Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Really, Truly Assessing Your Skincare Routine March 22, 2012

Do you really need all the skincare and make-up products you own?  In the spirit of spring cleaning, since spring is really starting to bloom, take some time to think about your daily beauty routine needs and products.

Now before you think that I am going to ask you to chuck out the majority of your skincare and make-up products let me explain that while I aspire to live a life uncomplicated by material things I am, nevertheless, a hoarder.  A few years ago when I noticed that The Gap was selling skirts almost identical to ones I used to wear in high school and had donated to charity eons ago I decided hang on to all my clothes indefinitely instead of purging my closet, as I should, on a yearly basis.  I never throw out the boxes from skincare and make-up products until I am done using the product.  I keep books and magazines, especially food magazines, instead of recycling or passing them along to the next reader.  So what I am referring to here is really a reassessment of your skincare and make-up routine instead of a true “out with old, in with the new”.

The idea for this post came from reading two different blogs.  One is a blog by a fellow esthetician who is a successful spa owner and has her own line of skincare products – Renee Rouleau.  The other blog is a favorite of mine called Scatterbraintures which follows the very personal beauty explorations and musings of its writer Rae who lives in the Philippines.  Recently both of these bloggers posted about reassessing your skincare products and that got me thinking about the same subject.  The idea behind each post is the same – do you really need all the skincare and make-up products that you own?

Rae from Scatterbraintures took all her skincare and beauty products and stuck them in a big bag calling her experiment The De-Stashing Party.  The idea behind this is simple – you only remove the products you really truly intend on using from the bag and after a week you reevaluate your products by seeing what you took out of the bag and what you didn’t.  Rae explains that she got the idea from The Minimalists.  I believe this is definitely an idea worth exploring.  If I were ever to do this I would do it with my make-up since I really hold on to make-up for way too long, hoarding both colors and products that I really don’t need.  You can follow Rae’s de-stashing experiment through the posts in her blog.  I applaud her for making the effort to declutter her life.

Renee Rouleau’s ideas for assessing your skincare products are of a different vein but extremely helpful as well.  I like her ideas so much I decided just to republish them here instead of paraphrasing them:

Step #1: Pull out ALL of your skin care products and set them on a table. For some, this could be over 30 products, as people tend to hold on to products for a long time, whether they are using them or not. Pull out body care products while you’re at it.

Step #2: Toss what is old. Look at the products and think back to when you purchased them. Has it been over two years? Two years is generally how long products are safe and effective to use. If you can’t remember when you purchased it, chances are it’s been over two years and they may no longer be effective. At the very least, look at the packaging. If the label is peeling or wearing off, that may be an indication that the product is old. Take these products and toss them. They are no longer suitable for you or anyone else. (Tip: For your next skin care product purchase, write the purchase date with a marker on the bottom of the jar or bottle so you’ll always know.)

Step #3:Take the sniff test and look test. With the products that are left, open each one and smell them. Does it smell okay? Even if you know or think you have purchased the product within two years, some products may not have strong preservative systems and therefore may have altered over time. If it smells strange or doesn’t smell right, toss. Then look at the product. Does it look okay? If the product ingredients are separating or it just doesn’t look right, toss.

Step #4: Assess each product for skin compatibility. With the remainder of the products leftover, determine if each product is a good fit for your skin. Do you like the way it feels on your skin? Does it make your skin feel GOOD? Anything that feels irritating, leaves your skin feeling tight or dry, causes unnecessary redness, or your instincts tell you that something isn’t feeling right, toss or donate. Your skin will always tell you when something is a fit – or not – if you just listen closely. And remember, feeling tight after washing does not indicate clean, it’s a sign of dehydration.

Step #5: Check your ingredients. Even if you determine your products are compatible with your skin, certain ingredients when used may not give your skin the best results over time. Look at the ingredient list on each product and avoid these ingredients:

· Mineral Oil & Petrolatum (pore-clogging and suffocating to the skin)
· SD Alcohol 40 and Denatured Alcohol (the “bad” alcohols commonly found in toners. They are extremely drying)
· Isopropyl Myristate & Isopropyl Palmitate (can cause blackheads)
· Synthetic dyes (can be a skin irritant)
· Synthetic fragrances in our skin care products (the #1 cause of allergic reactions to products. Avoid products containing the word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the ingredient listing)
· Known sensitizers (ingredients that can cause irritation)
· Heavy oils (will suffocate the skin and leave it feeling greasy)
· Sodium or Ammonium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate (extremely drying and irritating to the skin)
· Apricot kernels, or seed/shell powders (naturally made particles found in facial scrubs can scratch and irritate the skin causing bacteria to spread)

If you determine you have products that contain these ingredients, you may want to toss or donate.

Step #6:Be realistic about what you will and will not use. Okay, so now your collection of products should have narrowed significantly. Read over the directions for usage and then start using them. You have spent a lot of money on these products so put them to good use to get beautiful and healthy skin!

If you do want to donate your gently used or unopened skincare products and make-up Rouleau suggests contacting your local women’s shelter to see if they would accept the donation.  I think this is a great idea.

So pick your project:  are you going to put all your products in a bag like Rae or evaluate them one by one as suggested by Renee?  Either way I think going over your skincare and beauty products is a great way to start off the spring season.

Image – painting by Robert Ryman from 1961 found on www.sfmoma.org

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6 Responses to “Really, Truly Assessing Your Skincare Routine”

  1. I tend to hold on to things too long as well so this post makes great sense. I do, however, disagree with Renee Rouleau’s point #5 on mineral oil. Here’s another blog, Lab Muffin, by a PhD student who wrote a great post on the subject. http://labmuffin.blogspot.com/2012/03/is-mineral-oil-dangerous-part-2.html

    What do you think?

    • Thanks for your comment. I debated leaving in the list of ingredients from Renee Rouleau since I don’t completely agree that all are terrible for your skin. I should have written that in my post. I think addressing the issue of mineral oil in skincare products is a great topic for a future post so look out for that. Personally from what I have read the backlash over mineral oil is over blown.

  2. Rae Says:

    Thanks for sharing my story Hanah. I hope it helps people wanting to de-stash skin care stuff.

  3. I actually look forward to all your posts!


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