Build your Skin Care Routine

Skin Care Tips Before You Start

Three Main Steps

Think of your skin-care routine as consisting of three main steps:

  • Cleansing — Washing your face. 
  • Toning — Balancing the skin.
  • Moisturizing  Hydrating and softening the skin.
  • Sunscreen — Preventing sun damage and wrinkles.

The goal of any skin-care routine is to tune up your complexion so it’s functioning at its best, and also troubleshoot or target any areas you want to work on. “Beauty routines are an opportunity to notice changes within yourself,” says the San Francisco skin-care specialist Kristina Holey. As your skin needs shifts with age, so will your products. Still, she adds, “it’s not about creating perfection.”   Allow these three steps to become your daily ritual that fortifies your skin and grounds your day.

Cleansing

Washing your face is the most basic and essential step of any routine, says the New York City dermatologist Dr. Carlos Charles. “Our skin comes in contact with environmental pollutants, dirt and other factors each day that should be gently removed.” Wash twice a day, morning and night, to avoid clogged pores, dullness and acne.

Find Your Facial Cleanser

The right formula cleanses your skin without stripping essential, healthy oils. Take it easy with exfoliating scrubs (use once a week) and avoid those with crushed walnut shells or abrasive ingredients. 

For everyday cleansing, here’s what to look for: 

Toning

What is Toner?

“Toners should be done after cleansing and before putting on anything else,” Mattioli says. The traditional application method is to saturate a cotton pad and pass it over your face. But, as Mattioli points out, “You end up losing a lot of product.”

Tip: “Applying toner with clean hands is the most efficient. Just pour a few drops in your palm, then swipe it on.” Or if you prefer, you can pull apart a cotton pad “so it’s not so thick before putting toner on it,” Mattioli advises. Most formulas can be used morning and night, but you might want to use those with exfoliating acids only at night or every other day.  

To benefit your skin on a deeper level, you have to make sure that the toner you use suits your skin type. Do you have oily, dry or combination skin?

For Oily Skin – If your skin produces excess sebum and is prone to acne, you must look for a toner that has antibacterial properties to help balance your skin’s pH level. These ingredients include aloe vera, lavender, tea tree and salicylic acid.

For Dry Skin – If you have dry and sensitive skin, on the other hand, then it is best that you get a toner that contains hydrating properties. Aloe vera, chamomile and rosewater are some of the ingredients that will help soothe your skin.

For Combination Skin – Having a normal skin does not mean you no longer need to use a toner. The good thing is you can basically choose any toner.

The right toner for you is not necessarily the best packaged or most expensive on the store shelves. Paying close attention to the above ingredients will boost your chances of picking the best toner for your skin care. This way, you stand to reap all the benefits the toner will have for your skin’s health.

Moisturizing

The most basic function of a moisturizer is to hydrate and soften the skin. “Essentially, moisturizers assist in preventing water loss through the outer layers of skin,” Dr. Charles explains. “They can also complement the naturally found protective oils and other building blocks within the skin, such as ceramides.” This is one product that doctors recommend using year-round, for all skin types. 

How to Pick a Moisturizer

“Everyone needs moisture, but the texture of your moisturizer will differ depending on your skin type,” Mattioli notes. Consider this your cheat-sheet, courtesy of Dr. Nazarian.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen shields your skin from developing signs of aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines. Scientific studies showed that people under age 55, who use sunscreen on daily basis have 24% lesser chances of developing signs of aging than those who don`t use the sunscreen or use it occasionally. More importantly, daily sunscreen use can help to prevent the formation of certain skin cancers.” Experts recommend using a daily moisturizer with a built-in broad spectrum SPF of at least 30.

Decoding Sunscreen Formulas

There’s a lot of debate over which sunscreens are best and safest for your complexion. You have two types of ingredients in formulas:

A. Chemical ingredients, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are absorbed into your skin to counteract the damage from ultraviolet light

Pros:

  • Lightweight, easy to apply and transparent on the skin.

Cons:

  • Can irritate and cause reactions in those with sensitive skin.
  • Certain ingredients like oxybenzone have raised health concerns and carry a “high hazard” rating on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.

B. Physical ingredients, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, that sit on top of your skin to deflect or prevent UV rays from entering your body.

Pros:

  • Very little risk of irritation or health concerns.

Cons:

  • Often leave a white or grayish tint on the skin, particularly in those with darker skin tones.

Insider tip: “I typically advocate the use of sunscreens that contain a combination of physical and chemical blocking components,” Dr. Charles says. “These will provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays, and typically do not create any visible residue.”  

Sunscreen Application 101

Consider this your rule of thumb, according to Dr. Nazarian: “Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply at least every two hours. Chemical sunscreens should be applied directly to clean skin, while physical blockers can be applied last in your skin-care regimen, but before makeup is applied. About two tablespoons of sunscreen are appropriate to cover your face and exposed areas of your body; within that amount, use a nickel-size dollop to cover your face.”

All of the experts we consulted unanimously agreed on one thing: that sunscreen is, hands down, the most crucial skin-care product. It’s “of utmost importance as part of your year-round regimen,” Dr. Charles points out. “Daily and consistent sunscreen use helps to prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles, textural imperfections, and changes in the appearance of pores over time. More importantly, daily sunscreen use can help to prevent the formation of certain skin cancers.” To make it easy to remember, experts recommend using a daily moisturizer with a built-in broad spectrum SPF of at least 30.

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