A Beginners Guide to Skincare – Part 2
Maria is the Lead Editor and female half of Electrogent, a men’s interest, grooming, and lifestyle website and Hemlock and Tonic, a male-focused interior design website. As a makeup lover and skincare addict, when she isn’t giving advice to men she can usually be found trying on every lipstick in Sephora.
Cleansers, exfoliators, moisturizers, serums, retinoids, spot treatments, AHAs, sunscreens… oh my! If you don’t know where to start, building a skincare regimen can be a daunting task. Every skincare company will tell you that you NEED their products if you want clear, radiant, youthful skin. Not true. Some of the best products for your skin can be found at your local drugstore or supermarket. What follows is a guide to help you put together a basic skincare routine. Of course, there are additional products you can add depending on your skin’s needs. However, you’ll still need solid foundation to work from. Yesterday full clutch published the first three steps in developing a successful skin routine. Now on to the final three.
If you’ve never used a retinoid before, now is a great time to start. Retinoids increase collagen production and cell turnover to even out skin discoloration and reduce lines. The most potent and effective retinoids can only be obtained with a prescription, (like Retin-A) however there are many good drugstore alternatives that use retinol (a less potent retinoid). Prescription retinoids work faster, but with consistent use anyone can see results from a drugstore product in about 12 weeks.
Retinoids tend to cause dryness and flaking (due to increased cell turnover), so ease into using them. Start with once every 3 days, and increase to daily use after your skin adjusts. Only use retinoids at night, as they can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. After washing your face, wait 15 minutes before applying your retinoid, and then let the product soak into your skin for about 15 minutes. Follow with a good moisturizer. Skinacea has a great list of different retinoid types and strengths.
Step 5: Protect
Wear sunscreen. Every single day. Even if it’s cloudy. Even if you spend most of your day inside. Even if you’re Gollum and spend your entire life in a cave. Sunscreen is essential. Sun damage is the number one cause of wrinkles, discoloration, and premature aging. All sunscreens aren’t created equal though. Make sure you find one that’s photo stable and provides coverage against UVA and UVB rays.
There are 2 types of sunscreens: physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide- ingredients that create a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. These are better for people with sensitive, acne-prone skin. However, they’re best used under makeup because they will create an white-ish cast on your face. Almost all physical sunscreens are photo stable.
Chemical sunscreens are a bit trickier. A popular ingredient in chemical sunscreens in the U.S. is avobenzone. To shorten a long and complicated scientific explanation, avobenzone is not photo stable on its own. If you buy a chemical sunscreen that contains avobenzone, make sure it contains an ingredient called octocrylene as well. This will stabilize the avobenzone so that your sun protection won’t break down throughout the day.
Wearing a separate sunscreen will always be more effective than a sunscreen plus moisturizer combination. You don’t need to wear the highest SPF number, but aim for something at SPF 30 or above. You only need to put sunscreen on in the morning- skip this step at night.
Step 6: Moisturize
Finally, know that youthful skin is hydrated skin. You know those days when you look in a mirror and your skin looks sallow and dull? The culprit is most likely dehydration. You should be drinking plenty of water during the day, but sometimes your skin needs some extra help. As your last step every night, apply moisturizer to your face and neck, especially if you’ve noticed dry patches from exfoliating or using a retinol. If you wear a sunscreen in the mornings, apply this before you use a physical sunscreen but after you use a chemical sunscreen. You may not need to moisturize in the morning. For some people, their sunscreen provides sufficient hydration. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (in the tub) is a great choice for all skin types. It absorbs into the skin quickly without leaving a greasy residue.
I recommend: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream for $13 on Amazon.
Keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different. Skincare isn’t an exact science. If you have a medical condition such as persistent cystic acne or eczema, then these recommendations are no substitute for your physician’s medical advice. But for everyone else, if one of these products doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t mean you should skip that step- it just means you need to find something more compatible with your skin’s chemistry.
Post your thoughts in the comments. Have you ever used any of these products before? Discuss what’s worked for you and what hasn’t!
Flickr Photo Credit: M.J. Ambriola