When you’ve been eyeing the latest skin-care trend for weeks (or have decided your next at-home project is achieving an extra-glowy complexion), it can be tempting to scrap your whole routine and start fresh.
But is starting from scratch actually going to get you closer to your glow goals? According to board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD FAAD, it might not be the best route.
“[It’s possible to introduce multiple new products at once], but it’s not a good idea,” Dr. Nazarian says. “Even if the products are marketed as a bundle and you are instructed to use them all together as part of a preset regimen, you may still have an allergy to one of the ingredients in the products. It’s much harder to tease out what product is the problem when many are introduced at once.”
Instead, invite aspiring skin-care candidates to “audition” for a coveted spot in your cabinet. That’s right—just like you’d sample (several) ice cream flavors before deciding on a scoop, you should put new products to the test before committing.
Pro tip: Instead of spending extra money (and shelf space) on a full-sized product before you know whether it deserves a spot in the main cast, try a mini size first.
To do it, first test a small spot on your wrist or behind your ear to make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin, Dr. Nazarian says. After a few days, if the product deserves a callback, try it out on your face for a couple weeks to see how it interacts with the rest of your healthy-skin staples before officially welcoming it as a go-to.
Pro tip: Instead of spending extra money (and shelf space) on a full-sized product before you know whether it deserves a spot in the main cast, try a mini size first—especially if it’s expensive, Dr. Nazarian says.
For example, snagging mini bottles from Ulta Beauty’s lineup of must-haves will let you get to know the products before deciding to cast them as regulars. Here’s what to look for during the audition.
Scroll down for the qualities to look for that will land your new skin-care product a starring role in your routine.
Feeling squeaky clean after cleansing is the ultimate goal, right? Actually, wrong, Dr. Nazarian says. “This means too much of the natural hydration barrier has been stripped and your cleansers are too harsh.”
It only takes about one wash to tell how your skin likes a new cleanser, but the trial period for a moisturizer is a little longer, Dr. Nazarian says. Moisturizers (like Clinique Moisture Surge) should absorb well and leave skin feeling hydrated—not hot, shiny, or red. Expect to see results (either negative or positive) in about two weeks.
The biggest reason to make your new skin-care product go through an audition is to more easily identify the cause of any itchiness or irritation right away. “This may be a sign that you are allergic to one of the ingredients you’re using,” Dr. Nazarian says. And even if an allergy isn’t the culprit, you don’t want to settle for sub-optimal results, so easing into your routine is always a good idea.
Some people think a tingling sensation is the sign of a more effective product, especially when it comes to toners, but that could actually mean the solution is too harsh for your skin. When trying out a toner (like the gentle Thayers Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner, for example), Dr. Nazarian says your skin shouldn’t sting, but instead feel soothed when you apply. “Skin often will show no dramatic signs if it’s working, but [toners] will help other products work better,” she says.
Any new skin-care product (specifically exfoliators, like Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant) should leave your skin feeling nice and smooth, not red or irritated, Dr. Nazarian says. And if you’re starting to notice new whiteheads or red bumps on your face, it’s time to recast the role.
“This can often be a sign that the pH balance of your skin is off, and one or more of your products is not appropriate for your skin type,” she says.
Now that you know what qualities to look for in a new skin-care product, you can start auditioning with confidence—and don’t forget to ask for recommendations. “This is what your dermatologist is for!” Dr. Nazarian says. “If you ask the experts, you’ll be able to find better products without as much trial and error.” Consider the role landed.
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Images: Ulta Beauty + Well+Good Creative
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