Monday, May 27, 2013

The Skinny on Skincare

The 8-Step Guide to a Skincare Routine

Everyone has a skincare routine.  For some it's face wash and cream.  For others its a whole slew of products, each with a job of their own.  With all the options, it's easy to get overwhelmed.  Here's a basic guide to the process that will help you narrow down what you need and what you don't need for your specific skin type.  Feel free to omit and customize for your own needs.

1.  Make-up Remover:  You'd be surprised as to how many face cleansers are NOT formulated to remove make up.  It's also better to remove make up from the delicate eye area separately.  This Bioderma one is an amazing make up remover.  It won't sting your eyes and is extremely thorough at taking off face make up, as well as waterproof mascara.  I can't say enough good things about it.  Unfortunately, it is a French brand and I've only been able to find it on Amazon. 

2.  Cleanser:  Once you've taken your make up, it's time to cleanse.  A good cleanser is one that removes all traces of dirt and make up but doesn't strip the skin and leave it feeling tight.  I prefer one that lathers up, like the Mario Badescu Glycolic foaming cleanser, so I can use it with my Clarisonic if I choose.  

3.  Exfoliater:  Exfoliation is removing the dead skin cells on the outer most layer.  I usually only need to do this step 3-4 times a week.  There's manual exfoliation (small grains for buffing) or chemical exfoliation (AHA or Lactic Acid).  Neither is scientifically proven to be better than the other so it comes down to personal preference.  I use a scrub in the shower and save a fruit enzyme for evenings when I have the time.  

4.  Masks:  I'm a huge believer in the skincare benefits of using masks.  You want to apply a mask after you've cleansed your face because your pores are open so anything you put on now will get absorbed deep into the skin.  There's masks for absolutely every skin concern you may have--moisturizing, deep pore cleansing, anti-aging, etc.  Pick one that addresses your concerns and rotate them weekly.  The Steep Clean by Bliss is one of my favorites.  It's a dual pump with two separate products that combine to exfoliate, unclog pores and brighten skin.

5.  Toner:  After you cleanse your face, it's important to to tighten those pores to keep impurities out.  A toner will also help restore the natural pH balance for your particular skin.  There is a difference, however, between toners and astringents.  Toners do not contain alcohol and astringents are alcohol-based.  For many years I used an astringent because they're marketed towards oily/combination skin.  The problem I experienced was that the alcohol completely dried out my skin.  While that may sound like a solution to oily skin, it doesn't seem to work that way.  What actually happened was that my skin started to over produce oil to make up for the extra dryness.  I'm absolutely sold on Michael Todd's Blue Algae Toner--it's full of nutrients and maintains the proper pH balance without the drying effects of alcohol.

6.  Serums:  The order in which you apply your products after you tone, should correspond to the weight.  You want to go from light to heavy--so serums before creams.  You can use as many serums as your skin can handle.  Since I get oily quickly, I can't afford to put anything extra on my skin.  I like the Kate Somerville Antioxidant Serum because it's like a multi-vitamin for your skin.  Also, if you're applying any kind of wrinkle cream, whether it be for treating or preventing, it should be done before applying moisturizer as well.

7.  Moisturizer:  If you do nothing else for your skin, cleanse and moisturize.  It's that important.  Contrary to popular belief, ALL skin types need moisture, even the oily and acne-prone (especially if you're using other anti-acne treatments designed to dry out blemishes).  For any skin types, I'd recommend finding one that is oil-free and not meant to clog pores.  If you're dry/normal, you've got it easy in this department and can choose from hundreds of options on the market.  If you're oily, there's more than a few good options for lightweight moisturizers meant to control oil production.  My top two are Vichy's Normaderm Pro Mat and Michael Todd's Moisture Lite.  I should also mention SPF at this point--finding a moisturizer with added a built in SPF is the easiest way to protect against sun damage.  Nothing ages you quicker than exposure to sun.

8.  Eye Cream:  Speaking of aging skin, that delicate eye area is the hardest to protect.  While there's a million different reasons we get wrinkles or dark eyes or puffiness, a good eye cream can aid in the prevention and treatment of these problem areas.  A lot of eye creams can be gimmick-y and ineffective.  I've found that the Bobbi Brown Eye Repair Cream truly does help with my dark circles and especially the puffiness.  I don't think there is a miracle product out there that's going to magically fix my dark circles, but over time I have noticed a difference between when I use it and when I DON'T use it.  (Here's a small tip:  on the mornings when you're eyes are extra puffy, stick your eye cream in the fridge.  The cold cream will visibly reduce the bags!)

Skincare is really like a chemistry experiment.  You have to read and research ingredients and then see how well they react to your skin.  Obviously what works for me may not work for you.  You certainly don't need this many products or you may need more products than these.  Depending on your skin type and concerns, you can pick and choose the types of products you need to use.  I understand that not all the products I've mentioned are budget friendly so stay tuned for other options I'd recommend soon.  Hope that was helpful!


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