Let’s face it, you have more skincare products on your sink than you know what to do with. You may not even know how to use them all. It’s better to start small and add items as you go. This way, if any products react with your skin, you’ll have an easier time finding the problem child. You’re also going to want to use the same products for at least 30 days to observe the best results of each item. I’m going to break it down for you from the simplest, bare-bones routine to the mademoiselle. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
First off, some definitions
You’ll see these ingredients throughout this article, so you’d better have an idea of what they’re all about.
Collagen: It occurs naturally in our skin but diminishes with age. “You can help slow the rate that your body will naturally lose collagen by not smoking and staying out of the sun,” says NBC News health editor Madelyn Fernstrom in an interview with the today show. Collagen supplements work to replenish our natural stores and provides the plump, squishy feeling of healthy, young skin. You’ll find it in creams, gels, and some eye masks.
Hyaluronic acid: Another naturally occurring substance, HA supplements are usually labeled as serums. It’s important in moisture retention.
Snail Moist: This is an essence found as an added ingredient in face creams. In case you’re wondering, yes, it is from snail slime and yes, it is for moisture management.
Vitamins E and C: These are added to serums as an antioxidant. They prevent free radicals in the environment from breaking down your skin tissue.
Niacinamide: Also known as vitamin B3, it is added to many serum products. It has many benefits including a reduction in pore size, smoothing fine lines, and evening out skin tone.
Zinc: A mineral this time, zinc is added to serums and acne treatments. Its main effect is to help with healthy tissue rebuilding.
First Stop – Skin Type
There are three basic skin types: oily, dry, and normal. “To figure out your skin type, think about how your skin acts without any make or products on it a few hours after taking a shower” recommends Sarah Jacoby of Self Magazine. Give your face a good, gentle cleaning with soap and water, pat dry and wait thirty minutes or so. If at this point your skin looks shiny, or you can wipe the oil off on a tissue, you have oily skin. If your skin is flat, or ashy looking, you have dry skin. If you have neither of these, congratulations, you have normal skin! Combination skin is the case where you may have a mix of oily and dry between your forehead, nose, cheeks, & chin. Also note that if you have sensitive skin or acne, you’re going to want to find products that say “non-comedogenic”. All this means is that it’s specially formulated to not block your pores.
The Basic Routine
The absolute least that you must do every day for your skin is cleanse, tone, moisturize, and sunscreen. If you have young, normal skin, this may be all you need in your daily routine. Let’s break down each of these under the microscope.
Cleanse: Cleansing is a must every day, twice a day. In the morning you’ll be removing the excess oils that can build up overnight and starting your day with a clean canvas. The evenings are all about removing makeup and sweat you’ve accumulated. You’ll want to find the right cleanser for your skin type.
Oily Skin: If you have oily skin you may benefit from doing a double cleanse. You want to start with an oil-based cleanser. I know it sounds backward, but oil-based cleansers help remove makeup and get deep into the pores and bind to excess oils, clearing them out. Your second cleanse will be with a water-based cleanser to clean out dirt and sweat and any remaining product.
Dry Skin: Find a cleanser that has an added hydration like shea butter. Dry skin requires gentle cleaning and products that leave the little natural oils you have in place. Look for something a little thicker like a lotion-type cleanser that won’t dry your skin out further.
Normal Skin: You can use a wider array of cleansing products but steer clear of anything harsh that might throw off your pH. Never use bar soap as this can lead to dry, irritated skin.
Sensitive skin, Eczema, or Psoriasis: You can use oil for your cleanser. You can try a mixture of any of coconut, jojoba, castor, or olive oils. This will leave as much natural oil as possible and keep your skin well hydrated.
Mature Skin: With age comes special care for your skin. Balms or butters work best in this case. They come out like butter and melt with a little rubbing between your palms. Gently apply these with a circular motion to increase circulation while you cleanse.
Micellar water is a great product used often in France. It contains no soaps, so it will never dry your skin. It attracts dirt and oil and is fine to use with any skin type. Once applied, it doesn’t need to be rinsed off like other cleansers, just a soft wipe to put it on and you’re done.
The next step in your routine is going to be toner. You may recall toner from our younger years when it was an alcohol-laden, skin-cleaner designed mainly for acne use. Those days are gone, and today’s toners are designed to add nutrients, balance pH and assist your other products in working better. Think of it as replenishing anything stripped away during cleansing. Toners are applied gently with your hands. Using applicators like cotton pads can cause you to lose a lot of products and may pull your skin causing micro-tears. Apply a little to your fingers and gently dab it on. Toner is another product you’re going to use in the morning and before bed.
Oily skin: Seek a toner that has a light exfoliator. It is important with an exfoliating product that you avoid ones that have ground nut shells or pits. These are much too abrasive and can also cause micro-tears in the skin. A light chemical exfoliator will remove dead skin and debris and leave your skin soft.
Dry skin: In this instance, you’re going to want to opt for a toner that has added hydration. You’ll find toners that contain added essence like essential oils or rose water. This will give you a good moisture barrier base before you add your final moisturizer.
Normal skin: Most toners will work for normal skin. Just make sure that it balances pH and doesn’t contain any harsh ingredients like alcohol.
Sensitive skin, Eczema, or Psoriasis: You’ll want to follow the dry skin protocol using a hydrating toner and avoiding any abrasives or alcohol.
Mature skin: There are great toner products out there for mature skin. Look for something with added peptides. These little guys smooth fine lines, reduce redness, and even help with sun-damaged skin. Look for something alcohol-free and with and added antioxidants. This way you’ll prevent further damage from free radicals in the environment.
The best toners are going to contain added ingredients such as:
- Hydroxy acids to gently exfoliate
- Hyaluronic acids to help your skin hold on to its moisture
- Rose water or green tea extracts to soothe hot spots
- Vitamin E and/or C to fight oxidation which causes premature aging
The final step in our basic setup is to lock in the hydration with a good moisturizer. Quality moisturizers seal in your natural moisture and make the skin soft and supple. It will also lock in your native skin oils and the cells which rebuild damaged skin. Retaining moisture gets harder as we age, so it becomes more and more important with every birthday candle. Be cautious in hot or humid areas not to use a moisturizer that is too heavy, otherwise, it will be more than your shining personality people will notice. You’re going to moisturize both in the morning and evening. You’ll find moisturizers labeled as day cream or night cream, use them accordingly. Day creams contain more antioxidants to prevent damage from your environment. They’re also going to be lighter as they serve as the base layer of your makeup. Night creams are a little heavier because they contain ingredients that help repair skin while you sleep and prevent hyperpigmentation aka dark spots.
Oily skin: Look for a water-based gel moisturizer. It will absorb rapidly and won’t add unwanted shine. These are usually very light and dry quickly.
Dry skin: If you pick up an oil-based cream, it will penetrate deeply and prevent flaky patches. These creams are a little heavier and may not work in hot, humid areas. In that case, get a soft cream that goes on lighter and absorbs quicker.
Normal skin: You can use typical moisturizing lotion. It’s not too heavy or greasy and absorbs quickly.
Sensitive skin, eczema, or psoriasis: Balms are the best to use here. They’re going to be heavier and may contain ingredients like beeswax to act as a moisture barrier. Again, watch the heat.
Mature skin: Hyaluronic acid is the key ingredient for mature skin. It will hold many times its weight in water to plump up and hydrate aging skin. High-end products will contain ceramides which are fats that repair and protect the skin.
It should be a minimum of 30 SPF. You can find some moisturizers that have sunscreen added but often it is only 15 SPF. Check the labels and get yourself plenty of protection.
That’s it for the basics. Once you’ve got this routine down you can add some of the following for more enhanced care.
Wrinkle Remover: These products come in a wide variety. There’s creams, serums, patches, and face masks. They also have quite a broad spectrum of ingredients. Peptides, antioxidants, plant extracts, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids are the most common. These products are typically very light in weight, so skin type is not as much of an issue. The best wrinkle removers are going to have other added benefits such as puffy eye and dark circle reducers. Find a wrinkle remover that has quality ingredients and no alcohol. Serums like these are typically applied between toner and moisturizer. Creams can replace your moisturizer, patches go on before your makeup and masks are for the end of your nightly routine.
Anti-aging: You’ll find most anti-aging products in a moisturizing cream form. If you use this variety, substitute it in your moisturizing step. There are also anti-aging serums that you’ll use between your toner and moisturizer. The two main ingredients in these are again hyaluronic acid for moisture retention and retinol. Retinol increases the turnover of your cells replenishing dead, exfoliated skin. Some also contain antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E to protect your face from the environment.
Face Masks: Masks come in many forms. There’s clay, gel, sheet, & bubbling masks available. There’s a mask for every application under the sun: hydrating, exfoliating, pore cleansing, and brightening. Key ingredients include hyaluronic acid, retinol, activated charcoal for pore cleansing, and hydroxy acids for exfoliating. Some masks are meant to be left on a few minutes before applying makeup while others are meant for bedtime or overnight. If you have sensitive skin, use caution with the exfoliating masks as they may irritate delicate faces. Also, read the directions carefully as some masks can not be applied around the eyes or eyebrow areas. Aside from that, skin type is not a worry with face masks.
Eye Patches: These masks are made specifically for the problems that arise around the eyes like puffiness, dark under-eyes, or fine lines. Whether you’re sleep-deprived, hungover, or just plain exhausted, these babies will make you look rested and refreshed. Most of these are applied for 20 to 30 minutes in the morning before applying makeup. Hyaluronic acid adds moisture and collagen will fill in fine lines. For added soothing, try storing them in the refrigerator before use and enjoy the calm cooling during use. There’s not much concern for matching to skin type so find one that gets the job done you need.
Pore Minimizers: Pore size is genetic, so you’re stuck with what you’ve got. There are, however, products that can shrink the size of the pores and clean them out, so they appear smaller. Heavy sun exposure reduces the collagen available in your skin and makes it sag, it also makes you sweat, which clogs pores. Most pore minimizers are mixed products that also cleanse or moisturize. Many pore minimizers contain retinol when can irritate the skin in high doses, so you may need to go easy at first or skip it altogether if you have sensitive skin. You’ll want to use these products right before your moisturizing phase.
Whitening Products: These products are designed mainly to reduce dark spots, age spots, and sunspots. They also do the trick for acne scars and freckles. Many products also advertise brightening for dull, flat-looking skin. Most of these are sold as serums although some are combined with cleansers or scrubs. Be careful of the latter if you have sensitive skin as it may cause irritation. You’ll want to apply these before your moisturizer to lock in their effect
Acne Treatment: If you have trouble with acne, make sure all your skincare products are labeled as non-comedogenic or “won’t clog pores”. These mean the same thing. Over the counter acne treatments contain some combination of salicylic or glycolic acids, benzoyl peroxide, retinol, or sulfur. The acids break down dead cells but can leave your skin dry, so make sure you moisturize well after use. Benzoyl peroxide is antibacterial will kill acne-causing bacteria. Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that rebuilds your skin. Sulfur soaks up oils that harbor bacteria. The smells a little rough, but you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. If these products fail to tame your acne, it’s off to the doctor’s office for some stronger prescription medications.
Three Skincare Routines for You to Try
We covered this above. Cleanse, tone, moisturize, sunscreen.
The Fountain of Youth
For this routine, we’ll add wrinkle removing, anti-aging, a face mask, and an eye mask. Pick up a wrinkle-reducing serum with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide and use it in the morning and evening before your moisturizer. Next, an anti-aging serum with retinol and vitamins E or C for antioxidant protection, also before moisturizer. In the morning an eye patch mask with collagen will smooth out crow’s feet and refresh your eyes. Finally, before bed, an exfoliating night mask with salicylic and glycolic acids to shed the dead skin.
The Acne Terminator
To the basics, add a pore minimizer, a whitening product, and an acne product. For the pore minimizer, find a cleanser that includes this and save yourself a step. Your whitening product will be a serum with niacinamide which will reduce dark spots and acne scars. Finally, your acne treatment should be non-comedogenic and contain salicylic and glycolic acids and retinol. This will take care of your dead skin and the retinol will rebuild it. All of this occurs between toner and moisturizer.
The most important part of any skincare routine is sunscreen, whether as part of your moisturizer or as a separate application. “The biggest skin-care trick up our sleeves? Sunscreen, of course” say Kaleigh Fasanella and Jenna Rosenstein of Allure Magazine. Keep your skin from sun damage and its less skincare you’ll need to do later. As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Deal.guide will help you find your right skincare products for you while saving fifty cents on the dollar.
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