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Making the Most of Your Skin Care Routine

Whether you have a diehard ten-step beauty regimen, or you’re a wash-‘n-go type, chances are your skin care products could be working against you if you’re not putting them on in the correct order. On the flip side, having the proper application sequence can make them more effective. Generally, the best order in which to layer your skin care is based on weight, going thinnest to thickest. To suss out the correct order for a particular product, follow these simple steps. Oh, and if a step/product doesn’t fall into your regular routine, no worries, just skip ahead!

Hopefully, everyone uses some sort of cleanser, because, without a clean canvas, none of your other skin care treatments will work. The type of face wash you choose should benefit your skin, so look for products that address your needs like dry skin, acne-prone skin, sensitive, etc. Even if you just use bar soap, you should wash your face in the morning and at night. Of course, if twice a day is a stretch, the best time to cleanse is at night so you can remove dirt, oil, makeup, etc., which can accumulate throughout the day.

Once your face is clean, it’s time to apply toner. Unless you have a severely oily/acne-prone complexion, it’s best to avoid alcohol-based toners. Leave those for the teenagers in your life. Look for toners that are plant-based, and, like your cleanser, address your skin care needs. Neutrogena is a basic alcohol and oil-free toner to refresh your skin without stripping off moisture. Burt’s Bees’ rosewater toner is also a good to try if you’re new to toners and want to give them a go. Whichever brand you try/use, be mindful of how much you apply. Overuse, no matter the toner, can dry out your face.

Next up, eye cream, which should go on before any other treatment product. The skin around your eyes is way more delicate than the rest of your face. By applying a specific under-eye gel or cream, it not only addresses your needs in that area but also will protect the under-eye from potent ingredients like retinol, which is found in overall face creams. Again, choose your eye products based on your skin type. For oily lids, opt for a gel-based formula. To lessen the appearance of bags, try a product with caffeine. I’m a big fan of Mary Kay’s Indulge Soothing Eye Gel as an overnight treatment. No matter the brand you use, be sure to tap the lotion gently under the eye — don’t rub — remember it’s a sensitive area.

After the eyes comes the serums, which are specialty treatments for specific skin needs that target issues like dryness, dark spots, dullness, or acne. If you want to be really strategic with your serum application, you can experiment by utilizing different formulas at different times of the day. For instance, in the morning, go with a serum featuring antioxidants, like vitamin C (a personal favorite) to give your skin a boost as you face the day. At night, use a retinol-based product so your skin can regenerate as you sleep. Better living through science!

Of course, serums aren’t for everyone. However, moisturizer, like cleanser, should be part of your skin care routine, no matter how low-maintenance your beauty regimen. Moisturizers not only hydrate your skin, but they also protect it, and seal in all the good ingredients you just applied via your toner, eye cream, and serum. A good rule of thumb is to opt for a lightweight lotion for the day that also preps your skin for cosmetics if you wear makeup. At night, go for a heavier cream. Most heavy-duty moisturizers, especially oil-based, aren’t meant to be used with foundation, blush, bronzer, etc.

Your final step in the morning should be sunscreen. If you already have a moisturizer with built-in SPF, like Aveeno’s Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer that’s great, but don’t forget the skin below your chin. Necks, chest, arms, hands, etc. should all get some sunscreen, even during the winter, in order to ward off UV damage. Like your face cream, look for a body lotion with built-in SPF, like Eucerin’s body cream with SPF 30. During the winter, you should be keeping your skin hydrated from head-to-toe.

Lastly, if you are using multiple products, be sure that they have complementary formulas and ingredients to maximize their effectiveness. At the very least, you don’t want your products working against or canceling each other out. Also, keep in mind that, as the seasons change, so will your skin needs. When it’s cold, hydration is key. Come spring, your skin may have different needs. At the very least, everyone should wash and moisturize their face every day, no matter the season.

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