skincare guides

Tips for Building an Effective Skincare Routine

Building a skincare routine can seem like a daunting task, so we’ve created a three-level guide, starting from “the basics” and ending with the “fun but not strictly necessary.”

Tips for Building an Effective Skincare Routine

Good, Everyday Practices For Skin

Every evidence-based skincare routine should be based on a foundation of good, basic practices. That includes gentle cleansing, sun protection, moisturizing when dry, and avoiding unnecessary irritation.

Gentle Cleansing

What constitutes “gentle cleansing” will vary depending on skin type, season, climate and the use of potentially sensitizing treatments. You may find that the cleanser you used in the warmer, milder months may be leaving your skin uncomfortably dry in the winter. Or you may find that after incorporating the use of a retinol or retinoid product that you are no longer able to tolerate the cleanser that you once enjoyed using. 

The most important thing is to look for signs of irritation and dryness. If your skin feels uncomfortably tight or experiences redness, burning or stinging after cleansing, these may be signs that your cleanser is too harsh for the current state of your skin. 

Although foaming power is not always an indicator of cleansing ability or harshness, it’s sometimes useful to consider non-foaming milk cleansers (you can find many gentle formulas at the pharmacy or drugstore), though you may find the need to use a separate makeup-removing product if you use tenacious sunscreen or color cosmetics. An often overlooked option is also gently formulated cold creams (that are meant to be wiped, not rinsed, off), which can effectively remove sunscreen and makeup without exposing skin to water (other than what is present in the cold cream) and leave a moisturizing layer of product. 

Targeted Treatments (only if needed)

In order to address specific skin concerns, it may be helpful to consider using products containing evidence-based ingredients. Depending on the specific concern, the ingredient(s) may change, though there is often overlap as several well-researched ingredients have multifunctional benefits. For example, if improving the appearance of uneven skin tone is the goal, considering the use of a well-formulated product containing niacinamide, azelaic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, polyhydroxy acids, or Vitamin C may be helpful. In the case of improving the appearance of wrinkles and lines, you might consider using a well-formulated product with retinol, Vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids or polyhydroxy acids. Some of these ingredients benefit from delivery systems aimed at improving stability or delivery to skin, such as retinol and Vitamin C, whereas others are relatively unfussy, such as niacinamide. 

Sun Protection

Sun protection includes making a habit of using sunscreen when exposed to the sun, but also includes sensible sun avoidance (especially during the hours when the sun is the strongest) and use of sun-protective clothing/hats/sunglasses/accessories to protect especially vulnerable parts of the body, such as the eyes, ears, the back of the neck, and the shoulders. Sun protection is especially important for those concerned about wrinkling and skin discolorations since sun exposure will undo much of the progress achieved through skincare and medical treatments.

Room for Fun and Experimentation

Skincare is just as much about enjoyment as it is about results. For many, being able to try new, fun products is part of the joy of being a skincare user. Once you have the basics in order, and a cogent plan for any specific skincare concerns you have, you may find that you have room to explore and play with new products. That might mean trying a fruit-scented mask that you adore, or experimenting with various new cleansers with interesting, luxurious textures. Having a solid skincare foundation in place, you’ll more easily be able to recognize the early signs of irritation and manage your skin so that you can balance efficacy with fun.

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