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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northwestern chapter.

We all want glowing, healthy skin. Developing a solid skincare routine is key, but so much trial and error leave those new to skincare prone to damage, allergic reactions, and other pitfalls. But trying new skincare products doesn’t have to be intimidating or difficult if you follow some general tips and tricks. 

Learn About Your Skin

Just because you’ve heard a certain product works wonders for others, doesn’t mean it is perfect for you. Learning what types of products work best for you takes a lot of trial and error. Doing an oil test to determine if you have oily, dry, or combination skin can help you plan what products would be most beneficial to your skin. If you have oily skin, for example, you should try to avoid products with silicones or comedogenic oils. Sensitive skin takes more intensive experimenting. Trying out different products to determine what exactly irritates your skin is important. Common offenders include sulfates, alcohols, and fragrances. Your skin is unique to you, so don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.

Research Your Products

When buying new products, read up about the active ingredients in each. Check to make sure the other products in your routine won’t have negative reactions to each other. Also, learning how and how frequently you should use the product is crucial. For example, with exfoliants, a common pitfall is overuse, which can damage your skin and make it prone to breakouts. When introducing a new product, follow the instructions carefully and, over time, adjust to what makes sense for you. Reading reviews can be helpful to gauge if a product is worth the hype. However, keep in mind that everyone’s skin works and reacts to products differently, so positive reviews don’t always translate to positive results for you.

Patch Testing

When trying out a new skincare product, understanding how your skin interacts with it specifically is crucial. Layering on a new moisturizer or trying out a new toner, without understanding how your skin could react, could be a one-way ticket to blistering, chemical burns or other problems. If you have sensitive skin, this is especially true. Trying out your new product on a part of your skin that isn’t your face can help gauge if a product is safe and right for you. To patch test effectively, use a small amount of product on a patch on the inside of the arm or a small patch behind the ear. Both of these areas are delicate, like the skin on your face, so they can give a clear indication of your skin’s reaction to the product’s ingredients. Don’t draw any conclusions about the product right away. Waiting a minimum of 24 hours after you apply the product is crucial to determine the product’s effect on your skin.

Introduce New Products Individually

When building a skincare routine, it seems like it would make sense to dive right in and try every product under the sun. However, when trying out multiple new products at once, it becomes hard to tell what is actually making a difference for your skin. Each product in your skincare routine should serve a real function, but trying a cocktail of ingredients makes it hard to differentiate which product does what for you. Layering on 4 or 5 new products all at once could send your skin into a frenzy and make it especially hard to pinpoint any irritants. To try out new products effectively, introduce them one at a time, spending at least 1-2 weeks using the new product and trying to determine its effects.

Test for Effectiveness

After using a product for a long period of time, it gets difficult to tell if it really even does anything for you or if your skin could, potentially, survive or thrive without it. Every so often, removing a product from your skincare routine for a week can help determine if it is still worth your time and money. Keep in mind that your skin is constantly changing, so what worked a year ago might not be the holy grail in your routine today.

Skincare doesn’t have to be daunting or difficult if you follow certain rules to protect and nourish your skin. Keep in mind, your skin is unique, so listen to be sure to listen to your body in order to figure out what works best for you.

Alli Kane

Northwestern '24

Alli is a Senior at Northwestern University studying Neuroscience and Global Health. In her free time, she loves spending time with friends, working out, and exploring the Chicago food scene.