Because I’ve been working in the beauty industry for so long, I sometimes forget that not everyone knows to use certain products. I didn’t always know how to, when or why I should use certain products either, but as someone who was obsessed with skincare and makeup from a young age and then started a career in the beauty industry, I’ve learned a lot. Like, a lot a lot. So I’m going to share with you what each product does and the reason I use it.
Ready for this masterclass?
Cleanser. What does it do? Removes dirt, oil, bacteria, and makeup (if it’s an oil cleanser or cleansing balm) from your skin. If you don’t use an oil cleanser or cleansing balm, you’ll want to use a makeup remover before cleansing. When should I use it? Every single friggin’ night. I don’t think a morning cleanse is necessary as well, unless you have truly oily skin and feel the need to use a gentle cleanser to remove surface oils that have built up overnight. Why should I use it? Because if you let the junk from the day stay on your skin overnight, you’re asking for blemishes and irritation. How do I use it? Oil cleansers and cleansing balms go on dry skin, then you massage in, then rinse off. Most other cleansers go on damp or wet skin. Just read the directions on the packaging, boo. Farmacy Green Clean is my go to cleanser and because it’s a cleansing balm, I don’t need to remove and cleanse separately.
Moisturizer. What does it do? The stratum corneum–the very top layer of skin–is there to help protect the layers of the skin below that. Moisturizer does a combination of holding and delivering lipids and water to the stratum corneum. That means that top layer stays strong, which prevent cracks and fissures that can allow bacteria to penetrate the deeper levels of the dermis, causing infection. When should I use it? Every morning. Why should I use it? Because you don’t want your skin to feel like sandpaper, right? Flaky skin isn’t cute, and skin that has visible cracks on it is…problematic. How do I use it? Dispense the recommended amount and slather it on. I’ve found that two pumps worth is usually sufficient. If your moisturizer comes in a jar, use a clean spatula or scoop to take out the product so you’re not introducing bacteria from your fingers into the jar every time. I’ve been using Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture Broad Spectrum SPF35 for years, but there are lots of good ones out there.
Hyaluronic Acid. What does it do? HA is a substance naturally found in our bodies. It lubricates the skin, joints and other tissues. In skincare products, HA provides the hydration the skin needs and is often lacking. When should I use it? In the morning after you shower and at night after you wash your face. Why should I use it? Because dehydrated skin feels rough and looks dull. Plus, lack of skin hydration makes makeup cake and settle. How do I use it? Apply it to damp skin followed immediately by moisturizer. For more HA info, peep this post.
Face Oil. What does it do? It delivers lipids to the skin, helping to keep that stratum corneum strong and free of cracks and fissures. When should I use it? It depends on your skin type. If you’re very dry, you can use it before or in place of moisturizer. If you have combination skin and get dry during the winter, I’d recommendation using it overnight. If you just sometimes get a dry patch, you can use it as a spot treatment. Also, if you use retinoids and experience peeling, you can apply a thin layer of face oil 20 minutes after you ret up. You can also use it for a facial massage, which is great for both dry and dull skin. Why should I use it? Because sometimes, moisturizer isn’t enough. How do I use it? Dispense a drop of the product and apply it with clean hands. If you need more, go for it, but start small and dispense more as needed, since a little bit of oil can go a long way. My favorite face oil is the Josie Maran Argan Oil.
Retinoids. What do they do? Retinoids increase collagen product and new cell growth, and they thicken the deeper layers of the skin where wrinkles start. When should I use it? Always at night. Retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so unless you’re nocturnal and sleep on the beach, you should apply your ret before bed. When you first start on retinoids–and go straight for the prescription stuff if you can, as it’s not diluted by other ingredients–I recommend using it every three nights. After three months, try every other night. Once you’ve used it for a year or so, see if your skin can tolerate it every night. Why should I use it? Because retinoids are the only scientifically proven anti-ager. How do I use it? You’re better off reading my retinoids blog post to find out that answer.
Exfoliants. What do they do? They remove dead skins cells from the top layer of skin, making the dermis smoother and more receptive to skincare products and makeup. Exfoliation also makes skin look brighter and healthier because dead skin cells dull the skin. Exfloliants can help unclog pores, but not in the way that facial extractions can. Physical exfoliants (the ones that feel gritty or textured) slough the dead skin cells off, while chemical/enzyme exfoliants dissolve the “glue” that binds dead cells to skin, causing them to fall off. When should I use it? Two to three times a week, either morning or night. If you’re on the sensitive side, stick with twice a week. If you use retinoids, DO NOT use an exfoliant, as retinoids exfoliate already, and double exfoliation causes irritation and sensitivity. Why should I use it? Because smooth, bright skin will make you a happier person. How do I use it? It depends on the product, so make sure to read the instructions.
Sunscreen. What does it do? It protects your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. When should I use it? Every time you plan on leaving your house during daylight. Why should I use it? Because you don’t want to get skin cancer, and because sun damage is the #1 cause of premature aging. I’m talking fine lines, sun spots, wrinkles and sagging. How do I use it? Dispense or spray on the recommended amount of product prior to any makeup application. My favorite face, neck and chest sunscreen is Glossier Invisible Shield.
If you’re not doing any of this already, this can seem like a lot. But once you get into a routine, it’ll feel like nothing. If you’re worried about how long all this will take, don’t be. Cleansing takes maybe five minutes if you’re wearing a lot of makeup. Moisturizing and hyaluronic acid take under a minute. If you want to give yourself a facial massage with face oil, that could take 10 or so minutes, but the other face oil uses I mentioned won’t take you more than a minute. Retinoids application is done before you can say “I can almost feel my collagen production ramping up!,” and exfoliation should only eat up between 2 – 15 minutes (part of the 15 minute max being passive/wait time), depending on your product choice. So yes, you do have time for that.
A good skincare routine will not only make your skin look and feel better now, but it will slow down the visible signs of aging if you do it right. If you wait until you already have sun damage and visible signs of aging, only a plastic surgeon or dermatologist will be able to rescue you. But if you start taking care of your skin now, you’re helping out your future self. And trust me, 2030 [Your Name Here] will thank you for that.
Have a beautiful day 🙂