Forget the big magazines and turn to the internet for help. Big Name Cleanser paid for all of the recommendations in your trusted magazine. On the internet there are people who are very passionate about their subject. There are tons of blogs that are dedicated to reviewing skin care products and beauty items. These sites are not part of the corporate world and don't play by their rules. If you are afraid that the site is just another large magazine type of business then go ahead and read their advertising policy.
Give your skin care products time to work. No skin care routine or product is going to perform an overnight miracle. Give each product you try a few weeks to do its job before you declare it "crap" and move on to something else. That's enough time to see if break-outs have decreased or the product if performing well. Then you can move to something else if you need to. A lot of people use multiple products before they find one they like and that works.
Keep a record of all of the products that you have tried and the effects that those products have had on your skin. Write down your experiences in a notebook. You can quickly narrow your choices down by scratching out the poor performing contenders. Knowing what you have tried and how good it works is probably your best ally. Once you get this going you will become confident in spotting quality skin care products. Certain classes of products share similar ingredients; if you are allergic to that ingredient then you will have to look at other product types. If the last three cleansers you've tried have made your skin red and raw, you might need something made for sensitive skin or that is based in lotion. There are a lot of ways to figure out which are the best skin care products for you and your skin type. You'll always find people whose skin reacts just fine to almost any product. Then there are so many others who require a little more support. Be patient and dog it - in no time you'll know what skin products work for you and which ones you want to avoid.