Ask the Experts: "How can
I tell if a new product is really working?"
Ever wonder if that new skin-care line you're
trying is making an impact? Whether using drugstore
products or high-end lotions and potions, do you
know if your product of choice is really effective?
We put this question to the experts and came up
with some interesting facts about finding out what
works in skin care.
First, let's dismiss some common misconceptions.
Many of us can appreciate that a pricey face cream
that does little more than feel good is a bad investment.
(Yes, investment. We're talking about your face
here.) But what about the asking price of a cheap
product that is too harsh on skin? In reality, that
may cost you much more than its feel-good-do-nothing
overpriced counterpart. Wendy Lewis, beauty guru
and author of nine beauty books including The
Beauty Battle, agrees.
"This is a very common skin-care snafu. If you
feel your skin is dry and tighter, or flaking, you
are craving hydration, or you are using too abrasive
or acidic products and your skin needs a break."
Note that red and flaky skin is not "really clean";
it's really aggravated, and as Lewis explains, "the
goal of an ideal program is cleanse, protect and
While we found differing opinions on how to judge
a product's efficacy, most of our experts agreed
that time is of the essence. The consensus is that
products should be used consistently for six weeks
to see results. For most of us, even this short-term
commitment is hard to make.
"Many women will use a product haphazardly once
in awhile, and after seeing no change, dismiss it
as not working. That is not the way to truly test
a product's effectiveness," Lewis says.
Annet King, training guru for the International
Dermal Institute, confirms that six weeks is the
standard waiting period for those looking to see
results; "You need to give your skin at least six
weeks, one epidermis, to fully adjust to new products."
Many dump their new skin-care regimen at the first
sign of a breakout, another common mistake. "Expect
some congestion to surface," King says. "This is
normal if you are using a new line. The skin will
purge under surface debris. By this time you should
really start seeing results."
King also recommends avoiding certain ingredients
that have no benefits for skin and may even do more
harm than good. What's on her list of ingredient
don'ts? Mineral oil, which can cause under-surface
congestion (read: pimples); s.d. alcohol, an extremely
drying ingredient; artificial colors and pure formaldehyde
preservatives; as well as isopropyl myristae, an
ingredient that King sums up as "very comedogenic"
(read: causes pimples).
Clearly, everyone is not as zealous about skin
care as we are. It's an occupational hazard, but
once we've taken the plunge with our product of
choice and given it time to do its thing, how then
do we know that it's improving our skin? Whatever
our goals may be, (repairing damaged skin, anti-aging,
refining skin texture), we want to know that we'll
Turns out that "see" may not be a misnomer. Steve
Dworman of Nuglow, a skin-care product company,
explains "when people are staring at themselves
every day in the mirror, they cannot see the subtle
changes taking place over time," a sentiment echoed
by almost every skin-care expert we spoke with.
Dr. Elias Michael, a board-certified dermatologist,
dermatological surgeon and founder of SOHO Dermatology
& Health, recommends tracking one's progress digitally:
"A good idea is to take photos before and after
starting use and making notes on problem areas,
i.e. lines, etc. Once you have a baseline, you can
compare your process to these images monthly."
The bottom line is that seeing is believing, however,
if you're relying on the naked eye to see changes
in overall skin health, you may be missing the point.
"We now recommend that a person take a closeup
photo of themselves before starting a new regime
and then 90-120 days later under the same circumstances,"
Dworman says. Turns out that with time, commitment
and follow-up, picture-perfect skin may just be
Need more beauty advice? Ask
the PrettyCity.com experts.