It can be really confusing going into a store like Ulta or Sephora, or even a spa, and trying to decide which products you need and which ones you don’t, and is this lady selling you something necessary or a product totally not right for your skin? To get started, you really need to use four products when you do your routine.
Before we get started, let’s be clear about the fact that you should be cleansing twice a day unless your esthetician advices only once (which would be rare, honestly.) Morning and night, pretty simple. Here is something you may not know: you need to double cleanse. Essentially cleansing twice, back to back. The first cleanse takes off excess oil and grime so that when you do your second cleanse the cleanser can actually do its job. And yes, you should be doing this both morning and night, though night time is most important if you’re stingy. And finally, I already wrote a post on the importance of finding out your skin type — which you can read here if you missed it — so make sure you already know this info before buying your regimen.
Okay, now to the good stuff! I’m going to list them in the order in which you should be doing the steps.
1. Cleanser Obviously this is where you’ll be starting, and it’s important this is suited to your specific skin type. I really like an oil based cleanser for your first cleanse, because the oil removes make up and your natural excess oils much better than a typical cleanser. That is an additional cost however, and completely up to you to decide financially if it’s worth it. Otherwise, you can just use your regular cleanser twice in a row. Or you can even use olive oil (which is oftentimes the active ingredient in most oil based cleansers) and just rinse it off. It will come right off when you do your second cleanse.
2. Toner There is a lot of confusion out there as to what a toner actually does, and most people think they know its purpose, but really have no idea. Toner balances the pH of your skin. You want a good balance because that is the condition in which your skin will be healthiest. Your skin will look brighter and you will most likely break out less often. This is also going to make products you leave on your face work better because your skin is in optimum condition. I’m pretty sure we’ve all used that Clinique toner, that you put on a cotton ball and it sucks your skin dry. Please, don’t. Throw it in the trash if you aren’t an oily skin type. When you’re picking out a toner, choose one that is for your skin type, is hydrating, or is anti-aging and full of antioxidants. Most toners that aren’t targeted towards oily skin types or acne are spray toners, so just a spritz and you’re good to go. Let that dry and move on to the next step.
3. Exfoliator I’m going to start off by saying this step can be switched with step two if it’s not something you leave on (this will make sense in a second.) There are two types of exfoliation: chemical and mechanical. Chemical is something that you leave on (so it would be used after a toner) and have active ingredients like glycolic acid or lactic acid. A mechanical exfoliation is when you use a scrub or something like a Clarisonic. Again, this needs to be targeted towards your skin type and skin care goals, and always follow the directions on the packaging or given to you by your esthetician. A favorite of mine is Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant because it’s something even I can use (I’m a normal/dry skin type) on a daily basis, and it removes dead skin. You can check it out here. If you want a chemical exfoliator, I like Murad’s Complete Reform which you only use at night time and make sure to cleanse off in the morning. Why do you need to do this? Exfoliating is going to accelerate your cell turn over rate, which is a key factor in anti-aging. You want your cells to turn over every 28 days, and if you aren’t exfoliating at all your skin cells may be turning over every 40-45 days. Only exfoliate once per day at the most, and don’t use exfoliator if you’re on a prescription skin medication like accutane or adapalene.
4. Moisturizer You need to use this even if you’re the oiliest person alive. When you cleanse, you’re stripping your oils. If you don’t replenish what you just took out, your sebaceous glands (oil glands) freak out and overproduce, and can actually make you MORE oily. If you’re a drier skin type, you probably already use this. There are tons of moisturizers out there, so make sure you choose the right one for your skin. I also suggest using one that has SPF in it, that way you don’t have to think about applying it if you’re just going to work or running errands. You know what ages you worse than wrinkles? Sun spots. Oh, and you can use a thicker moisturizer at night since your skin is repairing itself while you sleep.
My next skin blog will be about anti-aging, so keep a look out for that in the next two weeks. Any questions, email me or comment here.
© Carli Garrison and cllgarrison, 2014