14 Jan How to Get Better Skin with Less Effort, Part One
We know more about how to care for our skin than ever before, but with a dizzying array of science-based options out there all vying for a spot on our bathroom counter, things can get overwhelming fast.
If you’ve ever bailed out on a shopping cart full of serums, moisturizers, exfoliants, and creams in a state of skin care routine overload, this guide is for you.
In Part 1 of 2 in our series about How to Get Better Skin with Less Effort, we’ll discuss the skin cleansing techniques you should do every day and every week. In Part 2, we’ll talk about what you should do every month … and what you should absolutely leave only to professionals!
Pro-tip: Keep it simple — and smart. Skip trying to maintain a 10-step routine every day and break down your regimen into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks.
What to do every day
Cleanse every night
Your skin may be fine with skipping an AM wash, or sticking to just water or a very quick wipe with cleansing (aka micellar) water. But when it comes to your PM routine, cleaning off the slurry of makeup, sunscreen, dirt, oil, and bacteria teeming in your pores is a must.
Cleansing tip: David Lortscher, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Curology, is in favor of micellar water: “It cleanses, removes makeup, and moisturizes in one step by using tiny molecules — micelles — that pull the dirt and oil out of your skin.” Follow that step up with a gentle cleanser.
If you rather double-cleanse (without micellar water), use an oil-based cleanser to break down makeup and sunscreen, followed by a foaming cleanser. If your skin does not tolerate foaming cleansers, then use a gentle non-foaming product. This is a thorough but super gentle way to cleanse everything off your skin without stripping it.
Yes, we’ve all heard the warnings and are still tempted to zip out for errands sans sunscreen, or to dodge that familiar greasy, heavy feeling — but sun damage goes far beyond just a tan: UV radiation is behind photoaging, inflammation, and skin cancer.
Lortscher estimates that damage from UV is responsible for “up to 80 percent of skin aging” and recommends a minimum of SPF 30 UVA and UVB protection daily.
Pro-SPF-Tip: Use a stand-alone sunscreen. Even if your daily moisturizer or makeup has a stated SPF, keep in mind that SPF rating is based off a volume of sunscreen that’s far more than people think — 2 milligrams (mg) per square centimeter (cm) of skin to be exact. That’s 1/4 teaspoon on average.
Imagine using up an entire bottle of foundation in less than four weeks — that’s how much you’d need to be protected!
Pro-Tip: Keep in mind that even if you’re wearing multiple products with SPF, you can’t “add up” the SPFs to equal 30. You need to make sure that one of the products is SPF 30 on its own.
Skip a step, if you can
Don’t feel like you have to slather on everything every day. Instead, focus on what your skin needs. Does it need a moisturizer to fight dryness? Or is it dehydrated? Are you using a prescription that needs to be applied daily?
Your skin’s needs may change wildly due to climate, season, weather, and age. If you wake up on a humid day and can’t bear the thought of applying your usual rich moisturizer, skip it! Don’t feel like you have to do the same thing every day — your regimen should be enjoyable and relaxing.
Pro-Tip: The best routine is a doable one. Once you’ve taken care of the basics, it’s OK to stop there, or add steps and products if you feel like it.
You can pamper your winter-dry skin with an overnight sleeping pack, soothe summer skin with a refreshing sheet mask, or simply crawl into bed with just-cleansed skin if you’re not feeling up to a full routine.
But you don’t have to do it all, every day.
What to do every week
Exfoliate with restraint
Not everyone needs to exfoliate their skin, but even with regular cleansing, layers of dead skin can build up on the surface, leaving your face feeling grimy, rough, or dull.
Exfoliating once a week can help your skin look and feel smoother, brighter, and will reduce the likelihood of clogged pores.
Pro-Tip: Beware of Manual Exfoliants (aka scrubs).
Scrubs featuring rough or sharp particles can cause microtears in the skin. Scrubs can also worsen acne, Lortscher explains, as the “friction from aggressive scrubbing will backfire. This causes irritation, and irritation leads to more acne.”
Instead of a scrub, consider a chemical exfoliant, such as an AHA or BHA. These dislodge excess dead skin, allowing it to be gently wiped away.
Pro-Tip: Daily or weekly, not both. Some AHA/BHA chemical exfoliants are designed to be used daily. If you’re already using a daily exfoliant, you may want to avoid a more intense once-weekly exfoliation, as your skin will already be more sensitive. If not, your skin might benefit from a weekly exfoliant to slough off dead skin.
De-clog your pores
Check out the state of your pores: Is your nose teeming with blackheads and sebaceous filaments? Even though you shouldn’t try to extract them yourself, congested pores are annoying at best and inviting acne at worst.
A purifying face mask, such as a clay- or charcoal-based mask, or gentle oil massage may help to loosen clogs and minimize the appearance of your pores. Just don’t pick at your skin!
Tune in next week for Part 2 of 2 in our limited series How to Get Better Skin with Less Effort!