Most of us know that caring for our skin is the sure-fire way to ensure we maintain its resilience and glow, but many of us fail to realize how easily caring for it can be. A few years ago, high maintenance care for hair and make-up were acceptable; today, most of us find our schedules have grown and priorities have changed – so the prospect of ordering our schedule to include adequate skincare seems impossible. At the same time, many products have improved (and sometimes cause us delays when we ponder the best investments). Quite simply, now more than ever the available products can help us minimize and make effective what little time we have to spend on skin. To get the best results, consider what you need to do and plan for it.
Many people give up in disgust as they consider what they think they need and how much it may require to shop for it and use it: cleanser, toner, moisturizer, masks, special serums, exfoliants, sun protection, foundation … The list seems endless. To complicate things further, labeling and ‘hot new ingredients’ can be perplexing; we hear that green tea is excellent but find it’s not in a trusted product, whereas peppermint is. Rather than find the possibilities daunting, it’s wise to consider one’s needs – and potential products as solutions – to maximize a simplified routine.
There are ‘stand-by products’ which are needed for routine care: cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. None of these are wise to leave off the list; however, careful choices for these products may make the rest of your list smaller.
Each morning and each night:
* Most of us need to clean our skin to refresh it; a gentle cleanser is typically the most versatile, whether for combination skin, dehydrated skin, or sensitive skin. Heed aging as a prompt for gentleness – especially with cleansers.
* A toner (sometimes called an astringent) should follow. The point is to remove residue from cleansers and ‘refresh’ the acid mantle of skin. This product needs to work with your skin type; typically, erring on the side of mild is best because even blemish-prone skin will have ill effects from too drying a toner (in fact, dryness may stimulate more oil production, defeating the purpose of a strong toner).
When choosing a toner, look for something with antibacterial properties. On the ‘high end’ are products which include natural purifiers and toning agents (which soothe the skin once purified so that pores close); peppermint oil is a good example. If one is out of toner or on a budget, ‘low end’ products to be used as toners may include hydrogen peroxide (3% strength, perhaps in your first aid cabinet) with its antiseptic qualities (and mild bleaching properties – careful not to get this in the hairline too often!), witch hazel, and water-diluted lemon juice (can be drying and bleaching also).
* Finish the routine with a moisturizer suited to your needs. This may be an easy find or a difficult one; formulations here can run the gamut just like formulations for hair conditioner. Products to provide deeply penetrating hydration may sit alongside items intended to offer light protection from the wind. Important: look for products which maximize your goals. If, for example, you want something which will not add to excess oil or any blockages in the skin (in the case of someone with blackheads or whiteheads), get a “non-comedogenic” and “oil-free” formula (these have been tested and provided so as to avoid irritants which typically lead to breakouts). If, though, you’re interested in deep hydration, look for shea butter or glycerin (for example, glycerin helps skin draw moisture).
Depending on other skin regimen tools and strategies (mostly this depends on your level of concern for your skin’s condition), moisturizers can be tools to work in concert with (or instead of) other products. Some antioxidants and some AHAs may be effective in moisturizers; research is providing more insights routinely. And please, realize that a versatile moisturizer should be effective for all of your face; no special serums are likely to be necessary.
Aside from the mainstays, what do you need – or what can you avoid? Sun screen, for example, should not be avoided, but it may be possible to find a moisturizer with it. Likewise, another way to eliminate the cost and time of buying another product is to look for a moisturizer with a tint – and avoid a separate foundation product. Or if your moisturizer of choice doesn’t have sunscreen, get a foundation with sunscreen. The missing item at this point is a specialty cleanser for more occasional ‘deep cleaning.’ If your skin is not overly sensitive or dry, you may eliminate a separate ‘mask’ product by getting cleansing cloths with exfoliating textures or ingredients. And that, quite frankly, prepares your skin to get beyond daily grime and back to its natural beauty – with a minimal number of products.