The first step in your individualized skin care routine is figuring out your skin type. If your skin is dry, you’ll notice dry areas and occasional flaking. Oily skin has a shine to it and is sometimes paired with large pores. Combination skin is oily in the ‘T-zone’ of the forehead, nose and chin, but the skin on the cheeks is dry.
Wash your face with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser that’s matched to your skin type. Don’t use hot water because it can remove all of the natural oils instead of just the excess. Foaming cleansers are effective for oily skin because they’re oil-free. Also, the foam is effective at removing excess oil from the pores.
For dry skin, a hydrating cleanser will gently clean your skin without drying it out. Alcohol and fragrance can irritate dry skin, so make sure you’re using a cleanser that has neither. If you struggle with acne, you’ll want a facial cleanser with salicylic acid to target problem skin. After washing, pat your skin dry with a soft cloth (don’t rub), and you’re ready for the next step.
Once or twice a week, gently exfoliate your skin using a good scrub. This step will remove dead skin cells and leave your skin glowing and fresh looking. I’ve used products that exfoliate with everything from pumice to peach pits. Find a product that will provide great polish without irritation.
You don't have to rub hard or scrub with a quality exfoliating formulation. Apply it with the fingertips and rub gently in small circles, beginning from the bottom of your face. Be careful around your eyes, and give extra attention to problem areas like rough spots. Then remove the face scrub using warm water and your hands.
Using a toner or astringent tightens pores, and it can also draw out remaining impurities from them. A toner or astringent is an especially effective tool for controlling oily skin. You can use a liquid or spray toner, depending on your preference.
A slight sting from using toner right after washing your face is normal, but if it’s too intense or causes redness, you might have sensitive skin. It’s better to use the toner that’s right for you than to avoid this step.
Now is the chance to give your freshly cleaned and toned face some nourishment to help maintain clear, healthy skin. Some of the helpful ingredients in facial serums are hyaluronic acid, retinol, and vitamins C and E.
Target your problem areas with the serum and apply a thin layer to your entire face. While you’re at it, go ahead and treat your chest, arms and hands. Like your face, they’re often exposed to the sun and need some extra attention.
Every face needs a moisturizer. There’s one for every skin type and every part of the body, too. Eye cream is perfect for the delicate skin surrounding your eyes. It’s formulated for this type of skin and can firm and tighten it. Lotion for your face can be light and oil free for oily skin or rich and hydrating for dry skin.
It’s best to apply moisturizer while your skin is still damp from washing and toning. This allows it to seal in some of the moisture that remains on your skin. Apply your moisturizer in small circles, moving from the chin upward. Like toner, you can get face lotions that contain a small amount of anti-acne ingredients. Some moisturizers also have built-in sunscreen.
You’ll want a different lotion for your body than the one you use on your face. If you’re an active, outdoor person, using a body lotion with sunscreen is recommended. Even young skin can be damaged by too much sun exposure. Remember that the effectiveness of the sunscreen will wane as the day goes on, so you’ll still get your daily dose of vitamin D from the sun.
Protect your skin from harmful UV rays first thing in the morning and last thing at night with sunscreen and night cream. There are many new formulations of sunscreen that are a far cry from the heavy, greasy sunblocks of the past. And applying night cream is a relaxing self-care routine that makes a difference in the health of your skin.
Even if you don’t use a body lotion with built-in protection from the sun, be sure that your facial products have it. Sun damage can cause skin to age prematurely and worse, lead to skin cancer. Luckily, there are plenty of choices in protection for every skin type.
Why use a night cream? One reason is that it’s an easy and hydrating way to remove the makeup and soil that accumulates during the day. You’ll go to bed with clean skin and the moisturizer will work overnight to hydrate and soften your skin.
I’ve given you the bones of a daily skin care routine, and it’s up to you and your skin care professional to flesh them out with the products that meet your unique skin care needs. All of the cleansers, toners, scrubs, lotions and other skin care aids are available in special formulations for sensitive, dry, oily and combination skin.