Skincare 101

How to evaluate a skincare product

These are the steps you should take to evaluate a skincare product:

1. No matter if you are going to buy the product yourself or it is a PR always make sure to read the description and the ingredients list of the product in advance. Do not try out the products that are not suitable for your skin!

2. Test the product to see if the claims made by the brand are actually true and if yes, to what extent?

3. Report the results, AKA the review.

I will explain each step in details and to make things easier I’ve decided to use the African Botanics’s latest launch the “Cafe Noir body exfoliant” as an example. Let’s get started!

Just before you buy the product. Go to the brand’s website and check out the description. The description usually includes:

a. Claims that the company is making about the benefits of the product
b. Highlighting the key or novel ingredients/technology or explaining the clinical studies conducted by the brand.
c. The detailed ingredients list

This is the description provided for the “Cafe Noir body exfoliant”:

1. Check if the claims are supported by the ingredients

Most of the time brands put the main application of the product in the title which in this case is “body exfoliant”. Let’s check out claims and the ingredients together.

Claims are:

+ Instantly exfoliates
So it should contain physical and/or chemical exfoliating ingredients and the results should be a more polished, smoother skin.  

In this case the product contains AHAs such as Lactic Acid (obtained from Bilberry Extract), Glycolic acid (obtained from Sugar Cane Extract), Citric Acid (obtained from Orange and Lemon fruit extract),  Malic and Tartaric acid (from (Sugar Maple Extract) and Beta-Hydroxy acids (Salicylic Acid ) which are chemical exfoliants, super-fine Black Coffee beans and crushed Marula nut shell powder which are physical exfoliants to stimulate the epidermis by boosting and enhancing cellular renewal while toning and improving blood circulation, Volcanic Pumice which has very fine granules that can exfoliate deeper and eliminate clogged pores.

+ Detoxifies
It should contain clay (ingredients such as Bentonite), or mud to draw out the impurities from the top layers of the skin. It also should contain some antioxidants like vitamin C to neutralize free radicals that can be damaging and contribute to skin aging. The results should be clean, tighter-looking pores. 

In this case Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate is the ingredient that detoxifies, it can bind with metal ions or metallic compounds, preventing them from adhering to a surface. The product also contains sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate which is a versatile and biodegradable cleansing agent with high cleaning power and nice foaming properties; it is not recommended to be used on the face as it is potentially drying and can aggravate skin but it is fine to be used on your body. 

+ Firms
It should contain restoring ingredients (Retinoids, Peptides, Niacinamide), antioxidants, AHAs and BHA to make the skin feel and appear firmer and tighter. 

This product is potent with AHAs and geranium oil is an astringent and naturally firms up the skin. Vitamin C, Niacinamide and Caffeine firm and tighten the skin as well as optimize healthy collagen. A few studies have shown that topical application of caffeine is useful for cellulite treatments, caffeine has a dehydrating effect on fat cells, triggering the evacuation of sodium and water and the intake of potassium.  As a result, skin on the thighs and buttocks usually appears more even (and less like cottage cheese), though independent research is lacking.

+ Soothes
It should contain soothing ingredients such as Green tea, Niacinamide, Aloe, Allantoin. In this case Rose Geranium, Bergamot, Marula and Kalahari Melon Seed Oil are the ingredients with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. It also contains Niacinamide! 

This exfoliant is also potent with skin-nourishing Distinct African Oil Complex rich in omegas 3, 6, 7 & 9 to help leaving the skin supple, sensual and soft.

2. Now you have to incorporate the product into your routine. Preferably introduce one new product at a time so you can monitor the progress easily. In addition, you should always give the product some time to see some results. In this case you can see the smoothing effect right away but the scrub needs to be used regularly for some time so you can evaluate the brightening and firming effect. At least try a product for a month before you write a review though I personally prefer 3 months or until the bottle is empty! 

3. The last step is to explain your experience with the product.
Pros, cons, texture, scent, if it caused any irritation or breakouts, how it applies? does it glide or tug? does it contain allergens? And unless you are a dermatologist or you are monitoring the progress of your skin by taking close-up photos or using professional devices, try not to use sentences with absolute certainty in your reviews, specially when you are talking about anti-aging effects! Be authentic, be fair, and always mention your skin type! And yes! It takes hours and so much effort to prepare reviews!

“I have a very dry body skin (dry patches on my knees and thighs, textured bumpy skin on my elbows and butt). I have been using this body exfoliant every other day in the shower for the last 4 weeks, it is moisturizing, smells incredible (like coffee), not irritating and makes my skin smooth and glowy, since I live in a dry climate and it’s winter I still have to apply moisturizer after exfoliating. Need more time to evaluate the firming effect.”

**Finding out if a product is worth the money is not that easy! In high quality products the cost is not just about the ingredients! the cost of formulation, research, clinical studies, incorporating new expensive technologies, airless packaging and advertisement these all should be considered! I’m doing some research to see if I can get an estimate though the info is difficult to find!

** The ingredients are listed in the order of highest to lowest concentration on the list and usually the top 5 have the highest concentrations; however an ingredient doesn’t need to be listed in the top five to have a positive impact on your skin!

**One more thing… it doesn’t matter if the photos are gorgeous and you have like 20k followers, this still is NOT a review:

“How gorgeous is this oil? guys this shit is fab, I’m obsessed! you gotta check them out! XoXo”

There should be a difference between a review written by a skincare blogger/influencer and the one by a random person!

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