Blunders And Bloopers In Skincare Purchasing

By Minji

  • Smart skincare is available to everyone, regardless of your wallet size
  • Price doesn’t equal efficacy; we all have different values and unique skin
  • Let's not shoot for perfection but remain curious and thoughtful together!

My favorite yoga teacher always advises me to meet people where they are.  Instead of judging people for a “wrong” answer or forcibly guiding them towards a “right” answer, she tells me to respect everyone’s current situation, listen with compassion, then speak and act from the heart. 

That’s what I’m trying to do with myself when it comes to skincare purchases.  Instead of judging and drawing clear right or wrong lines, I am trying to meet “purchasing me” where she is.  I observe my purchasing habits, listen to all voices in my head, then act in a way that feels good inside, delicately balancing what I think should happen versus what I want in the moment.  Basically, what I mean is, I’ve made a ton of blunders and bloopers when it comes to my skincare purchases, but every day, with curiosity, I’m working towards aligning my purchasing journey with my values. 

My skincare purchasing history has been full of the typical challenges.  I used to never investigate ingredients and just bought whatever at first glance looked to be the most effective.  I was heavily reliant on price and advertising as quality indicators.  In recent years though, with all the information and awareness out there (thanks, millennials!), I’ve become smarter and more empowered as a consumer. 

The first step was to start looking at ingredients lists and doing my own research.  I started to stay away from products that contained ingredients that didn’t sit right with my values.  I also worked on decluttering and cleansing my mind, body and soul so I could, with heightened senses, actually feel the effects of each product and come to my own judgment on whether I liked something or not.  When your body is full of toxins, your mind cluttered and your soul under nourished, you can’t tell what’s working for you or not - whether it be serum with hydrating effects or a career path.  The more you declutter and cleanse, the more you will actually feel and truly know yourself and what works for you.   

After a few years of this, I became increasingly interested in the skincare industry.  I started familiarizing myself with the players in the industry and seeking out meetings with insiders.  Thankfully, having grown up in Seoul where skincare is a huge industry, it wasn’t too difficult to meet people and have candid off the record conversations.  The more I talked to experts, the more I learned, and the more confident I became in my conclusion that price shouldn't be the main indicator and ingredients, brand philosophy and integrity were key.   

We live in a world now where smart skincare is available to everyone, regardless of wallet size.  Trust me, no one in the industry will tell you that price equals efficacy.  I've also personally tried crazy expensive products and can tell you from first hand experience, price and quality do not have a linear relationship.  The most important thing to remember is that everyone has different skincare goals, values and unique skin that reacts differently.  One tip here is to actually look at the detailed ingredient lists instead of broad labels, such as organic, clean or vegan.  These can be helpful but what I’ve come to realize is that different brands can have different definitions for the same label and “natural” isn’t necessarily better or even safer.  It's also important to align yourself with skincare brands that speak to your values and needs.

Most recently, I’ve been making efforts to view skincare products like food.  I’m now focused on finding ways to ensure that my skincare products are fresh and clean, which has me leaning towards products with minimum ingredients that I can actually understand.  Dabbling in homemade skincare is another way to explore this.

Aligning my skincare purchases with my values is still an on-going journey filled with small and big mistakes.  I still use many products that don’t perfectly fit into my ideal world but I’m making an effort.  I'm working towards being thoughtful, authentic and actively thinking to make the best choice for myself.  Like most things in life, I’m not striving for perfection but I can tell you, everyday, I'm experimenting and learning and am tempted less by price or marketing noise.