How To Pick Out Skin Care Products That Actually Work


In today’s stimuli-driven consumer world, it’s very tempting to buy skin care products for their fancy packaging, great advertisement, convincing sales rep or big celebrity endorsement (“Jenifer Aniston uses this product, I love Jenifer Aniston!”). But, the key to picking out skin care products comes down to one key factor: what’s INSIDE the bottle – the ingredients – because that’s what will (or will not) produce results for your complexion.

With that in mind, here is a quick guide to becoming an expert in picking out skin care products.

Part  1: Educate yourself — Always buy your skin care products based on the ingredients

Do your research; it’s best to go in to buying a skin care product knowing what active ingredients are proven to address your skin issues and then look for products containing those ingredients. I often write about superstar skin care ingredients on this blog, here are some of the standouts:

Not only should your skin care products contain active ingredients that are proven to be both safe and highly effective, but they should be in high enough concentrations that the ingredient is actually effective (typically in the 3-15% range, depending on the ingredient). One easy way to determine this is ensuring that the active ingredient is near the top of the ingredient list. If it’s towards the end of the list, then it’s only a minor component of the product, and likely not in a high enough concentration to make any impact on your skin.

Know your oils. 

Most skin care treatments contain at least some oil, which serves as an emulsifier, but while some oils are completely safe, others are extremely pore clogging and can make your skin congested and break out. Here are the safe oils that will not break you out:

  • Vegetable Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Macadamia Nut Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Argon Oil
  • Neem Oil

 Know what ingredients to avoid. 

Below are eight common skin care ingredients that are either pore clogging, ineffective or flat out dangerous. Keep this list with you and avoid skin care products that contain them.


Skin care products often contain phthalates, synthetic chemicals commonly used to stabilize fragrances and make plastic more pliable. These endocrine disrupters mimic hormones and may alter genital development. Avoid products that list fragrance as an ingredient unless the label states that it’s derived from essential oils

PARABENS: methylparaben, propylparaben, isoparaben, or butylparaben

Ubiquitous in skincare, parabens are used to preserve other ingredients and extend a product’s shelf life–but these antimicrobial chemicals have hormone-disrupting effects and are linked to skin irritation and can increase your breast cancer risk


DMDM hydantoin and sodium hydroxymethylglycinate are preservatives that release formaldehyde in very small amounts and are a primary cause of contact dermatitis


A chemical carcinogen created when ingredients are processed with petroleum-derived ethylene oxide. To avoid it, skip any product with the following ingredients: myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth (or any other -eth), PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or oxynol.

PETROCHEMICALS:Petrolatum, Mineral Oil and Paraffin

Derived from crude oil, petroleum-based ingredients such as petrolatum, mineral oil, and paraffin form a barrier when applied to the skin that does not allow it to breathe and clogs pores.


Used as foaming agents, synthetic stabilizers, and to adjust the pH of cosmetics, these ammonia compounds can cause allergic reactions, eye irritation, and dryness of the hair and skin.


The most common sulfates, sodium lauryl and sodium laureth, are harsh detergents that give cleansers, soaps, and shampoos their latherability. Often derived from petroleum, sulfates are so harsh they are commonly used as garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and car wash. They are extremely pore clogging and often the cause of acne around the hair line.


Oxybenzone and octylmethoxycinnamate, the main ingredients in most sunscreens, have been shown to disrupt endocrine/hormone activity. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are safer and more effective alternatives.

 Beware of too many ingredients. 

A big red flag is a product that contains too many ingredients. Any more than 15 ingredients in a single product — especially with a lot of those being long, unpronounceable words — is a strong indicator that the product is packed with lots of fillers, synthetics and parabens and less of the active ingredients that will actually provide results for your skin.

PART 2: Learn how to avoid easy marketing traps – Skin Care Industry Secrets

Drugstore Skin Care Products

The mass-merchandised brands sold at drugstores are created to work for hundreds of thousands of users, so these lines play it safe with lower concentrations of active ingredients and a lot of added “fluff” —fillers, synthetics and parabens, which are designed to keep costs low and extend the shelf life. They may be less expensive than alternatives, but, you get what you pay for …

Department Store Skin Care Products

The products sold at department stores have one goal in mind: selling. Since these companies are in fierce competition with one another, the consumer’s satisfaction isn’t always the top priority. With that in mind, they focus on fancy packaging and marketing materials. After all, these companies know they have to catch your eye when you walk through the department store aisles. Also, these companies know that people will open and smell the products, so they use a lot of perfume additives because they know that smell sells! Fragrance is the number one cause of reactions from skin care products. In fact, many people who believe they have sensitive skin are in fact just sensitive to added fragrance.

Private Label Skin Care Products

Here’s a big secret in the skin care industry — most “professional skin care lines” are actually private label products. Private label products are generically manufactured product lines that individuals or spas can contract to sell with their name and label – often with a huge mark up. When a spa uses a private label product, they are not involved in the product formulations, ingredients or quality of the products and these products are typically no better than inexpensive drug store brands, just with fancier packaging and a higher price. We can tell a private label product from a mile away, but many consumers can’t. Here’s what to look for — if a skin care line does not tell you that they formulate and make their own products then they are likely a private label brand. Also, you can look up the lab where the product is made (typically listed on the label) to determine if it’s outsourced. The most common private label products are found in spas and by celebrities that have their own skin care lines.

We hope you enjoyed our guide — becoming an educated skin care consumer you will get more bang (and results) for your buck. Unfortunately, skin care is too often about fancy packaging and good marketing then about high quality products that actually work.

16 thoughts on “How To Pick Out Skin Care Products That Actually Work”

  1. A very educational and informative read! I have been using your products for about three months now and they are by far the best products I have ever used! When I run about of it temporary and which to something else in the meantime, I immediately notice a difference in my skin. Thanks for creating effective and natural products!

  2. Can you please suggest me how to get rid of bumps under my eyes which developed by using Vaseline on my eye lashes…I will appreciate that… Thanks

  3. Thank you for posting this is information. I follow your YouTube channel and I’ve learned a lot about skincare. My skin has cleared up and I love your mom’s products they are awesome.

  4. Hi,

    thanks for this highly informative blog. I just have one question/detail that very much confused me, namely, avoiding UREAS. You said it can cause dermatitis, why then is it used in all those “itch relief”, sensitive skin or supposedly medicinal cremes? I get neurodermatitis now and again (esp during the winter) and my doctor said it comes from not having enough urea in the skin and recommended I use a creme that contains urea. Is he incorrect?Are we talking about two different ingredients here? I am completely confused and would very much like to know if I am making it worse applying urea cremes. Thanks

  5. Brittney Ireally need your help. I am a subscriber and watch all your videos on youtube. I am struggling so bad with my skin scare latley. I have oily skin but i am 26 and starting to worry abut aging. Should I try the type 1 routine of Vasseur Beaty? I seriously need help. Nothing is working.

  6. I think this is starting to be a fraud and waste of time, too repetitive, hidden charge . Free is free…and you should specify what types of payments you take…I use prepaid MasterCard on here,( internet) BC too many of my friends have been robbed I f their hard earned money! This is my last time, if you continue to false advertise n make false promises, I will report you to anyone and everyone who will listen, including the BBB, and the fraud units of every police dept I can find you contacted me and I have wasted enough time with your false promises

  7. It’s great that you discussed knowing the active ingredients of a skincare product before purchasing it to ensure it will address skin needs. My daughter is now a teenager and has started to be interested in skincare products which will help in removing her acne. I’ll be sure to show her your article to learn more about choosing the right skincare product. I’m thinking of getting her spa bath set as a gift for her birthday.

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