How to find the best skin care products

Best Skin Care Products For Blemish Prone Skin

So this is post number 2 (here’s post 1) in my Blemish Free Skin Care Series in which I’ll share the process I’m using to find the best skin care products for blemish prone skin…

It all started after I read an almost too good to be true recommendation for Perricone MD’s Blue Plasma. A £78 beautiful blue tinted elixir that promises to replenish and revive the skin, I was mesmorised and even more so after the beauty blogger who reviewed it said it did exactly that.

So in a Google search to find out more I stumbled upon Paula’s Choice, a website by ‘The Cosmetics Cop’ Paula Begoun which features her range of skin care products but also, and more interestingly, a ton of brand and product reviews.

Now I’ll start by saying, given she’s also selling her own products I do cross reference her opinion (more on that later) but she does offer references to scientific reports that support her claims and, seems to be just as complimentary as she is critical about various brands and products.

Unfortunately when it comes to Perricone MD, Paula is quite critical and I was fascinated to read her comments on the powers of Blue Plasma’s ingredients:

“This menthol-derived ingredient produces a cooling sensation that may feel like it’s doing something special for skin, but it’s actually irritating your skin”


“Blue Plasma contains dimethyl MEA. Also known as DMAE, this ingredient is controversial because research has shown conflicting results. It seems to offer an initial benefit that improves skin, but these results are short-lived and eventually give way to destruction of the substances in skin that help build healthy collagen”


Her last comment especially struck me as after using my skin care products for some time, I no longer felt I was seeing any benefits. Whilst they didn’t contain DMAE, it did make me wonder just how effective my current skin care products were. So began the process for finding the best skin care products for my skin…

1. Check if current skin care products are myth or miracle.

Years ago I went on a girly holiday to Atlanta armed with Clearasil face wash in a desperate attempt to try and tackle my skin issues. As the face wash completely polarized my combination skin, a friend took pity on me and recommended I try Origins.

After picking up some samples I was in awe. The face wash made an immediate difference, unifying the extremes of my combination skin and with that I was hooked on the whole range. Up until the past few months my staple skin care had been:

  1. Cleanse: Checks & Balances
  2. Tone: United State Balancing Face Tonic
  3. Moisturise: Origins Starting Over
  4. Exfoliate: Modern Friction
  5. Mask: Clear Improvement or Out of Trouble

After reading Paula’s notes on Blue Plasma I couldn’t help but check her review of Origins. Could these products actually be holding me back from blemish free skin? Using Paula’s Choice products reviews I vetted my routine and discovered to my horror every single products was rated poor. All were laden with what Paula deems irritating fragrances, some contained drying alcohol and as for the wondrous cleanser that started it all:

“a very drying, alkaline cleanser that’s made even more troublesome because it contains spearmint, lavender, and geranium oils”

Seriously? What’s so bad about spearmint, lavender and geranium oils? I’m still making up my mind on those but there’s no harm in avoiding them in my facial skin care routine.

There was no denying that after years of my old skin care products / routine my skin was definitely showing symptoms of irritation. In fact, it looked quite tired and a little sad too.

Even without a Paula’s choice review I had known something was wrong but I was  now a bit more informed about what might be contributing to the problem, so suffice to say my skin care routine has changed completely which brings me to the next step…

2. Find the best skin care products for blemish prone skin

Origins vs FAB Cleanser - Best Skin Care Products For Blemish Prone Skin

LEFT: Old cleanser pH 8 = alkaline RIGHT: New cleanser pH 5 = neutral

After discovering my skin care products were perhaps not all they were cracked up to be, I set about looking for products that might be a lot less irritating and a lot more beneficial to the skin.

So I wrote a list of what I would need to tackle my blemishes, hyperpigmentation and overall complexion issues and  went through the following process to vet and check the best products for my skin:

  1. Check Paula’s best products list. Be sure to filter by skin type then price lowest to highest. There’s no point paying £70 for something you can get for £10.
  2. Note products I like the sound of and check if they’re available in the UK. It can be rather frustrating to find some of your favourite picks were only available in the US.
  3. Check reviews of your product picks on MakeUpAlley. This is the cross referencing point I made earlier and a vital step. Some of the products recommended on Paula’s Choice were hammered on MUA so definitely worth cross-referencing her opinion with others.
  4. Select high-rated products. Only consider purchasing products with an average rating of 4-4.5 and higher.
  5. Last but not least, check if you can get samples. SpaceNK, Sephora, Selfridges and other beauty counters tend to provide samples on skin care for you to try if you ask. We don’t have Sephora in the UK anymore (extreme sad face) but I have found SpaceNK to be very generous in providing samples.

So overall this process has been very helpful in pointing me in the right direction BUT it is not fool proof. The fact is, skin care is a very individual thing. I’ve discovered some things that have really helped (product reviews coming next Sunday) but also others that broke me out so if you have sensitive skin, as I do, there’s still going to be an element of trial and error to find what works for you.

And of course you can skip this process entirely and see a dermatologist to get tailored advice to your skin, which I’m sure would be a great help. Have you seen a dermatologist? Used Paula’s Choice or Make Up Alley? How do you choose your skin care? Head to the comments box below and share your top tips or experience of finding the best skin care for your skin.

Coming up next week:

  • My best skin care products for blemish prone skin

Disclaimer: I’m not a dermatologist or a beauty professional. I’m only writing this series to share my experience of tackling the frustration of having blemish prone skin and hope it’ll be helpful to others who have the same issue. Feel free to share your experiences, recommendations, tips and such x

Amongst many other things, I'm a 30-something contemplative Londoner making the daily commute between contentment and ambition.When not blogging, I'm using my talents for good as communications director at Gingerland and co-founder of Love Harlem.


  • Reply July 2, 2013

    Beauty Is Diverse

    I’m on the hunt for new products as well as I had a bad breakout early this year due to stress. I find sometimes just making more time to relax or getting a massage helps with clearing up breakouts.

    • Reply July 2, 2013


      Absolutely, and a nice relaxing session at the steam baths is great for clearing congested skin. The more I learn how susceptible women are to breakouts from stress, hormones etc the more I come to see that a bit of pampering is less of a treat and more essential to our wellbeing.

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