Who doesn’t want gorgeous skin? That’s something every woman (and man) struggles to achieve, but there are just so many different types of products on the market that choosing the right ones for you can be really confusing. Do you really need them all? And once you’ve got everything you need, when should you use them?
Fret not! With these tips, you will be able to create a skincare routine targeted to your own needs. Here’s how:
Know your skin type
Before you go shopping, it’s essential that you know what type of skin you have. Skin types include normal, dry, oily, combination, and sensitive. Your skin may also be two of these things at once. For instance, it can be both oily, prone to break-outs, and sensitive. Knowing your skin type will help you choose the best products to target its concerns. Sure, there are many products that claim to work for all skin types, but that’s rarely true. If you have dry skin, for example, a moisturizer designed for all skin types may not be rich and moisturizing enough for you.
Once you’ve figured out your skin type, you’re ready to hit the stores. Here’s what you need:
Basic skincare routine
1. Cleanser: a gentle but effective cleanser, such as Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, removes all traces of dirt and impurities from the skin, leaving it clean and soft, and ready to receive the benefits from the skincare products you’re gonna apply next, which will now be able to penetrate skin more easily.
2. Sunscreen: the sun’s rays, some of which can penetrate through clouds and be reflected on snow, cause premature wrinkles, sun spots and other signs of aging. Sunscreen is therefore the best anti-aging weapon in your arsenal. But make sure it contains broad-spectrum protection! Not every sunscreen does. If you use a physical sunscreen (one that contains only Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide), such as Sunumbra Sunkids SPF 40, you can apply it after moisturizer. Otherwise, slather it on before you apply anything else.
3. Exfoliant: exfoliants remove the dead skin cells that accumulate on the surface, revealing the brighter and smoother new skin underneath. If you use the Liz Earle cleanser with the washcloth, you may skip this step. Otherwise, if you have dry, normal or combination skin, opt for a gentle Glycolic Acid exfoliant. Those with oily, acne-prone skin will instead benefits from an exfoliant with Salicylic Acid, which has the ability to get inside the pores, removing all the gunk that accumulates in them. My favourite exfoliants are from Paula’s Choice.
4. Moisturizer: a moisturizer prevents skin from becoming dry, rough, and even cracked. They contain ingredients such as humectants that attract water from the environment into the skin, and occlusive emollients, like mineral oil, that creates a protective barrier that prevents water loss. This helps skin remain supple, hydrated, and younger-looking. If you have oily skin, opt for a very lightweight formula. Drier skin types will instead benefit from richer formulas (although they too can use something lighter in summer).
A nighttime routine is very similar to a daytime one, with the exclusion of sunscreen, of course. If your skin is very sensitive and can take only a little exfoliation at a time, you may skip the exfoliant too. But you will still need to use a cleanser to remove all the gunk that’s accumulated on your skin during the day, and a moisturizer to keep it soft and smooth during the night too.
Advanced skincare routine
When you’re young, a basic skincare routine is usually enough. But as you get older, and your skin starts showing signs of aging, you may need specific products to keep your skin healthy and younger-looking for longer. And, of course, you can develop skin conditions, such as acne, at any age. Here’s what you should use to target all these concerns:
Acne treatment: use a product with Benzoyl Peroxide, an ingredient that can kill the acne-causing bacteria and reduce redness. If that doesn’t work, you may need a stronger treatment that requires a prescription. In this case, consult your dermatologist.
Anti-aging treatment: moisturizers and serums chock full of antioxidants and retinoids can protect skin from environmental and sun damage, boost collagen production and reduce redness. The result is smoother, brighter skin that stays looking younger for longer. There’s not an ideal age to start using anti-aging creams, but don’t leave it till it is too late. With the exception of retinoids (which, however, work very slowly), anti-aging products can only prevent wrinkles, not eliminate those you already have.
Skin lightening treatment: these treatments can, by reducing the overproduction of melanin (the skin pigment that causes skin to darken), treat brown spots, sun spots, or any other type of discolouration.
All these treatments, unless differently specified by your doctor or directions on the packaging, should be used both in the morning and at night, before your moisturizer. The only exception is retinoids. Because they make skin more sensitive to the sun, it is recommended to use them at night only.
Toner: the jury’s still out there on whether you need to use a toner. I believe that alcohol-based toners can do more harm that good, as they tend to dry the skin too much, which then compensate by producing even more oil. Toners with moisturizing and anti-aging ingredients, on the other hand, have some benefits for the skin. Personally, I prefer to invest my money in a well-formulated mosturizer filled with antioxidants, but if you’d like the extra boost a toner can provide, and don’t mind forking out the money for it, go ahead and use it.
Eye cream: this is another controversial product not every expert believes is necessary. Why? Because the ingredients that moisturize your skin, protect it from the sun, boost collagen production etc are the same in all types of skincare products, including both face and eye creams. That’s why I believe that, if the skin of your eye area is just as dry (or oily, or normal, etc), as that of the rest of your face, you can just keep using your usual face moisturizer. You’ll get the same benefits and save money. If however, the skin of the eye area has different needs, or if your face moisturizer contains fragrance, alcohol, or other irritating ingredients, then it’d be best to use a separate product.
Scrubs: some people dislike AHA or BHA exfoliants, preferring to stick to physical scrubs that remove dead skin cells with the help of little beads, grounded walnut shells, or sugar. These can’t be used daily. The frequency of use depends on how much exfoliation your skin can take. If you have dry skin once a week may be enough, whether those with oily skin may need to exfoliate three or four times a week.
Masks: there are all kinds of masks available. Some have anti-aging benefits, some help absorb excess oil (although none can remove toxins from the skin), while others simply moisturize skin. Masks should be used once or twice a week, or, if you have great skin, just on special occasions. It just depends on whether your skin needs the extra help or not.
Is your skincare routine basic, or do you use any special products to target particular needs?