Why is it so hard to figure out my skincare routine?
You’ve probably heard from just about everyone in the world who’s a celebrity, aesthetician, or even that special aunt on their personal skincare secrets to getting picture perfect, #iwokeuplikethis skin. Factor in all the marketing noise and constant product launch overload and welp, most of us are now huddled in a corner somewhere between “I give up. I’m lost.” and “I don’t like my skin, why doesn’t it ever get better?”
The real problem that no one is addressing is that no two skin profiles are alike simply because of differences in DNA, makeup, lifestyle, location, level of stress, diet, gender, etc. What that means is that your routine should be personally tailored based on your skin quirks and not just following what anyone else tells you. Let’s breakdown the routine!
The Chemists' View of the Skincare Routine
One of the most common questions we get is on the application order of all the different products. When experimenting with adding a product to your routine, the general rule of thumb is to go from products that contain the most water to the least water. The reason for this is simply that the skin is fatty, meaning it’s generally hydrophobic (has water repelling tendencies), which makes it challenging for these water-based formulas to absorb. The oils, butters, and waxes not only tend to have a bigger molecular size, but are also hydrophobic making it increasingly difficult for these water-based products to absorb. After applying those guys, it becomes increasingly difficult for these watery serums carrying actives to penetrate pass these oily films and then be absorbed by the skin.
- Cleanser: Do it. Everyday your skin is exposed to outside aggressors like pollutants, UV rays, and cigarette smoke. These not only add to skin inflammation but the cultivation of these toxins can create free radicals which eventually lead to the dreaded wrinkles. Help your skin out and wash your face. Cleansers help to clear skin of pollutants, old makeup, and dead skin cell. Depending on your skin you may not have to wash twice a day.
- Toners/Actives/Treatments: If you’re looking to add an extra splash of moisture or want to use a serum to tackle those skin concerns like wrinkles or pigmentation, the most ideal time would be after the cleanser and before your moisturizer. After cleansing, your face has been primed for soaking in these watery components and will be sealed in by the rest of your product layers.
- Moisturizer: Do it. Moisturized skin is healthy skin. If you can solve the problem of dehydrated skin first, those treatments and serums will have a much easier time going to work for you in tackling those skin issues you’ve been worried about.
- Oils and Occlusives: For those extra dry days, face oils and balms can become clutch products. Face oils also provide some extra nourishment and glow, while occlusive balms can target stubborn dry patches. A little goes a long way for this category.
- SPF (in the daytime): Do it. Why do we skincare? Because we don’t want to prematurely age. And what is one of the main causes of premature aging? Too much sun. Plain and simple. Look for a sunscreen that’s labeled “broadspectrum” with an SPF range of 30-50 to protect yourself from both UVA and UVB. Oh and don’t forget to reapply at least every 2 hours and check the expiration date!
At the end of the day, no one is going to know better than yourself what your skin needs. The routine is very much a personal experiment that each of us builds through trial and error. Once you’ve established your skin’s musts, the experimenting gets a lot easier and you can make your routine as minimalistic or grand as you like.
- Cleanse, Moisturize, SPF. Do it.
- If you’re confused, try to go from products containing more water to less water.