How to Tell if Your Skincare Product is Working

Airdate: 8/4/2011

We've all been there before—wondering if a skin-care product is really doing what it’s supposed to. Find out how you can tell if a product is actually working as Paula shares her insider expertise.

Paula Begoun: Hello. I'm Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop. And I'm going to be keeping you beautifully informed this evening with Desiree Stordahl, my assistant and producer, and Bryan Barron, my co-author of everything actually. Bryan, I don't think anything – is there anything we don't write together over the past 11 years?
Bryan Barron: The only thing that you have written without me is personal checks.
Paula Begoun: That is true. I don't…although some of those bigger numbers do tend to throw me.
00:00:44 But I haven't asked you to help me with that. So, yes, Bryan –
Bryan Barron: No.
Paula Begoun: Maybe some personal emails either to my boyfriend or something. We haven't shared those. But we could. Lord knows we could. So, yes, Bryan and I have been writing books and the content for PaulasChoice.com and Beautypedia.com and "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," and lord knows how many books we have written together.
00:01:14 And Desiree helps keep us all together and keep our show going. And this show that she has organized, I have to tell you, this is great. There is so much that I don't even quite know where to begin. So I'm just going to jump in.
Bryan Barron: We do have a guide.
Paula Begoun: A guide? What?
Bryan Baron: Yes, it's a guided tour.
Paula Begoun: Like I hired my guide at Disneyland who got me at the front of the line?
Bryan Barron: No, no, no, not like that.
00:01:52 I just meant you mentioned that there is a lot to go over with the topic and there is, but the good news is that we have an article on CosmeticsCop.com that covers the basics and we are going to be going a bit beyond that tonight. That's all.
Paula Begoun: I'm sorry. Can you believe it? I still have Disneyland on the brain. I thought you were talking about, because the guide I hired at Disneyland for our group, because I had this guide I got into the front of the lines. I mean it was the most…the longest wait was a ten minute wait. I couldn't believe it. I felt guilty. I felt like I should hide my face. You know lines were 85 minutes but because we had this guide, oh my gosh.
00:02:33 But okay, so yes, we do have a guide. The topic tonight is how to tell if your skincare product is working. It's a huge issue. I mean I take the topic incredibly personally as somebody who spent years – years of my young life buying acne products, wanting them to work. Praying, literally praying to God that my face…I would wake up in the morning and not have acne.
00:03:06 And even though the products, I mean some of these products actually, I mean my face burned. It hurt to put the products on, but I thought, well it burned, it must be doing something. It tingled. It wasn't just tingling; it was like it was on fire. And I just kept hoping and hoping and wondering is this what it means, is this what it takes, is this the best it can be?
00:03:31 So, I feel strongly about this topic. So we have a lot to tell you because everyone buys products. Everyone buys skincare products and wonders what the heck is it doing if anything. I think we can clear it up for you. I think we can help you understand the products you are using and what the real expectations are. And speaking of real expectations, before we jump into the topic, there was an interesting piece of news from across the Atlantic in England.
00:04:05 England, and I don't know in what wisdom this came down, but they banned two L'Oreal ads featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, the model, for being so retouched they no longer reflected reality.
00:04:30 I mean aside from the fact that I think cosmetic advertising is Looney Tunes, I mean just crazy, and that women on one hand absolutely know that it is all lies. And on the other hand they are just hoping that somebody out there in the midst of these beautiful faces and beautiful glossy pictures and the doctors in white coats, they might find some grain of truth in the middle of all of it.
00:04:49 But the notion of…I mean picking on L'Oreal, and it is not like I have any love affair going with L'Oreal. Believe me, I could criticize L'Oreal a lot more than just photo retouching Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, but what are there – there are over 100 fashion magazines in the UK. There isn't a picture among them, not from Estee Lauder, not from Clarins, not on the cover of the magazines selling the magazine where those models aren't retouched to the hilt.
00:05:36 They don't even vaguely resemble themselves. I can't remember…years ago, I can't remember what model said this, but it was a very famous line from some very beautiful model who said, "Even when I look at my pictures I can't…I wonder who the heck that is. I can't believe that that is even related to how I look in the world."
00:06:01 So what is that? That's ridiculous to ban Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington's ads from L'Oreal for being too perfect. Like in the UK what are they going to have, perfection cops? Well, you can have one little blackhead but not no blackheads. I mean it is just…I mean what standard of perfection are they talking about. So I actually did…Julia Roberts, I mean probably one of the most beautiful actresses in my opinion. Not a great actress, but definitely a gorgeous one.
00:06:35 So I Googled her to see how she looked when she didn't have any makeup on, and so I went to Google Images and looked her up, and of course she doesn't look fractionally like her pictures when she is all…like any of us do when she is all plain and ordinary with her kids. But I'm thinking I don't know that I necessarily want to see anybody looking like that when I spend $5 on a fashion magazine.
00:07:01 So here's the question, and I have struggled with this my whole career in my anger about cosmetic advertising. What I…I don't know, and Desiree and Bryan, I'm curious to hear what you think about this. I don't know that the pictures and the airbrushing bother me quite as much as the false information, the claims that are the lies, and they are glaringly misleading.
00:07:36 I mean if I am spending money – it's like watching a movie. Do I know that that story isn't true? Of course I know that story isn't true. Do I know that everybody ends up happy, happy, happy at the end of a love story and thrillers….I mean I pay money to sit and be seduced and entertained and I don't want to see reality.
00:08:01 When I buy a fashion magazine, I don't want to see acne on the cover. I don't want to see somebody who has my rear end. I didn't pay…if it was me I would just look in the mirror. But I'm paying to see beautiful images. So I personally don't mind the airbrushed perfected pictures of gorgeous women, or gorgeous men for that matter. What I mind strongly, and what I have been railing and writing about for years is the ridiculous lies and misleading information that the cosmetic industry throws at us.
00:08:40 I mean why doesn't the UK ban the lies and leave the pretty pictures of Christy and Julia alone? Desiree, Bryan?
Desiree Stordahl: I agree. The lies and the claims are far more offensive than the retouched photos because for one we just all know they are retouched. It's just something we have come to accept. So I agree with you on the actual claims being more offensive.
00:09:07 But I do think photo retouching can go to an extreme. And when they are shaving pounds off of a woman's thighs and arms and that then becomes the ideal that everyone else in the world has to look up to, that for some reason takes a different turn on me than, I don't know, a little bit of touching up on someone's face, hiding a blemish here or there.
Paula Begoun: So you think it is about sending a message of unreal expectation?
Desiree Stordahl: Right.
Paula Begoun: That is beyond the pale for you?
Desiree Stordahl: Mm-hmm.
Paula Begoun: Even though you know it has been…well maybe we don't know. Maybe that is what it is, there is a –
Bryan Barron: Yeah, I think what she was getting at was that there is more of an inherent understanding in this day and age that especially when you are looking at a close-up of somebody's face in an ad, whether they are a celebrity or not, if it is an ad chances are very good if not highly likely that their image has been retouched to some extent.
00:10:08 Wrinkles are softened. Discolorations have been blended away. The whites of the eyes have been made incredibly white. The teeth have been made white and straight. All of that stuff takes place. And I have the same objection as Desiree that when you are looking at someone…when the airbrushing goes to the extent that the image is actually a full-on body sculpted idea of perfection and it isn't…the body proportions aren't realistic to how someone of that size and weight should look if they are healthy.
00:10:46 So you have that image out there that is just…it is impossible to obtain. You can look at a picture of Julia Roberts with her eyes all done up and lip gloss and all of that and her hair perfect and thing, you know, I could get pretty dang close to that. But, when they have the super slimmed down waist and that ideal hip, thigh and chest or bust ratio that is just completely not like how any other woman you might know looks, but that is what you are constantly seeing.
00:11:19 I think it really can lead to some body dysmorphic issues.
Paula Begoun: Well and it does. We know in terms of women getting new breasts and getting new everything about their body – there is – the other article we came across that was incredibly interesting in research and perceptions and emotional factors about why we buy, what about the beauty hype just from a psychological point of view. And one of the things that I know this intuitively as being part of the industry, but one of the things this article says very directly was that women buy skincare and makeup to feel good.
00:12:09 That's why we buy the stuff. And because we want to feel beautiful and that makes us feel good. But in order for a company to make us feel good about we are buying, what this article asserted is that one of the ways of achieving that is that we have to be told, they have to tell us that we aren't pretty, that we are ugly in some way.
00:12:32 That we aren't any kind of ideal. Our skin isn't perfect and in order to get perfect to feel good about ourselves, lots of things are wrong and their products are going to make us better. And that many cosmetic companies achieve that by some of the things we are talking about – impossible pictures. We could talk about this and probably will at length for some time. But I wanted to – there is an irony that what we are talking about tonight is how to tell if a product works. So if you can let go…
00:13:09 The header of all of this is that if you can let go of all of the hype and all of the airbrushed pictures and just get down to the real expectation and the false expectation, in other words, what is possible and what isn't possible, aside from the hype and this is the miracle and this person – this doctor knows the most and this friend of yours selling this product line, they are geniuses and they represent a product that can do what no other line can do.
00:13:46 Or it is a celebrity and you guys are watching QVC or HSN and everybody is trilled and happy and applauding the products and we are lost in a sea of craziness, of insanity.
00:14:00 I want to get down to what you can really expect. And the guide that Bryan was talking about wasn't my Disneyland guide, but on PaulasChoice.com, Bryan and I and actually our whole team put together this article. It was really a group effort, the Paula's Choice Team, to really hone down what you need to know about what a product can and can't do for you. And then what do you do…how do you know…what do you judge it by?
00:14:29 So here is the outline before we get into specifics is just what I was saying. You have to ignore product claims because they are not true most of the time. There is just…whatever they are saying, whatever they are carrying on about, more often than not they are just incredibly misleading. You just have to let it go. The signs of aging, the lifting, the this-ing, the smoothing, and 20-years young – they are going to get you…they are not going to help you know what to expect for your skin.
00:15:07 They sound good, and the products might be good, but the claims will get you waylaid to really judging what you need to see on your face, to know what is going on in terms of a product is working. You have to stop looking for one miracle ingredient. Stop writing us and asking is Vitamin C the best. This product, does it contain this plant and is that the best? And what about coenzyme q10?
00:15:33 Here's the good news – there are hundreds of brilliant ingredients for your skin and your skin needs a lot of brilliant ingredients. It doesn't need just one. You would be cheating your skin to only go after one ingredient to take care of it. Let go of that one. It is not helping your skin. A cocktail of brilliant ingredients is what your skin needs. That is what makes the brilliant product…that's how we rate products for the most part.
00:15:59 I mean obviously there are exceptions like some ingredients for acne, but we will get to that in a second. Follow a consistent routine. Stop throwing in….when I say a consistent routine meaning what we have been talking about on the show for months which is a gentle cleanser, a gentle toner, sunscreen during the day, a serum, a silky finish serum at night, a moisturizer appropriate for your skin type. You don't need a sunscreen at night. Appropriate products for your Rosacea, for your acne, for your sensitive skin.
00:16:35 Follow a consistent routine. Stop throwing in new products every time you turn around. That is going to drive your skin crazy. Don't expect instant results. What Bryan?
Bryan Barron: Just to break in real quick, what you were just talking about reminded me of a quote and the beauty hype why we buy article that we were discussing earlier, and they had a quote from a psychologist that said a lot of women can get addicted to the process.
00:17:09 They are constantly on that chase for that elusive product that really is going to be telling the truth, that really is going to give them the results that they are looking for which is usually some sort of cosmetic surgery in a jar. And we see evidence of that a lot with the letters that we get, with the women who say, who list all the brands and the products they have tried and all of the money they have spent, and yet they are still not to that place where they want to be because what they are trying to go after with skincare is realistic.
00:17:44 It can't be done.
Paula Begoun: Or, they keep using products that suck. That's the other thing –
Bryan Barron: Right.
Paula Begoun: Constantly just throwing money against the wall and that product and that product and now it is this one from Cindy Crawford or this one from Dr. Brandt. Or this one from this new plant from some exotic place in Mexico or something that Selma Hayek is carrying on about these days.
00:18:15 So it is that elusive hoping that that next product will be the answer and the truth is there is a lot of great products. There are a lot of great products. Let go of the miracle; Bryan, that is 100% true. It is interesting the one I just said about don't expect instant results because there are products that can give you instant results. Sometimes what it is, it is not that the product is so brilliant but when you go from using a bad product to a good product, one we have rated well on Beautypedia, that can make all the difference in the world.
00:18:53 So it is not that…we get this a lot about my products, Paula's Choice, and we love the love letters. Don't stop with the love letters; we love our love letters. But sometimes I am thinking, you know, I know I make great products. I have made them. I know what is out there. I know how to put together a skincare product. I know the innovations we have done. But I also know that there are other great products. And I sometimes wonder if the praise I am getting is not because I have made such a spectacular product is that when the products the woman was using before were so bad, there was no way in heck her face had a shot. And so it is really just that now she is so astounded because she is using products that actually don't hurt her skin, don't irritate the skin.
00:19:38 And actually have ingredients that can make a difference. And then that is number five. I know I harp on this a lot, I know you guys are all bored with me saying this endlessly – you have got to stop using products with irritating ingredients. There was somebody on some chat board or some makeup ally thing, I can't quite even remember what it was, but the comment was, "Well we all know that irritation is bad."
00:20:05 No, we don't all know that irritation is bad. As a matter of fact, we take it for granted that what is the big deal if it has a good fragrance. I can't feel that it is irritating? You know, just because you can't feel it doesn't mean it isn't causing a problem because irritation doesn't always show up on the surface of skin. The analogy I use is if you are sitting next to a window with the sun coming through, it is damaging your skin. The sun's rays are particularly insidious, rays of the sun that come through windows. And you don't feel it. You might feel warmth but you don't feel that it is damaging down at the deepest cellular layer your skin.
00:20:45 So, irritation damage to your skin doesn't always show up on the surface. Irritating ingredients, irritation is not necessarily a surface response but a down deep response. So collagen is being destroyed. You get increased wrinkling. Elastin is being destroyed on and on. I can't speak strongly enough about how much better products will work for you when they don't contain irritants.
00:21:10 So let's start with cleansers. Cleanser, number one is what you should expect is that it cleans your face, it cleans most of your makeup off, maybe not all. You might need a gentle washcloth afterwards. Your face should feel smooth and soft, not dry, greasy or tight. Even if it is an anti-acne or oily skin cleanser, you still should not feel irritated or tight. That doesn't help your skin.
00:21:35 You should see results in terms of when should you see results, that should be pretty much immediate in terms of when you start using a good cleanser you should feel a better feeling on your skin, your eyes should be less dry and irritated, on and on. Now if it is not working, how will you know? It's going to feel tight and dry and irritated.
00:22:00 Your skin isn't going to feel soft. Your skin is going to feel tighter. So you are going to want to consider changing…and again, Beautypedia is the best place to go to see our reviews for the different cleansers, especially for normal-to-dry skin so that you get a cleanser that is more for your skin type, a gel or slightly foaming cleanser for normal-to-oily skin; a creamy or lotion cleanser for somebody with normal-to-dry.
00:22:27 Make sure you are getting off all of your makeup which is essential. You might want to try a gentle washcloth because that is a big deal. And you can, if you want, and although I can't believe I'm even using these words, the Clarisonic – I know that some people just can't get all of their makeup off with a cleanser. They don't like my idea of a gentle washcloth although I think it is a brilliant idea. You can use one of those brushy kind of things but I worry about it being too irritating, but definitely the bigger deal is softly get all of your makeup off.
00:23:00 Toner. When you use a toner, when it is well-formulated, you should be getting the last traces of all your makeup off but it should soothe your skin. It should reduce redness. It should make your skin look radiant and if you have oily skin you should see, over time, your pore size reduced. Now for a toner for normal-to-dry skin, that radiant, smooth anti-redness look, that should happen within a fairly short period of time. Sometimes within a few days, one to two weeks you absolutely should see something in terms of a smoother appearance; if not, then you need to reconsider the product you are using.
00:23:44 For oily skin, for pore size reduction, assuming again that you are not using an irritating product, it contains ingredients that can improve the shape of the pore, then ingredients like [unintelligible] [glucose], well , different forms of Vitamin C, niacinamide, then that might take longer, three to six weeks.
00:24:09 But overwhelmingly for a softer finish, to get all of the makeup off, that should be happening pretty quickly. Again, if your face is feeling irritated or dry, you are not seeing any soothing or smoothness on your face, after six weeks or so you are not seeing any improvement in oily skin…well, not oily skin so much but the size of the pore, then you have got to go to Beautypedia and see what other products we are recommending for toners for your skin type.
00:24:38 Exfoliants. You know, of all products that you can get impressive results almost overnight, there is nothing like a good exfoliant. And again, I know I have harped on this for a long time, but a well-formulated AHA or BHA is a huge factor in improving the appearance of your skin. When it is well-formulated it will make you skin look and feel smoother almost overnight.
00:25:06 It will reduce enlarged pores almost overnight. It will take away that dull, yellowy kind of color for advanced sun damage. And it will diminish wrinkles. And again, almost overnight depending on what other kind skincare products and the amount of sun damage you might have. I would say overnight to about two weeks to six weeks to really see the full on benefit of using a well-formulated AHA or BHA.
00:25:41 And again, you do have to –
Bryan Barron: Paula, sometimes when people are using a BHA exfoliant, we get this question a lot because we recommend BHA for blemishes and blackheads, and they get a bit frustrated because it's a month, five weeks, and they are not seeing much improvement in blackheads. So for people who are dealing with that issue, should they wait a bit longer?
Paula Begoun: Oh, that's a good one. Thank you, Bryan, that's important.
00:26:09 So the issue is any exfoliant when you have – now for some skin types, and again, if you are using products that are appropriate for your skin type, you are not using…because some of what could keep a BHA from really changing how your skin, the blackheads look, is you are still using creamy cleansers.
00:26:34 You are still maybe using other irritating products. Moisturizers that are inappropriate for your skin type. Heavy sunscreen. Not getting all of your make off at night. So there can be things that will keep the BHA, the products with salicylic acid from working to improve blackheads. So you have got to first think about what you might be doing that is keeping a product that is known for improving blackheads from actually working. However, I absolutely do everything I recommend and I still struggle with blackheads.
00:27:12 It isn't…now are my pores smaller? Absolutely. Do I have less blackheads than I have ever had? Yes, absolutely. But, in terms of really getting rid of them, nothing can be more tenacious than blackheads. And then you have to…in fact we are going to be selling – I have talked about comedone extractors before as a way to scrape off the surface of a blackhead or to see an aesthetician to actually physically remove the blackheads.
00:27:43 So blackheads are, and acne too just in general, for some reason for oily skin, excuse me – I'm sorry, I'm getting worked up, I'm losing my voice – that that can be never really 100%. Believe me, I am not holding my breath for myself. But I do know if your blackheads are a result of the products you are using, they can get in the way of having the BHA work as it should. Did that makes sense?
00:28:15 Did that answer the –
Bryan Barron: Yes, and I was also thinking that that explanation, especially if the person is using…maybe they are using a well-formulated BHA product but they haven't given up those anti-acne pads that are laden with alcohol and menthol or they are using a scrub as well. And that got me thinking that continuing to use problematic products may also be responsible for the phenomenon some people experience with blemishes, of skin getting worse before it gets better.
00:28:48 Or they feel like their skin is being purged and they start, after they start using a BHA and all of a sudden they are breaking out more. Is there a connection there?
Paula Begoun: Well, again, you know it is kind of interesting. I have never…I don't think that if you are using good products that your skin will get worse before it gets better. I think what can happen though, because it doesn't happen for somebody with normal-to dry skin when they start using great products. They stop having dry skin. But I think what happens for women with oily skin and acne is because acne is cyclical for most women, it triggers and flares at the time that they ovulate during their menstrual cycle.
00:29:42 So they could start a product and they happen to be starting when they are going into their menstruation cycle where they would break out and they start breaking out and they think, "Oh, my skin is getting worse before it is getting better." You only really hear that comment about skin getting worse before it gets better based on women with acne. You don't ever hear it for somebody with normal-to-dry skin or somebody with Rosacea. They don't get worse before they get better.
00:30:17 They get worse and it doesn't get better. And somebody with Rosacea knows they need to change. So I think it is an issue of a menstruation cyclical thing for acne and you might start using a product just around the time you are going to be breaking out and you blame it on the product.
00:30:32 Now it could be a bad product. It could be irritating your skin and you are getting a breakout response. But that thing that it gets better, I think that is just part of the ebb and flow of acne based around your period. So let's talk about moisturizers real quick because then we have to definitely take some questions here. So moisturizers are interesting. The major issue for moisturizers is that women use the wrong moisturizer or they use too many moisturizers.
00:31:01 When I say they use the wrong moisturizer, mostly it is about the texture. So, if you have normal-to-oily skin and this is so important…if you have normal-to-oily skin you must use a very thin lightweight lotion or serum or a gel moisturizer. If you have normal-to-oily skin and you use a creamy, thick, whatever kind of lotion or cream, it is just going to make it worse.
00:31:34 And for my skin type, I use my toners on my face and I minimally use a traditional moisturizer on my face because I have oily skin. It just makes me feel greasier. And the toners and gels I have, Paula's Choice has, and the ones we recommend from other lines on Beautypedia are lightweight enough and still contain the ingredients that help heal skin and repair sun damage – antioxidants, cell communicating ingredients.
00:32:05 So the texture of your product is all important. No matter what skin type you have, you skin needs to feel hydrated but not greasy. It needs to feel soft and smooth without dryness or tightness. Dryness and tightness doesn't help oily skin in the least. It just makes matters worse. For somebody with normal-to-dry skin, you should have a feeling of lushness on the face, a feeling of silkiness on the face.
00:32:37 For somebody with normal-to-oily skin the product you are using should make you feel smooth with a slight matte, soft matte finish. You really need to feel that improvement, that feeling I am talking about almost immediately. Absolutely almost immediately.
00:32:57 In terms of actually improving the appearance of skin, sun damage and those kind of feelings on your face, then you really need…you are talking about two to eight weeks. And again, none of it is going to erase your wrinkles, but to have smoother, softer skin, both normal-to-oily skin and normal-to-dry skin need to see the same thing in terms of that improved soft, smooth, healthy feel on skin. Let me jump to acne treatments really quick because that is so very important.
00:33:30 You absolutely should see an improvement in the number of pimples on your face. It is just that simple. They must go down for an acne treatment to be working. You should not get a kickback of dryness or flaking or any other signs of irritation. Everything should be diminished. It is very hard to treat…and that should happen fairly quickly in one week to six weeks and not much – actually, not even six weeks. One to three weeks which is three weeks in particularly because that is the cycle of many blemishes, what it takes for a blemish to actually get to the surface of skin often.
00:34:13 So what you want to consider is that severe acne, large swollen blemishes, when you have a lot of them, there really isn't much that you can do over the counter. Now it doesn't mean you shouldn't try with a well-formulated gentle water soluble cleanser, gentle toner, absolutely a gentle beta hydroxy acid exfoliant and a gentle well-formulated benzoyl peroxide anti-bacterial product that reduces the bacteria that causes blemishes.
00:34:51 You do want to start there, but it is highly unlikely that…just the odds aren't great that that kind of routine will work for severe acne. But for mild to moderate acne you really should see an astounding difference in three to six weeks, 12 weeks top. If you have not seen an improvement, a consistent improvement over that period of time, then you need to take a look at other acne treatments that we have recommended on Beautypedia, but most likely assuming you were using good products all along, then you really need to talk to a dermatologist to discuss options such as benzoyl peroxide and a topical antibiotic and I think it is Clindamycin they often put with it or a topical retinoid like Tretinoin or Tazorac or Tazarotene or Adapalene which the trade name is different.
00:35:51 So you do want to perhaps consider dermatological options if the state-of-the-art over the counter options don't work. So, please take a look. There is a lot more information on PaulasChoice.com. You can search for "what can you really expect from a skincare product" and our article will come up. Read it, it's important. It will save you money, it will save your skin. You will stop, hopefully stop, jumping products and being seduced every time somebody throws a miracle promise at you and you can duck it better and just get to the products that really work.
00:36:30 Desiree, let's take the first caller.
Desiree Stordahl: Just a reminder to all of our listeners, the number to call in is 347-426-3783 and if you are already dialed in you can press one and we will take your question. So with that, our first caller is Rosario from California.
Paula Begoun: Wait, Rosario before we talk to you, what was that number, Desiree?
Desiree Stordahl: 347-426-3783.
Paula Begoun: Oh, we need a better number that somebody can remember. That is such a bad number. 347-426-3783 and you can call to ask questions. Boy, I am never going to remember that number. Rosario, how are you?
Rosario: I'm great. How are you today?
Paula Begoun: I'm good. What can I do for you dear?
Rosario: I just feel like you are just like me. I am 31 years old and I am still struggling with acne since I was a late teen, probably about 18, 19.
00:37:27 And I have tried everything that I see, what you call like miracles you see on TV, what you hear on infomercials I have bought, tried. I have three kids now and I just don't have the time to be investing in all of these different things and I can never find the right products that work for me. Everything either irritates me or it doesn't work. And I'm just struggling to find a skincare routine right now.
Paula Begoun: So I am just like you except I am much older so we are not twins separated at birth, Rosario.
00:38:03 So Rosario, tell me when you say you have used everything, like Proactiv and –
Rosario: Proactiv. Even the lesser version which is Acne Free. The Murad kit. The drugstore kits that they come and say that they are just as good as what you would buy high end. Even now that I have seen your Beautypedia is free, I have been on there and I have tried going to the store and just buying different products which I heard you just say right now sometimes it doesn't work when you do different products like that for a little bit more aggressive acne.
00:38:41 So I can see how I am probably not doing the right thing for my skin. I'm probably irritating it more than I am helping it.
Paula Begoun: So Rosario, aside from acne, are you struggling…you are struggling with oily skin as well? Tell me what you think your skin type is?
Rosario: Oh, I'm glad you said think because I was going to say, "Yikes." Yes, I think I have oily skin. I believe so because when I don't have anything on my face I look a little shiny directly in the T-zone but not on my cheeks.
Paula Begoun: So you are drier on the sides of your face? So maybe combination skin describes it better.
Rosario: Okay.
Paula Begoun: Is that true?
Rosario: Yes.
Paula Begoun: And you break out more around your period than you do…is it more hormonal or is it just consistent all the time?
Rosario: It's just consistent all the time.
00:39:40 I just always seem to have [more than two] and have even started getting on my cheeks after I had my second child. I started getting them on my cheeks which I never used to do that before.
Paula Begoun: Right. So Rosario, so first of all just to be clear when it comes to acne, it ebbs and flows. There is nothing about being 30, 40 or 50 or 60 where all of a sudden you are supposed to stop breaking out and you can start breaking out.
00:40:08 So you could break out in your 20s, stop in your 30s, start again in your 40s, break out all your life, not break out at all, start breaking out around menopause. There is often no rhyme or reason to acne. So here is what is frustrating about the acne kits you have been looking at is that unfortunately most of them have at least one product that you absolutely should not be using. Bryan, will you…I'm almost certain I am right about this but you always have a better memory than I do.
00:40:45 In the routines we have reviewed, almost always a product will have alcohol or menthol, too drying a cleanser, too rough a scrub.
Bryan Barron: You know what else happens, you know what else we see a lot in the acne kits is that there is a key product missing. Either the kit doesn't have any sort of exfoliant in it or they just through in a scrub which is pretty useless because you can't scrub away acne. Or more often than not they leave out the topical disinfectant. That product with benzoyl peroxide or some other ingredient, even if it is somewhat novel, that at least had some research behind it showing that it will help to kill the bacteria that is contributing to those breakouts.
00:41:35 So that is what we see more often. It is the combination of at least one product with irritating ingredients like menthol, alcohol or sulfur and then a key product to get your acne under control is missing in action.
Paula Begoun: And actually it is interesting that one of the more popular routines is Proactiv. What is interesting about Proactiv is one of its strong points is that it has a very good benzoyl peroxide product for disinfecting acne.
00:42:10 However, what the problem is, they have this mask that contains sulfur which really is about as dated an ingredient for skincare as you can get for acne because it is so irritating and drying and actually the pH level, there is research about high pH is actually increasing bacteria content in skin. And it is based on glycolic acid and for skin, acne, salicylic acid is by far the preferred ingredient. I mean there is no question about it.
00:42:42 So what Bryan and I are saying is that some of the routines you have been looking at as I think you will see on Beautypedia can be…you really do have to pick. So I am going to keep you from having to pick because I am going to be sending you some products. But what I am sending you from Paula's Choice is what I recommend just across the board.
00:43:01 I'm going to send you a gentle cleanser. I'm going to send you my Skin Balancing cleanser and I'm also going to send you my Skin Balancing toner because you need the ingredients to soften skin, fight free radical damage, help skin heal. I am going to send you the salicylic acid from my Clear line that is a 2% salicylic acid. I'm going to send you the regular strength version because from what you are describing I would like you to start there.
00:43:31 And then what I would like you to consider to doing, I'm not going to have you do…I'm going to send you my regular strength benzoyl peroxide product but I want you to use it every other day. When you start I don't want you to use it every day. I think you might not have as bad of acne as you think. I think that some of the skincare products you have been using are driving your skin crazy. And then I am going to send you my hydrating treatment cream, just for use around eyes, not for use anywhere else on your face.
00:44:01 And then my Skin Balancing gel as a moisturizer and then I want you to email Desiree after you get the products or chat with one of my customer service team after a couple of weeks and let me know how you are doing.
Rosario: That sounds great. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Paula Begoun: Okay, Rosario. Keep up the fight. You will do good.
Rosario: I hope so. Thank you.
Paula Begoun: Take care, dear. Alright Desiree.
Desiree Stordahl: We have Emily from Utah.
Paula Begoun: Emily, Utah.
Emily: Paula!
Paula Begoun: Hi, how are you?
Emily: Oh, pretty good. My sister turned me onto you and, wow, it's been fabulous.
Paula Begoun: Thank you.
Emily: But, my face isn't fabulous.
Paula Begoun: Wait, your face isn't or is fabulous?
Emily: Well, if you took away all the negatives it would be. But…
Paula Begoun: Well first let's start with the negatives. What are the negatives?
Emily: The negatives. Well this part is good – I have that Latina olive skin. And growing up as a kid I had those cute little pin drop freckles all over my face. And I could never count how many I had because there were so many. And now I am in my mid-50s. And so, well, the sideburn area, that has cleared out.
00:45:24 No freckles there. But my nose over, those are starting to clear out. Then in the center it is kind of like the milky way of large spread out freckles and then I am starting to get white spots in between. What can I do?
Paula Begoun: Oh, you need to see a dermatologist. You need to see…I'm sorry, Emily. So if I understand you correctly, you grew up with freckles and now some of them are fading away and some of them are growing. Is that what you are saying?
00:46:03 Like kind of connecting the dots where they are spreading out?
Emily: That's what I'm saying. It's just maybe an older lady's kind of thing?
Paula Begoun: Oh, it is definitely sun…no, don't misunderstand. I do think it is sun damage and I am going to recommend some skincare products. But because I am concerned, I can't see you in person, and I would be remiss to not say you really need to run it by a derm. It's the white spots in particular that are not exactly without seeing you I am wondering what those exactly are and I really do think that it wouldn't hurt to have dermatologist take a peek at you.
00:46:39 Because I don't know really what they…that you are Latina…
Emily: It's not the fluorescent white ones that I have seen, you know, like Michael Jackson that started losing so much pigment. It's maybe they –
Paula Begoun: So here is what it is. I don't see it very often on Hispanic skin. But on white skin, on Caucasian skin, white dots can be a sign of something else. So, again, without seeing you I am guessing. However, it is without question some of what you are going through is about sun damage. When freckling changes…my boyfriend who is Indian often teases that from his part of the world he was born sun-ready.
00:47:31 And I say, you are not sun-ready. I don't care what color you are, dear, you have sun damage, too. Now it takes more sun damage for you to show up, but you are not sun-ready. You just don't want to put on a sunscreen and you drive me crazy. So, tell me what you are doing to take care of your skin, Emily. What is your skincare routine?
Emily: You know, I go with the simple washcloth routine. I put a little bit of the light gel for moisturizer. Then I don't put sunscreen on as much as I should but I am not out in the sunshine that much.
Paula Begoun: What, are you dating my boyfriend? What, are you going out with him and you are not wearing sunscreen?
00:48:22 Stop that! Stop that.
Emily: I'm dating your boyfriend.
Paula Begoun: Okay, I knew it, I knew it. All these people that don't want to wear sunscreen are going out with my boyfriend. Okay, so listen. Emily, here is what I need you to do. So one is that you are not…you know it is funny. Some women do too much and other women don't do enough. You are not doing enough. And scrubbing the skin isn't the way to clean your face. You do need a gentle water soluble cleanser. I don't mind a washcloth as long as it is gentle and you use it with a water soluble cleanser. Now when you say you are using a gel, it's my gel moisturizer that you are using? Or somebody else's gel moisturizer?
Emily: Yeah. It's the Costco Borghese, something like that.
Paula Begoun: Borghese. Borghese. Okay, so I don't know that one per se.
00:49:19 But I get what is happening. So here is what I need you to do. With what you are doing your skin is only going to get worse. You are lucky that you have magnificent Latina skin, you are blessed. I would give anything to have beautiful olive Latina skin but I don't. But to preserve it for the next many years, what I am going to send you is a gentle water soluble cleanser.
00:49:49 I'm going to send you my Skin Balancing cleanser. I am going to send you my sunscreen from my Resist line SPF 25. If you feel that looks too white, I am going to also send you one of my foundations with SPF 20, a sheer tint. Actually, forget the Resist, I think you are better off with the sheer tint foundation as the way to even out your skin tone. It's light and it will even out your skin tone and give you sun protection.
00:50:19 You are not going to deal with those freckles and the whitey and the spreading around without sun protection. And then the other thing that I am going to send you – I am going to send you my gel moisturizer from my Skin Balancing line. And then for the dry areas at night I am going to send you my Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment Cream. And see how that works for you. But dear, if you aren't good about wearing a sunscreen it will just get worse.
00:50:47 And I actually think you can get some turnaround. Now do me a favor, after you have used some of these products for a few weeks, do chat with my customer service team and ask them about using one of my BHA products. And I think that will get you closer to what you want. And will you tell your sister I say hello?
Emily: Oh, you can tell her hello right now. She is listening this very minute. And her name is [Jenny].
Paula Begoun: Well hello. Hi Jenny.
Emily: She loves you.
Paula Begoun: Oh, Jenny, I love you, too. Alright ladies, take care.
Emily: Thank you so much, Paula.
Bryan Barron: Paula, I think it is important to mention.
00:51:31 Now that we have actually had sun here in Seattle this summer because it took so long for it so show itself, even though we talk about sunscreen ad nauseam and I think a lot of people are really sick of hearing us talk about it because it is such a clinical sounding subject. We don't necessary like putting it on either. But we do. And sometimes we are not always very good about it, but at the same time –
00:52:02 We have all complained to each other about how much of a pain it can be, especially when you are just raring to go or how we forget our hands or our arms or our neck or something. And it is…I mean I get why people just want to skip over that step or they aren't very diligent about it. So it does take practice. It is like brushing your teeth.
Paula Begoun: It is! It's like brushing your teeth twice a day. And you think you can get away without doing it at night.
00:52:31 You can't. It's true. It's flossing. It is! I hate flossing and I do it. And I keep it next to my bed because I know I am not going to do it if…okay, sorry. Yes, Bryan, that's perfect. Sunscreen, sunscreen. Next caller. Oh, do we have time? Yes, we have time. Next caller, Desiree.
Desire Stordahl: Yes. We have Rebecca from Nebraska.
Paula Begoun: Hi Rebecca.
Rebecca: Hi Paula.
Paula Begoun: How are you?
Rebecca: I'm fine thank you. I'm a long time follower of your books and your products. And I am in my mid-40s and I am going through the aging skin process. And I do use your products and I take pretty good care of my skin, but the one area that I am struggling with is my eyes.
00:53:15 For me the products that you read about indicate to avoid your eye area so I am not exactly sure what to use around my eyes to help minimize the look of aging and keep them moisturized and all of the things I do with the rest of my face.
Paula Begoun: So we actually have this discussion in my office quite a bit because I think that when most products say avoid the eye area, they are talking about getting it in the eye. I don't think…again, without knowing the specific product.
00:53:48 Obviously you are not going to want to put acne products around the eye. You want to be very cautious with skin lightening products anywhere near the eye area. But overall a gentle cleanser, a well-formulated moisturizer, especially one that doesn't have fragrance, most products are brilliant to use around the eye when they are well-formulated.
00:54:09 The one thing that I feel strongly about and Bryan sometimes thinks I am a little crazy, I do use my BHA exfoliant around my eye area. I do think that the same benefit of getting built up dead skin cells off help the eye areas just as much as it helps the face. Now I do use my lower concentration. I use my 1% BHA lotion around my eye or I will take…when I am lazy I will take the 2% BHA liquid I use from my line and I will mix it in with my moisturizer every other day, sometimes every two days.
00:54:48 Because it just makes the eye area feel and look smoother. When I don't do it I see a difference: I see more built-up dead skin cells, drier skin than I see on the rest of my face. So what I am going to send you, Rebecca, is one of my…are you using any of my BHA products?
Rebecca: Well, I haven't been using BHA products although I did get your new Resist, that duo of…I'm just drawing a blank of what it is called right offhand, it's a set of exfoliators.
Paula Begoun: Desiree, do you know the full name?
Desiree Stordahl: The Skin Smoothing and Resurfacing Treatment.
Paula Begoun: And is that working well for you?
Rebecca: Well, I haven't put it up way up into my eye, so I can't say I have noticed really any improvement in my eye area from that.
Paula Begoun: But how is it doing on your face?
Rebecca: I'm liking it on my face.
00:55:38 I'm definitely liking that.
Paula Begoun: Okay, that's great. So I do think that it is absolutely worth it to try the 5% AHA under your eye area. I think that when you apply – sorry Bryan?
Bryan Barron: I was just going to say, I'm glad that you are recommending that. I have been using the Daily Smoothing Treatment which is the 5% AHA around my eyes and not only have I not had any problems, and I have sensitive skin in that area for sure, but I have actually noticed some really nice improvement. So I am keeping it up.
Paula Begoun: Bryan! So you have to say I was right.
Bryan Barron: You were right.
Paula Begoun: I love it!
00:56:22 I love it, I love it. Oh thank you. So, yes, sorry Bryan. Yes, I do think that putting a well-formulated AHA or BHA either mixed in with your moisturizer or the 5% from the Resist line is just perfect. So, Bryan, are you using it, now that I have insulted you terribly, are you using it every day around your eye or just every other day? How are you doing it?
Bryan Barron: I have been using it every single night. So I only use it once a day. I actually put it all over my face but I make sure that I put some around the immediate eye area, too.
00:57:02 I don't put it on the eye lid, but I definitely put it right up under the eye for sure.
Paula Begoun: Yes, definitely give that a try, Rebecca. I think that it will work really well for you. Rebecca, tell me your skin type?
Rebecca: I am normal-to-dry.
Paula Begoun: Normal-to-dry. And are you using my Resist products? Like are you using my new Resist SPF 25 moisturizer for daytime?
Rebecca: I purchased it about a month ago. But I am finishing up my last of my old supply so I haven't started using it yet.
Paula Begoun: Okay, alright.
00:57:38 And my Resist serum, are you using my Resist serum? I'm trying to give you a gift here. I'm working on it.
Rebecca: Not yet.
Paula Begoun: Alright. So we are going to send you my Paula's Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum for you to play with. And I absolutely think that you are doing everything right and adding that in will help.
00:58:06 But really, let us know how you are doing when you start using the 5% alpha hydroxy acid product from the Resist line under your eye, if that gets you some of the results that you are hoping to see.
Rebecca: Great. Thank you.
Paula Begoun: Alright dear. Thank you for calling, Rebecca. So, my goodness, that was a lot to cover. I'm sitting here…my gosh, that was great.
00:58:31 So this is a big topic. I really do want all of you to take a look at our article on PaulasChoice.com, "What can you really expect from a skincare product?" I do. I mean I have written a lot…I have written 18 books. Bryan and I have written about 10 books together. We have written a ton of articles for PaulasChoice.com. This, I think, is one of our better articles ever because it really was a team effort.
00:59:00 Next week we are going to be talking all about Rosacea with Dr. Nase. He is a Rosacea expert. His information is revolutionary. I think we can help everybody with Rosacea have better skin. On the 18th we are going to be talking about seven hair care secrets you need to know. It will not only save you money, you will have better looking hair. On the 25th we are going to be talking to Dr. Leslie Baumann about looking younger without surgery. It is definitely a topic she knows about.
00:59:30 And on September 1, this is a great show: is a facial really worth it? The benefits and the risks. What you need to know. We are going to keep you looking beautiful, keep you beautifully informed. I'm Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop, with Desiree Stordahl and Bryan Barron, my Paula's Choice Team. Until next week, stay beautiful. Come visit us on PaulasChoice.com. Good night
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