6 Steps for a Skin Care Routine
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with skincare for the longest time. Genetically, I never had a chance; acne runs in both sides of my family. I spent years trying to perfect a skincare routine for my acne-prone self, and in the meantime learned a lot about different products. The only thing that ever fully got rid of my acne was Accutane, but that’s a story for another day. Although my acne couldn’t be banished with just products, my routine did help a LOT.
I think everyone can and should learn how to create their own skincare routine. Men, women, and everyone else can benefit from taking care of their skin. Not only will a proper skincare routine improve the health and appearance of your skin, but it is also a therapeutic form of self-care.
Determining your skin type is an important first step when it comes to figuring out your skincare routine. You may have oily skin, dry skin, or combination skin.
Oily skin is when your skin produces a lot of oil through the day; if you were to blot your skin with a tissue in the afternoon, you would find the tissue to be oily.
Dry skin is the opposite; it does not produce enough oil and can even get flakey.
Combination skin, or T-zone skin, is when your forehead, nose, and chin are oily, but your cheeks are dry. The second factor in skin type is whether or not your skin is sensitive. Sensitive skin is more likely to react to the ingredients in products.
A common misconception is that you need to dry out oily skin, but that will only make it worse! When you dry out your skin, it reacts by overproducing oil. The best thing you can do, then, is washing twice a day and adequately moisturizing your skin so that it doesn’t have to compensate for you stripping away the natural oils. You also don’t need to avoid products with oils in them, but you should avoid products with alcohol since it will dry your skin out too much.
It’s important that your products say they are non-comedogenic, which means they won’t clog your pores, especially for people with acne-prone skin. Being prone to acne is another factor in your skin type. There are certain ingredients that are especially good for those with acne-prone skin, such as tea tree oil.
The most obvious step to a skincare routine is cleansing your skin. Most people wash their faces in some way or another, but it’s worth noting that not all methods are created equally. The type of cleanser you use along with your skin type will determine how effective it is. It's even possible to do harm to your skin by using a cleanser with too harsh ingredients or ingredients that are not suited for your skin.
Following this, using bar soap made for your body on your face can cause harm; they’re often a much higher pH level than your skin and may contain ingredients that clog your pores (are comedogenic). The biggest decision when it comes to cleanser is the type of cleanser:
Don’t be afraid to use oil cleansers, even if you have oily skin! It may seem counterintuitive to rub oil all over your face, but they are very effective at lifting off makeup and other layers on your skin. They are also very moisturizing and are generally not very irritating. They're great for all skin types.
Gel cleansers are one of the best for deep cleansing; because of this, they are especially good for oily, combination, or acne-prone skin.
Cream cleansers are super moisturizing; they are part oil- and part water-based. They may leave a bit of a residue, so they're better suited for dry or sensitive skin.
Foaming cleansers are lightweight cleansers that are good for oily or combination skin. The ingredients that create this foam, however, can be overly harsh and too drying (remember, drying out your skin too much is a bad thing!)
Bar cleansers are eco-friendly and inexpensive! They're full of good ingredients, but they may be too harsh on sensitive or dry skin. They are good for oily, combination, or acne-prone skin, but remember to look at the ingredients and ensure that the packaging says it's non-comedogenic.
Micellar cleansers are water-based cleansers that wipe away impurities without being too harsh. They're especially good for dry or sensitive skin. Since they're so gentle, it may be beneficial to first wash with an oil cleanser to fully wipe away all the layers of the day.
Physical exfoliators are grainy and scrub away the layer of dead skin. Chemical exfoliators use active ingredients to remove the top layer of dead skin. Both exfoliators help improve the health of your skin by ensuring it can breathe.
A common cause of acne is pores becoming clogged, sometimes with dead skin! Exfoliators help prevent this. If you have sensitive skin, use caution to ensure the active ingredients are not too harsh. Additionally, everyone should be careful when it comes to the size of the grain in physical exfoliators. Too large and they can cause microtears on your skin and allow bacteria in.
Some people argue that toners are useless, while others cannot live without them. I’m in the latter category. The argument for toners is that they help bring the pH of your skin down to its natural level after cleansing. I find them to be very soothing on my skin especially following a deep cleanse. Besides balancing pH, toners have other benefits based on their ingredients. They can be moisturizing if you have dry skin, or they can be calming if you have sensitive skin or are prone to redness.
Serums are a category of products borrowed from Korean skincare. They have a high concentration of particular active ingredients that serve a particular purpose. Some serums contain a combination of ingredients to serve a particular purpose, such as moisturizing, brightening, or preventing acne, or a combination of such. Other serums are made of just one ingredient, such as hyaluronic acid or vitamin C, and you can use them in combination with whichever other serums you want. Generally, serums are only used at night and are the last step before moisturizing.
It is super important to put on lotion, especially for people with dry skin! People with oily and combination skin should also moisturize even though it may seem you’re just adding extra oil. If you have particularly oily skin, you can opt for a lighter weight, water-based moisturizer.
You can get nighttime and daytime lotions; moisturizers for daytime often function as a low SPF sunscreen and are generally lighter. Nighttime lotions are thicker and may contain more active ingredients. A good nighttime lotion is almost like a facemask that you sleep with. It provides a large timeframe for your skin to heal and absorb the ingredients.