As a skincare professional sometimes I forget how hard it is to be you, the consumer so I decided to do a little experiment. My goal was to go into stores and cosmetic counters to see what you experience so I can better understand your perspective and the outcome really surprised me.
First, I went into the big, what I call “Home Depot’s for women” Ulta and Sephora. And I asked the sales people what skincare they would recommend for me giving them my age (41) and that I have combination skin and am worried about aging. I got tossed around from person to person with each one suggesting a different product line hearing the claims that this or that product was my miracle cream. I was even told that a particular brand was rated #1 for home chemical peels. When I asked what was in them to make them my miracle cream the answers very vague and were things I could read on the label like “oh it has Vitamin C” or “Its very hydrating”. The esthetician in me wanted to check labels and see what ingredients were in these miracle products but I decided to just take notes to look them up when I got home. One store gave me a few samples and the other invited me back for an event they were having in a few weeks. In some cases, the reps for that particular line was in the store and their approach seemed very aggressive to me really pushing me to buy their product, but without any real information other than putting it on my hand and saying doesn’t that feel great? I watched as this approach got several other women to buy the product as they seemed so desperate for something to work. I then asked about what would be good for acne for my teenager? I don’t have a teenager with acne, but I wanted to see what they would say. The answer was alarming to me, they said use this to dry up the acne. I wanted so much to educate them and say just drying it up would cause the oil glands to go in over drive and make the issue worse. And its not a one size fits all when it comes to acne. But, I kept telling myself stay true to the experiment so I kept quiet. I left feeling very overwhelmed and confused with a headache by the time I was done.
Next, it was off to the make-up counters to ask the same questions and their focus was let them put some make up on me and all I need to do is buy 3 products. Okay, I wasn’t there for make up I was asking about skincare. But, for the experiment I went ahead and signed up for a time they had available since there was a big event in the mall and they had 8 chairs set up with an “expert” going around and talking to each one. Of course, I wanted to talk to this “expert” because maybe they had good information to give people, boy was I wrong. It was finally my turn and they cleansed my face with baby wipes to remove my make up and then their cleanser telling me how wonderful it was and then using the wipe again to take it off. I could feel a residue left on my skin but I let them continue. Then this expert came over and looked at my skin closely I kind of got excited, just for him to say hmmmm you have some redness on your skin and you look like you have very dry skin and fine lines. Okay, first of all I just about jumped out of my seat and ran away. Yes my skin was red because it had just been aggressively rubbed with baby wipes and very dry skin? I actually have large pores and an oily t-zone I would not say very dry skin at all. And yes at 41 I have fine lines, lol! He recommended the ultra aging products to reverse the clock and make me look 10 years younger. When I asked what was in the products to make me look so young he said its a special blend of ingredients made especially for aging skin. As they applied these products the overly fragranced lotions and creams overwhelmed me and it was obvious it had lots of unnatural fragrances and they were bright pink so lots of dyes as well. I then asked how much these products were as I pretended to enjoy my experience and they said “oh they are very reasonable only $180 for this anti aging cream. Wait, $180 for one cream that was highly fragranced and dyed? And they couldn’t give me any information all I got was it was a special blend of ingredients? As I sat in the chair thinking about how much this experiment was going to cost me, I saw them suggest the same product to each person that was there and telling them the same thing Oh, you have redness with very dry skin and fine lines. Now, what are the odds that all 8 of us would have the same skin issues and need the same products? I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as this expert was clearly trained to sell only these products. They did a decent make up application and I bought the 3 least expensive items as I could and was on my way. My goal was to go to every make up counter but as I was already frustrated I tried just one more. I will not mention the name of the counter, but they had a 3 step prepackaged skincare system and told me which one I would fit into based on my age and combination skin and for under $100 the system seemed reasonably priced. But, they kept saying over and over look at the free gift you can get but they won’t last long. I love free gifts don’t get me wrong but I was again not told much about the ingredients in these 3 steps or even how to use them. The sales people looked clinical with their white lab coats and they were very polished with the most perfect make up application but the information they gave was not very desirable. And to be honest the “free gift” was not very exciting.
When I got home and started researching these products I found that a lot of them didn’t have active ingredients at all and if they did have some it also had things like glycerin that doesn’t penetrate the skin only stays on top and would actually make it very difficult for any active ingredients to do its job. A few looked to be not bad with some good ingredients but it made me wonder the Ph of the product. Ph? you might be asking…. The short answer of the ph is that our skin is about 5.5 on the ph scale on average so the higher the Ph the more “buffered” it is and the less effective and the lower the ph the stronger and more effective it is. So, I decided to go to the website and make a few phone calls, when I called the customer service number they said Ph? hmmmm I never heard of that let me ask hold on. And she came back on the line not knowing the answer so I don’t know if that product is worth the money or not. So, I won’t give you the name and say go out and buy it because the only products I suggest are ones I know will give you good results. But, I did find some intriguing information on an anti aging serum I found. This was a serum that cost about $140 or so and it was made by the L’Oreal company at one of their higher end make up counters. As I researched the product I found that they had another serum with the exact ingredients sold at your local drug store for $20 just under a different name. Wow!! I can’t say I am surprised but I feel really bad for the people who spent $140 and the interesting thing is that the information was not hard to find at all. I googled the higher end product and the information was right there about 4 listing down that someone wrote a review trying to tell the world what they knew. And after verifying the ingredient list from the L’Oreal website they were right!
In closing, I will say that I did not enjoy a day in the life of your shoes and now I truly understand why buying skincare products is so confusing and why my clients question what I tell them. Its because you have been lied to and given so much crazy information its hard to know what is what anymore. I hope as you read my blogs I can help educate you to read the labels, take a few minutes to research and know what you are buying. I will continue to write about ingredients and what to look for to get the results you are looking for because there are really great products out there. And I am always happy to research your products and let you know what I know about them and make suggestions on what to buy, so please email me or send me a comment.