Buying a new skin care product can be more stressful than buying a new car. There are a trizillion products on the market who all promise that you will wake up with a face tighter than a baby’s bum.

Well, that doesn’t happen. Ever.

Here are a few tips on how to approach this life-changing challenge without the stress.

36 Glycolic toners

1 Know your skin!

Before you start your mission foraging through the endless shelves in your favourite drugstore/department store, make sure you know your skin type and any skin condition that you would like to address. “I need a serum” is a great opportunity for the consultant to sell you yet another product, but it may not be right if you don’t ask yourself what you’d like it to do. Do you feel your skin has changed recently? Are you facing break outs outside of your normal pre-period time of the month? Do you feel your skin could do with some additional hydration? Or you just want to switch it up a little bit?

To determine your skin type you can do a simple morning test or if you’re struggling with time ask yourself these two questions:

a How does your skin feel when you wake up? (Does it feel a size too small for your face? This means you’re skin is dry)

b How does your skin looks when you come home from work? (Can you see the reflection on your forehead – combination skin, or even all over the face – This means oily skin)

2 Do your homework.

There are some basic things you should know about each product in your routine. At the very least, the list of ingredients to avoid at any cost.

This is not completely set in stone, but I do try not to use any of these on my face:

a Sulphates – Sodium Laureth Sulphate and Sodium Lauryl Sulphate – they are cleansing agents in A LOT of face cleansers. My pretty normal, but dehydrated skin is happier if I avoid these two. For oily skin, on the other hand, they may work.

b Alcohol – not all alcohols are bad. Put the product back on the shelf if you see “alcohol denat” among the top 7 ingredients. It has nothing to do there. Or on your face.

c Fragrance – I know there is nothing more indulging that rubbing your face with something that smells like cotton candy. No? Just me then..! Synthetic fragrances are very nasty little things that don’t have any benefit for your skin. They’re in products because customers like things to smell nice. They are also high on the list of “most common allergens” and are normally accompanied by bad alcohols. NO!

d Silicones – they make your skin feel smooth and nice, but they have zero benefits. It’s like putting cling film on your face. They are in a lot of products that promise to reduce fine lines.

3 Look for reviews and recommendations

This is optional as not everyone in this world takes buying a new moisturiser as a life mission. Sometimes, especially if you are going for something on the more pricey side, check reviews of the product online. Careful though, the good old internet is not always the most sincere of places:

a There are some great bloggers out there who give their honest opinions, but there are also some who would sell themselves (and their “opinion”) for a delux sample.

b Reviews that say “It’s awesome. Will definitely buy again!” are useless. If you don’t know a person’s skin type, or how they used it … it’s worthless.

c If it suits your BFF, it doesn’t mean it will suit you too. 100 people, 100 skin types. Don’t take your bestie’s recommendation, do your research and talk to the consultants about your skin.

4 At the same time, arm yourself with as much info as possible before you speak to consultants!

During my endless fascination for skincare I’ve stumbled upon all sorts of consultants and skincare “experts”. From people who I love to talk to to some smarty pants who lost their credibility 4 seconds after “‘r you alright?”. There are some true gems on shop floors, who have an extensive knowledge of their field and from whose recommendations you will truly benefit from.

There are, however, some girls (and guys) whose knowledge is limited to their brand’s training book. They will probably list you all the benefits of their products in one breath but would be clues when it comes to some of the basics. They are known for statements such as “this will shrink your pores”. NOTHING can shrink pores. It’s the same as saying that a certain body lotion will make you taller.

A good consultant will ask you a lot of questions about your skin and your current routine before recommending a perfect solution FOR YOU.

5 Don’t buy just because it smells nice

Never ever buy skincare because of its scent. A scent is the least important for two reasons:

1 If the product is scented with synthetic fragrance, you should avoid at all costs!

2 If the scent comes from botanical oils, it doesn’t last long. Even if you aren’t a fan, do it for its effect, suck it up for few minutes then enjoy your healthy looking skin.

6 Don’t buy just because it’s a best seller

Best sellers in skincare are not always a good idea. As mentioned before, your skin is probably different to your best friend’s, niece’s and your mom’ss. Don’t buy a product because everybody on the internet is raving about it. It may work for you, but do your research first.

There are some products that fit a wide range of skin types (like hyaluronic acid serums, hydrating masks …), but when it comes to basic cleanse-tone-treat products, you can do quite a bit of harm to your skin if you choose the wrong one.

7 Ask for samples

When buying brands that can dig a huge hole in your wallet, ask for samples first. The majority of brands have sachets of their products which they will happily give away.

Don’t expect miracles with just samples and don’t give up on a product if you don’t see the changes overnight as they will (almost) never happen. The point of samples is to test how you will get on with a product in terms of potential reactivity/irritation. What you can expect with samples is how they will feel. Let’s take moisturiser for example. Apply it in the morning. If you are shiny at the end of the day, it’s too rich. If it feels dry, you will have to opt for something richer. How does it feel? Does it feel heavy? Or not enough? Do you like the finish?

I think you’re ready now! Go!