With a plethora of new innovations and ingredients in the market, skin care can feel complicated. Cleansers, exfoliators, creams, serums – it’s often difficult to decipher which products to use and how to use them. At the end of the day, we are all chasing the same goal: to achieve healthy, radiant-looking skin. While the innovations and advancements in skin care are exciting, understanding the basics of a core routine is important to accomplishing your skin care goals. At InstaNatural, we believe there are 4 key steps that create the perfect skin care routine.
Step 1.) Cleanse
Proper cleansing techniques are often overshadowed by the glamour of more advanced treatment products. However, treatment products can’t work as effectively without being applied to thoroughly cleansed skin.
Cleansing the skin should happen twice a day, morning and night. You should apply a nickel-sized amount of cleanser into your hands and massage to create a foamy lather. In gentle, circular motions, apply the cleanser to the skin for at least 30 seconds, concentrating on troubled areas such as the t-zone. Rinse with warm (not hot) water and pat dry.
To ensure you don’t disrupt your skin’s natural barrier, be sure to find a gentle cleanser that uses plant-based surfactants and extracts.
What About Cleansing Tools?
Facial cleansing devices have been used by professional skin therapists for years before being available in retail stores. These devices can range in price, ease of use and benefits provided to the skin. My clients have often asked me how necessary they are in their skin routine and which ones are right for their skin.
While there are many types of devices, they generally break into 2 categories – manual and electronic. Manual hand devices are simple to use, inexpensive and provide a light exfoliation benefit to your normal cleansing routine. Electronic devices use advanced technology to provide a deeper cleanse and remove dirt and debris without causing irritation or damaging the skin. These devices require more of an investment and time to use.
While the use of cleansing tools is often encouraged by professionals and can enhance a routine, they are not required to achieve an efficacious and beneficial cleanse. More importantly, the use of a facial cleansing device does not eliminate the need for a quality cleanser that is suited for your skin type.
Step 2.) Tone
Often the most misunderstood step in skin care, the benefits of a toner are endless and really enhance a skin care routine. Historically, a toner’s primary purpose was to balance the skin’s pH back to healthy levels and tone the pores. While this is still a primary reason to use a toner, innovation has offered toners that provide incredible benefits to the skin. Depending on your skin concern, your toner can help clear blemishes, soothe redness, gently exfoliate or absorb excess oil in the skin.
While toners are a great way to infuse amazing ingredients into the skin, they also prep the skin for enhanced benefits from your powerful treatment products. As an extension of your cleansing routine, the application of a toner helps to maintain hydration levels in your skin, allowing your serums and moisturizers to apply more evenly, absorb quicker and penetrate deeper into the skin. The result is more comfortable, hydrated skin and more effective benefits from your products.
Step 3.) Treat
At the end of the day, we want to see results in our skin care routines. While an appropriate cleanser and toner set the foundation for results, using a targeted treatment product is the most effective way to reach your skin care goals. Targeted treatments come in a variety of formats, but most often these are serums or concentrates.
Treatment products often contain higher concentrations of proven ingredients, such as Vitamin C, Retinol or Salicylic Acid. In addition to increased concentration levels, the textures of serums are often much lighter, allowing them to absorb deeper and work more effectively in the skin.
Treatment products are also the easiest, and most fun, way to customize your routine. Depending on your skin concern, you can easily layer or rotate serums to achieve your goals.
Sometimes, the high concentration of ingredients in serums can cause your skin to initially feel dry or sensitive, especially if they contain Retinol or Salicylic Acid as these are powerful ingredients. If you’re new to using these ingredients in a serum, it is recommended to introduce one new product at a time and use every other day in the first few weeks. This will allow your skin to adjust and you can increase use as you build up a tolerance.
Step 4.) Moisturize
The last and final step in your skin care routine should always be a moisturizer. Regardless of your skin type, a moisturizer is crucial to providing the replenishment and hydration your skin needs to maintain health and balance.
Above all else, a moisturizer is one of the most important products to support a healthy skin barrier. Our skin has an incredible ability to protect itself from aggressors, while also keeping key nutrients inside. However, many things can disrupt our skin’s barrier – some of which are unavoidable. It is helpful to view your skin barrier as a brick wall. When it is strong, it is protective. When the mortar starts to weaken and the wall starts to crumble, it becomes vulnerable to damage. A disrupted skin barrier can result in skin that feels dry, appears dull, has redness, irritation and is generally problematic. These are all challenges that are easily addressed by supporting and replenishing your skin’s barrier function.
While moisturizers typically add moisture (in the form of oils), it is important that you use a skin appropriate product – even if you naturally have an oily skin type. Moisturizers are available in rich formulas for dry skin, oil-free formulas for oily skin, and antioxidant-packed formulas for anti-aging skin. To balance your oil production – whether that means adding more or reducing it – picking the correct moisturizer for your skin type is crucial, and always remember to leverage an SPF with your moisturizer during the day for maximum sun protection!
Step 5.) What’s Next?
Skin care doesn’t stop there – in fact, products that extend beyond your daily regimen are valuable to skin health and obtaining your skin care goals. Masks, exfoliants, peels and oils are all incredible products to leverage in your routine; however, your foundation is the most important. Focus on establishing a core skin care routine based on these 4 steps. Once you’re comfortable, you can begin to explore the addition of weekly treatments into your routine! Just remember – a treatment mask or peel won’t provide long-term results if your daily routine isn’t established!
Written by Heather Wilson, Director of Brand Development & Lead Esthetician