“What foundation are you wearing?”
I would get asked this question all the time when I was a counter manager at Bloomingdales. Most days, I wouldn’t wear any foundation at all. Part of the reason is that I have genetics on my side. The other reason is that all of the time I save on applying makeup is spent on skincare. Without a solid skincare routine, makeup just won’t look the best it can.
Don’t stress. “Routines” can be as simple or as involved as you have time for. If you prefer to indulge in self-care daily and would love a twelve step regimen, go for it. If you’re like me and prefer a more minimalist approach, great! Skincare is deeply personal. Coupled with what you already have been genetically blessed with (we all have something, don’t worry) products can help you get healthy skin. The best person that can advise you on what that means for you personally is a dermatologist.
What I want to give you here is an overview of different skincare products and the best sequence to apply them in.
Whether you use the full routine or any of the recommended products is up to you. There are three skincare essentially I want to beseech you to use, however. These are cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF, in that order. If you decide to add in more products and steps, I love you for it. My advice in that realm is to add one at a time, especially when it comes to acids or serums, so that you can see if it a specific product or ingredient will give you a reaction.
Personally, my skin is sensitive and really doesn’t like me to use too many products. If I do, my skin gets painful, red, and then dry patches appear. That’s why I keep my routine to a few simple products, one of which was prescribed to me by my dermatologist because I started getting intense acne at age 25. Everyone has their own concerns and I will try my best to address a variety of them as well as make appropriate product recommendations. I’m not a physician so speak to your doctor before adding anything into your routine, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Skin is personal so it makes sense that skincare would be personal.
Check out my skincare routine and scroll down for how you can make it yours.
Click the photo to check out the goods!
With the amount of pollution and bacteria in the air, it makes sense that our skin is being battered every day. It creeps into our pores and either makes them appear larger or causes dry skin to get drier. This is where cleansing can help.
If you wear makeup, I would recommend removing it first with a makeup remover or a micellar water. I also recently discovered the Makeup Eraser and it’s changed my existence. Once you’ve removed makeup then you can cleanse your face. Some people really love to rinse and repeat with their cleansers or use two different cleansers in sequence. My personal routine is to remove my makeup and wash with a cleanser once, preferable in the shower. Some professionals recommend washing the skin in the morning and at night. I just wash mine in the shower before bed or after a workout.
Cleansing will not only take off all the dirt and makeup of the day but it will also strip the skin of the good bacteria that keeps it in balance. This can lead to the skin feeling dry and tight. Products called toner or essence are meant to be used right after cleansing to help balance the pH of skin and return some of the moisture back to the deeper layers of the skin. Many of these also come with other roles like tightening pores or gentle acids to help exfoliate the skin. Essentially, these are the first bits of active skincare that you can introduce into your routine.
There are three camps of people when it comes to this step: those that don’t bother to do it (me), those that are diehard users, and those that didn’t even know they existed. If my skin feels too dry after after cleansing, I’ll mist my face with Avene Thermal Spring Water ($14) to restore the moisture and pH balance. It also makes me feel bougier than I have the energy to be.
I love serums.These products have molecules that are smaller than oils and creams. That means that they penetrate deeper into the skin for maximum effects. That also explains the price because the bottles are filled with more active ingredients than creams. This is where you can tailor your routine to be specifically yours. You can use one serum that’s targeted for your concerns or layer them if you’d like. Some of the most powerful actives are hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture, antioxidants like Vitamin C to help fight environmental damage to the skin, or Vitamin A (aka retinol) to help improve the appearance of wrinkles.
Honestly, I would recommend concentrating the majority of your skincare budget here. This will be where you see the greatest results over time. Since the products are penetrating deeper, they are working to improve your future skin as well as your present skin. If you’re a newbie, start with a serum every other day and then move to every day. If you are getting an irritation, you might want to try waiting 10-15 minutes after cleansing since wet skin pushes products even deeper. As with any reaction, consult your derm.
Moisturizers are a non-negotiable. Don’t @ me. Keeping skin moisturized will help its overall appearance by locking in hydration and helping the skin look plumper and more radiant. When it comes to moisturizers there are two things to consider.
1. What kind of texture do you want? If you have dry skin, you might prefer the luxury of a rich cream. If your skin is oily, a gel or water based cream will be best. Combo or normal? Your pick of the pack!
2. Do you want SPF? Some moisturizers already come with sun protection built in. Be aware that derms recommend an SPF of at least 30 for the best face protection. The moisturizers listed below do not have SPF or have a count less than 30. You can use a day cream (moisturizer with SPF) both in the AM and PM - you’re just not cashing in on your sun protection. Likewise, you can use a night cream (no SPF) in the AM and PM but supplement with sunscreen.
SPF is probably another non-negotiable. The more we learn about UV rays, we’re learning that they are stronger and more damaging than we originally thought. Here’s the other pesky thing: UVA rays penetrate deeper than their UVB counterparts. That means that, even though you might not look tan or burned, the sun’s rays are still sneaking their way into your face (and body) and wrecking your future skin. This is one of the biggest culprits for dark spots and wrinkling, damage that we are exposed to be we don’t end up seeing until years down the line, when it’s that skin layer’s turn to rise to the surface.
As I mentioned, SPF 30 is the recommended minimum by derms and ideally it’s applied 20-30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every two hours. That sounds exhausting for me to even be writing. If reapplying is an issue for you, grab a spray formula (great for drier skin) or a powder (perfect for mattifying oil) to make it painless.
Chemical exfoliants can be acidic or enzymatic and are generally seen to be more gentle and effective when Masks are those treatments that you can utilize if you need a boost. These are meant to be used 1 - 3 times a week but some people love to mask every day. Masks are going to give you very targeted help based on your specific concerns. If you have a special event or just haven’t been getting enough sleep, a radiance boosting mask with gentle acids will help you get that glow. Traveling a lot or struggling with the season change? Grab a mega hydrating mask to quench your skin’s thirst. The list goes on and on as there are masks to help with everything from A(ging) to Z(its).
Masking is one of my favorite things to do because it gives me big results with little effort and those results are immediate. Depending on your mood, a mask can also help you with your emotional balance. Feeling like you need a minute to just chill? Grab a sheet mask and lay back. Have a lot to do and just want to keep it moving? Use a spreadable mask that will stay put until you remove it. Whatever you do, grab a selfie and own your masking just like our queen, Cher.