by Jessica Pigza
At GYPO we get asked a lot of questions about skincare from what types of products to use, what order to put them on, and even what is a good skincare routine. With so many skincare products available it should get easier to develop a skincare routine but I actually think it’s getting harder. While it’s good to have options, there are almost too many options. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed especially when you just want a basic skincare routine. Not to mention everyone’s skin is different. Just as we come in different shapes and sizes, our skin comes with different needs and quarks as I like to call them. Whether you have oily skin, dry skin, acne issues or want to minimize fine lines, sometimes it all comes down to trial and error as far as finding the perfect products. Plus, as we get older, our skincare needs change and it’s important that our routines change to meet those needs. And while I can’t tell you your miracle product, I can at least help guide you on what to look for and the best order to apply your products.
Below I’ve mapped out a good skincare routine for both AM and PM as well as offered some good steps that can be added to your routine as we get older. Note that while some steps will be in both the morning and evening routines, there are some differences. Some products are only meant to be used in the morning and others at night. I know it’s a lot, trust me, I’ve been down the rabbit hole of beauty products and I know I’m not even going to scratch the surface but I promise, I’m going to try to keep this as simple as possible. For a basic routine the easiest breakdown going like this – Cleanser – Toner – Moisturizer. If nothing else, this is a good routine to follow. When you want to start adding other steps like serums, exfoliating, or masks, that’s where it can get tricky. When in doubt though a good rule of thumb is that after your cleanser and your toner apply the rest of your products from thinnest to the thickest. That way your lighter products will have the best chance of being absorbed so they can work their magic. Lastly, don’t forget your neck. Having a good skincare routine shouldn’t stop at your jawline, each step should be carried down your neck as well. Now let’s get started!
Cleaning your face is the first step of a good morning skincare routine. Even if you don’t plan on applying makeup it’s important to cleanse the skin and get rid of dead skin cells and oil residue that accumulated overnight. You want to use something that’s going to make your face feel fresh, awake, and clean without drying it out. Whether you have dry, oily, or combination skin, you don’t want to use anything that’s going to strip away too many of your natural oils. If you’re dry it will only make it worse and if your oily your skin will overcompensate for the dryness by making more oil.
Okay so here’s where you have a choice. There is no hard and fast answer as to whether it’s better to exfoliate in the morning or at night. One school of thought is that if you have oily skin exfoliating in the morning is just a better way to refresh your skin for the day ahead, restore your glow, and remove excess dead skin cells. The other school of thought is that exfoliating at night will better prepare your skin for your nighttime serums, help with cell turnover, and further clean your pores from your day’s worth of makeup. Also, if exfoliating tends to turn your skin a bit red it’s definitely recommended to do it at night. I wish I could tell you the right answer but you just have to do what’s right for you. I suggest trying in the AM for a week and the next week try the PM. Which one works better? Also, it’s recommended to only do this step two times a week because you can actually over-exfoliate which will cause damage to your skin. However, as we get older sometimes we may need to up this step to three times a week.
What does toner even do and why is it important? Different toners have different properties. They prep your skin to accept your moisturizer as well as any other face care products you plan to use. It also helps restore a natural balance to your skin that even the most gentle cleansers can disrupt. Plus it’s a lightweight way to add additional skin soothing elements such as aloe, Hyaluronic acid, or vitamin E. If your skin is dry or even super oily beware of products that have alcohol or witch hazel in them as they can really dry out your skin.
Here’s where it also gets tricky. There are so many serums on the market that it’s hard to know what to choose and what order to put them on. Plus you’ve got your AM serums versus your PM serums. So what ones should you use? After looking at multiple resources the easiest process for this step is that in the morning it’s best to use serums that protect and leave the correcting serums to the nighttime application. For instance, Vitamin C is great for blocking out free radicals, protecting skin, and making it glow so it’s best to use only in the morning. Now if you’re also using any sort of acne treatment, I would apply those first since they tend to work better on fresh skin. Again follow the rule of thumb, thinnest products first, and work your way to the thicker ones.
This leads me to my next tip, don’t mix all your serums together. To achieve their highest potency apply them one by one. If you run into some products that don’t seem to spread as easily and you may find yourself using more product than you’d like. One way to help combat this issue is by pressing the product into your skin rather than rubbing it in. Slightly rub the product in your hands then press your hands against your face. Often it really doesn’t take much to be effective and by pressing it on, you’re able to use less product.
5. Eye Cream
While your moisturizer is great for your skin, under your eyes may need a little extra TLC. The skin under your eyes tends to be much thinner and more delicate then anywhere else on your body. Using a moisturizer specifically made for under your eyes can help boost collagen production, decrease puffiness, and minimizer dark circles giving you the ability to fake that you’re wide awake even if you had a bad night of sleep. When applying your eye cream it’s best to use your ring finger and gently tap the cream under your eyes starting near your nose and working your way up to your temples. Remember a little goes a long way. Also, eye cream should not be applied too close to your eyes. Keep it away from your lash-line. Lastly, give it some time to soak in before applying your eye makeup. If you don’t your concealer won’t go on right.
Now that you’ve completed all the above steps it’s time to lock it in for the day. Your moisturizer is extremely important because not only is it used to hydrate and soften your skin but it helps lock in your serums and keep your skin looking fresh and radiant all day long. This is also a step that some may feel inclined to skip especially if you have oily skin but please don’t. If your skin isn’t properly moisturized then your skin can go into overdrive creating more oil to compensate. Look for a moisturizer that doesn’t feel heavy or greasy and opt for one that’s non-comedogenic meaning it won’t clog your pores. Also, it’s best to wait at least five minutes for everything to soak in before applying your makeup.
I can’t say this enough but even when it’s overcast please do not skip the sunscreen. This is an essential step to protecting your skin, especially for the long haul. Keep in mind there are differences between daily sunscreen and the sunscreen you may wear to the beach. It shouldn’t feel sticky or thick and if it does then you might need to switch up the product you are using. The only time you’re able to skip this step is if you’re using a moisturizer that contains an SPF or if you’re using a foundation that has an SPF. It’s recommended to use at least a 30 SPF. Below is a combination of daily sunscreens as well as moisturizers with SPF in them.
1. Remove Your Makeup
Washing your face isn’t enough in the evenings, you first need to start with removing your makeup. This is a separate step in which you’ll use a specific makeup remover. Makeup removers can come in a presoaked cloth, a gel, a lotion, or even a watery liquid that you can apply to your own cotton pad. The key is that you want your makeup remover to breakdown and remove your makeup without stripping your skin. If your skin feels raw after you take your makeup off, you might want to try something else.
Now that’s you’ve properly removed all your makeup you’re ready to clean your skin. Follow the same process as above and rinse thoroughly.
I’m going to refer to what I said above. If you wear makeup daily or if you find that exfoliating turns your skin slightly red, then I suggest adding this step to your nighttime routine. Two times a week is recommended however as we get older adding in another session is a good idea to help remove excess dead skin cells. This is also a great time to use a facial mask such as a charcoal mask, an oatmeal mask, or a sulfur mask. By cleansing the skin first your facial mask will be able to get deep into your pores allowing for maximum benefits. Masks should only be used a few times a week as well but I always advise reading the product directions to determine its best usage amount.
Now it’s time to apply your toner – same as above.
Time for the PM serums. Start with applying any acne-fighting serums you may be using. Then, just like in the AM, apply the rest of your serums one at a time from thinnest to thickest formula. Your skin does most of it’s repairing while you sleep so this is also a great time to add in any retinol products used to help minimize fine lines or dark spots. It’s important to apply your retinol products at night because they are photosensitive meaning it will make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Just be sure that you’re not already using a nighttime cream with retinol in it. If you are then you don’t need a separate one. Also, if you find that your skin is a little sensitive to retinol, try mixing it with your moisturizer to help downplay the potency until your skin adjusts to it.
6. Eye Cream
Just like above, your eye cream is good to add right before your moisturizer. There’s no problem with using the same one you use in the morning however you also have the option of using something a little heavier if it agrees with your skin since you won’t be applying any makeup over it.
Same as your morning routine you’re going to moisturize. If you experience dryness you can opt for a heavier night cream but if you don’t have any issues you can use the same moisturizer you are using in the AM.
*This step should be followed two or three times a week.
It’s Not Always Easy But Worth It
Finding your perfect skin routine is trial and error which is why there’s so much information out there about it. It’s definitely not one size fits all. To help you find products you like I recommend visiting stores that are more than willing to give you a sample to try. Also, verify their return policy. This will help keep you from wasting money on products you don’t like or that don’t agree with your skin. Keep in mind that with certain products it does take time for them to work but they should still feel wonderful on your skin!