How To Use Up Your Old Beauty Potions

overhead shot of colorful soaps, oils and flowers on a beige tabletop

Have you ever noticed

that skincare products geared toward women come with a plethora of items?  Smart companies market them, enumerating all the steps you need to complete your fountain of youth routine.  These same companies that produce skincare products for men, however, have far fewer products for the “man lines”.

light pink bar of soap resting on a hot pink spongeI spoke with the owner of a large skincare company, and she told me that “men won’t comply with so many steps, so we have to make it easy for them.”

I don’t believe that men can’t figure out

how to use 15 different products a day as part of their routine.  They simply don’t want to.  Society has not hounded them to look like Dorian Gray.  (Watch the movie “The Picture of Dorian Gray” if you don’t know what I’m talking about!)  Men are allowed to age, and women are judged harshly for doing the same.

Men do have thicker skin than women.

That is a biological statement, not a metaphor.  Their facial hair underneath the skin acts as a reinforcement, kind of like rebar in concrete.  They structurally have a better, built-in anti-aging physiology.  man in white t-shirt with shaving cream shaving his faceCouple that with a lack of desire to use a dozen products, and you have a complete male skin care line of 2-3 items. This is a generalization.  There are men who use multiple skincare products, but I believe they are still in the minority.  Most of the men I know use plain soap as their entire skincare regimen.

While it might look like clever or perhaps opportunistic marketing on the part of skincare manufacturers, there is actually a very good reason to have multiple products.

Products that are targeted for a specific purpose

are a certain pH, which stands for potential of Hydrogen.  The pHcolorful bottles and tubes of skincare products on a white surface scale goes from 0 to 14, in which 7 is the neutral point.  The lower the number on the scale, the more acidic, and the higher numbers are alkaline.  I’m not a chemist, but it is important to understand this a little bit as it relates to skincare.  Some skincare products are more acidic or alkaline than others.

If you have one item that is anti-aging, moisturizing, exfoliating, rejuvenating, etc, and contains multiple active ingredients, you may have a problem. The different pH levels of these ingredients can compete with each other, and render their benefits useless.  You can layer different products on your skin and they will work just fine.  But, if they live together long enough in a jar, the active ingredients will fight with, and effectively “kill” each other.

This is why I am not against multiple steps in a skin care routine.

If you have an active ingredient suspended in a certain pH that doesn’t get along with another pH, then bottles and tubes of facial serums, with flowers and greenery in the backgroundthey need to live in separate jars!  This does not mean that some ingredients cannot be combined.  My favorite moisturizer Revision SPF 50 is also my sunscreen.  I don’t have to use a moisturizer and a separate sunscreen, because they can live together in the same tube.

Even so, I do believe some skin care systems include more steps than one might actually need to get the desired results.  There are a few simple rules to follow that might prevent you from overdoing it when it comes to skincare products.

My first recommendation would be to visit either a Dermatologist, or a Licensed Esthetician

who has more of a focus on results, versus relaxation.  There is nothing wrong with having a relaxing facial, but if your skin does not improve over time, you may want to move on.

The products carried at department stores have gotten better, but in most cases are sold by people who are trained incartoon image of jar of cream, sitting on a giant green leaf with a purple background sales, not skincare.  I’d skip the department store and stick with the Dermatology or Esthetician route.

The second thing to remember is your Dermatologist or Esthetician cannot do it all for you.  Even if you go every month for a facial treatment, that is only 12 treatments a year.  You need to take care of your skin 365 days a year.  A good cleanser, preferably with Glycolic Acid, is step one in any effective skin care system. Take a peek at my favorite cleanser. You can have a simple routine, but you have to cleanse your face both in the morning and at night.  If you do nothing more than that, you are treating your skin 730 times a year.

The next step is sunscreen.

Sunscreen is actually the last step, or layer, in a skincare regimen, but for the sake of simplicity I’ll talk about it now.  Many people don’t wear sunscreen because they don’t like the way it feels or smells.  Find a sunscreen that you like.  As I mentioned, I love my sunscreen/moisturizer combo.  It doesn’t leave me with a white film like a Kabuki dancer, I don’t smell like a coconut and it is very lightweight on my skin.  It is broad spectrum UV-A and UV-B protection, and an SPF 50.  It’s not cheap, but I only have one face.

silhouette of a black vampire bat flying with pink sky in the background Sunscreen should be worn daily, regardless of the weather.

If you keep vampire hours and never see the light of day, you can get away with not using it.  Everyone else will benefit from daily sunscreen use.  Aside from help in preventing skin cancer, it can slow down the progression of fine lines and wrinkles.

I look at skin cleanser and sunscreen like bookends.

You start your routine with cleansing your face, and end it with sunscreen.  You don’t have to do anything in between if you don’t want to.  If you’d like the simplest skincare regimen on the planet, do that.

I love products.  As an Esthetician, I’ve spent quite a bit of time (and money) researching the best products I could get my hands on.  These include vitamin C products, DNA repair products, exfoliators…. well, you get the picture.  I have lots and lots of products that I have tried.  Some I like, some, not so much.

People fall into three camps in the world of unwanted products.

They continue to collect them, and not use them, or they don’t want to buy anything new until they’ve used up the old.  seven tubes of lipstick in purple, light blue, dark blue, green, yellow, orange and redThe third camp would be donating, or tossing products you don’t want to use up.  I do find that people have a hard time doing that, especially if they’ve paid “good money” for these items.

I attended a Dermatology seminar for a product launch.

We were introduced to the products, and got a swag bag of each full size item.  I instantly dove into my 8 ounce cleanser, vitamin A cream, eye cream, etc.  There was a lot of stuff.  Even though this was a medical grade line, I didn’t really like it.  After using it for months, my skin looked no different.  Other products I’ve used showed results much faster, so I was disappointed.  I wasn’t going to throw it out, but I felt like it was getting in the way of me using other things that gave me the benefits I wanted.  They were already partly used, so I didn’t want to give them away.

The organizer in me came up with a solution.  I would use these products up, but not for their intended purposes.lady applying white hand lotion on the back of her hand  They eye cream container was really large.  It would have reached the expiration date long before I could have possibly used it all up.  I decided to start using it on my arms.  Daily, from my wrist to my elbow, I applied the eye cream.  Even using a generous dose, it took over 6 months to finish off the eye cream.  Other specialty products were used on my legs as body cream, and the facial cleanser became a body cleanser.  It took some time, but eventually the containers were finally empty.

I now tell everyone who has a collection of unused products cluttering

up their bathroom to either toss them, or re-purpose the way they use them.  Get creative.  If you have little bottles left over from hotels (who here among us doesn’t?), you could refill them with the stuff you want to use up.  They could be put in a travel bag, or donated (labeled properly) to a shelter.  Give them to a church going on a mission’s trip.

white bottles with dark lids, on multiple open shelves on white subway tile, and an old sinkMore than a decade ago, I had the statistics on the dollar amount of unused skin and body products people in the US had in their bathrooms.  It was around $400.  Even back then, I felt that I was bringing up the national average, as I had way more than that.  I suspect the number today is much higher.

I’d like to challenge everyone to take an inventory of all the unused and unwanted products in your bathroom, or wherever you keep them.  Group them together by type of item (sunscreens, shampoos, etc) to see how much you have of each item.  Select the items you love, want and will use.  Gather the other items and make a plan to either get rid of them, or use them up quickly.

Think twice before buying new products when you still have the old to use up.

It’s not like collecting stamps or gold coins.  These will not go up in value! Even if your skincare regime has 8 products, if you only have what you use, you’ll have way less than the average person!

How many skincare products do you have right now?  Do you use them all?  Can you make a plan to pare down? Would you like me to review your collection, and help you decide which are the best products to keep?  Let me know on my Facebook page at Elaine’s Lane

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