For anyone on a skincare budget, it can be frustrating to think that you might be throwing money away on products that aren't providing you with the best results. Here's how to tell when that higher price point is worth it, when it's ok to swap your products for budget-friendly options, and how to get the most out of your products regardless of cost.
Before we explain the best skincare investment recommendations, it's important to point out what makes a skincare product more or less expensive than their counterparts, and why. If you are comparing two products that claim to have the same results and one happens to come from a high-end skincare line and the other comes from a generic brand in the drugstore, the first place you should be focusing is on the list of ingredients.
The number one reason a product's price should increase isn't shiny packaging or a pretty storefront—it's in the quality of the formulation. The only possible exception to this rule is a product you may have purchased from an MLM skincare brand, and their higher price point can often be the result of a different revenue structure for that company, and usually isn't any indicator of the quality of the product. It doesn't necessarily mean the products are bad, but it's important to look further into what you're purchasing. Certain brands will source ingredients from cleaner or more sustainable sources, they will hire scientists to carry out studies on effectiveness, and they will develop a formula that contains ingredients that allow for more absorption and easier application. With brands that have scientific studies to back up their effectiveness, they're typically labeled as "medical-grade" and you can rest assured they will deliver on their promises.
How do we know? Because Dr. Tomar has done all this with her own line. Dr. Tomar has her own curated line of medical grade skincare products, and you'd be right to assume that as a dermatologist she would only include the most effective ingredients in the best possible formulations for her own patients. When investing in a skincare line, Dr. Tomar leaned heavily on case studies and actual results of the ingredients in her line before deciding to create the line she would provide to her patients. Relying on the work of scientists instead of salespeople, and by testing the products out for herself, she can confidently recommend her products because they have research to back them up.
This makes a difference not only in effectiveness, but also in your experience while using the product (i.e. better smelling products that won't bead up on your skin). A less expensive product might also contain more filler ingredients that, at best, provide no benefit and at worst, have a negative impact on your skin in the form of allergies or irritation. So get to know your ingredients and what's healthy before you continue with your current products.
Cleansing your skin may be one of the most crucial steps of any skincare routine. After all, it's the primary way to remove dirt, oil and makeup from your skin. But beyond that, it is the most effective way to prepare your skin for the rest of your skincare products. It allows your skin to absorb everything you apply afterward properly, and positions the rest of your routine to be more effective. So is this a step that requires more expensive ingredients? Not necessarily. However, for some skin types it depends. The most important thing is finding the proper type of cleanser before selecting your go-to brand name. Depending on if you have dry, oily, combination or sensitive skin, you should look for ingredients that are most suitable to your skin and protect its sensitive microbiome. Sometimes more complex skin issues call for more customized solutions that may cost more, and sometimes your skin is perfectly content with basic facial cleansers that simply get the job done. Just pay close attention to how your skin feels after cleansing, and make sure you select one that isn't overly abrasive and stripping on your skin. And stay far away from sulfates and parabens when it comes to your cleanser (note that sulfates and sulfonates are not the same when checking your ingredient label—sulfonates are fine). Our personal recommendations are to stick with a salicylic acid cleanser like this if you have acne prone skin, a gentle, brightening cleanser if you have issues with dullness, or a gentle and soothing anti-aging cleanser if you have mature skin. Avoid cleansers that contain alcohol or excessive astringents. You aren't trying to strip your skin of every trace of bacteria—some bacteria are actually healthy for your skin. You just want to remove dirt and oil that doesn't belong. Make sure that the cleanser you use has a healthy balance of nourishing ingredients with its cleansing ingredients, regardless of which brand you choose.
The trick with moisturizers is they should change, both throughout the seasons each year and as you age. The purpose of a moisturizer is to restore moisture that was stripped away during cleansing and exfoliating, but it's important that this step isn't overdone or underdone. If you have mature skin, opting for a rich moisturizer will be beneficial, but if it's summertime you'd be fine with opting for a light moisturizer if it's paired with your SPF. If you have oily or sensitive skin, keep the moisturizers light like hyaluronic acid or a light SPF. Finding a hyaluronic acid-based SPF like this will probably give you the best results without leading to breakouts. But if you have dry or mature skin, make sure you pair your SPF with a moisturizer, too.
This is where it's time to invest properly to make sure you don't damage your skin. Chemical exfoliants are generally considered to be the safest and most effective type to use, and this is one product where the ingredients matter a lot. Look for chemical exfoliants that contain lactic acid if you have sensitive skin or salicylic acid for oily, acne prone skin. These ingredients are examples of alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids, which are considered the best chemical exfoliants. Just make sure you follow the directions exactly so that you don't overdo it.
Many people opt for physical exfoliants because of their gritty texture and their ability to leave your skin feeling as though it has been thoroughly scrubbed. We get how satisfying it feels to have a physical exfoliant, so if you prefer that texture then go with something gentle like this. The physical exfoliators in this product are smooth, round and small, meaning they won't tear apart your skin and they'll be able to clear out your pores properly. If you choose to physically exfoliate, be gentle and don't press on your face while using it. And exfoliate no more than 1-2 times per week. Being too aggressive with any exfoliation (both chemical and physical) can lead to inflammation and more skin issues.
This is one product in which you should NOT scrimp in any way. One of the most common ingredients you'll see in an antioxidant product is vitamin C, and it's highly unstable in topical form. And for those who don't know what it means to make a skincare product stable: stability in skincare simply means that the ingredient mixture is able to maintain its intended physical, chemical and microbiological quality, as well as functionality, consistency, and smell when stored under recommended conditions. Since vitamin C loses its stability and efficacy on its own very easily, most medical grade skincare product lines will combine it with vitamin E and ferulic acid. This addition will also boost the product's potency. Selecting a skincare product that has been formulated and lab tested for efficacy and stability is an investment, but it's more worthwhile than wasting your money on products that aren't going to function for very long once you've opened the jar.
And speaking of combining ingredients for maximum benefit, antioxidants are beneficial against UV rays, whether you wear sunscreen or not. They effectively prevent damage to your cells, and when combined with a sunscreen, they will give you the highest amount of protection you can possibly get. Even the highest SPFs will not give you 100% protection—antioxidants will fill in that gap for you. Our recommendation? Apply your vitamin C serum, allow it to absorb and dry, and then apply your SPF to seal it in.
This is one thing that everyone should have in their skincare routine. Yes, everyone. Retinols are beneficial for just about everything including acneic skin, dull skin, wrinkled skin, lax skin, hyperpigmented skin...we could go on and on. If you've never used a retinol, start slow and use it every couple days at night to see how your skin tolerates it. If your skin responds well, feel free to increase usage. If your skin feels a little sensitive, scale it back a little bit. We personally love our retinol serum the best (yes, we're biased) but if you're looking for numbers here's what we recommend. For beginners, stick with 0.01%-0.03%. If you're combatting age spots and dullness stick with 0.04%-0.1%. if you're a veteran to retinol or have particularly oily skin, 0.5% to 2% is good. Just be careful to see how your skin responds.
Need some more skincare recommendations? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Supriya Tomar today for a skincare consultation by calling our office at 561-805-9399 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.