Facial Products: What to Pick?

by Molly Scott

A few months ago, I walked into Duane Reade looking for some fresh facial products to clean and moisturize my face. What I wasn’t expecting was an overwhelming of variation of facial products to choose from. I had to wonder: is original formula better than dry skin formula? should I just go with the least expensive brand? In order to find out, I did some research on some frequently used products reccommended by different Barnard girls.

Quick, Cheap, Drug Store Buys

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control Power-Cream ($7.49)
An oil-free, creamy lather for clearing oil, fighting breakouts, and reducing redness and irritation. This product has a good reputation for treating acne. Users say that they can “feel” that it’s working because of the tingling sensation it causes. However, some say that it goes even further and it feel like it burns their skin. Most people agree, though, that their face does feel clean after using the product.
My recommendation: Only use this product if you have oily skin or an acne problem. People with sensitive skin may develop a harsh reaction to this product.

Clearasil’s Daily Clear Oil-Free Face Wash for Sensitive Skin ($5.99)
 Designed to remove dirt, oil and bacteria and includes a moisturizer to soften skin. It’s also fragrance-free and tested for sensitive skin. Users agree that it makes their skin feel really soft, however, there is a very unique smell of Clearasil’s products, which some people enjoy while some people hate it. Many users agreed, however, that this product didn’t really help with acne cleanup, it just made their face feel clean.  
My recommendation: Use this product if someone who doesn’t suffer from acne but may have sensitive skin. This product will help keep your skin staying soft.

Clean & Clear Deep Cleansing Oil-Fighting Astringent ($4.49)
This product contains “maximum-strength” acne-fighting medication that treats and helps prevent pimples. It claims it can also be used on all skin types. While users agree that this product definitely tingles, however, it does not induce a painful feeling. Many users agreed that it does a wonderful job of keeping skin clear of acne. It has been suggested that this product rids the face completely of oil, which can be a bad thing. One girl told me she used this product daily, and then another product by Clean & Clear is the Continuous Control Acne Cleanser ($6.49), a cream, in the shower. But users do say that the latter this product is very drying.
My recommendation: I would definitely say that these products should really only be used by individuals with oily skin, even though it says it’s for all skin types. Although if you have acne, these products could be effective.

High-End Products Found at Many Department Stores

Clinique Three Step System (about $52)
This product claims to have a three-step approach with first a “Liquid Facial Soap” that cleanses without getting rid of protective oils, then an exfoliator that helps smooth skin, followed by a moisturizing lotion. It also claims to clear away pollution, grime, dulling flakes, and that the non-drying formula is gentle enough for sensitive skins. Users do claim that it is drying, so only use if you truly do have oily skin (not for dry skin individuals). However, many people recommend this product because it leaves skin feeling clean and does help with breakouts. For some users, though, this product is too harsh on the skin.
My recommendation: This is the best idea if you’re someone looking to make an investment in the care of your skin (or you’ve tried cheaper alternatives) and you’re someone who has oily skin with acne.

Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash (about $20)
It’s an oil-free, “2-in-1 gel cleanser” that contains an exfoliator that effectively removes dirt and makeup. It also gently exfoliates using exfoliator beads, and claims contains “soothing botanicals” and be good for all skin types. Many users of this product claimed that they actually broke out when using it. Users say, however, that it does leave your skin feeling clean and soft and that the smell is amazing. Users also said that it wasn’t very harsh (good for dry-skinned people) and didn’t leave their skin feeling dry.
My recommendation: This is a nice alternative for individuals with sensitive and dry skin. It may be a bit pricey, but if you do suffer from dry skin, I can say from experience that this product was definitely worth it for me.

Estee Lauder Soft Clean Moisture Rich Foaming Cleanser ($20)
This is a lathering cream that claims to moisturize, clean, treat and soften skin. It’s gentle and made for dry skin. I use this in the shower, and while I have extremely dry skin, I don’t find this product to be drying, especially when I follow it with moisturizer. Some people say that the smell is too strong, but I haven’t had a problem with it. I follow it with Estee Lauder DayWear Advanced Multi-Protection Anti-Oxidant Crème SPF 15 ($45), a moisturizer that leaves my skin soft, but not oily. Additionally, it doesn’t really have an odor, which is nice.
My recommendation: I would only use this product if you’re an individual who does not have an acne problem, but has sensitive and/or dry skin. This product may not be as effective as other products if you have oily skin or acne. I love this product, especially for my skin type (very dry), so I would encourage the investment if it sounds like it’s right for you.

Overall, my advice is to try a bunch of different products. If you’re having problems with your skin, it could just be you’re not using the right cleansers for your specific skin type. See what your friends use or experiment with different brands until you find what works best for you!

Molly Scott is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Photos courtesy of drugstore.com and respective cosmetic companies.

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