Not sponsored. Skin care has gotten a lot of attention lately, and it’s a good thing if you ask me. I can also say that all the attention means there’s also a lot of overwhelmingly bad information out there, too. So hopefully I can get you some good (educated), solid, unbiased information without trying to sell you something.
My story: Until my late 20’s I was getting all of my skincare at the drugstore. I would see an ad in Cosmo or Seventeen and head over to Target or F&M (props if you remember THAT store) and start looking at bottles, grabbing whatever Clean & Clear or Noxema was promoting at the time. I never considered skin care a big deal, even when I worked at a high end salon and spa in high school I was never super interested in it. That was until I realized my skin was going to start showing my age, and years of tanning were about to backfire on me. I worked at a salon and spa in downtown when I was 28 and befriended our esthetician quickly. It was then that I asked about the skincare line we were using on clients, Dermalogica. The price tags scared me off but I figured my employee discount might make it more digest-able. She gave me some sample packets of a cleanser, told me what was in it and why it would work for my skin type and I was hooked after 1 use. Yes, really. I started with a bottle of cleanser, and the more she taught me, the more my collection slowly grew. That is one of the things that I want you to remember: good skin care is going to cost money. It is an investment in yourself. In your face! Not every item is going to be $100s but you have to understand why good skincare, or product in general, is more costly. So be prepared for it to take time to grow your regimen, unless you have the means to do so at all once. Don’t worry, I will break it all down for you!
First steps: what is your skin type? Normal, Oily, Combination, Acne-prone, Sensitive, Mature, are the 7 types. Normal How to Tell: You don’t experience many breakouts. Your skin doesn’t tend to react negatively to new products or weather changes. You don’t feel like you need to constantly moisturize or blot oil from your face all day long. Your skin is firm, with minimal fine lines and wrinkles.
Oily How to Tell: Your skin always seems to be glowing. You’re likely no stranger to blotting sheets or mattifying powders. You might find that makeup and skin care products don’t always stay put like you’d want them to.
Dry How to Tell:
Combination How to Tell: If you’re having trouble figuring out what type of skin you have, it’s probably combination. Is your skin dry in certain areas, while oily in others? Combination skin is most easily defined by an oily T-zone (the strip across the forehead and the line down the nose) and dry or normal skin on the rest of the face.
Acne Prone How to Tell: If you get frequent breakouts (or ones that just never seem to go away), you likely have acne-prone skin. This means that your pores tend to clog easily, making you more susceptible to whiteheads, blackheads or pustules than other skin types. You can have oily or dry skin and be prone to acne.
Mature How to Tell: While not everyone’s skin ages at the same pace, the signs are fairly universal. You might notice a wrinkle here and there or more dryness than in your younger years. For more mature skin, you may notice sagging, dark spots, dullness and dehydration.
Sensitive How to Tell: Sensitive skin might be caused by genetics, allergies or environmental factors. Signs of this skin type include:
Once you’ve identified your skin type you can narrow your search even further by identifying your concerns. Are you worried about uneven skin tone? Aging? Dullness? My next piece of advice would be to decide where you need to start with your skincare. Do you need a whole skin care regimen or just something to add? If you are anything like me, you don’t know where to start. So I would say to start at the beginning! A good cleanser is the first step to good skin health. I’ve tried a few high end cleansers and am currently using Dermalogica Skin clearing wash. I have oily/acne prone skin but I am now also concerned about anti-aging and am fortunate enough to get breakouts at least once a month, thank you hormones. So those are a concern as well. I used to use cleansers for oily skin that had ingredients for controlling oil, but aging and breakouts have taken over as precedence. Plus, for any of you oily-skinned divas out there who may be reading this listen up: if you are having trouble with your skin being too oily no matter what you do, there is a good possibility that you are DRYING YOUR SKIN OUT TOO MUCH and it is having the opposite effect. Your skin is so dried out from products that your skin is overproducing oil to compensate. So, you’re ultimately creating a bigger problem than the one you’re trying to fix. Been there. For a long long time. Chill out on the oil control and moisturize. Not kidding. More on that in a minute.
What do you really need in a skincare regimen? How many steps are really necessary? Do you need the 10-step Korean beauty skin care routine? Answer: probably not. 10 steps is a lot. Even coming from a high maintenance gal like me, 10 steps is too much. What do you need, is the question. What is realistic for your daily life? Dermatologists, the actual experts on the subject, suggest that many people are “doing too much” to their skin and it is having adverse effects on our skin. The recommendation is to be smart about what you’re putting on your skin. Do your research and don’t do what I’ve done so many times: buy something because a beauty influencer or ad says it works. If you have very serious skin concerns, you should talk to a dermatologist. If you are fed up with products not working, try talking to an esthetician at a medi spa. Why a medi spa and not a spa? Because medical grade skin care is the next level of good skin and you’re likely to see much better results from their use. Places like Ulta and Sephora are more concerned with sales, so be careful who you are speaking with at retailers. Ulta does have skin therapists on staff so I would find your way to the salon in the back of the store and see if they are available to speak with. Also be cautious of cosmetic companies that decide to start selling skincare. Do not even get me started on that garbage that Kylie is selling. Do yourself and your skin a favor and do not purchase that nonsense.
Start with a 2-step cleanse. If you follow my Instagram, you saw my story about the 2-step cleanse as part of my own skincare routine. The 2-step cleanse starts with the first cleanse and is typically an oil-based makeup remover to remove all traces of makeup, sunscreen and other oil-based impurities from throughout the day. Oil attracts oil, so oil-based cleansers are great for all skin types, even and especially for those with oily skin. It can help truly keep skin clear of ‘baggage’ and unclog pores even if you aren’t wearing makeup. You can then follow with whatever cleanser you find works. My brand recommendations: Tatcha and Dermaologica. Both brands were started by skincare professionals. If you are unsure what to use/look for as your first step, try Dermalogica precleanse (the brand that started it all!) or Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil. Note: if you are looking for a ‘clean’ brands, Tatcha is one!
Next step: tone/exfoliate. This is where people can get carried away or cause more harm than good. There is such a thing as over-exfoliating and stripping your skin of its natural barriers and oils that it needs. The toner can be a liquid applied with a cotton pad, or a manual exfoliator that is mixed with water and applied to the face in circular motions and rinsed off. These types of exfoliants are very gentle. More extreme exfoliants, like masks, should be reserved for once a week and no more.
Lastly: moisturize. I’ll say it louder for the people in the back: MOISTURIZE! Every skin type needs moisture, every single skin type. I’ll also say that not all moisturizers are created equal. Oily skin types need hydration, but less of it. It’s also safer to use a heavier moisturizer, or cream, overnight while you’re asleep and your skin is just able to absorb the product and breathe. Some companies, like belif, even make sleeping masks so you wake up to baby soft skin. Your skin needs moisture, it’s just a matter of how much and what kind. Some great generic ones are Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream, and Tatcha Water Cream. It’s also worth mentioning that a good moisturizer, like the ones mentioned and a couple more can double as good makeup primers.
What about treatments/serums? Again this will depend on your skincare needs and concerns. Obviously I would recommend an eye cream to anyone that has reached or passed their mid-20s. Always remember that prevention is easier (and cheaper!) than correction. I use a serum every morning for the texture/enlarged pores around my smile lines, and a resurfacing cream in the same areas at night. Keep in mind that treatment products and serums are likely going to be the most expensive items in your regimen. They are also super concentrated and meant for specific areas of the face. Which means you need less product and the lifespan should be longer. In fact, that is just another reason to invest in GOOD skincare in the first place. The quality of ingredients is much higher than from a shelf at Walgreens, which means less product is needed, which means less frequent repurchasing.
All in all, skin care is something I could go on and on about, clearly. And I am hoping to do additional posts about the subject. I did not include a ton of product recommendations in this post because I want it to be about the basics, and learning what you really need rather than just telling you stuff to go buy because it works for me. Just always remember that your skin is not the same as anyone else’s skin. You and your best friend or favorite YouTube star may have a lot in common, but your skin is likely not one of those things. So always remember to do your research and talk to professionals on the matter, and by professionals I mean licensed individuals. People who have invested their efforts into educating themselves so that they can educate YOU. (I just happen to be one)
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