THE ULTIMATE STEP-BY-STEP SKIN CARE ROUTINE
For many of us, finding the perfect skin care routine is a life goal. But where do you start when there are so many products, complex ingredients and not enough time? While overhauling your regimen can feel overwhelming, it all comes down to adding a few simple steps to your daily face routine.
What's Your Skin Type?
A good skin care regime starts by determining your skin type. Here's how to determine yours:
- Dry skin: Does your skin feel tight during the day or after cleansing? If so, and if you're also prone to flaking, redness and fine wrinkles, you could have dry skin. Look for ultra-hydrating products to nourish it.
- Oily skin: If you ever experience shine, larger pores, excess blackheads and blemishes, you probably have oily skin, which is caused by excess sebum. Luckily, you can help control excess oil with products specifically formulated for oily and acne-prone skin types.
- Combination skin: If you have medium-sized pores with some patches that are dry and others that feel oily, you may have a combination skin type and should look for products that balance your skin and keep it healthy.
- Sensitive skin: If your skin has finer pores and is easily irritated by products, you could have sensitive skin. Look for ingredients that prevent redness and soothe.
- Aging skin: We all age, but if your main goal is to plump wrinkles, get rid of dark spots and lift skin, you could fall into the aging skin category. Seek out options that combat the natural signs of aging for healthy, beautiful skin.
Now that you know your skin type, you can start building the perfect skin care routine. Read on for the core products to include and which ones will suit your skin type.
Step 1: Cleanser
Consider your face cleanser the most important step in your skin care routine. A good one will remove makeup, excess oil, sweat and dead skin cells to create a clean slate for applying the rest of your products. It's best to wash your face (don't forget the neck and décolletage) twice a day: in the morning and in the evening. If you love the fresh feeling and bright look of a just-washed face, double cleansing can offer twice the satisfaction and even better results.
- Dry skin: Opt for oil cleanser or cleansing lotion.
- Oily skin: Choose a cleansing gel. (Oily skin textures can cleanse three times a day.)
- Combination skin: Go for a cleansing gel.
- Sensitive skin: Pick up a gentle and sulfate-free cleansing lotion.
- Aging skin: Try an oil cleanser or cleansing lotion.
Step 2: Toner
Have you ever wondered what face toner does? Think of your toner as the second step to rid your skin of impurities. It also provides better absorption for all the fun stuff like serums and moisturizers that come later in your routine.
Toners are lightweight, waterlike liquids that deliver a powerful punch of skin care goodness, whether you want extra hydration or smoother skin. You can either splash a little bit into your palms and tap it over your face or apply directly to a cotton pad and swipe over skin. Work the liquid outward, all over your face. Apply your toner morning and night after cleansing.
- Dry skin: Choose a toner to rebalance skin's pH level and restore moisture.
- Oily skin: Look for alcohol-free toner. Witch hazel as an ingredient is a bonus.
- Combination skin: Simple, balancing witch hazel toners are great for combination skin.
- Sensitive skin: Go for alcohol-free toner with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as green tea, chamomile and rosewater.
- Aging skin: Toners with AHAs or vitamin C help to gently brighten mature skin.
Step 3: Serum
Serums might seem complicated, but once you understand the concept, you can use them to boost your skin care routine to achieve your goals.
Simply put, a serum is made of molecules designed to deliver potent ingredients directly to your skin. The best serums can run the gamut from vitamin-enriched (think vitamin C serum for brighter skin) to retinol (helps reduce signs of aging), AHA/BHA for exfoliation and smoother skin or hyaluronic acid for plumping.
Face serums are designed to be applied after cleansing and toner, before moisturizer. Today's serums offer so much variety that you can choose one (or two or three) for day and another for night.
- Dry skin: Morning: Choose an antioxidant serum (vitamins E, A and C) to help prevent collagen breakdown. Night: Grab a retinol serum.
- Oily skin: Morning: Look for types of acid that combat large pores and brighten dull spots. Night: Stock up on retinol serum.
- Combination skin: Morning: Choose an AHA/BHA serum to combat large pores and brighten dull spots. Night: Make retinol serum your go-to.
- Sensitive skin: Go for a lactic acid serum twice a week—it's milder for sensitive skin.
- Aging skin: Morning: Focus on antioxidant serums (vitamins E, A and C) to help prevent collagen breakdown. Night: Try retinol serum.
Step 4: Moisturizer
Moisturizers are the soothing, nourishing component of your skin care routine. A good face moisturizer will trap and seal in moisture, protect the skin's natural barrier and prevent water loss so that skin stays soft, smooth and plump.
After cleansing, toning and applying serums, it's a good idea to use a moisturizer day and night. A little goes a long way. Warm a pea-sized amount in your palms, then use circular motions to apply it on your cheeks and upward sweeps along the forehead and chin. One pro tip for every skin type: always choose a moisturizer with built-in SPF during the day.
- Dry skin: Morning: Choose a lightweight moisturizer with SPF. Night: Go for a hydrating moisturizer.
- Oily skin: Morning: Choose a zinc oxide sunscreen. Morning/Night: Grab an oil-free moisturizer.
- Combination skin: Morning: Pick a zinc oxide sunscreen. Morning/Night: Opt for lightweight moisturizer.
- Sensitive skin: Morning: Smooth on zinc oxide sunscreen. Morning/Night: Dab on fragrance-free moisturizer.
- Aging skin: Morning: Select a lightweight gel moisturizer with SPF. Night: Apply hydrating moisturizer.
Step 5: Eye Cream
Don't forget your eyes! They deserve the same amount of attention as the rest of your face when it comes to skin care. An eye cream is a nice extra step in your skin care routine, especially if you have specific concerns, like wrinkles or dark circles. It's best to choose your eye cream based on whatever concern you might have.
- For wrinkles: Look for an anti-aging eye cream with ingredients such as retinol, which can turn over skin cells for a bright, renewed look.
- For dark circles: Choose an eye cream that's formulated to reduce dark circles. One great ingredient that can help get rid of dark circles is hyaluronic acid, which adds plumpness and gives you a glow.
- For puffiness: Opt for an eye cream that works to reduce bags, no matter how little sleep you get. Caffeine-infused eye creams wake up skin by constricting blood vessels and reducing puffiness. Vitamins C and E, retinol and hyaluronic acid can also help.
Bonus Step: Masks
Face masks are the cherry on top of any skin care routine. They can give you an extra boost, whether you want to hydrate, cut down on oiliness or detoxify skin.
The best part about masks is that you can really use them whenever you want. You can layer them into your routine or incorporate one when you want to have a relaxing spa day at home. Choose from sheet masks, overnight masks or clay/mud masks—each type provides a totally different experience and benefit.