A question that I receive surprisingly often is:
What skincare products should I use?
That question that in itself is pretty open-ended and difficult to answer, and there’s a big difference between should and could (like need and want). The masks and sprays I test out a lot are “wants,” but some products are truly “needs”. In a crowded beauty market, it is increasingly difficult to know the difference.
Recently, I went through one reader’s specific concerns and mapped out what she could and should use every day. In doing so, I realized that there’s a lot of knowledge to be extrapolated from the process of piecing together her individual skincare regimen; I think we can all learn from it.
When she first approached me, here’s what she had to say:
I’m (gulp) almost 35. What wash, toner, and moisturizer (w/ spf) I guess would you recommend?I will spend some money, but not a ton. I have oiler skin I’d say. Some acne and I don’t ever wear makeup. Oh and I hate the feeling of lotion. So something like. I saw some dermologica (or something) stuff and wasn’t sure if that was good? Also, any undereye cream/help? And maybe an nighttime wrinkle helper? Thoughts!?!
Ahh! I think a lot of what she said, we’ve all felt at some point or another with our skincare. I mean, where does one even start? There’s so much information and mis-information out there about skincare, that it can be overwhelming.
So here’s how I broke it down:
Step 1: Start with a Wash
No matter what your age or skin type, you gotta wash your face every day.
It’s best to use a mild, gentle cleanser, that’s not trying to do much at once. It doesn’t need to do more than clean off the dirt, debris and dead skin–and hopefully it will do so without totally stripping your skin of its natural oils in the process. Ideally, you would use a cleanser that was fine for morning and night.
Having oily skin at 35 may be genetics or may be from over-washing or over-treating skin with OTC acne products. However, a gentle was like the Milky Jelly Face Wash should be okay for both a morning and night wash.
Step 2: Apply Some SPF
Step 3: Treat Adult Acne Gently
Step 4: Help Your Skin Turnover (the Anti-Aging Step)
To keep skin healthy and young-looking, you need to exfoliate it regularly. I don’t mean physical exfoliation (here’s why), but a chemical exfoliant like an AHA.
Step 5: Moisturize to Protect and Seal
Takeaways: Skincare Regimen
Some of you might be saying: where’s the retinol!?
Given the nature of retinols and AHAs–that they are taking off some of the top layer of already-thinning skin–it may be best to just stick to one, at least for now. Even if you do want to use both, you should wait and least 30 minutes between applying, and make damn sure to use SPF every single day, as they make one’s skin more susceptible to sun damage. Retinol treatments can be pretty harsh, so again, I’d really suggest that you just stick to one until your sure your skin can handle it.
My routine suggestion again is:
- Gently Wash
- Apply SPF
- Apply makeup and/or a few drops of oil
- Gently Wash
- Treat pimples with Sulfur
- Prevent again with AHA (or AHA/BHA combo / alternatively a retinol)
- Apply a few drops of oil to moisturize
Altogether, using the cheapest products that I suggested, it comes in at about $93. That’s enough skincare products for 3-4 months (the sunscreen might be a smaller supply), then you’ll need to replenish and start again. It’s a bit expensive, yes, but prevention is the biggest key to great, young looking skin into your 50s and beyond. Prevention in the form of gentle cleansing, gentle acne control, gentle exfoliation and of course, sun protection always.
And if that’s all too expensive or complicated, all I can say is.. apply your SPF! Again, 90% of the skincare battle is prevention. Oh–and try to use a face wash on your face, not a hand soap.
I hope that helps! Creating a perfect skincare routine definitely entails some trial-and-error, but at least with a good, educated starting point, you can get your skin on the right track.
Gentle Reminders: Thanks for reading! This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on or purchasing through them helps pay for this content and keep it free. So if you liked it, give it a click!