Prepackaged Skin Care: What You Need To Know

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Plenty of things in life are intimidating, like making the first move, asking for a major salary hike, and navigating Whole Foods during after-work rush hour. But, lately, our skin-care routines seem to have snuck onto the list of things likely to give us heart palpitations. All the regimens with seemingly endless steps and the massive amount of product information out there make finding a routine that works feel like murky territory. That's why many brands have started rolling out prepackaged kits that contain everything you need (i.e. three to five products) for a bare-bones regimen.

This skin-care method has plenty of benefits, not the least of which is that it's easy to follow. "Studies show that if you give people too many choices, it actually impedes their ability to choose," says Craig Kraffert, MD, dermatologist and president of Amarte Skin Care. His brand is rolling out four new sets this month: groups of products that work in conjunction with one another to achieve certain results. He developed the kits not only to narrow down customers' choices, but to help introduce them to the brand in general. "It's kind of like ordering from the prix fixe menu," he says. "They're going to put more into making sure it's the truest expression of what [the brand] does." 

He's not the only skin-care expert on board with prepackaged skin care. "I think the model works beautifully with acne [products]," says Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, a Washington, D.C.-based dermatologist. "It takes the guesswork out of it." Effective acne treatment requires mixing several ingredients that can't always exist in the same packaging. If you have a scrub with benzoyl peroxide and a serum with salicylic acid, you're layering these pimple-zappers in an effective way. And, plenty of prepackaged skin-care kits come with specific targets in mind, whether it's wrinkle reduction, brightening, or acne
But, Dr. Tanzi is quick to point out that prepackaged regimens aren't right for every kind of skin issue. "The model breaks down when you get into anti-aging," she says. "While everyone's acne can typically be treated in the same way, anti-aging issues vary so drastically from person to person." While some people have discoloration, others may need to target dry skin. Dr. Kraffert says that everyone may not like every product in one of these kits. "You could get the box home and love the face wash, but hate the moisturizer," he says. 

The trick to cracking this nut is to clearly define what your issue is. "The more defined your problem, the better off you'll be," Dr. Tanzi says. "You want to concentrate on one thing — acne, discoloration, etc. The more things you try to cover, the harder it's going to be." 

Dr. Kraffert stresses that you should see these kits as jumping-off points instead of full-blown regimens. "These are the basics, but a good regimen includes a whole host of products," he says. "You could add masks, night creams, and more to round out the treatment." We suggest picking up one of these guys if you're suffering from one specific issue and looking to target it head-on — or if you're just starting out in your skin-care adventure. It's all about knowing yourself and your skin. Once you've got that down, the whole thing becomes a lot less intimidating.
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