What's the most important thing to know before purchasing over-the-counter skin care products?

The most important thing to remember when researching over-the-counter skin care products is to trust yourself. No one knows your skin better than you. There are a lot of skin care products on the market and it is easy to waste time and money trying to find the best products. So take a minute to educate yourself on your skin before purchasing skin care products.

Note: This information serves as a guide only. Be sure to check with your dermatologist or physician if you have specific problems with your skin.

Assess your skin before you buy:

Before you consider buying any over-the-counter skin care products, there are a few basic facts about your skin you must know. These include:

  • Your skin type: It is oily, dry, normal, sensitive, or a combination of different types? Different areas of your body may require different products.
  • Your skin complexion: Do you have pale skin that always burns, but never tans? Do you have skin that burns, but rarely tans? Does your skin freckle, sometimes tans, and burns on occasion? Or is your complexion dark enough that you very rarely burn? People with darker skin tones still need to protect their skin from the sun.
  • Your skin concerns: Do you want preventive maintenance to avoid premature aging? Do you have a skin problem, such as persistent acne, age spots, or rosacea? You may also have large pores, sun damage, facial wrinkles or fine lines that require special attention. Do you have eye puffiness or under-eye bags that will require special care?
  • Your personal habits: Are you a smoker? Do you spend a lot of time in the sun? Do you take a daily vitamin? Do you consume a well-balanced diet? All these factors will affect how you should care for your skin.

With this information, you can wisely sort through skin care products to find the ones suited for your specific skin type. If you need help, ask a skin esthetician at your local hair salon or skin care counter for his or her recommendations.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 07/08/2019.

References

  • American Academy of Dermatology. Everyday care. Accessed 10/30/2019.
  • Baumann L. Cosmeceuticals and Skin Care in Dermatology. In: Kang S, Amagai M, Bruckner AL, Enk AH, Margolis DJ, McMichael AJ, Orringer JS. eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology, 9e New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  • Battie, Claire & Gohara, Mona & Verschoore, Michèle & Roberts, Wendy. (2013). Skin Cancer in Skin of Color: An Update on Current Facts, Trends, and Misconceptions. Journal of drugs in dermatology : JDD. 12. 194-8.
  • Frank N, Hennings C, Miller JL. Drug Abuse. In: Kang S, Amagai M, Bruckner AL, Enk AH, Margolis DJ, McMichael AJ, Orringer JS. eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology, 9e New York, NY: McGraw-Hill;. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/content.aspx?bookid=2570&sectionid=210432569. Accessed June 28, 2019.
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Skin Pigmentation Disorders. Accessed 10/30/2019.
  • National Institutes of Health. Healthy Skin Matters. Accessed 10/30/2019.
  • National Institute on Aging. Skin Care and Aging Accessed 10/30/2019.

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