I bet you think I am about to try to sell you on some magical products, right?
Although a good routine can only be achieved with great products, the steps in your routine are even more important. The best stuff out there isn’t even going to work if you aren’t using it properly. This is what I have found to work the best. If you have questions, please feel free to drop a comment! In the future, I plan to go deeper about certain products and what to look for in ingredients etc. but for now, let’s get the steps straight.
I will share links to check out the stuff I currently use, and stuff that I love but please, don’t hesitate to ask about your fave brands. There are very few lines I absolutely despise but even then, I will still help you. This isn’t about selling, this is about helping you and healing skin, my passions.
First– Wash your hands. I know you’re probably thinking it’s pointless to wash your hands, you’re about to use soap to wash your face. It’s actually pretty smart to wash your hands first, if you think about it. It cuts down on oils and germs that your cleanser will have to work through. Why transfer that when you can take 30 seconds to wash your hands of them first!
Second– Pre-cleanse. I know, I know I’m adding all kinds of steps to your routine that already feels daunting. This is important and let me explain why; when you get all the makeup off first, you are allowing your cleanser to work on the surface of your skin, free of all the makeup and dirt. A good cleanser is going to have fabulous ingredients that you want to work at full power! I used to work with a girl who would say, “well ya don’t shower with your clothes on so why would ya cleanse with makeup on”. As crazy as it drove me to hear her sales pitch ten billion times a day, it does make sense. This can be achieved by using a makeup remover wipe or micellar water. I like to use wipes to focus on my eyes and lips, and micellar to focus on the rest. Both can be purchased fairly cheap but I like Lancome’s Micellar Cleansing Water . I like the cheap makeup remover wipes from the Dollar Store, the Neutrogena knock off in the blue package. It is my one cheap, guilty pleasure. I don’t normally buy knock offs or use generic products on my face because it only takes ten seconds for bad ingredients to absorb into your skin. I justify using these because I wash my face right after even though I really do know better. I found some I really liked that had just a little bit of retinol in them. For the life of me I cannot remember the brand! I have yet to try a different micellar water but I am sure there are good ones that aren’t as pricey as Lancôme, but I have never been disappointed with my Lancôme skin care purchases. Some people opt out of buying extra products and just use their cleanser twice and some completely skip the double-cleanse process altogether. Some only use the micellar and some just use wipes. I prefer to do as much as I can to cut down on bacteria. I used to fight acne and it has made me hypervigilant about my skin. I was comfortable just using the wipes but I don’t like trying to use only micellar, it’s a little too harsh for my eyes so if I had to choose, it would definitely be wipes for the win. Pre-cleansing also allows you to not worry about getting a cleanser that is heavy enough or soapy enough to remove your makeup, which often leads to people using the wrong cleansers just so they feel like they’re getting their makeup off. It is not a cleanser’s job to remove your makeup.
Third– Cleanser is meant to remove unwanted bacteria and oils that build up on our skin through the day. Some are caused from environment exposure, sweat and makeup. We want to keep our good oils and wash off the bad ones. There are tons of different ingredients that can be included in your cleanser including acne prevention, tone correcting, pore minimizing etc. I like to keep my cleanser on the basic side, but beneficial, leaving the power products for after toner. We are going to be rinsing this step off so it just makes sense to put your most powerful ingredients in your stay on products. This is not to say that opting for something like salicylic acid in your cleanser for acne isn’t a good choice. It’s about ensuring that the percent is beneficial and not drying. Glycolic acid is fabulous for mature skin and lactic acid is good for all skin types concerned with balancing their skin tone. But including these items in your routine can be tricky and should be introduced slowly. Also, I like to use a cleansing brush a few times a week. I was too cheap to buy a Clairsonic and boy am I glad I was! I later found that it doesn’t even spin! Are you as shocked as I am? I mean, what the hell? I know they have their reasons and that’s all fine and dandy but I wanted something that spins and would have been crazy disappointed with it. I bought a cheaper version first to see if I would use it often enough to justify the cost of a Clairsonic. I have really enjoyed the one I have so I never upgraded to the non-spinner. You shouldn’t have to use too much cleanser, usually a nickel to quarter sized amount, depending on the type of cleanser. Milky cleansers don’t seem to go as far as a gel cleanser. A lot of products come in pre-dispensed pumps that give you the proper amount. The cleanser I am currently using has a pre-dispense pump but it’s still too much for me so I use about a half pump that is around the size of a nickel. When you rinse your cleanser, you should use caution about your pressure. I was recently reminded about this by one of my favorite clients- using a towel to wipe away the cleanser and water can over exfoliate your skin. Use soft pressure when removing the products and it’s better to dab your face dry rather than wiping it dry. If you are like me, you like to wipe your cleanser off instead of rinsing it off. I always laugh at the girls in the commercials and think about how much of a mess they’re making by so carelessly splashing water on their faces. I really like waffle washcloths, they tend to be less abrasive. I was also recently reminded about a crazy thing I did way back when, pre-esthetician days -dragging your nails down your skin in a feeble attempt to remove extra dead skin. DO NOT DO THAT. I know that I thought I was going to be helping my skin but rationally, I knew better even then. Choosing a cleanser can feel pretty daunting. It’s important to make sure you are buying for the correct skin type. One of the most common misconceptions are with acne. Just because you break out doesn’t mean you need acne products. Most acne products out there are super harsh. If you’re not a genuine acne type this is going to ruin your poor skin. Keep in mind that your skin doesn’t need to be ‘squeaky’ clean. What I mean by this is when you wipe your fingers across your clean face it should literally NOT squeak, if it does you have stripped your skin and a cleanser isn’t meant to strip your skin of all its oils. There is a difference between good oils and bad oils, stripping the good oils off will cause your skin to overcompensate and most likely lead you to believe you need a stronger cleanser. I’m currently trying a new line and you can find the Dream Clean on my LimeLight page. I also rotate the cleanser I formulated into my routine and you can get that cleanser by contacting me directly. I have to rotate my skin care every six or so months. I have been on the hunt for an all-natural line to offer as an alternate option to my personally formulated line and LimeLight is what I found that vibed the best with my needs. Keeping your skin care botanical and natural can be tough sometimes because the guidelines have so many gray areas you have to really research the ingredients. I am loving these products and I am sure this cleanser will be a staple in my routine for years to come. It’s been great and I love that it includes many ingredients that I have been researching to include in my line. Whatever you decide to use, just make sure its targeted for your skin type and concerns.
Fourth– Exfoliation is key to healthy skin. As we get older our skin cell turnover or cell renewal factor rate diminishes.
– Babies: every 14 days
– Teenagers: every 21-28 days
– Twenties: 24-30 days
– Thirties: 28-35 days
– Forties: 30-42 days
– 50 and up: 45-84 days
In order for us to allow our products to work at their full potential it’s important to make sure there’s not a bunch of icky dead skin for them to work through. Also, fine lines & wrinkles look worse when dead skin cells build up. Dead skin cell build up also clogs your pores and causes breakouts. Before I go any further- check your skin care arsenal for apricot scrub. Did you find it? Toss that where it belongs, the garbage! Exfoliating is an amazing thing but bad exfoliators are so dangerous. You can cause micro cuts that allow bacteria and nastiness into your skin and these large pieces in St Ives are actually causing your skin to inflame and cover your pores, trapping bacteria- gross. So I don’t have to continue my whole lecture on apricot scrub let’s just agree that you’re throwing it away, ok? Another dangerous exfoliator is baking soda. I don’t care what blogger or pin told you this is safe, it is not. It’s not the right Ph for your skin, and soon you will know why Ph is important. If we are tending to our Ph to naturally exfoliate, let us not fall for the baking soda lies that will ruin the acid balance that will naturally help get rid of dead skin. Baking soda’ s rank on the acid scale is around an 8.3 which is far too alkaline for your skin. A lot of pins are telling you to mix it with water and lemon juice, insert major eye roll. Lemon makes your skin photosensitive and should be used with soothing ingredients, if at all. I have told you what not to use for exfoliation, you’re probably wondering what’s safe to use. I like to use enzyme exfoliators because they’re gentle and very easy to make at home. Pumpkin is a fantastic enzyme exfoliator but don’t leave it on for more than ten minutes because it can stain your skin. I don’t use it by itself either, I like to add yogurt for a little extra benefit. If you’re looking for a ‘gritty’ exfoliator you might like to use a pumice based product. If you are looking for a chemical exfoliator you may want to seek out an esthetician in your area to discuss getting a chemical peel or finding a dependable acid serum that has something like 5% acid to be used a few times a week. Professional exfoliation is a good idea and can be done as often as every week in some cases, depending on the type of treatment you’re getting. You will want to find where you fall on the renewal list, the older you get the more concerned you should be about your turnover and your method. 60-year-old skin should be taken care of with a more tender approach than that of a 24-year-old but needs to be helped to exfoliate a little more. No matter what your age, you should exfoliate at night not in the morning and no more than 3x a week regardless of your age, skin type or concerns. If you use a cleansing brush only use an exfoliator twice a week.
Fifth- Masks are as fun as they are beneficial. There is a lot of room for creativity here to make your own. Many of the things in your fridge and pantry can be turned into a facial mask. I love to use fruit that’s too mushy for eating but not moldy, strawberries are great for your skin! Clay based masks are often used to treat oily skin and some are also good for dry skin, like kaolin. Charcoal is all the craze right now and has huge benefits for acne and oil. Peptides are great for maturing skin and are awesome ingredients to have in a mask. Gold is a popular ingredient in anti-aging masks these days due to the ions causing blood flow and lymph activation. There are absolutely ways you can go wrong with face masks, stay away from the peel off masks, we have all seen the videos, and don’t get me started on the fools mixing Elmer’s Glue into charcoal. Be sure you are buying for your skin type and please be cautious of the ingredients. I love Peter Thomas Roth masks and really enjoyed this sampler. I did find that the pumpkin one has beads in it that aren’t my favorite but the caution around them is more for microdermabrasion tech’s safety rather than someone using the beads in a mask a couple times a month. I make sure that I don’t frequently use it and I have switched the pumpkin mask that I am using in the spa. I won’t be repurchasing this one but it does work! It comes in the sample pack along with five other masks for a variety of benefits. The reason the beads cause concern is mostly due to techs having to breathe them in consistently over a long period of time, so I think if you buy this pack, you are ok to use it! It certainly makes a difference that they’re in a heavy base, the pumpkin. I plan on doing a bunch of mask reviews and sharing them on my business page Ranch Canyon Apothecary and Spa . I tried a bubbly mask and it was pretty good, although I haven’t repurchased it so I guess it wasn’t that great. One of my all-time favorite lines to buy masks from is Control Corrective. They’re a great line that can be found on Amazon these days. I have done a bit of price comparing between Amazon and my professional vendor and have found there isn’t a major mark-up in some cases. If you decide to check them out be sure to scroll for a minute to be sure you are getting the lowest price. I have used most of their products so please feel free to ask about them.
Sixth– Toner. Originally formulated a second cleanse step to get off cleanser and makeup residue, toner is now formulated to also help balance your skin’s Ph. You may ask yourself why you just spent your hard-earned money on a cleanser that needs to be followed by yet another cleanser. About that, even the best cleansers aren’t going to come completely off. Some products (like the ones I am currently reviewing) are Ph balanced which means you don’t have to use a toner. When I am done doing my genuine review of these products I will definitely be returning to my Rose Moon Toner. I have committed to giving these products six weeks of following their routine before I start switching things up. Has my skin missed my toner? I would say yes, but it may be a mental thing. A toner’s job is to balance your acid mantle which is what helps fight off environmental damage like smoke, smog, pollution etc. while also helping you fight off bacteria. Skin is a 5.5 on a Ph scale which is slightly acidic. It can range from 4.5-6.5 depending on your own chemistry and the products you use. A certain level of acidity is necessary to activate certain processes. Some enzymes in the Stratum Corneum can only activate with a slight acidity, like desquamation. Desquamation is so important, its literally your dead skin coming off. Dead skin cell build up doesn’t look good on anyone!
Types of toners:
– Astringents are for oily/acne prone skin types. A good product line will use salicylic or glycolic acid, or something similar while crappy lines will use isopropyl alcohol!! Not good for your skin at all. Alcohol/chemical acid content averages around 20% to an astounding 60%. I don’t care if you have super oily skin or not, do not start using a 60% product without consulting a knowledgeable esthetician or dermatologist.
– Toners are for all skin types and are usually not made with alcohol but sometimes have an alcohol or chemical acid content of about 20%.
– Fresheners are for dry, sensitive or mature skin types. They do not contain any chemical acids or alcohol, quite the opposite they tend to have humectants in them and often have rose water.
Regardless of how much oil you produce please, for the love of God, don’t buy any of these with isopropyl alcohol in them! Some lines have minimal amounts of different types alcohol in their products and often they aren’t going to ruin your skin, it’s a common emulsifier. However, using 20-60% isopropyl alcohol on your face twice a day is never a good idea. Also, if you’re thinking that isopropyl alcohol is ok to use as a spot treatment, you’re wrong. Witch Hazel is a good choice for oily/acne prone skin and Rose Water is a good option for all skin types. Some people are using Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner. Be sure to get the good kind with the ‘mother’ in it, not a cheap brand. I am a little torn about this but have heard numerous people say that they have seen great results by using it, so I am going to be trying it and doing a review at some point. The Ph is similar to that of your skin so it is safe but I wouldn’t recommend using it straight. I would dilute 50% or more for dry skin and 25% or more for oily skin.
Seventh– Bonus products. You may have heard me talk about these, eye creams, serums, lighteners, spot treatments, scar reducers, texture correctors, dark circle removers, the list is endless. Not everyone uses them and that’s totally fine. My personal line has three steps- cleanser, toner, serum. The serum was formulated to act as an eye cream, wrinkle serum etc. but some of my clients like to use it under their moisturizer as a genuine serum. There are soooooooo many kinds of bonus products out there. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed when looking into these and particularly at some of their prices. What to remember when looking to buy these products is to figure out what you are really concerned about. If you aren’t particularly worried about your age spots don’t let someone talk you into a product for skin tone. Going to beauty counters can be scary because some of the retail companies are super pushy, this happens with MLM companies and even some spas, too. When looking into these products please reach out to someone you know you can trust if you’re not sure what you need. Applying every product a line has to offer every morning and night isn’t always the best use of your money. If you are like me and worry about wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, spot treatment… ok everything I previously mentioned is concerning me. I have the full line from the company I am reviewing. I did this for two reasons, the biggest one was so I could give honest advice and opinions about the products to my clients and another reason was so that I could rotate my routine through the week. I loved the simplicity of my personal line but I was looking for more. Some people want to stick with simplicity and some like to have a more in-depth routine, either is ok and its purely personal preference. One day I use the product for calming and that night I may use the one for hyperpigmentation. I prefer to rotate my bonus products but keep my cleanser and toner consistent, sometimes alternating between a heavier moisturizer in the pm and lighter in the am. This saves me money in the long run because I’m not using everything every single night. I am also doing a lot of preventative work so I don’t feel the need to use a wrinkle product every time I go through my routine. I do use hyperpigmentation stuff everyday though!
Eighth– Moisturizer. It does exactly what you would think it would do- moisturize. It doesn’t matter what your age or skin care needs are, you need a moisturizer. There is a common misconception that if you have oily skin you don’t need a moisturizer. In fact, you need a moisturizer that is going to balance your natural sebum production like, Skin Rescue (contact this wonderful lady, Valorie at firstname.lastname@example.org for order info or myself by commenting or inboxing my FB). You can also find beneficial balancing and healing products from other lines that won’t strip your skin but will help slow down your oil production. Benzoyl Peroxide is not the only answer to acne and your skin tends to actually become immune to it. Not to mention BP takes up to 12 weeks to start working where salicylic acid starts to work within a few hours. Personally, I like to stick to around 2-5% acid in the moisturizer if you’re looking to go that way. My clients have had great luck using the serums but some only use it at night, opting for a lighter product during the day. There are absolutely ways to treat acne without copious amounts of acids and harsh ingredients. Don’t let them fool you, there is no reason to dry out your entire face to get rid of acne. For normal, younger skin a basic moisturizer is sufficient. You want to be sure you are using something that’s non-comedogenic and possibly with some peptides for a little kick of anti-aging benefits. For a more mature skin or dry skin of any age you want to look for something rich and nourishing. Skin Miracle is a crowd favorite with my clients and can be ordered through myself, or Valorie. I had a lot of clients who loved Lancôme mature skin products but these days people are leaning towards natural products. Control Corrective has a wonderful peptide moisturizer that I have seen results from in some of my clients. Retinol is really popular in anti-aging creams and has some great benefits, just be sure that you’re not using it every morning and night if it’s a high percentage in your cream. Retinol creams are best used at night so you’re not exposed to the sun right after applying. Rose Hip Seed Oil is an ingredient that helps other ingredients penetrate, and fast! Rose Hip Seed Oil is an ingredient that is beneficial in all products and is great for all skin types and concerns.
Ninth– SPF!!!!!!! SAY IT AGAIN FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!!! WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN!
There is so much more that I could go into for some of these steps but the purpose of this post is to break down exactly which order your products go in.