You may have many skin care products in your bathroom cluttering up the sink and taking up space in the medicine cabinet. But are you sure you know what they are used for and when to use them? There are tons of different types of products available for a variety of uses from cleansers and exfoliants, to serums and moisturizers.
Let’s start with the most basic step in any skin care routine: cleansers. Everyone should be using a cleanser formulated for their skin type. These include normal, combination, dry, sensitive, oily/acne, or aging skin. You should always pre-cleanse to remove makeup before using your cleanser. Using a makeup remover of your choice is the best way to go for that first step, but you can also use a gentle cleanser first, rinse, then cleanse again. Someone with normal skin should find a cleanser that will remove the dirt, oil and makeup from the day and keep their pH balanced. Combination and oily skin will want to find something that helps keep the oil production under control while still maintaining the moisture levels. Dry skin and sensitive skin need cleansers similar in nature, creamy and gentle, that won’t strip oil since these skin types usually have a disruption in oil production and the acid mantle of the skin is generally compromised. Oily skin or people with acne prone skin should use a product with an oil reducing and acne fighting ingredient like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. These products can be drying and some might be too harsh so if you need one use them gradually, try different brands/ingredients and do not forget to moisturize and use SPF. Aging skin can be dry, oily or normal. Using antioxidants to fight signs of aging, keeping the outer layer of the skin exfoliated so products can penetrate properly, and keeping the moisture levels up are key to cleansing aging skin. Each person might need to focus on another issue, for instance, aging skin generally becomes dry because as we age our oil production slows. Look for products targeted for your skin type. There are gel, creamy, oil, foam, and even clay cleansers or bars. Gel usually is formulated for oily/acne skin. Combination skin can use these too. Cream cleansers are great for any skin type but definitely what sensitive or dry skin should reach for. These are also great for the pre-cleanse step. Oil cleansers are another great option for pre-cleansing and can be used on any skin type. These will help breakdown your waterproof makeup as well. Foaming cleanser create a nice, thick lather and are generally targeted towards oily skin. But not all of them are for only oily skin so look at labels and see which one if good for your skin issue. Clay cleansers help pull out impurities from oily/acne skin. Most bar cleansers are also targeted for oily skin but can be formulated for other skin types, too. No matter what product you want to try, read labels and find one that will help with your particular skin concerns and skin type.
Once your skin is properly cleansed, free of makeup, dirt, and oil you can exfoliate if your skin needs it. Most people are okay with exfoliating a couple times per week. Some people need more, some less. Sensitive skin will need less than other skin types and more gentle methods will need to be used. Exfoliants also come in a variety of products and formulations. There are chemical exfoliants and mechanical exfoliants. Generally, chemical exfoliation is more gentle and better suited for all skin types to avoid irritation. Of course, as with anything, don’t overdo it and make sure you’re using the right product type for your skin type. Sensitive skin can use chemical exfoliation but will want a lower percentage in active ingredients. Chemical exfoliants use AHA, Alpha hydroxy acids, and BHA, Beta hydroxy acids, to help peel away the surface of your skin. AHAs are water soluble acids made from fruits which will help reveal the new, healthier skin below the superficial outer layer of your skin. Some of these include glycolic acid and lactic acid, the two most common AHA. BHA refers to salicylic acid which is oil soluble. This is why its used in acne control products. They will drive deeper into the pores to dissolve excess oil and break down dead skin cells. The other method of exfoliation, mechanical, uses abrasive products to break down the build up on the skin. These can be sponges, brushes, or even just a clean washcloth. Or a product formulated with beads or even things like sugar. Anything that is labeled a scrub is a mechanical exfoliant. It’s a good idea to use face formulated products only on the face. Body products can be too harsh for the face as the body can handle a little more aggression.
Okay, so now that your skin is completely clean and nicely exfoliated, the next step is optional: toner. Not to be confused with astringents toners are used to wet the skin and help drives other products deep into the skin. Some are antioxidant rich, others are formulated with moisture enhancing ingredients like hyaluronic acid. These aren’t always a necessary step but if you want to boost the efficacy of your moisturizer then this step might be something you want to try. Read the blog found at www.amerejuve.com titled “Toners VS Astringents | Do I need to be using them?” to read and learn more about these products.
This is when we start to get into all the finishing products like eye creams and serums. There is some debate that serums should always go before anything but you can apply eye cream before or after serums. Serums are a thinner product, more like an oil in consistency, which go under your moisturizer. They can be full of peptides, antioxidants, and even formulated to address a specific skin issue like hyperpigmentation which would have something like kojic acid to help brighten the skin. Serums are usually a higher priced item because they are better formulated with smaller molecules for deeper penetration and higher concentration of active ingredients. Do not over do it because these products live by the “little goes a long way” rule. Pat it into your skin, all over your face and neck and even down onto your decollete.
After your skin has soaked up all the serum, pat your eye creams and lip creams into place. Most eye creams should be used under the eye only, outside the orbital rim. Some are okay to use on the upper eye lid. Nothing should go up near your tear duct! Like everything else we have already discussed, eye creams come in many formulations for different concerns. Puffiness, darkness, and fine lines are the most commonly address issues. Anti-inflammatories and caffeine are popular for puffiness. For dark circles look for something with Vitamin K as it can help constrict the blood vessels reducing the appearance of the bluish hue the small veins can sometimes cause. Retinoids are the most popular ingredient in eye creams when it comes to combating against fine lines around the eyes. To fight against the appearance of lip lines, above and on the lips, and plump the lips up with moisture look for a lip serum or cream treatment. Like the serums we talked about above, a serum will go deeper and address a specific concern with higher concentration of ingredient. You can use both products together or just one. Hyaluronic acid is very popular for lip products because it helps draw moisture into dry, cracked lips and gives them a softer, healthier, hydrated appearance. For lip lines above the lines, “smoker lines”, you’ll want collagen building peptides.
Once you have all the serums, lip and eye creams applied its time to fully hydrate and seal in all the moisture you’ve infused into your skin. One again, like all the other products we’ve discussed, face moisturizers have many different ingredients for different issues and formulated many ways for texture. There are thicker creams generally recommended for older, dry skin or for nighttime use. There are thinner, lighter lotions better suited for oily/acne skin to allow the skin to remain hydrated but not clogged. Night creams will have a higher percentage of active ingredients like retinoids to help heal your skin overnight when you’re not out in the sun. Some moisturizers contain an SPF. Just make sure its at least a 35 SPF. Some people opt for a separate SPF from their moisturizer. Just make sure that the SPF is the last step. After all this is completed, you can now apply your makeup! Makeup goes on top of everything, otherwise the ingredients in all your skincare products wouldn’t be able to reach your skin. Most women like the fact that their makeup has SPF in it but remember this likely isn’t a high enough percentage to properly protect you from UVA and UVB rays.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of what each product is, and when to use it. Following the correct order of application can help improve the results you get from your skin care regimen.