Best skin care products in the world: how to choose cosmetics that work

Best skincare products-how to find them

Best skincare products in the world: how to find and pick them

When I was 23, I didn't know anything skincare except that it was expensive.

I was chubby, and I had some acne issues. I didn't feel good about myself , but I was too ashamed to ask for help.

Luckily, help came without me asking. 

I was doing my internship in a pharmacy and there was this lady, Manuela. She was working at the skincare aisle.

Manuela is a very direct person. She told me that I was pretty except for my chin where the acne was. Manuela suggested that I start using some skincare products, and she sold me a bunch of them. 

My acne didn't improve much with those products alone.

But since that day, I became passionate about skincare  so I guess my money was well spent anyways.

By the way, my acne finally improved when, besides using cosmetics, I started to eat well and cured the hormonal unbalance I had. 

This is the foundation of everything I do.

If I could tell you ONE thing only it would be that:

Recently I have come to the conclusion that the beauty industry is populated by three different kinds of experts:

  • “Experts” who swear wonders of any skincare product they try (because they get commissions to do that).
  • Experts who acknowledge the beauty industry has a transparency issue; these people are aware most cosmetic products are just marketing, yet they don’t do anything to address the issue or change the situation.
  • Experts who acknowledge the problem and try their best to fix it.

Even though I don't like the word "expert" I do want to make a revolution in the beauty industry by bringing more transparency to the table

This is why I am developing products and selling them in a way that takes transparency extremely seriously.

Some might be as simple as cleaning your skin in a gentle way and that’s okay. 

I want to make a revolution.

I want the beauty industry to adhere to strict standards of quality and performance. 

Formulations should promise one thing and deliver it. As simple as it sounds, I truly believe this is the direction the beauty industry should turn to.

I feel for consumers: with the plethora of products the industry offers, it's hard to know what to buy to make the most out of hard-earned bucks…

So I decided to write this short guide to help YOU navigate the beauty industry. I want you to spend money on products that are really worth it!

You need to become what I call an “educated consumer". Educated doesn’t mean you need to know everything about skincare. You only need to be able to make an informed decision when purchasing. 

Best skin care products- The #1 misconception you need to know

Quality of cosmetics

Cosmetics should adhere to high quality standards.

A very common misconception is that expensive products are better than average priced/cheap ones. This is not always the case, alas. When buying high end cosmetics you’re not only paying for the product itself (ingredients, packaging, manufacturing, etc.); you’re also paying for advertising, retail locations,  research that has been sustained on certain ingredients, and so on.

Some brands can charge more because of their brand positioning. 

To help you understand this concept, think about Mc Donald’s coffee ($1) and the Blue Bottle coffee (don’t know the exact price for a cup, but I do know it’s expensive). Coffee quality is not the same, indeed. However, the difference is not so prominent to justify such price gap. Clearly, when you decide to sip Blue Bottle coffee you’re paying for the overall experience, not for the coffee itself. Blue Bottle doesn't target the same kind of customers as Mc Donald's. Their brand positioning is completely different. The same concept applies to skincare. 

Does this mean you shouldn’t buy expensive products? Not at all. 

High-end products are usually very appealing and give you a remarkable experience. Fragrances are pleasant and not overwhelming, which is important as well. As a general rule , expensive products are more polished and sophisticated.

Luckily ,if you cannot afford such expensive products, you can still find high quality cosmetics. So the real deal is learning how to differentiate a high quality product from a bad one. This is crucial when making skincare choices; in fact, some formulations out there contain more than 80% water, which basically means they won’t do anything for you, no matter what they claim on the packaging.

Best skin care products in the world- What really makes products work

The first thing you need to know is that what makes a product working is a combination of the following factors:

  • What ingredients are in the product
  • The amount of these ingredients
  • How the product is formulated (crucial!)

I used the word combination because you need all these 3 for the product to work. If one element is missing, there would be a substantial decrease in the performance. 

The first thing you want to do when selecting a product is to analyze the ingredients list. A basic understanding of how cosmetic labeling works will definitely help you choose the best skin care products. Remember that ingredients are listed in descending order. 


Learn how to read cosmetic labels

What are the active ingredients in this product? 

With “active ingredients,” I mean ingredients that have a proven record of being able to address a particular skin concern. For example, we know that hyaluronic acid , vitamin C, niacin, Retinol, Kojic acid among others are effective. We know because they’re backed by science. 

If you can’t identify any active ingredient, there could be 2 scenarios:

  • scenario #1: the product is of a very poor quality one, mostly composed of water and glycerin. 
  •  scenario #2: the product does not address a particular skin concern, yet is intended to preserve a skin that is already in good condition.  If this is the case, the product won’t do much for you. It might experience a very pleasant initial feeling right after application, but that’s it. Be wary of natural extracts as well. Most of the times, they’re so diluted that it's impossible to notice any benefits (same principle as homeopathic remedies).

Where are the active ingredients located in the list? 

Are they towards the beginning or the end? If they are towards the end, it’s not a good sign. The worse sign is reading something like /water, glycerin, dimethicone, etc. (in this order). Don’t get me wrong, glycerin is an excellent humectant for the skin , but it’s also very tacky. This is why its percentage must be limited in a formulation. Glycerin is also a very cheap ingredient (along with dimethicone); to make myself clear, if you see a product with that composition that costs more than $10.99, it’s probably not worth the money. 

Big brands are becoming increasingly aware that the order of the ingredients in the list counts; for example, the Aveeno Shampoo proudly claims that oat extract is the first ingredient. This is very important; however, we don’t know how diluted is that extract…

Some indie brands are making a difference by using hydrosols or floral water as first ingredients and/or avoid free glycerin (it means they use natural extracts in glycerin instead of just glycerin). This is definitely an improvement and something to look forward to.

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How many ingredients are there? 

As a general rule, the more the ingredients, the lower their relative % , the lower the benefits. Steer away from products that have a super long ingredients list. In this case, less is more.

Is the majority of the ingredients cheap? 

Clearly, not all ingredients are priced the same. While some companies genuinely care about consumers, others make decisions with profit in mind. There was a “moisturizing” cream on Amazon which was composed of water , glycerin, and a bunch of different silicones. Silicones are emollient, indeed. Moisturizing? Arguably. Some may say they are because of the film formed on the skin that prevents moisture loss. 

My point is that you shouldn’t be paying $60 (or more) for products that are made with cheap ingredients overseas. Because you’re not paying for the product! You’re mostly supporting the company’s by helping cover the costs for advertising, locations, testimonials, etc. (see above). You can get the same quality for $5 . An example is petrolatum. So (too) many products have a high percentage of petrolatum and are sold as they were something miraculous when you can have the same result by buying the Vaseline brand. An example of this is the La Mer lip balmretailing for $60; it claims to contain a “Miracle Broth”, yet the first ingredient we read on the label is …petrolatum! The miracle broth is probably present at 0.001%. Guess what? You wouldn't even notice if it wasn't in there.  

Analyzing the ingredients list can give you a pretty clear understanding of the /overall quality/ of a product, but there’s more to consider. Let's jump to point 3

How has the product been formulated? 

Formulation affects the quality and the performance of a product

Unfortunately, consumers have no way of knowing how a product has been formulated , and this is a big issue. In fact, while the presence of active ingredients is certainly beneficial, the presence itself is not enough. The formulation plays a huge role. For example, there are some ingredients that are active only within certain pH level. If you make a mistake with the pH, the active ingredient is not going to work.

This is why I always suggest to avoid purchasing from DIYers, at least when it comes to skincare. You want someone with a strong chemistry background AND years of experience to be formulating cosmetics. Certain skills cannot (and should not) be improvised.

Has the company performed some kind of *independent* clinical testing on the product? 

90% of the time , the answer is a sound no. There are either no data at all or, if you’re lucky, only some small studies performed on 4/5 subjects (family and friends).

It’s also important to point out that, when present, these studies have been designed by the company itself. Clearly, no Government research entity will ever set up a double blind placebo study to make sure claims are substantiated. Still, it's a good sign!

The best brands are those that not only perform clinical studies but also share the results publicly. 

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Let me ask you something: when was the last time you read on a magazine about a beauty product that doesn’t work? I’m serious. Truth is, it never happens. Conversely, you’ll find tons of vaguely alleged values.

Don’t even make me start on posts you see on social media because those are the worst: fake reviews, influencers who get paid to endorse products they don’t even use, celebrities who dare to swear their flawless visage is due to a miraculous serum.

The only way to know if a product really works is to conduct clinical studies. Ideally, these studies should highlight a noticeable difference between the “before” and “after”. 

When I mention clinical studies, I’m only referring to skincare products whose promises seem a little bit “too much”. No need to perform clinical studies for products that only claim to be gentle on the skin or to leave it soft and supple. Nobody would ever perform a test to prove that a detergent really cleans.

You shouldn't trust online reviews and, at the same time, from a consumer’s prospective, statements such as “clinically proven” or “dermatologist approved” are misleading. They could refer to almost anything. You need to investigate what studies have been performed and what conclusions were drawn from them. 

What are the "best" face products?

Since there are literally millions of skin care brands and products and I haven't tried them all, I don't feel I'm the position to tell you what to buy and what products are superior. I will give you my opinion on specific products in the comments section.

To summarize, I want to give you some guidelines that will allow you to understand and chose the best face products. 

As a general rule, the best face products are not necessarily luxury skin care products such as LaMer or La Prairies. Also the so called "medical grade" facial treatments at the end of the day are no different than regular ones.

The only way to know is to look at the ingredients list, clinical studies, and company's profile. 

As far as the ingredients, opt for products that state the concentration of the active ingredient. For example , a serum than contains 10% niacinamide is better than one that doesn't say anything (especially if you see niacinamide towards the end of the list...). 

Keep in mind that smaller companies might have higher prices compared to big corporations because their costs are higher. This leads to the fact that a $300 jar of LaMer cream is overpriced BUT a similar product from a very small company might not be. Huge companies are able to buy packaging and ingredients in bulk , thus paying less for those. 

If you have sensitive skin, avoid products that contain colorants (on the ingredients list as CI followed by a number) and fragrances. 

There's no such thing as "BEST PRODUCTS". There's the product that works best for you which is a completely different concept. Yes, we can look up the ingredients but at the end of the day we don't know how companies work behind closed door. 

Take what I say as starting point , but then go out and make your own research. Try different products and see what works the best FOR YOU.

Best skin care products in the world-Make a difference with your brand

If you own a beauty brand or planning to start one, make sure to adopt a real approach of transparency.

Transparency seems to be a buzzword nowadays.

You need to make it a reality for your brand.

People don't trust companies like they used to. Brand loyalty is going down as well. You need to give your customers a reason to buy from you and one to come back. Creating simple yet effective products is always a damn good strategy.

#1 Make sure you're able to substantiate the marketing claims you make; if you aren't, don't make them. Simple as that.

2# Don't fool customers into believing they'll obtain some instant anti-age effect or they'll look 10 years younger. They won't. 

3# Do your homework and apply the transparency rule. For example, if you claim your ingredients are natural, make sure they really are. This seems obvious, however you have no idea how many products I see that are not 100% natural yet they claim they are. Truly disappointing.

I hope this "small guide" on how to choose the best skincare products was useful. If you have  specific products to analyze or questions,  write me in the comments section.

307 thoughts on “Best skin care products in the world: how to choose cosmetics that work

  1. Marcella says:


    I am 68 years old and have developed what has to be the worlds most dry skin, mainly due to serious illness and meds which dry out skin, especially my face. I am on a fixed income and really can’t afford to spend a lot on skin care. Could you recommend products that might help my in regaining softness and nice looking skin?

    I loved this article but would appreciate recommendations from you.

    • Luisa says:

      Hi Marcella! For the body, I would suggest to use Vaseline at night and CeraVe cream during the day. Vaseline is very effective for dry skin. You should be using it at night because being very greasy can be unpleasant used as a daily moisturizer. To make CeraVe even more effective, you could add some drops of oil to it. CeraVe can be used for face, too so you don’t buy 2 different products. Let me know if this helps you!

    • Estela says:

      I have extremely dry skin as well due to eczema. I would suggest castor oil, which I ordered through Amazon. It’s thick enough to stay on my skin like Vaseline but absorbs much better. I have also found jars of homemade skin creams at farmers markets made with shea butter and other natural oils and essential oils to be helpful as well.

  2. Ysa says:

    Luisa I really like you. You are so straightfoward!!!

    If you have spare time I would like to ask for your opinion about sisley and La Prarie. One is a french botanical skincare brand and the other is proudly announced their famous serum works as efficent as botox injection.

    Many thanks!

    • Ankitha hansoge says:

      Hello Luisa,
      So glad that i read your article. I am from India. Now in India all claims are towards sulphate free and paraben free. If these claims are there it is a superior and expensive product.
      Also cosmetics are towards natural ingredients bloke aloe vera, saffron and turmeric. How do we figure out the authenticity of these?
      Have you tested Indian Brands anytime?

      • Luisa says:

        I don’t have much experience with Indian products. I am a fan of turmeric , but as usual it’s important to see whether it is added at the right amount and properly formulated.

  3. sara says:

    I have severe acne problem on my cheeks and far as now i have tried clindamycin po4 gel…but no significant results..please recommend smthg which would actually work on my oily skin .

  4. Angela says:

    Hi Luisa, what about Nuskin AgeLOC products? They claim their products are ‘all of the good n none of the bad’. And I’ve seen many good real life testimonies on their products. I don’t read ingredients but I care for safety n results.