The only skincare items you truly need

Don’t waste money on unnecessary skincare products. Our experts cut through the jargon and reveal what a healthy skin routine actually needs.

A walk down the skincare aisle of any pharmacy is enough to send you into a spin with the dizzying array of face products on offer.

And, with advice pouring in on everything from serums to sunscreens, it can be hard to know which products to choose.

To cut through the confusion, we ask the experts how to determine which skincare products are the best for you and will have the basics covered.

How to choose the right products for your skin

Keep it simple

Moshy dermatologist Dr Niyati Sharma says the skincare routine for your face should be simple.

“When it comes to women, we do too much – so you do have to dial it down, especially if you’ve got very sensitive skin,” Dr Sharma says.

“Overdoing it can alter the skin microbiome a lot, and it’s really difficult to heal, so keeping it gentle is important.”

Dr Sharma advises:

  • using a soap-free gentle cleanser
  • avoiding scrubbing, which can cause reactions
  • introducing one new product at a time, and waiting two weeks to assess any reaction.

Respect your budget

Just because a product costs a pretty penny doesn’t mean it’s better for your skin.

Pharmacy-based products are just as good as luxury ranges, Dr Sharma says.

“A recent survey found no real difference in the outcome if you bought pharmacy-recommended products versus those really expensive products – you’re just paying for the marketing,” she says.

Add beneficial extras

Dr Sharma says using a toner after cleansing isn’t really necessary, but if your skin is tolerating your routine, you might consider introducing extra products such as serums, which can be beneficial.

Serums typically include vitamin A, B and C formulations, and are applied before moisturiser.

Products containing vitamin A and vitamin C are applied once daily, but those with sensitive skin should just stick to vitamin B serums, applied twice daily, Dr Sharma advises.

Have realistic expectations

Beware of exaggerated claims, for example, that retinol (vitamin A) reduces fine lines and signs of ageing, Dr Sharma says.

“If you’re 20 and worried about ageing, retinol is fine; but if you are 55 and have been out in the sun your whole life, you can’t expect retinols to work – you have to use retinoids, which are prescription-based products,” she explains.

Victorian Dermal Group dermal clinician Goran Gacovski says before buying, consumers should ensure claims are backed by scientific evidence or reviews from trusted sources.

Check the ingredients

Goran also recommends looking for products with fewer harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances, and avoiding ingredients such as alcohol, parabens and sulphates, as they can irritate the skin.

Instead, choose products with natural and gentle ingredients, he says.

Match to your skin type

Look for products specifically formulated for your skin type and concerns, whether it be acne, dryness or hyperpigmentation.

Goran says choosing the wrong products can do more harm than good, and products that don’t suit your skin type or contain harsh ingredients can cause irritation, dryness and breakouts.

He suggests always patch testing new products before applying them.

Always include sunscreen

Sunscreen is the most important product in any skincare routine, and you should apply it every day on days when the UV index will be 3 or above.

“Sunscreen is essential for protecting your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, which can lead to premature ageing, wrinkles, sunspots and even skin cancer,” Goran says.

Always use it at the end of your skincare routine and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours if you’re spending time outdoors, no matter the weather.

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Written by Melissa Iaria.