When it comes to skincare products, I’m very picky. Before purchasing something, I always check the ingredient list to discover if it contains actives that are really proven to do what the brand claims. If it contains antioxidants, retinoids, or sunscreen agents, it also must come in an air-tight, opaque packaging that won’t let the formula go bad after a few weeks.
And, of course, the price must be right. It’s true that we often get what we pay for, and we shouldn’t skimp on something that could really benefit our skin, but these days you can easily find well-formulated products at all price points, so there really is no reason to pay more than you should.
So, what brands fit these criteria for me? Let’s see:
A lot of women don’t pay much attention to Olay because of its old lady image, but the brand has some of the best formulas you can find at the drugstore. All their sunscreens offer both UVA and UVB protection; most of their moisturizers and serums (I especially love the Total Effects and Regenerist lines) contains antioxidants and peptides proven to help prevent premature aging (although a few also contains Isopropyl Palmitate, which never fails to break me out; well, I guess no line is perfect); and their exfoliants contains AHAs that remove skin cells gently without irritating skin. They also have a nice selection of fragrance-free products for those with sensitive skin. The packaging may not be particularly pretty, but it is functional. The antioxidants, especially, are usually packaged in tubes, rather than jars, to prevent them from oxidizing (ie losing their effectiveness) when exposed to light and air. If you’re on a budget, definitely check out Olay. In my opinion, it’s the best skincare brand you can find at the drugstore.
2. Paula’s Choice
Founded by Paula Begoun, who has written more than 20 books about cosmetics, Paula’s Choice has products for pretty much every skin concern you can think of, such as acne, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles. All their products are formulated with ingredient that have been proven by science to work, and are fragrance-free. Her moisturizers and serums are chock-full of antioxidants and retinoids in concentrations high enough to be effective; their toners, too, contain antioxidants so they don’t just help remove the last traces of makeup, but also help to keep skin looking its best; and her exfoliants are formulated with AHAs and BHAs in different concentrations so everyone can find one that is gentle enough for them. And they are all packaged in containers that prevent the formulas from going bad. I just wish they were easily available in stores. Shipping costs to Italy are so high!
3. Future Derm
Founded by one of my favourite beauty bloggers, Nicki Zevola, Future Derm too has a scientific approach to skincare. Like Paula, Nicki uses only ingredients that have been proven by research to do what they claim, but she also pays attention to delivery systems and packaging to make sure they work at their best. Her retinol serum, for instance, has a delivery system that releases retinol slowly into the skin, thus preventing it from irritating it (something that usually happens the first few times you use it). It’s true that it contains Alcohol, which is potentially drying and irritating, but there should be enough goodies in the formula to counteract any side effects. Although the brand, being quite new, has only released a bunch of products so far, they are all well-formulated. I can’t wait to find out what else they have in store for us! Hopefully, they will be available in physical stores one day too. Italian customs make buying everything from the US a complete nightmare!
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I never check out other brands. My HG cleanser is from Liz Earle, and my favourite sunscreen is from Sunumbra. But, usually, whenever I look for a new product, I turn to the brands mentioned above first.
What are your favourite skincare brands?