Do Your Skincare Products Have To Be From The Same Brand?

skincare products same brand

Do all our skincare products have to be from the same brand? That’s certainly what brands want us to believe. Hey, they get all our money if we do. That’s why they are so fond of reminding us that all the products in their lines have been created to work synergistically together and, if we stray, we are just making them ineffective.

But is that really true? Well, while there are certainly cases when sticking to a brand can give good results, most of the time there is absolutely no need to do so. You may even hurt your skin (and your wallet) by being too faithful to just one brand. Yes, really. Here’s why:

Every line has a dud (or two)

Just because one product does great things for your skin, it doesn’t mean that all the others in the same line will too. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to find a line that features, for example, a serum formulated with state-of-the-art ingredients, a gentle, effective cleanser, a toner laden with irritants, and a moisturizer packaged in a jar which allows all its goodies to spoil.

And even when they are all well-formulated, one or more products may not be suitable for your skin type. A moisturizer can, for instance, be too rich for your oily skin and cause breakouts. Every line has one or more duds, and if you insist on using them, your skin won’t be happy!

Some ingredients just can’t be used together

Having said that, there is a grain of truth in the “our products are designed to work together, so mixing brands can reduce their effectiveness” theory. Some ingredients just don’t work that well together. For example, AHAs, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, can neutralize retinoids, making them ineffective. And that’s the last thing you want.

While not every product in one line may be well-formulated, they are created with ingredients that work well together. But is sticking to the same brand even in this case worth it? That depends on the line. Are all its products formulated without irritants and work well for your skin type and needs? If so, by all means, don’t stray. But such a line is very hard to find.

So, what to do?

Research and experiment. Knowledge is power. By understanding which ingredients should never be used together, and which address any concern your skin may have, you will be able to create a skincare routine that satisfies your needs and keeps your skin in top condition. Remember, your skin doesn’t care what brand you use, it just wants something that suits its needs!

Do you stick to the same brand or, like me, do you like to mix and match skincare products?

5 Unnecessary Skincare Products

unnecessary skincare products

“Cleanse, tone, and moisturize.” “Don’t forget to buy a cream for your neck as well.” “And have you tried this facial mask as well?”

Every day we are bombarded by magazine articles and ads from skincare companies encouraging us to buy all sorts of products for our skin. But while some of them are very useful, others are just gimmicks that don’t work and only make us waste money. Here are 5 totally unnecessary skincare products you don’t need to invest in:

1. Toner

Toner is one of the most used, and yet most useless, skincare products. Did you know it was invented to remove the residue soap left behind? Well, these days we don’t use soap to wash our faces anymore. Most facial cleansers don’t leave neither a residue nor any dirt behind. If yours does, then it doesn’t work that well, so change it.

If you have oily skin and use astringents to keep it under control, don’t. This type of toner is full of alcohol, which irritates and dries out skin, causing it to produce even more oil. What about toners with antioxidants and moisturizing ingredients? These ingredients definitely benefit skin, but they are already included in well-formulated moisturizers so I personally don’t see the need to buy these toners as well.

2. Neck Cream

Your neck needs some TLC too, or it will show your age sooner than your face. But you don’t need any special products for it. Your neck needs what the rest of your face needs: moisturizing ingredients, antioxidants, retinoids, AHAs, and protection from the sun. So, choose well-formulated moisturizers, sunscreens, and exfoliants for your face and use them on your neck as well.

3. Face mists

I don’t really get face mists. Sure, the refreshing sensation they provide is very pleasant in the summer, but these products are little more than water in a fancy bottle. I’d rather stick to plain old tap water. But if you really feel the need to buy a face mist, choose an inexpensive one.

4. Anti-cellulite products

How I wish these worked! But they don’t. No topical cream can get rid of cellulite. What they can do, if they contain retinol, is smooth out the surface of the skin a bit so that your cellulite looks less obvious. But it is still there. Of course, improvement is minimal. Unless the cream contains too little retinol or is packaged in a jar that makes this ingredient useless. Then, it will not work at all. So eat healthy, exercise, and forget about your cellulite. We all have it. It’s normal, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.

5. Facial Masks

I wouldn’t say facial masks are useless, but they aren’t as useful as most people think either. The moisturizing and antioxidant goodies they contain work best when left on the skin for hours, not removed after 20 minutes or so. They can be useful as a pick-me-up before a special occasion (that’s when I use them), but there’s no need to use them regularly.

What skincare products do you think are useless?

Dry Skin? Here’s What Your Moisturizer Should Contain

best ingredients moisturizer dry skin

Whether you experience it year round, or only when the temperatures drop, dry skin is very frustrating. It flakes, itches, feels uncomfortable all day long, and gets easily irritated. What it needs is a well-formulated moisturizer that can soothe it, hydrate it, and keep it in top shape.

There’s no shortage of moisturizers for dry skin on the market, but how do you know which ones are effective? To work their best there are certain ingredients they absolutely must contains. Here they are:

glycerin molecular structure

1. Humectants

Dry skin desperately needs moisture. That’s why humectants are so important. This group of ingredients, which includes glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid can attract water from the environment into the skin, helping to improve hydration. Hyaluronic acid is particularly effective because it can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water and works well both in high and low humidity conditions.

oil cleansing method

2. Occlusive emollients

To attract moisture into the skin is not enough to keep it hydrated. The moisture also needs to stay there, and not evaporate again. That’s when occlusive emollients come in. They create a protective barrier on the skin that prevents water loss.

Some people are worried they can also cause breakouts. This rarely happens to people with dry skin, but if you are one of the unlucky ones that has to deal both with dryness and breakouts, experiment until you find the right combination of occlusive emollients that works best for you.

Also, make sure your skincare products don’t contain any comedogenic ingredients that may cause trouble once trapped underneath the barrier created by occlusive emollients. Occlusive emollients include olive oil, jojoba oil, mineral oil, petrolatum, and shea butter.


3. Skin-identical ingredients

Your skin has its own natural protective barrier. It is made up of skin cells and the “glue” that holds them together. When this barrier is intact, skin looks smooth, soft, and supple.

But its glue is quite fragile, and is easily damaged by UV rays, harsh weather, overcleansing, overexfoliating, indoor heaters, etc. When this happens, skin loses moisture, and becomes dry, flaky, and itchy.

To prevent this from happening, you need to maintain and restore this glue. How? By using a moisturizer with skin-identical ingredients, ie ingredients that make up the glue. These include, to name just a few, ceramides, amino acids, lecithin, phospholipids, and fatty acids.


4. Antioxidants

UV rays can cause all kinds of damage to the skin, including wrinkles, sun spots, and disruption of the skin’s natural barrier. Antioxidants, such as Vitamins C and E, green tea, and coenzyme Q10, can prevent and reduce the damage caused by UV rays, helping skin to stay hydrated and healthy.

A lot of antioxidants also double up as anti-inflammatory agents, helping to soothe signs of dryness such as redness, itching, and pain. The more antioxidants your moisturizer contains, the better. But be sure to opt for one packaged in an opaque, air-tight bottle or tube. Antioxidants lose their effectiveness when they come in contact with light and air.

alcohol denat

What to avoid

Knowing what to look for in a moisturizer is not enough to keep your dry skin healthy, soft, and supple. You also need to know what to avoid. Alcohol and witch hazel are both very dry and irritating to the skin. Mint, peppermint, and some kinds of natural oils, particularly citrus oils, can cause irritations as well. When this ingredients are found at the top of the ingredient list, leave the moisturizer on the shelf.

best moisturizer for dry skin

Best moisturizers for dry skin

There are a lot of good moisturizers for dry skin on the market. One of my favourites is Paula’s Choice Resist Barrier Repair Moisturizer with Retinol ($29.00). In addition to preventing water loss and hydrating skin, it also helps skin fight all signs of premature ageing, including wrinkles and dark spots, and firm skin. Other good options are Dr Dennis Gross Age Erase Moisture With Mega 10 Plus ($48.00), Arbonne Calm Gentle Daily Moisturizer ($36.00), and SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5 ($75.00).

What’s your favourite moisturizer for dry skin?

How To Choose The Right Cleanser For Your Skin Type

right cleanser skin type

I feel a bit sorry for cleansers. They take grime and makeup off our faces, and prepare them for the luxurious serums and lotions we’re gonna apply next, allowing them to better penetrate into the skin. And yet, we barely pay any attention to them.

We spend hours researching what moisturizer to try next, but when it comes to cleansers, we purchase whatever is cheapest. As long as it works, who cares? But if it doesn’t, it can cause some serious havoc on our skin!

Here’s what you need to know to choose the right cleanser for your skin type:

types of cleanser

Types of cleansers

Foaming cleansers

Foaming cleansers contain cleansing agents that produce lather when rubbed in water. They remove dirt, makeup, and excess oil very well, but can also be drying. They shouldn’t be left on the skin for too long or they will strip too much sebum, aka skin’s natural moisturizer, leaving skin feeling too tight and dry. On the plus side, they don’t leave any residue behind.

Best picks: Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser, Sensitive Skin ($5.29), Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Oil-Free Foaming One-Step Cleanser ($35.00), and Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser ($6.49)

Cream cleansers

Cream cleansers, also called cleansing milks, are lather-free, thin lotions that contain a fairly high amount of emollients and humectants, ingredients that help keep skin soft and hydrated. When used in high doses, they reduce both the foaming, cleansing, and drying properties of cleansing agents. In other words, they are gentler on the skin, but may not cleanse as well. They may also leave a residue behind.

Best picks: Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Softening Cream Cleanser ($17.00) and Yes to Carrots Fragrance Free Daily Cream Facial Cleanser

Cleansing oils

Cleansing oils are oil-based cleansers that are liquid at room temperature. They’re very effective at removing dirt and makeup, including waterproof mascara and longlasting foundation, and sunscreen. They are quite gentle on the skin, but can leave a greasy residue behind.

Best picks: Nude Skincare Perfect Cleansing Oil for Face & Eyes ($36.00) and Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil ($48.00)

Cleansing Balms

Cleansing balms are oil-based cleansers that are as gentle as cleansing milks, but remove makeup, even stubborn one, and dirt more effectively. To use them, you must first pick up a small amount and then rub it between your hands until it turns into an oil. They don’t lather, remove makeup and dirt fairly well, but may leave a residue behind.

Best pick: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm

Cleansing wipes

Cleansing wipes are clothes infused with a cleansing lotion. They contain both a low amount of cleansing agents and emollients, so their abilities to cleanse skin well can be attributed more to the frictional force of rubbing than to the formula. Because of this, they can be a bit drying.

Best picks: Boots Expert Sensitive Cleansing & Toning Wipes ($4.69), Lumene Sensitive Touch Cleansing Wipes ($2.99), and MAC Wipes ($10.00)

best cleanser skin type

What’s the best cleanser for my skin type?

To choose the best cleanser for your needs, you first need to identify your skin type, and any skin problems you may have. Then, follow these guidelines:

Oily and combination skin types

Women with these skin types can use pretty much any cleanser, as long as it isn’t too harsh. It may be tempting to use a strong cleanser to get rid of all the excess oil, but that’s never a good idea. A small amount of sebum is necessary to keep skin naturally moisturized and, if you remove it all, your skin is just gonna produce more. That’s so not what you want If your skin feels too tight, dry, or squeaky clean after cleansing, opt for a gentler option.

Dry skin

Dry skin needs cleansers that are rich in humectants and emollients. Thus cream cleansers, and cleansing balms and oils are all good options to consider. They remove dirt and makeup well without drying it out. If you want to try a foaming cleanser, opt for one with the gentlest surfactants, such as cocamidopropyl betaine or sodium lauroamphoacetate.

Sensitive skin

If your skin is easily irritated, or you are affected with eczema, psoriasis, or any other skin condition, opt for the gentlest option you can find. You may have to use a bit more product to remove your makeup, but at least you won’t irritate your skin further and worsen your condition.

avoid bar soap

What to avoid

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention bar soaps. That’s because these soaps usually have an alkaline base (ie, a ph over 8) that can disrupt skin’s barrier function, leading to dryness, irritations, and infections. Ingredients to avoid in bar soaps are Sodium Cocoate and Sodium Palmate. Also watch out for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is usually used in foaming cleansers for its ability to produce a rich lather. This is the harshest surfactant used in skincare products and, when used in high doses, can be irritating and drying.

What’s your favourite cleanser?

How To Choose The Right Serum For Your Age

right serum for your age

For years, I ignored serums. I just had no idea what they were supposed to do and so saw no point in buying one. Once I did, though, I never looked back. These days, a serum is an integral part of my skincare routine, both at morning and at night.

Why? Serums, which usually come in gel or lotion forms, contain a higher concentrations of active ingredients, such as antioxidants and skin-lighters, than moisturizers. That makes them more powerful. But also more expensive.

While not a must have, serums are powerful allies in the fight against premature aging. But, with so many on the market, how can you choose the right one for your skin’s needs, especially when these keep changing with age? Here’s a quick guide to help you:

paulas choice resist ultra light super antioxidant concentrate serum

For 20s somethings

In our ’20s, skin looks great. It is well-hydrated, soft, and supple. Wrinkles and dark spots are far in the future. There’s no damage to fix. But a lot to prevent. For that, you need a serum rich in antioxidants that can fight free radicals and prevent the signs of aging.

One of my favourites, and cheapest, options is Skin Actives Vitamin C Serum ($15.50). It features Vitamins C and E, and Ferulic Acid, all powerful antioxidants on their own. But, used together, they work even better. They enhance one another’s efficacy, and can help prevent damaged caused by oxidative stress and UV rays.

If you have oily skin, you may also like Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($34.00). The lightweight formula is infused with a bunch of antioxidants, including Vitamins C and E, Quercetin, and Resveratrol. It also contains niacinamide, which can reduce water loss and keep skin hydrated. Dry skin? Try Andalou Naturals Fruit Stem Cell Revitalize Serum ($24.95). Stem cells don’t work, but the blend of antioxidants, humectants, and emollients will keep your skin soft and hydrated, and premature signs of aging at bay.

paulas choice resist intense retinol serum

For 30s somethings

It’s in your early ’30s that fine lines start to appear. If you haven’t already, it’s now time to incorporate retinoids into your skincare routine. Retinoids can reduce fines lines and wrinkles by stimulating the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen, which keep skin elastic and firm. They can also prevent new ones from forming.

But there’s a catch. Retinoids can irritate skin when you first start to use them. To avoid this, apply serums with retinoids only every other day or less, and increase frequency slowly. If your skin is very sensitive, retinoids may just not work for you. Before giving up, though, try Future Derm Time-Release Summer Retinol 0.5 ($32.50). It releases retinol over a period of several hours, rather than all at once, thus minimizing the risk of irritation.

Another favourite of mine, which is currently part of my skincare routine, is Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum ($40.00). In addition to retinol, it contains a bunch of antioxidants, including Vitamins C and E, to help prevent wrinkles, and anti-irritants to soothe skin. Retinol and antioxidants can also be found in Dr Dennis Gross Clinical Concentrate Hydration Booster ($36.00). Very hydrating, it’s more suitable for dry skin.

dr denese wrinkle rx extreme pro peptide gel

For 40s somethings

AHAs, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, are beneficial at any age, but even more so as we get older. They exfoliate skin, thus helping reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots, hydrate it, and even stimulate collagen production. All things our skin badly needs now that it is getting dryer, less firm, and uneven.

A simple AHAs serum, which contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid, plus hyaluronic acid for some much needed hydration, is Cellex-C Betaplex Line Smoother ($72.00). If, instead, you want both the benefits of glycolic acid, antioxidants, and retinol, try MD Formulations Vit-A-Plus Illuminating Serum ($65.00).

Now may also be the time to start using peptides. While there is no independent research yet showing they work well to reduce wrinkles, it certainly won’t hurt using an antioxidant rich serum that contains one or two of them. Just in case. One such serum is Dr Denese New York Wrinkle Rx Extreme Pro-Peptide Gel ($64.56). Not only it is loaded with any peptide you can think of, it also contains retinol and antioxidants that can help improve the signs of aging and stimulate collagen production.

dr dennis gross ferulic acid retinol brightening solution

For 50 and older somethings

At 50s, you should look for serums that can fight wrinkles, improve skin texture, and lighten sun spots. Proactiv & Proactiv+ Dark Spot Corrector ($22.00) does it all. The combination of hydroquinone and glycolic acid fades dark spots, while Vitamins A, C, and E help fight free radicals and stimulate collagen production.

Another excellent, but more expensive, option is Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot Plus ($78.00). It also contains hydroquinone to lighten sun and dark spots, and antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and caffeine to fight wrinkles. If hydroquinone isn’t your thing, try Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution. It contains a bunch of skin-lightwning agents, such as licorice exrract and arbutin, as well as antioxidants and retinol.

Do you use serums? Which ones are your favourites?

Does The Clarisonic Help Or Harm Skin?

clarisonic good bad skin

It’s one of the very few innovations in skincare devices. It made Ophra’s list of favourite things. And yet, many experts caution about its use. I’m talking about the Clarisonic (although, everything in this post is true for its many clones as well). What is it, and why is it so controversial?

What is Clarisonic?

Put it simply, the Clarisonic is an electric toothbrush for skin. Developed utilizing the same technology previously used to cleanse teeth, it features a soft and gentle brush that oscillates back and forth over the skin at sonic speed. According to a 2006 study (done by the makers of Clarisonic), “the net result is the inelastic comedones become loosened and detached from the infundibular wall and are then cleared from the acroinfundibulum,” which is just a fancy way of saying it can dislodge impurities in the pores. The brush can also remove dirt, makeup, and dead skin’s cells.

A cleansing or an exfoliating system?

Clarisonic is marketed as a cleansing, rather than an exfoliating, tool. That’s probably why they recommend using this device twice a day, in the morning and at night. They’re trying to make you change your cleansing habits, and replacing your usual cleanser with their brush. But while the Clarisonic can cleanse skin well, it also removes dead skin cells, which is what an exfoliant does. And exfoliating too often, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin, can do more harm than good to the skin.

Why overexfoliation is bad for skin

Exfoliation has many benefits for the skin. By removing the superficial layer of dead skin cells from its surface, you expose the newer, brighter, smoother, and even-toned skin underneath. It also makes fines lines and wrinkles appear smaller. As a result, skin looks younger and healthier. That’s not all. Exfoliation also allows skincare products to better penetrate into the skin, enhancing their efficacy. Plus, keeping skin and pores clean also helps prevent breakouts.

But those dead cells are there for a reason. They protect the red and raw skin underneath that’s not ready to come to the surface yet. If you remove too much of this protective layer, you’ll be exposing it, and that can be very painful! Even if you don’t reach raw skin, overexfoliation can disrupt the skin’s protective barrier, allowing moisture to escape from the skin, causing dryness. Or worse. When this barrier is damaged, skin is more prone to both irritations and infections.

How often should you use the Clarisonic?

The Clarisonic should be used as an exfoliating device. And not everyone can exfoliate skin manually daily. If you have pretty thick skin, you may be able to use this device twice a day without experiencing any side effects. But if your skin is normal, dry, or sensitive, then using it 2 or 3 times a week may be best. For some people, though, even that is too much. It’s all about experimenting to find out what frequency is right for you.

Problem is, this stuff is too expensive for experimentation. You don’t want to splurge on it only to discover it’s too harsh for your skin! Oh, and be careful what you use it with too. If you use it with a AHAs or BHA based exfoliant (whether during the cleansing process or afterwards), you may be getting too much exfoliation as well. Pay attention to how your skin responds and discontinue use at first sign of imitation.

Can anyone use the Clarisonic?

The brand of course says yes. Their website features several studies claiming the device is gentle and safe for use for everyone, including those affected with mild to moderate acne and rosacea. However, these studies were all commissioned by Clarisonic, and were conducted on a small group of people. Only 14, for example, took part in the rosacea study. Also, they don’t provide much information on how the Clarisonic was used or how the results were measured, making it impossible to accurately review the findings.

Experts, though, are cautious. Dr Leslie Baumann, for instance, believes that, while people with thicker skin can safely use the Clarisonic, “anyone with sensitive skin – and acne-prone skin is indeed sensitive – should actually avoid these vigorous scrubbing products, which can exacerbate inflammation. Rosacea and the tendency to experience skin allergies are further indications that you should not be using an abrasive exfoliant or a vigorous cleansing brush. Similarly, anyone with very dry skin should avoid exfoliating, which may compromise an already impaired skin barrier and worsen dryness.”

Is the Clarisonic the best way to cleanse and exfoliate skin?

Let’s say your skin is not too dry or sensitive, and can take being exfoliated regularly with the Clarisonic. Should you invest in it? The cheapest model costs $99.00, while the brush heads, which must be cleaned and replaced regularly, $25.00. That may be worth it if studies showed it worked better than AHAs, such as Glycolic Acid, or Salicylic Acid. But, as far as I know, no such study has been performed yet.

Clarisonic has, however, commissioned a study to test the cleansing ability of its device. The results showed that the Clarisonic Brush removes 6 times more makeup than manual cleansing. That’s both impressive and scary! It makes you wonder how much makeup we have trapped in our skin. Well, if you feel the urge of giving your dirty face a good scrub to remove it all, don’t. You don’t need to.

The Clarisonic Brush removes 6 times more makeup than manual cleansing indeed. But manual cleansing, according to the study, simply means removing makeup by hand with only water! Everyone who has ever used makeup knows that many products, especially longlasting and waterproof ones, are best removed with oil-based rather than water-based makeup removers. And none of us would dream to take makeup off with water alone! It’s just not that effective. Any cleanser would remove makeup better than water only. And was the Clarisonic tested against other cleansers and makeup removers? Of course not! Makes you think, doesn’t it?

The Bottom Line

This post is pretty negative, but I don’t think the Clarisonic is bad. Not for everyone anyway. Like other exfoliants, it can remove dead skin cells, revealing the brighter, younger-looking skin underneath, and enhancing the penetration of skincare products. But does it do it better than other exfoliants and cleansers on the market? We don’t know. What’s certain is that using it often, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin, can lead to dryness and irritations. If you’re not sure it’ll work for you, try a cheaper option, like Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System, which is only $30. Personally, until I see scientific studies confirming it works better than other exfoliants, I’ll stick to glycolic acid.