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Dr. Marisa Garshick , NYC board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology authored this story.

When it comes to a skincare routine, the basics include a cleaner to help eliminate build up of oil and dirt on the skin, a moisturizer to boost hydration and protect the skin barrier, as well as sun screen to protect the skin from sun damage. Moisturizing products can be in the form of creams, lotions, serums or masks. Additionally, it can be helpful to incorporate antioxidants to help brighten the skin and protect against free radical damage, retinoids to help with signs of skin aging, and scrubs to eliminate dead skin cells. A toner is a helpful addition as it helps to deliver other active ingredients but can also be used to help prime the skin for the remainder of the routine. When considering different products to incorporate, some may be used daily while others may be best to use 1-2 times per week.

The Correct Order Of Applying Skincare Products

Generally, products should be applied from thinnest to thickest. For the mornings, I typically recommend cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, moisturizer, sunscreen. In the evenings, I recommend cleanser, toner, serums or retinol cream, eye cream followed by moisturizer. If using a sheet mask, depending on the ingredients, it is best to apply after cleansing and prior to moisturizing.

The Importance Of Skincare Products

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a crucial part of your skin care routine. Daily and consistent sunscreen use helps to prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles, textural imperfections, and changes in the appearance of pores over time. More importantly, daily sunscreen use can help to prevent the formation of certain skin cancers. It is best to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher. Some examples include Elta MD UV Daily, La Roche Posay Ultra Light Tinted Mineral Sunscreen, or Cetaphil Sheer Mineral Sunscreen.

cleaner

Cleansing your face is an essential step in your skin care routine because it facilitates the removal of dirt, oil, and other unwanted debris. Throughout the day the skin on your face is continually covered with bacteria, pollutants, viruses, dirt, and old (dead) skin cells. The right formula cleanses your skin without stripping essential, healthy oils and it varies based on your skin type.

  • Oily / acne-prone – Airy foam or gel-based cleansers help break down dirt and excess sebum from pores. An example is CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser.
  • Dry / red / eczema-prone – Cream or lotion cleansers are formulated with emollients such as glycerin or shea butter, that hydrate the skin while washing away impurities. Cleansing oils are also a great option for those with dry skin to help nourish the skin.
  • sensitive – Gentle cleansers or Micellar water are a great option. For those with sensitive skin as they are less likely to irritate the skin and minimize the potential to strip the skin of its natural oils. An example includes Vanicream Facial Cleanser or Simple Kind to Skin Micellar Cleansing Water.

toner

Toners should be done after cleansing and before putting on anything else. Toners deliver an extra shot of nutrients, helping the other products in your regimen absorb better, while still balancing your complexion. Some examples include Thayers Facial Toner or Charlotte Tilbury Glow Toner. Here are some hero ingredients to look for:

  • Alpha and beta hydroxy acids to gently remove dead skin cells that can clog pores, improve sun-damaged skin and minimize dullness.
  • Hyaluronic acid or glycerin to boost hydration, seal in dewiness and plump skin to subtly treat fine lines.
  • Rose water and green tea to calm irritation and reduce redness with an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Vitamin E and C to fight daily exposure to free radicals that can age your skin.

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moisturizer

Moisturizers hydrate and soften the skin and using them everyday can reduce the chance of developing extreme dryness or oiliness, both of which can contribute to various skin conditions such as eczema or acne. Some examples include SkinBetter Science Trio Rebalancing Moisturized or CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion. Another example is the BioRepublic Deep Hydration Organic Facial Sheet Mask.

scrub

Exfoliating helps to keep your skin silky soft and smooth by buffing away and removing dead skin cells. You don’t need to exfoliate your skin more than twice a week. While it’s important to buff away dead skin cells, you also want to take care not to strip away too many of your skin’s natural oils. Some examples include the Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Pads.

masks

Face masks are great additions to any skincare routine to target specific skin care concerns. Masks can help hydrate skin, remove excess oils and help improve the appearance of pores—while providing a relaxing, spa-like experience at home. The right mask type depends on your skin condition:

Normal and Dry Skin – Cream-based masks are a good fit for normal to dry skin because they provide moisture and hydration, and softens your skin.

Oily Skin – Clay masks are fantastic for oily skin because they can extract sebum (oil) and impurities from the pores, leaving the skin feeling refreshed

anti aging – Vitamin E is an effective skin care vitamin. It’s an antioxidant by nature and helps prevent signs of premature aging. BioRepublic’s Multi-Peptide Therapy Mask uses a serum rich in peptides and Vitamin E that will slow the aging process.

Dark spots – To treat existing brown spots it can help to use products containing ingredients like retinoids or exfoliating acids which can help to brighten the skin. Other key ingredients to consider include niacinamide, licorice root extract, tranexamic acid, kojic acid and antioxidants like Vtamin C. BioRepublic’s Bright and Glowing Mask contains orange juice and pomegranate extract to gently exfoliate and brighten.

retinoids

Retinoids can be helpful to incorporate into a skincare routine to help improve the overall tone and texture of the skin, improving the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots and discoloration. Some examples include Medik8’s Crystal Retinal or No7 Retinol Serum.

antioxidant

Incorporating an antioxidant like Vitamin C into a daily routine can be important to help protect the skin against free radical damage and help to brighten the skin. This can be in the form of a serum, such as Skinceuticals CE Ferulic or Drunk Elephant C Firma Fresh, or a mask such as BioRepublic’s Bright and Glowing Mask.

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