Skincare is a universally significant task that transcends geographical boundaries and cultural differences. Good skin is not solely an inheritance from your genetics — your daily habits indeed play an instrumental role in the condition of your skin. There are multitudes of opinions from popular brands like Dr Jart and others, as well as advice from every corner, from how to moisturize effectively to how to shield your skin from damaging UV rays. Amidst the clamor of suggestions, the fundamental truth remains that skincare is an intensely personal journey. This guide will help you sift through the cacophony of information.
Think of your skincare routine as the trilogy of essential steps:
Cleansing — This involves washing your face to remove accumulated dirt, oil, and impurities.
Toning — This step helps balance your skin’s pH levels, preparing it for the following skincare products.
Moisturizing — This crucial step involves hydrating and softening your skin, promoting a healthy glow.
The ultimate aim of any skincare routine is to enhance your complexion’s functioning while addressing any specific concerns you may have. As renowned San Francisco skin-care expert, Kristina Holey, puts it, beauty routines present an opportunity for self-awareness, noting the changes within oneself. Your skin’s needs will evolve with age, and so will your skincare products.
Give it Time
Modern science has brought about a massive evolution in skincare products. Still, instant miracles are yet to become a reality. Dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian stresses that patience and consistency are crucial when it comes to skincare. Generally, you should aim to use a product for at least six weeks, once or twice daily, to notice any significant difference.
A helpful tip while applying skincare products is to layer them based on their consistency. Start with the thinnest (like toners) and work your way up to the thickest (like moisturizers or oils).
According to New York City dermatologist Dr. Carlos Charles, the first and most fundamental step of any skincare routine is cleansing your face. This action gently removes the pollutants, dirt, and grime your skin comes into contact with every day. It is advisable to cleanse twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, to prevent clogged pores, dullness, and acne.
Picking Your Perfect Cleanser
Your cleanser should clean your skin without stripping it of its essential, healthy oils. It’s best to tread lightly with exfoliating scrubs, limiting their use to once a week, and steering clear of any containing crushed walnut shells or other abrasive ingredients.
The term “non-comedogenic” often graces the labels of many skincare products. In essence, if a product claims to be non-comedogenic, it means it won’t clog pores or trigger acne. This is achieved by preventing skin occlusion, blocking glands, or irritating the hair follicle. However, keep in mind that this claim is not regulated by the F.D.A., and companies perform their own internal tests to ascertain this.
Tone It Right
For many, toning is a step synonymous with the stinging astringents of the ’80s. However, today’s toners are enriched with nutrients that help other skincare products in your regimen absorb better, while still balancing your complexion. They are essentially supplements for your skin and can be optional depending on your skin’s needs.
When choosing a toner, ingredients to look out for include:
Alpha and beta hydroxy acids: These gently remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and can minimize dullness.
Hyaluronic acid: This ingredient boosts hydration and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines.
Rose water and green tea: These ingredients can soothe irritated skin and reduce redness.
Vitamins E and C: These fight against daily exposure to free radicals that can age your skin.
Toners should be applied after cleansing and before putting on anything else. An efficient way of applying toner is with clean hands — just pour a few drops in your palm and then swipe it onto your face. You can use most toners morning and night, but those with exfoliating acids should only be used at night or every other day.
The Power of Serums
Serums are concentrated elixirs packed with active ingredients that target specific skin issues, from dark spots to wrinkles. They are potent allies for your skin, and even if you don’t have any particular concerns, everyone can benefit from a general antioxidant serum to protect from daily environmental aggressors.
Choosing Your Serum
Here are some star ingredients to consider when selecting a serum:
Hyaluronic acid: This locks in hydration and strengthens the barrier function of your skin.
Vitamin C: This helps brighten dull skin and decrease dark spots with continued use.
Retinol, vitamin B3, and peptides: These stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, proteins in your body that help prevent lines and sagging skin.
Colloidal sulfur and niacinamide: These calm redness and irritation by decreasing inflammation and improve acne with antimicrobial effects.
If you have multiple concerns, you might want to use multiple formulas. However, avoid mixing a serum into your moisturizer as it lessens the serum’s absorption capacity. Also, not all serums are applied with the same frequency. The timing depends on the ingredients. For example, antioxidants are usually applied in the morning, while retinols are best applied at night as they degrade with sun exposure.
Hydrate with Moisturizers
The primary function of a moisturizer is to hydrate and soften the skin. They assist in preventing water loss through the skin’s outer layers and can complement the skin’s naturally found protective oils and other building blocks like ceramides. This is one product that all skin types should use year-round. The texture of your moisturizer will vary depending on your skin type, though.
Sunscreen – Your Skin’s Best Friend
All experts unanimously agree on one thing — sunscreen is hands down the most crucial skincare product. It plays a paramount role in your regimen, as daily and consistent use can prevent the development of fine lines, wrinkles, and changes in the appearance of pores. Most importantly, daily sunscreen use can help to prevent the formation of certain skin cancers. For convenience, consider using a daily moisturizer with a built-in broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30.
Now that we’ve decoded the basic elements of a skincare routine, it’s time for you to embark on your journey to flawless skin. Be patient, be consistent, and remember that this journey is deeply personal. There’s no one-size-fits-all in skincare, and what works for others may not work for you. For instance, you may find products from popular brands beneficial, or you may discover lesser-known products that suit your skin better. In the end, the goal is to nurture your skin, making it the best it can be. Happy skincare!