If you don’t know who Chemist Confessions are, you’re seriously missing out. Chemist Confessions is an Instagram account with nearly 12,000 followers, dedicated to decoding beauty BS.
The duo, Gloria and Victoria, who are both skin care chemists, decode product labels, provide unbiased reviews, explain the science behind different ingredients in skin care, and more (with cute little graphics included)!
We spoke with them about everything from their career beginnings in beauty and chemistry to the most overrated skin care ingredient and the most important thing to look at before buying a beauty product. Read on to find out what they said!
What first inspired you to go into chemistry?
For Gloria, it was a complete accident. She knew she wanted to pursue a degree in STEM, and that was about it. Victoria actually didn’t like chemistry at all in the beginning but grew to love the application of chemistry through research.
How did you make the transition into beauty? Why?
Gloria’s first job out of college was to watch paint dry…literally. So after that, she got an internship in a beauty lab, and she fell in love with the science behind skin care formulas. Victoria was doing some acne research in grad school and realized she didn’t want to go into pharmaceuticals. She thought the beauty industry would be more fun and has been pretty happy with that decision ever since.
Have you tried any Korean beauty or the 10-step Korean beauty routine? What do you think of it? How do you think K-beauty is different from other types of skin care?
We’re both minimalists (AKA lazy) so we can’t speak to the 10-step routine. As long as a person can get in their cleanser, moisturizer and sunblock, we think that’s a great foundation to start with. We do think the 10-step routine serves as a great framework and guideline for order of application.
Do you have any favorite K-beauty products?
We don’t really have any favorites but we do enjoy pampering ourselves with those soothing sheet masks.
How do you go about testing new products?
Patch testing our faces! Everybody’s skin comes with its own set of quirks, which means what may work for one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else. That’s both the challenge and beauty of a person’s unique regimen. So really all we can do is patch test and then wait and see if the product brings any help.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve found since starting Chemist Confessions and breaking down popular products?
Really the most surprising thing is how welcoming and encouraging the Instagram community has been. We brush on some controversial ideas but everyone has been really tolerant and open to a discussion of ideas. (We should also note that they are really tolerant of our dorky humor.) That’s really all we could hope for with Instagram.
What are some skin care ingredients that you think every person should know about? What are your favorite ingredients?
We think everyone should give the unsexy classics a chance. Things like glycerin, panthenol, vitamin E, vitamin C, retinol, etc. Most of these ingredients have been studied for decades and come with a solid backing.
Our current favorite due to the bitter cold is petrolatum. It’s the occlusive gold standard and really great for keeping dry patches of skin at bay, which has really been our enemy this winter.
What’s one skin care ingredient that’s completely overrated?
Peptides. They’re typically very expensive and yet the data for the most part is lacking.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when buying skin care?
Keeping consistent with the routine! In this day and age and with so many products to try, it’s too easy to want to change up the routine if you’re not seeing results in a few days. Our skin needs at least 4 weeks to see visible results following a consistent routine. Patience is a virtue!
What is the most important thing people should look at before purchasing a skin care product?
Probably the most important thing you can do is to listen to what your skin needs. There’s so much noise out there in the skincare market that it’s really hard to decide or even stick to a regimen. Each of us has unique and dynamic skin that can react to ingredients differently. If you can decipher how ingredients work (or don’t work) for your skin, you’re already able to make a better product choice, saving yourself time and money.
What are your best tips for hormonal acne and anti-aging (other than sunscreen)?
For hormonal acne, probably the only tip we can give is to do everything you can to relax, pamper, and heal…and then when you’ve had enough, seek a derm. Hormonal acne is a complex problem that can stem from different internal causes and the resulting acne tends to also develop at deeper layers of the skin. So despite wanting to poke, prod, and attack those pimples with all the acids in the world, your skin is already under fire. You want to minimize the amount of added irritation. A dermatologist will be able to address and provide more targeted solutions.
What are the biggest skin myths you wish people would stop believing?
Naturals! Just because it’s from a plant doesn’t mean it’ll solve all your skin problems or is necessarily more safe than its “chemical” counterpart.