Monday, November 5, 2012

10 Things I've Learned from The Cosmetics Cop

Paula Begoun, also known as The Cosmetics Cop, and author of "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me", is a consumer advocate in the cosmetics and skin care industries. While I disagree with some of her reviews on makeup (she's a fan of the understated and natural, and I am too, but every once in a while, a girl needs a little color), the education I've received on skincare has been invaluable. Her website is a goldmine of information based on ingredients and the science of skincare. Beautypedia is a great website to get a membership to, so you can view all the research her team has done. She's come under fire a bit as of late, because she now has her own line, Paula's Choice (which I have not tried...yet) and she now recommends her own products alongside other effective and inexpensive products. I don't mind it, because she has every right to promote her own products, and she doesn't exclude other great products out there. She has said, her products aren't THE best, they're among the best. I think that's a good attitude to have, and frankly, it makes me trust her more.

1. Eye creams are a waste of money.

Most eye creams are just a company's moisturizer and put in a smaller jar. There is no scientifically based need to have a different moisturizer for your eye area. So save the money and the space on your vanity for a great moisturizer with sunscreen to put ALL OVER your face.

2. Jar packaging is a no-no

Speaking of jars, jar packaging is bad news for skin care products. Even if the formula is good, the bacteria on your hands, and the large amount of air that gets at the product destabilizes the antioxidants, etc, which renders it useless. Plus, it can get gross!

3. Expensive ≠ Good

For anyone who's been shelling out the big bucks, but expensive products are not necessarily the best, or even GOOD products. There is one very infamous, disgracefully expensive skin cream that is hardly better than petroleum jelly. And it comes in a jar.

4. You shouldn't "feel" your skincare doing anything

I used to love the tight feeling after washing my face with harsh astringents as a kid, or the tingly minty feeling of certain cleansers. That is no bueno. If you can feel it, I can almost guarantee it's because it's too harsh or has a skin irritating ingredient.

5. Dark circles around your eyes have lots of different causes

It can be hereditary, irritation, hyperpigmentation, or (believe it or not) allergies. Mine are partially hereditary, but are exacerbated by allergies. Taking a daily antihistamine makes them fade significantly.

6. The gentler your products are, the better.

Almost all the products I use either have the words "sensitive", "gentle" or "mild" in the title. I do have sensitive skin, but let's face it, even if you're not as prone to redness as I am, your skin is sensitive too! It's not that my skin is irritated by a specific ingredient, it's that EVERYONE is irritated by a specific ingredient and my skin just yells about it. This is especially true of fragrance and alcohol.

7. Just because the commercial says it, does NOT make it true.

We all know advertising exists to sell us products, not to educate us. The skincare industry makes all kinds of claims that are not only untrue, but also in some cases, they couldn't prove even if they wanted to. You'll also notice in recent years, the language has changed to "improves the appearance" or something similar to that. That's to save their butts when it doesn't work.

8. Sunscreen is the NUMBER ONE anti-aging product

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. Get a good one, put it on every day. Sunscreen should be in your daytime moisturizer, as well, for an added layer of protection.

9. There is a difference between chemical and physical exfoliation

When we think of exfoliation, we tend to think of scrubs with beads, clarisonic machines, and other similar methods. That's physical exfoliation and is a great thing (as long as it's not too harsh or abrasive). But there's another kind of exfoliation that's even more beneficial. BHA and AHA exfoliants are the chemical exfoliant products. BHA products (usually with salicylic acid) are great for cleaning out pores and for people with oily skin (I use one, especially on my nose and cheek area, where I'm prone to get blackheads. EW.) And AHA products are good for folks with dry, flaky skin or skin problems like brown sun damage spots or Keratosis Pilaris, which I have, and trying an AHA product is on my to-do list.

10. Last but not least, the components of a good skincare routine, and everything I use.

Cleanser - I currently use Cetaphil. It's a standard gentle cleanser, and although I hate the texture, if I lather it up well before applying to myself, it's less weird. I also want to try Cerave, which is a similar sort of deal.

Toner - One of the only effective ones on the market without alcohol is Clinique's Mild Clarifying Lotion. I love it, it's a shimmery green liquid that I apply all over my face with a cotton pad.
BHA Exfoliant - The one I use is a mouthful - Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control 3-In-1 Hydrating Acne Treatment. But it does wonders for keeping blackheads at bay and a little goes a super long way.
Moisturizer with sunscreen - I use the Olay's Complete All Day Moisturizer with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 15 for Sensitive Skin, but I think I'm going to try Yes to Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15 once I'm done with this bottle.

Moisturizer without sunscreen - In the evening I use Boots Expert Sensitive Hydrating Serum, which is not really a serum, but I love it anyway. I love the pump packaging and it feels really luxurious on the skin without a big price tag. I wish they would make a version of this with sunscreen!!
Check out Paula's 100 best beauty buys, it's a great place to start researching products. :)

Have you tried any of Paula's Top 100?

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