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Many of us dream of achieving flawless skin.
Realistically, most of us have at least one or two skin concerns. Whether we’re working with hormonal breakouts, excessive oil, or fine lines, we’ve all got goals when it comes to our skin.
While so-called “perfect” skin doesn’t exist, it’s likely still possible to dramatically improve the health and appearance of your skin.
These expert tips below can demystify your skin care so you can give your skin exactly what it needs.
The world of skin care gets complicated pretty quickly. If you feel dizzy thinking about serums, lotions, cleansers, toners, and oils, you’ve come to the right place.
While everyone has unique needs when it comes to skin care, there are a few basic products and practices that everyone can try to improve their skin.
The first rule of good skin care is to keep it simple.
According to Khatra Paterson, the owner of KP Aesthetics, it’s best to stick with the basics:
Simple skin care also means using just enough product.
“There are no benefits in using liberal amounts of products apart from sunscreen,” Paterson says.
Lunba Khan-Salim, MD, of Time to Bloom agrees.
“Using too many products can, in fact, cause skin problems,” she says.
Hit all the steps
What’s the right order for your skin regimen?
Use this simple rule: Products should be applied from lightest to heaviest.
“Think of your daily skin care regimen a little like a sandwich: The bread on either side of your filling is your cleanser and your moisturizer, and the great bit in the center is your serum,” says Diane Ackers, an aesthetician at Doctors Formula.
Exfoliation helps slough off dead skin cells, but over-exfoliation can cause your skin to react with excess oil production or breakouts.
Best to keep it to a minimum with once-per-week sessions.
Next: Always, always, always wear an SPF.
According to a 2013 study, sun damage is one of the leading causes of:
Hydration is a must for healthy, glowing skin. Dehydrated skin can feel dry, itchy, and dull.
Drink liquids throughout the day, including electrolytes, to keep your hydration levels high.
Not just for your face
Your neck and décolletage, or the skin on your chest, need some love, too. These oft-neglected areas are also prone to sun damage and signs of aging.
OK, so now you’ve got the essentials down. If you want up your game, try the tips below.
Using two cleansers helps to remove debris, makeup, and oil from the day.
“The first cleanse can move the dirt around your face, so doing it twice means you get deeper into your pores,” explains Deborah Mitchell, the owner of Skincare Heaven.
Adding toner to your routine means that you’re getting another opportunity to cleanse and balance your complexion. They restore nutrients to the skin that cleansers might remove.
Once you’re cleansed and toned, vitamin C serum is next.
As a 2013 study found, vitamin C creams help protect your skin from sun damage and can give you a brighter, “glowy” complexion over time.
It’s best to apply vitamin C during your morning routine.
Then, use retinol at night. This can prevent acne and slow the aging process.
Retinol may cause irritation for some skin types and conditions. Check with your dermatologist or conduct a patch test before you give it a try.
Moisturize like a pro
Yes, there’s a right way to apply moisturizer.
Massage your moisturizer into your face and neck in an upward motion, moving away from the center of your face.
Hot water is too intense for your face. Use lukewarm or cool water, and avoid washing your face in the shower unless you turn down the temp.
Vitamins and diet changes can transform your skin. Many experts believe that carbs and dairy can inflame the skin for some. Experiment to find the foods that give you your best glow.
A face massage or face roller can help de-puff your skin. A massaging tool can increase blood flow, leaving you looking awake and fresh.
Use a cleansing balm and a washcloth to remove makeup. Experts agree that this technique is more effective than makeup wipes.
Remember to keep your makeup brushes clean. Bacteria can build up on your brushes and cause congestion and breakouts.
Even when you’re staying in for the day, you can still take good care of your skin.
Take extra care of your skin when you step outside.
- Stay armed. Always have a lip balm and an SPF handy.
- Add extra protection. Protect from pollutants and dirt particles with a moisturizer.
- Limit sun exposure. Wear a hat or stick to the shade when you can.
- Wash your mask. When you wear a hygienic face mask, keep it clean.
Many people focus on the skin on their faces, but bodies can also benefit from some extra care.
- Mole check. Pay attention to any moles and have a full body exam to detect signs of melanoma.
- Moisturize your body. Don’t forget this after hot showers and baths.
- Exfoliate. Do this with a scrub once per week.
- Target stretch marks. You can do so with products that contain vitamin A, hyaluronic acid, or coconut oil.
Experts recommend getting to know your skin. Understanding your skin’s behavior will help you to make the right choices when it comes to what you put on it.
Skin types include:
You can determine your skin type with an at-home test.
Skin care tips for oily skin
Oily skin can be annoying and even embarrassing. Here are some pro tips to keep shine at bay.
- Don’t overdo it with face masks and other drying products.
- Exfoliate once or twice per week.
- Avoid cream moisturizer. Try a lighter gel instead.
- Use a primer or foundation with mattifying properties.
- Niacinamide serums can help you reduce oil.
Skin care tips for dry skin
Dry skin can be difficult to work with. Try these tips to keep your skin feeling hydrated.
- Moisturize damp skin to lock in moisture.
- Avoid hot water.
- Reduce caffeine and salt. They can make dry skin worse.
- Always have a lip balm with you. Your lips will probably get dry throughout the day.
- Hydrate with a face mask once per week, followed by your moisturizer.
- Facial oil nightly after your moisturizer is your best friend.
Skin care tips for combination skin
If your skin is both oily and dry in different areas or at different times, you may be experiencing combination skin.
- Get familiar with your skin. Do you have an oily T-zone and dry cheeks, for instance? You may want different products for each area.
- Opt for gentle products that won’t aggravate the skin. Favor hydrating products that don’t contain alcohol.
- Exfoliate gently. While weekly exfoliation is great for oily skin, it may make dry patches feel worse. Take it easy and space exfoliation sessions apart if needed.
Skin care tips for normal skin
“Normal” skin is characterized by being not particularly oily or dry.
- Use a lotion or a cream at night rather than a gel moisturizer.
- Don’t get carried away with new skin care products. Normal skin tends to require less maintenance. Adding unnecessary steps may cause irritation.
- Protect your skin with a consistent routine that includes SPF 30 or higher.
Skin care tips for dark skin
Dark skin tones may require specific care due to increased melanin.
- Use an SPF 30 or higher. Dark skin tones with increased melanin can be prone to sun damage.
- Tackle hyperpigmentation. Try an illuminating serum or other targeted treatment.
Skin care tips for light skin
Light skin tones can be extremely susceptible to the sun.
- Use an SPF 30 or higher, even when it’s cloudy.
- Watch for rosacea. This condition is common in light skin.
Signs of rosacea include:
- flushed skin
- eye irritation
- small red bumps
Skin care tips for acne
Acne-prone skin can be difficult to treat. Here are a few tips to help you stay clear.
- Know your type. Salicylic acid is good for whiteheads and blackheads, while benzoyl peroxide is better for deeper acne cysts.
- Stay moisturized. While you may want to dry your skin so that it’s less oily, this will only result in your skin producing more oil to compensate.
- Don’t pick. This can lead to permanent scarring.
- Sandwich. Use any acne-targeted treatment after your toner and before your moisturizer.
- Add retinol. Using retinol in the evening can target both acne and aging.
Speak with your doctor about persistent adult acne to find out about prescription treatment options.
Guess what? Skin is skin! No matter what gender you are, your skin has the same needs.
- Don’t turn up your nose at a skin care routine. Use a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and SPF daily.
- Keep your razor sharp and clean.
- Facial hair? Use a beard cleanser to keep your chin fur and the skin underneath squeaky clean.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into the nitty gritty. Here are a few little-known tips from the pros.
- Go slow. Wait a few minutes between applying products to maximize effectiveness.
- Take your time. Give your skin time to adjust to new products before changing them around.
- Don’t splurge (unless you want to). Some drugstore products are actually pretty good.
- Switch it up. Change your skin care routine based on your cycle, the seasons, and your age.
- Prevent mouth wrinkles. Try applying your eye cream around your lips.
- Eat your water. Add hydrating foods to your diet.
“Whether it’s protecting your skin in the sunshine or battling against the elements in the winter, it will have different demands throughout the year,” Mitchell says.
This means changing it up is key.
“Give products time to do their job properly,” Mitchell says. “If you keep switching what you put on your face from day to day, it can become over-sensitive.”
Ackers offers a pro-tip for adding new products to your routine.
“Leave it next to your toothbrush, so you remember to use it twice a day,” she says.
Khan-Salim suggests favoring hydrating foods, like:
They’re “packed with nutrients and a great way of getting the desired amount of hydration into your body,” she says.
Here are a few tips on how to make DIY skin care products at home.
- Oil. Use coconut oil to reduce dryness on hands and body.
- Baking soda. Use baking soda to treat hard calluses on your hands and feet.
- Masks. Mix yogurt and green tea, or use a simple egg white, for a face mask.
- Scrubs. Mix coffee grounds and coconut oil for an exfoliating body scrub.
- Skip citrus. Avoid using acidic fruits and essential oils in your DIY concoctions. Only mild essential oils are skin-safe, and they need to be diluted in a carrier oil.
“’Clean’ doesn’t always mean the best for your skin. Essential oils and other ‘natural’ ingredients can be irritating and cause the skin to flare up,” Khan-Salim says.
While research suggests there are health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils. Be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
Every skin care routine requires a few basics. You may want to add some frills, too.
The basic supplies
The premium tools
The deluxe setup
Getting skin care right isn’t always easy. Remember: Aspiring for “perfect” skin is pretty much pointless.
“A lot of what we see on social media and advertising is filtered, photoshopped, and edited. There’s no perfection in skin,” Khan-Salim says. “We all have flaws, blemishes, and anxieties. It’s normal and it’s human. Learn to love the skin you’re in.”
Use these expert tips to make informed choices about which products and techniques are best for your specific skin needs.
Meg Walters is a writer and actor from London. She is interested in exploring topics such as fitness, meditation, and healthy lifestyles in her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, yoga, and the occasional glass of wine.