Appearances can be deceptive. Take 2 bottles of orange juice, they both look yummily fresh and orange, there’s even a refreshing cold look to the glass they’re resting their laurels in! Difference: One was pressed just that morning from oranges freshly picked, the other was made up from concentrate, we’re not sure where the oranges came from or how old they might ‘ave been.
Thing is, when it comes to food, it’s usually pretty easy to tell, especially the fresh stuff. We all know a good carrot has THAT CRUNCH to it, and a past its best one is well, edging towards mushy – yuck! A carrot which is ORANGER than.. an orange (?) is full of nutrients, one that is looking pasty, well it just has less.
Did you know, the EXACT same rule applies to your skincare and the skincare ingredients in the magic pot! That means one Shea body butter can be a WHOLE WORLD of different than another. It means one Vitamin C and E serum could channel some powerful goodness for your skin, while another is more like using a bog standard lotion picked at random.
HOW CAN 2 SKINCARE PRODUCTS WITH THE SAME INGREDIENT BE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT?
Shea butter is one of those awesome skin ingredients that is hunted down by many skincare savvy’s! We call it ‘Shea Butter’, but actually that luscious butter is a mix of vitamins, fatty acids and minerals. It’s just way more simples(!) to call it Shea butter than the huge list of lovelies it contains. Think of it like a restaurant menu, after you’ve spent a few drawling minutes carefully selecting the yummiest on the menu, it’s unlikely you’re going to ask the waiter for, ‘fresh and flacked salmon marinated in a sweet chilli sauce overnight and served up with a selection of our handpicked garden vegetables…’, hell no, after that drawling we are just going to get in on that ordering malarkey with a simple, ‘Salmon Vegetable salad please sir!’.
This is how 2 Shea butters can be as unique as non-identical twins! Both the same, but made up of a completely different mix of what makes Shea, Shea.
NATURAL SKINCARE INGREDIENTS ARE THE MOST DIFFERENT
That’s because they are ‘grown’ instead of being created from scratch in a laboratory. It’s like when Jack planted his beanstalk, he had no idea how fast or how tall that thing would grow! One a lot of us can relate to, is finding a wine that makes sweet love to your taste buds, only to find, next year it sucks and tastes like vinegar. That’s the power of a different growing season lovelies!
It means that one Shea butter grown with the perfect feed of water and sun, will be packed with vitamin goodies for your skin. While another, which got stuck in the shade, or was planted in a field that looked like dessert has pretty much zilch to offer.
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF AN INGREDIENT WILL WORK AND HAS LOTS OF GOODNESS FOR SKIN?
If you’re investing in your skin, you want something good ‘ey! We ain’t shelling out the £’s for a cream that ain’t gonna work it’s magical powers on us! But how can you tell if a cream has good quality ingredients? Is there a label for that? There is no 100% guaranteed way to tell that the ingredients are yummies just waiting for your skin until they can party away! BUT there are ways you can be pretty darn sure – oh yes!
RELATED: ‘Is natural better for your skin?’
1. WHAT IS THE COMPANY ALL ABOUT?
Do you know who they are? Do they have a reputation? How do they treat their customers? If the answer to all of those is, yes, YES, YES! and GREAT, AWESOMELY, VIP treatment… then likelihood is their ingredients are going to be carefully selected to make sure they always have a SET MINIMUM amount of skincare goodies in them.
See here’s the thing, you can tell a whole lot about a company from how they treat YOU. It’s like having a heart-to-heart with a good friend, if they are transparent, tell you what is what and what is not, they are promising just to be what they are, then this is the attitude they will have to selecting their ingredients AND they want to BOAST about all the lovelies in there and their awesome values!
Here we are talking the difference of a couple of £’s or $’s possibly up to £10. We aren’t talking about splashing out well over £100 pounds for crazily expensive skincare, because once you get into those kinda figures its mostly marketing you’re paying for.
Good quality and vitamin, fatty acid packed ingredients cost more. That’s because they need more love and attention to grow them up into the fine skincare ingredients we want in our skincare routines! #GimmeSummaThat. So as a general rule, its likely the good quality skincare lovelies are going to cost a few £’s more.
3. SMALL SCALE VS THE BIG GIANTS – CHOOSE A SPECIALIST
Think of Asda making skincare, they don’t have to do much to get there bottles in-front’a YOU. Like minimal effort. Make it and put it on their own shelves. They are guaranteed to sell a lot, crazy quick AND they want to sell from lots of different countries. What all that means, is they want a guaranteed source, they have different priorities than a smaller company. The GIANT company priorities will be guaranteed supply over ingredient quality, they will drive down price of their suppliers like they were poker playing geniuses and that means they are likely to get cheaper, lower quality ingredients. Take a smaller skincare company with a different ethos (way no.1!), focused on skincare, they want to build a reputation for THAT crazy skin loving cleanser that does miracles for sensitive skin (!), they want ingredients to speak for themselves and are more likely to rely on word of mouth which means their product HAS to be good otherwise they won’t get any! Simples.
4. WHERE YOU BUY IT FROM
This counts in 2 ways. First way – are you buying an ASDA own brand moisturiser who specialise in groceries OR are you buying a Garnier product that comes from L’Oreal who specialise in skin. One of those guys (the second in line) has years and years of research into skin, sure they might also be choosing some of that BIG SCALE mind-set we chatted in point 3. BUT they sure have the research available to ‘em!
The second way, is to watch out where you buy. Barginlicious can sometimes mean counterfeit OR old stock that’s ANCIENT with its nutrients MIA. OLD skincare has less actives in there, actives like to get the job done, they ain’t hanging around for no-one.
5. WATCH FOR THE DIFFERENT EXPIRY DATES
There are 2 different expiry dates used on skincare, one is that pot symbol with a number of months in it, the other will be a good old expiry date, like you see on food. That opened pot means that the skincare could be up to 3 years old before you get it, crazy ‘ey! I mean 3 YEARS, we’ve probably gone through at least 6 different FAVOURITE handbags in that time (.. at least!). So that pot symbol CAN also mean that your promised active ingredients, are ‘getting on a bit’, slowing down and might have wondered off on holiday and forgotten their way home! Looking for a product that actually has an expiry date, guarantees you extra freshness #ThatsWhatWe’reTalkingAbout.
6. DO THEY TELL YOU WHERE IT COMES FROM?
In other words do they SHOUT about their ingredients? Fairtrade grown from rich soils in Africa, or mass farmed from somewhere, they think they know where, but couldn’t swear by it. DOH. What you want to hear is the skincare equivalent of an M&S advert, [cue kinda sexy, husky, low tone voice] ‘juicy, sun-ripened cherry tomatoes, full of juice and bursting with flavour’ *cough*.
And with all that said, there’s still good old fashioned recommendations. SOMETIMES that is actually SOLID scientific and PUBLISHED PROOF that something works, sound a bit daunting? Don’t worry, you got me to bring you that! Other times, when you hear something recommended again and again, by people you trust and over years (not just a spin advertising campaign), you KNOW there’s gotta be a special somthin’ in THAT bottle.
Those are 7 sure-fire steps to help you choose SKINCARE THAT WORKS. You guys are just TOO savvy!
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who is more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She is founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.