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Confessions of a beauty insider: The best and worst products for your skin

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

Skincare has become a huge market: consumers in the U.S. spent $17 billion on skincare, and popular Korean skincare, or K-beauty, is expected to hit $7.2 billion in sales by 2020, according to marketing agency Mintel. Globally, $134.5 billion was spent on skin care in 2018, according to Statista.

Celebrities and beauty influencers have also flooded social media with popular trends. Alana Mitchell, a skincare expert and the founder of her own skincare line, has been working in the beauty business her entire life and says the growing popularity of skincare has definitely been influenced by social media.

“Social media has been a huge part of the skincare world—who has the best and greatest? We’re all feeding off of each other and embracing new trends,” she says.

However, Mitchell says consumers can often get swept up in the marketing of popular products, and fall victim to misleading advertising.

“It really gets my skin boiling because I think about women who are on a budget and they don’t know that they’re buying something that doesn’t have benefits for the skin,” she says.

Mitchell says the average woman spends $8 a day on skincare – over a year, that’s around $2,700, according to Skinstore. So it’s crucial to know what you’re buying and whether or not it’s actually helping the health of your skin, Mitchell says.

“You do need to look at the ingredient list: the first five ingredients make up about 20% of the formulation,” Mitchell explains.

Typically, water is listed as a top ingredient. Then, look for other beneficial ingredients like Vitamin C, antioxidants, retinols, and hyaluronic acid, Mitchell says.

“Those are all long-term ingredients that you can use to get results,” Mitchell says.

If you’re intimidated by prices, Mitchell says there are plenty of cheaper options available at the drugstore. She recommends spending less on facial cleansers, moisturiser and SPF products. Plan to spend a little more on concentrated beauty products like serums and eye creams.

“Those products are going to have the potent ingredients that you're going to see results with,” she says.

Less is more when it comes to applying skin care products

And once you purchase, you can make your products last if you use the proper amount.

“A lot of people do overuse their skincare products—less is more,” Mitchell says. She recommends using a nickel-size amount for moisturizer, and a pea-sized amount for eye cream.

“If you're buying better quality products, those little quantities are going to go a long way, so it works out for your budget,” Mitchell says.

If you’re tempted to skip the store and try DIY, Mitchell says proceed with caution.

“For DIY skincare, I kind of shriek when people use ingredients that sound like they could work, like lemons,” she says. “But lemons have a property that causes your skin to be more light-sensitive which can actually cause pigmentation issues.”

Instead, Mitchell says DIY options like avocado oil, olive oil, or oatmeal, could work on sensitive skin.

While Mitchell works in skincare and markets her own line of products, she also remembers that the idea of perfect skin is not realistic.

“There’s a lot of pressure to have great skin, but to have the idealism that ‘I’m going to be perfect’ is not realistic or healthy for anyone,” she says. “I think when you focus on being healthy, that’s when you’re going to look your most beautiful.”

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