Skin care is one of the most fun things for me to talk about, but for anyone unfamiliar with it, starting a routine can be overwhelming and frustrating.
Caring for your skin — your body’s largest organ — is just as important as taking care of the rest of your body. And while there are some things that will require cosmetic procedures as opposed to creams and serums, it’s still worth it to use products that keep skin healthy, balanced and protected.
The most frequent concern I hear from people is that they don’t know where to start with skin care. There are hundreds of brands and products out there, and sifting through what’s worth it and what’s not is definitely daunting.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, though.
While there are no real hard-and-fast rules in skin care, there are universal steps that should make up every single person’s routine, regardless of skin type or concerns.
You have to wash your face. If you can’t do it twice a day (day and night), just do it at night to help take off the day. Pollution and dirt, plus all of your own sweat and oils, sit on your face and, just like your body, they need to be washed off. If not, it can cause dryness, irritation and sometimes premature lines and wrinkles. Something like La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser is gentle and won’t strip your skin of its natural oils. Stripping leads to oil over-production, which leads to oily skin and, sometimes, breakouts.
Eye cream makes the biggest difference. The undereye area has the thinnest and most fragile skin on the body, making it the most susceptible to damage and irritation. Eye creams include ingredients specifically made for the most common undereye concerns, including puffiness, lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and thin, sagging skin. Made with caffeine to reduce puffiness and Matrixyl 3000, a super peptide to strengthen skin and reduce lines and wrinkles, The Inkey List Caffeine Eye Cream is perfect for puffy, tired eyes, which most of us have. It also costs less than $10. And remember: eye cream should go on before moisturizer.
Daily moisturizer is necessary to maintain skin’s moisture barrier (what keeps our skin working properly to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out) and to prevent environmental damage. Most derms recommend using a facial moisturizer with sunscreen or in conjunction with sunscreen (more on that in a second) in the morning and a moisturizer tailored to your skin type in the evening. Cetaphil Daily Hydrating Lotion is a great middle-of-the-road option that will get the job done. Use it after cleansing day and night.
Now, about that sunscreen. Sunscreen is an absolute must. It not only helps prevent skin cancer but also is the most non-invasive way to stop or decrease signs of aging (wrinkles, fine lines, sagging, etc.). Bliss Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen is lightweight, silky and SPF 30. If you don’t want to use a separate moisturizer, make it easy on yourself and find a two-in-one option such as CeraVe Ultra Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30. Sunscreen goes on last in your morning skin care routine (and before any makeup).
Topical retinoids are skin care’s MVP since they speed up cell turnover, which means they accelerate your skin’s natural process of shedding old cells and bringing new ones to the top. They tackle obvious wrinkles, loss of tone or elasticity (sagging and bagging), and uneven texture. They also are known to shrink pores and clear up acne. You can start using a retinoid in your 20s, but if you are in your 30s or older, it should be a staple of your skin care routine. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion is great for retinoid newbies, as it works effectively yet gently. A nighttime product, start by using a retinoid in your PM routine once a week and slowly bump it up to three times per week.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT