The Basic 4-Step Skincare Regimen
- Step 1: Cleansing Simple is key here. You need to find a good cleanser that your skin responds well to, and stick with it. (I list the best cleansers for skin types in this article ).
Avoid bar soaps as they tend to dry out the skin. According to Rona Berg, in her book, "Beauty," a French cosmetics executive once told her "soap should only ever touch your skin from the neck down." We agree. According to Berg, most cleansers contain oil, water and "surfactants." The oil dissolves oil on your face, surfactants dissolve dirt and makeup and the water washes it all away. The secret is finding the right mix of oil. (Makes sense to us). Too much on your skin will clog pores, while too little will dry it out. This is why you need to know your skin type.
Be careful not to cleanse too often. Washing at night should do you. While some skincare experts swear you should cleanse skin with creamy cleansers that you wipe off with a tissue, never letting water touch your skin (some hard waters are especially hard on skin), we prefer the water method. In the morning, a splash of lukewarm water is all you need (we find it's great for removing excess oils from your nightly moisturizing). Never wash your face with hot or cold water (both can cause broken capillaries). Also be careful about overcleansing skin.
Here's the best way to wash your face: Use warm water to loosen dirt and clogged pores. Use a dime-sized bit of cleanser, then rinse with cool or lukewarm water. You'll also want to take off your makeup with a proper makeup remover.
- Step 2: Exfoliate Exfoliation is the step most people skip in their weekly skincare routine. But trust me, if you start properly exfoliating your skin, you will notice an almost immediate difference. According to Berg, one of the reasons men's skin looks more youthful than women's is because men tend to exfoliate daily when they shave. There are several ways to exfoliate skin: Microdermabrasion, chemical peels and retinoids.
Scrubs work by removing the top layer of dead skin cells that tend to dull your complexion. We find exfoliating skin once a week with a microdermabrasion kit keeps skin glowing year-round. Make sure you use a gentle scrub with tiny grains. Big grains in cheap scrubs can tear skin and cause more harm than good. My favorite microdermabrasion kit is made by Lancome.
In the hour it takes to get a chemical peel, you can take off five years from your face. Can't afford the pricetag for a monthly peel? Try some over-the-counter peels that work over the course of a month. I prefer MD Skincare's.
Retinoids (such as Retin-A) also work by removing the top layer of dead skin cells while also generating collagen in the skin. "Collagen is the skin's structural fiber," dermatologist Dennis Gross said in the October 2005 issue of O Magazine. "As we get older, it breaks down, creating lines and large pores." Skincare experts disagree on all sorts of things, but most of them consider retinoids to be a miracle skin saver.
Should you use a toner? Some people swear by toners, but many beauty experts do not (I once read a skincare expert claim, 'toners are only for copy machines'). Toners are meant to remove all remaining traces of oil, makeup and dirt, but a good cleanser should do this. I firmly believe it's up to you. If you like the way your skin feels with a toner. Buy it. Use it. Enjoy it.
- Step 3: Moisturize While I know of at least one famous beauty editor who swore skin doesn't need moisturizer, basically everyone else I've read disagrees and is an adamant believer in it. A basic law of beauty is that everyone, no matter her skin type, should moisturize. Even if your skin is oily, it will benefit from moisturizers. (The only exception is those with acne). Why? Moisturizers seal moisture into skin (Berg calls this the 'Saran Wrap effect'). So how much should you moisturize? Your skin will tell you. When your skin is tight, it's crying out for moisture. Be careful not to overmoisturize -- this can cause clogged pores. For the skinny on great moisturizers for your skin type, check out this article.