How we chosen the 2019 SELF Wholesome Magnificence Award winners
Then it was time to look at our results. And then it got a little more complicated.
The universe of over-the-counter beauty products is somewhat overwhelming. It is plagued by misunderstandings, confusing and sometimes frightening marketing language, contradicting or limited research results, not much transparency and almost no government regulation. All of this makes it difficult to say for sure whether you absolutely should use it or absolutely avoid it … well, most products because you can’t exactly know how much of each ingredient they contain. Is there enough of Ingredient A to be effective? Is there not enough Ingredient B to cause irritation? It can be difficult, if not impossible, to find out. (For more information on the science of skin care and the basics of skin care, check out our new comprehensive guide to skin care here.)
To make matters a little trickier, there were certain products that appeared to go very well with the experts’ recommendations, but the testers – people with actual skin conditions – found them irritating or ineffective. There were also products that didn’t match the experts’ guidelines that well, but the testers absolutely raved about them.
Finally, there is the obvious fact that what makes a good beauty product can be incredibly subjective. Our testers agreed on many products … and disagreed on others. In the world of beauty, a great many things depend on personal preference and there is no one size fits all.
For all these reasons, when selecting the products to be considered and awarded, we decided to stay away from absolutist languages such as “must” and “never” when it comes to certain ingredients. Instead, we approached the expert recommendations as directional information rather than strict requirements, and we gave extra weight to products that came more from the “Search for” column and less from the “Avoid” column. We’ve also added weight to the products that most reviewers seemed to love. Our winners and the products we tested reflect this selection.
With this in mind, we make a point in each product description to indicate whether the product received “bonus points”, so to speak, for some of the good products, and also note when the products contained ingredients that some of the experts highlighted in order to stay away . We have also determined this for proposals that differed from our own reporting.
What the experts said
The feedback we received from our amazing group of dermatologists and our ophthalmologist has been wonderfully extensive. Numerous tables were required to keep track of things. The following is a high-level summary of the recommendations for various product categories based on your particular concern, skin type, or condition. The actual information they gave was far more detailed than this, but we thought this would be the most useful way of presenting the information.
You may find a lot of repetition in this list – but all of the tracks. Some powerful ingredients can be effective and beneficial regardless of your skin type. and as well, some are probably wise to avoid if given a choice. Here’s how we broken it down:
- ON THE LABEL: This refers to the language that you can search for on cosmetic product labels. Remember, much of what you see on a label is marketing jargon with no regulation. That said, it can still be helpful as a starting point for your search.
- SEARCH: These are the ingredients that our experts recommended.
- AVOID IF POSSIBLE: These are the ingredients our experts should look out for – either because the ingredients may make your skin type or condition worse, or because they are trying to discourage customers in general.