How The Heck Do I Use This Stuff? A Six-Step Cheat Sheet

One of the most-often asked questions at my skin care studio is: How the heck do I use this stuff?

And by stuff, I mean products.

And by products, I mean cleansers, toners. exfoliants, facial oils, targeted treatments, eye creams, eye serums, scrubs, moisturizers, cremes and creams, polishes -  and the list of the myriad of the skin care arsenal continues...

It can be overwhelming. All of the stuff. And the order that the stuff goes in.

So today, I have created a handy (and pretty) tool for you to print out and tuck in your powder room drawer as a reference. It lists out a simple 6-Step routine (AM and PM) to get you on your way to being a pro at using your stuff.

Read on below for the nitty gritty info behind this cheat sheet...

1. Cleansing (AM / PM)

Cleansing is the first step to healthy skin. By removing the funk on the skin's surface, you are not only removing pore-clogging debris and environmental pollutants, but also allowing your skin to "breathe" and perform its natural functions.

Cleansing twice can boost your results even further - FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WHY YOU SHOULD BE CLEANSING TWICE HERE.

2. Toning (AM) / Exfoliating (PM)

Toning skin after cleansing not only returns skin to its proper ph, which is essential for proper function, but depending on the formulation, it also can help introduce hydration into the skin, for those who are dry, or help to temporarily decrease oil production with astringent action. People often ask if a toner is necessary. Truth be told, I notice a HUGE difference in my skin if I miss this step for a few days. 

Exfoliating skin after cleansing not only helps to remove any debris that cleansing may have missed, but also whisks away dead skin cells, revealing the fresher, newer ones underneath. Why is this important? Because these dead skin cells can clog pores, causing breakouts, and also keep the products you use after cleansing from working optimally. 

I prefer to exfoliate at night, but its ok if you do it in the morning, too. Just only do it 1-2 times a week total - more exfoliation is not better and can actually irritate your skin.

3. Serum / Facial Oil (AM) / Toner (PM)

Adding a serum or facial oil into your skin care steps can seem unnecessary, but, trust me, this is a key step in skin that glows with health. Serums and facial oils can deliver much-needed ingredients to your skin, in a very targeted way, to address specific concerns. They can also help to seal in the benefits of your toner from Step 2.

Using a toner in the evening offers the same benefits as using it in the morning (See #2).

4. Moisturizer (AM) / Treatment (PM)

Using a moisturizer is a thing. For everyone. Even if you have oily or acne prone skin. Moisturizer helps to seal in hydration and protect you from the elements (weather, pollution, etc). Acne can actually become worse if skin is not properly moisturized. If you are oily or acne-prone, a lighter moisturizer with ingredients like hyaluronic acid can be helpful.

Using a "treatment" in the evening, when your skin is going through its process of rejuvenation, can help support your skin in really great ways. This treatment could be your daytime serum or facial oil, or it could be a separate targeted product to address concerns such as aging, acne or redness.

5. SPF (AM) / Night Cream (PM)

Although it is a good thing to get a small amount of exposure to sunlight for Vitamin D, I recommend wearing SPF on your face every day of your life to avoid sun damage. Every day. This is even more critical if you are using treatment products that contain ingredients such as retinals or glycolic or salicylic acid. These ingredients make your skin more vulnerable to UV damage.

A night cream in the PM is always a good choice, especially for those with dryer skin. If you are an oily skinned gal, like me, you may only need to use a night cream a few times a week or less.

6. Eye Cream (AM/PM)

Eye cream can easily be a step that is overlooked in skin care, but, since our eye skin is thinner, it is desperately in need of protection to stay supple and healthy. Use your eye cream day and night. There are eye creams that work beautifully underneath makeup in the day and offer good hydration at night.

I hope you find this info helpful for your everyday routine! Happy skin!