In my experience, searching for skincare products is like swimming in an ocean looking for pearls. We spend hours pacing the aisles of pharmacies and beauty stores or clicking between the fifty Chrome tabs we have open. We silently pray for a review that sounds like we wrote it, or for someone to say “buy this” with authority, instead of “well, it depends.” Of course, we rarely find that assurance —and we buy products anyway. In many cases, they don’t work, but the chance that they could is what keeps us on the hunt.
One day, you might get lucky (like you-won-a-golden-ticket lucky) and purchase products that, within a few weeks, actually seem to make a difference. Your blemishes dissipate, your skin becomes dewy, and those lines you were upset about have started to vacate the premises. It’s a rare win for the good guys. Those painstaking hours feel worth it.
So ... now what? You never really thought about what would happen once you reached skin nirvana because you never really thought you would get here. But now that you have — is that the end of your struggles? Should you commit to those products for life, promising never to leave them? Or is this just one of many battles—a fleeting moment in a journey that’s destined to repeat itself?
Here’s the 411 on sticking with your skincare versus keeping your options open.
If you truly feel like these products are the ones, then yes, you should keep them around. Finding products that agree with your skin can be laborious, and the fewer times you can embark on that quest, the better. Seriously, how much money have you wasted on new items — thinking they held the answers to your issues — only to go back to products you already had? I’m guilty, you’re guilty, we’re all guilty.
Many experts would argue that if your products are addressing your skin concerns (skin discoloration, age lines, dull complexion, etc.), then don’t fight a good thing. As long as your routine includes necessary staples — a cleanser and moisturizer, at least, in the morning, and a cleanser, treatment or serum, and moisturizer or oil at night — then you should be good to keep using them...
... that is, until they no longer work or until you run into new issues that your current arsenal can’t address. For example, you’re less likely to buy products aimed at preserving youth during adolescence and the years that follow (even though some argue we should, in the name of prevention).
But as you age, what you want from your skincare products might change. You could come to the same conclusion that we all inevitably do — that we should’ve been wearing sunscreen for years — and seek out a foundation or moisturizer with SPF. Maybe you’re just now dealing with adult acne. Whatever the woe, you want products that make your skin feel its best, whether or not they’re the ones you’ve pledged allegiance to. But hey, if you found miraculous products that whisk all your worries away, all the power to you. Keep using them.
Like I said, if whatever products you’re using aren’t working, or stop working, that’s a valid reason to put yourself out there again. Our skin’s needs will vary throughout our lives, and it’s crucial to tailor your skincare regimen to satisfy those needs. Another more pressing reason for changing it up, though, is that depending on where you live and the time of year, you could be giving your skin help it doesn’t need.
Take summer, for example. Unless your skin is always dry regardless of the outdoor conditions, you probably don't need to wear a super heavy moisturizer (at least during the day). Personally, I opt for something lighter with SPF, because I know my skin does just fine in the moisture department. In the winter though, my skin dries out and I have to switch products. Point being, your product loyalty will likely waver between seasons. So use what works, but also branch out and modify your routine to accommodate the circumstances.
On days where your skin feels tight, maybe seek out an oil or moisturizer with a little more oomph. When it feels oily or you spot some acne, try a cleanser with salicylic acid or tea tree oil, along with a gentle toner. Your weather, diet, the seasons and a million other factors will influence how your skin feels and acts at any given moment. It makes sense to use your favorites on a day-to-day basis, but when your skin’s behavior evolves, you’d be wise to give it what it needs.
Now, you don’t have to throw away everything you have and start from scratch (unless your products are severely irritating your skin, causing reactions, etc., in which case you should see a skin care professional for advice). Assuming you don’t want to spend loads of money, use the start of a new season to try one new product (e.g. if your skin is insatiably dry in the winter, invest in something more hydrating), or ask a friend to try theirs. Whenever possible, seek out free samples or smaller versions of products, so you can make sure they work before you shell out.
Retailers like Sephora and Ulta carry travel or sample sizes of popular products and usually give you a few free samples when you check out online. Ulta sometimes offers free gifts with certain purchases — so you can see which brands are offering deals on products you want to try. Also, Sephora will give you a small sample of anything in the store — you just have to ask.
Tracking down satisfactory skincare products can be daunting, frustrating and pricey — so once you find ones that work, you may want to call it quits. But like everything else in life, our skin can change, and we have to account for that when we decide how to treat it. My parting advice is to keep an open mind and use your best judgment. Stick to what you’ve got while it’s working, and once it doesn’t, move on.