what ingredients and textures do well on your skin, then find the skincare companies that you align with for their experience in formulating, their ingredients, integrity, and performance—not their promises.