Skincare Regimen 24yrs
I am having trouble finding a skincare regimen for myself. I am overwhelmed by all the different products (serums, moisturizers, sunscreens, primers, bb cream, antioxidants, retinol, etc.) and want to know which ones I should be using and in which order. I use foundation everyday and I'm worried if I use products before it might mix weird. Can someone please help me figure out what I should be putting on my face and when
I used to be an oily teen but not so much anymore. I sometimes break out (stress, hormonal mainly) and I am concerned about wrinkles/fine lines forming. I also really want SPF in stuff because I live in San Diego and it's always sunny.
If oil isn't so much of a concern as it used to be, here's what I gather from your post:
-Skin type is normal/combo
-Issues are the occassional breakouts or blemishes
-You wish to target preventing aging factors like fine lines
-You wish to address sun protection
Let us start with cleansers! Though you can cleanse in the morning and at night, if you wake up and your skin isn't feeling particullary muggy or oily, you can skin the morning wash. It's not absolutely needed, but it's a nice step to just prep skin for any morning treatment or regiment. Cleansing should always at least be done at night, whether you wear make up or not, it helps wash and rid skin of environmental traces (pollution, the elements, etc.), oil that has accumulated throughout the day, bacteria, and sweat.
Though cleansers are a great way to start any regimen off (a cleansed face will take and absorb treatments and moisturizers better), since it's a step that has product washed off, you don't have to necesarily splurge or find the most potent ingredients invested in a cleaser. In other words, a cleanser with retinol probably won't help deliver results as best as a treatment with retinol in terms of anti-aging. With that in mind, look for cleansers that are gentle and aimed to not strip skin of essential oils that the skin actually needs to keep supple. Sulfates are a common ingredient in everything from cleansers to shampoos, and it's a foaming, soaping agent that in some cases can be harsh on skin depending on sensitivies. Not all people are effected negatively from sulfates, but many companies are steering clear from relying on them just because more alternatives are being found. Sulfates provide that lathering effect that give the physical feeling of being clean, but in actuality can strip skin of oil. If a product does have sulfates, try to be sure it also has conditioning and hydrating ingredients to buffer and counter act those effects, like aloe or vitamin E. Washing isn't a simple, slap on some cleanser and then rinse it off, actually take the time to massage about a dime sized amount of product onto skin for a good minute or so, then rinse. Give it time to break down oil, bacteria, and grime by penetrating and doing its job rather than be smoothed on top then rinsed right off.
There are dozens of cleansers out there, so browse your heart away! The best thing to do is educate yourself in ingredient and product knowledge, don't be afraid to look up ingredients! Cosmetic and beauty industry products are not required to list out percentages of ingredients or how a product is formulated, so to best read a lable, know that the most active ingredients are always listed first. Generally, water is first, then a washing/lathering agent, then binding ingredients, then conditioning, then any preservatives, colors, or fragrances are toward the end in terms of cleansers specifically. Here is when you can narrow down products more in case you have allergies, sensitivies, or things you want to avoid. Parabens are among the most common form of preservatives used in the beauty industry. They help maintain and increase shelf life of a product, but studies have been made where there are claims parabens may be linked to cancer. Though there is no diffinitive proof out there, some folks just prefer to avoid parabens all around.
After cleansing, there's an option of toning the skin. Toners are an optional step and are designed to refresh and help maintain the pH balance of skin after cleansing. Many cleansers contain things like rose water (which is soothing and calming), oceanic botanicals (like algae or seaweed, which help maintain the skin's natural moisture balance and lipids), aloe, lavender, chamomile, and other skin soothing ingredients. Witch hazel is used in many acne, oil control, or pore refining toners as it helps rid skin of excess oil and is a natural ingredient that can be relied on rather than harsh chemicals. Like I said, toners are optional, I occassional use one because I just like the feel of sweeping on or misting on a refreshing tonic after an invigorating cleanse, but it's definitely not a requirement.
Next after the washing/toning step is your treatment step. The treatment step is very important as any issues or concerns you have can be heavily addressed here. Think of the treatment step like the heart or meat of a skin care regimen sandwich. Here's where you get the most bang for your buck and results, so if you want to invest anywhere, I advise putting a bit more money into treatments compared to a lotion or cleanser.
Treatments come in all types of formulas, from gels, creams, serums, and oils. They can cover ground from aging factors, preventative/anti-aging concerns, loss of elasticity, pores, acne, sun/age spots, puffy eyes, dark circles, fine lines, wrinkles, post acne marks, you name it. The key is to not go overboard. If you overload your skin, you may sensitize your skin and cause ill effects, or have the products combat and cancel out the results you may want with one another.
Generally, try not to have more than one or two treatment products, and then an eye product. Try to find treatments that multi-task and do more than one job, so they target multiple issues rather than one by one. In other words, it's easier to find a treatment that addresses fine lines/wrinkles and loss of elasticity compared to using one for deep lines, then one for fine lines, and then one to lift and fight off sagging skin. Your treatment products will be applied to the targeted areas on the face (no need to slather on a fine line treatment all over if all you're worried about are laugh lines), and the eye product will be used on the area under the eye (not super close or applied near the lash line) and orbital bone area. As you mention the occassional breakout, use a treatment product for the preventative measures on aging, then keep a spot treatment for blemishes handy and use that whenever one or two pop up.
For eyes, I cannot stress how to practice being safe than sorry is so important! The delicate skin around the eye area is thinner than anywhere else on your face, so when apply product there, don't use the same force or pressure you would as in applying lotion, use your ring finger with about a sprinkle sized amount of product and gently tap or sweep product onto the under eye/orbital area until product has absorbed in. Pressing too hard or using too much force will cause capillaries to break or suffer damage, leading to excessive darkness under the eyes due to blood from the damaged areas to leak out and be more aparent under the skin. Common ingredients in eye products depend on the type of concern you wish to address. Vitamin E helps to condition and moisturize over all, vitamin A/retinol/retinyl palmitate help with anti-aging factors (retinol is the strongest form, if you use something with retinol, start using it every third night for a week, then second night for a week, until you can build up a tolerance to the potency of the ingredient, vitamin A and retinyl palmitate are more mild forms and more gentle), licorice/vitamin C/mulberry/lemon oil all help with brightening, vitamin K helps with repairing and strengthening the skin's barriers and leaky capillaries so it's good for dark circles, caffeine/peptides help with defuffing/firming/tightening, and cucumber helps with soothing. Avoid applying product on your lids as the skin there is even more sensitive, only use a product on the lids if it's deemed safe or labled safe for lid usage.
Following your treatments, it's moisturizing time! For daytime, of course SPF is a non-negotiable factor! Even if the sun is down and it's cloudy and foggy out, you may not feel UVA rays are out, but UVB rays are forever prevalent and those are the rays that essentially cook your skin from the inside out, so broad spectrum protection is always a must! As a general ground rule I like to follow for lotions are an oil-free formula, with sun protection (for day time), and a simple formula. With SPF, the funny thing is that the higher up the SPF level you go, the more minor the difference in protection you're getting. At the bare minimum you should use SPF 15, even better, use SPF 30 if you can find it, but from there, SPF 55 doesn't offer than much more of a significant difference from SPF 45, and an even smaller difference than a 85 and 75. With SPF, it's always best to get it through the delivery of a lotion/moisturizer or through a sunscreen directly, though make up has come out sporting SPF benefits, you won't hardly use enough of a foundation with SPF 20 to get the coverage you need compared to your moisturizer. There are powdered sunscreens available (Peter Thomas Roth) which are great to use throughout the day to reapply your sunscreen if you're constantly in the sun for prolonged periods of time without messing up your make up by slathering on goop. Sun screen sprays are also a great alternative to use on the face throughout the day as well.
In terms of formulations with moisturizers, there are fluids (which are the lightest weight), lotions and gels, then creams and dry oils. Fluids and gels are great for anyone with excessively oily skin that still want to moisturize but not "feel" like they're wearing anything. Lotions are a happy medium of the moisturizing lot, and creams are heavier, generally better for night time use (the thicker formula infuses moisturizing properties into skin better as you're resting for that longer period of time) or for dry skin. The newest trend on the market are oils! Though the word "oil" itself has a negative connotation due to the issues it can cause, botanitcal/plant based oils are in fact very beneficial to the skin care world as it comes the closest to mimicking the natural oil our skin needs and produces compared to man-made synthetics. Olive, morroccan (used in countless hair treatments now), macadamia, and argan oils are great hydrators and can serve multiple purposes (Josie Maran's argan oil can be used for face, lips, body, hands, and hair). Facial oils have a tendancy to dry down, so they don't linger and leave a film of greasy, so no worries, they do absorb well. Moisturizers are in fact the final step in helping to lock and seal in the benefits if your treatment products and help protect and keep freshly cleansed skin from drying out and being exposed to the elements.
Additional steps in skin care include exfoliation, masks, and peels. These are made to be applied to a regiment anywhere from once or twice a week, to maybe once or twice a month. Feel free to message me for more details, I know this post is crazy long as is!
For some recommendations and personal faves or mine:
-Anthony Logistics Glycolic Wash, though it's geared toward men, women can use it just fine! It relies on glycolic acids, which sound harsh, but are fruit enzymes and sugars, also referred to as alpha hydroxy acids (or AHAs). GA help to brighten and even skin tone by using sources of pineapple, orange, lemon, papaya, among other fruits and is great for sun spots/post acne marks and giving skin a nice luminous glow. It's also a formula that is very gentle (no sulfates, parabens, synthetic dyes or fragrances), and is a gel/cream formula so it helps break down oil and keep skin feeling hydrated. The glycolic acids also help to gently chemically exfoliate the skin so you're not having to rely on a physical scrubbing agent (steer clear from sugar granuals or crushed fruit seed powders, the particles are rough and uneven and can scratch and irritate skin). It helps promote new and healthy skin cell regeneration from the inside out!
-Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleanser, the formula isn't too far off from the AL one, but this one is also infused with AHAs and bumped up with BHA (beta hydroxy acids), which is also commonly referred to as salicylic acid, which is used for acne treatments also with being a chemical based exfoliant. It's also a brightening formula so it packs a one-two punch of chemically exfoliating to soften lines, brighten skin, but also giving an extra boost to ridding oils and baterial on skin and helping out in times of blemishes.
-Ole Heriksen Truth Serum, this vitamin C packed serum is great for fighting off and treating sun damage (vitamin C is great for evening skin tone and preventing oxidative damage plus is great on sun spots/post acne marks) and boosting collagen production so it helps plump up and soften the look of any fine lines that may be popping up. It's rich in humectants (which help to bind healthly moisture to the skin) like sodium hyaloronate, so it conditions skin as well.
-Garnier's Under Eye Roller Ball (Brightening formula), this drug store find is wonderful in the day time, the flesh toned tint has light reflecting properties to brighten and perk up dark or tired eyes, along with lemon oil to brighten, caffeine to drain water baggage that can be causing puffiness, and grape seed extract, an antioxidant. The roller ball action also promotes drainage from the under eye area!
-Ole Heriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel, lightweight and cooling, you can store this in the fridge so it helps depuff tired eyes even more! It's rich in peptides and soothing botanicals so it tightens, firms, conditions, and hydrates!
-Murad Acne Spot Treatment, the sulphur in this helps dries out whiteheads on the spot in a matter of hours, be sure not to use more than once a day starting off, as you don't want to over-dry out areas, This formula is also infused with AHA/BHA along with calming agents to treat irritation and help bring skin back down to a smooth texture.
-Nuetrogena On the Spot Treatment, this is great if you don't want to use a salicylic acid based acne treatment, it uses benzoyl peroxide, which instead introduces oxygen to trapped or clogged pores to rid it of oil and bacteria.
-CeraVe, this line is found in drug stores and is a no fuss brand that gets straight to the point of moisturizing. Their AM formula has SPF 30, and the line is infused with humectants like ceramides and hyaluronic acid, which again, bind healthly moisture to skin. They're oil free, and a very simple moisturizer to go with.
-La Roche Posay, makes great sun care products, their fluids are light weight, sheer, and never feel heavy or greasy. They're also moisturizing, so you can use one as a day lotion all together!
I, too, am 24 years old and I was also overwhelmed with skincare. I always just purchased an acne skincare kit and if it worked, it worked. If it didn't, it didn't. Scrap the whole kit. Anyway, I would suggest incorporating a product one at a time. I would start out basic first with a cleanser and moisturizer, maybe one with and without SPF. If you're concerned about wrinkles and fine lines, the best prevention is wearing a sunscreen. If your skin isn't quite oily anymore, I would suggest trying the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF 15. You can find it at any Target/Walmart/drug store. An added bonus is that this sunscreen has retinol, which is a good way to start introducing your skin to it because it does help with wrinkles. For a moisturizer without SPF, I like using Murad's Skin Perfecting Lotion, which is oil-free, but it provides adament moisture. Remember just because a product says oil-free, it doesn't mean your skin won't be moisturized, just like a product that states that it would control oil or has zero oil. It doesn't mean it doesn't have oil, or it'll be super drying. As for cleanser, I currently use Dermadoctor's Ain't Misbehavin' Medicated AHA/BHA Cleanser. Unlike a lot of acne cleanser, this isn't drying, and if you read a lot of the reviews, it's really good for adult, hormonal acne. It's also pretty cost effective because it'll last at least 6 months for under $30. I hope this helps and good luck!
Which products you should be using depends on your skin type and the problems you want to address. You should definitely be using some sort of moisturizer under your foundation (I usually eat breakfast between moisturizing and putting on makeup to allow the moisturizer to absorb). Most moisturizers have sunscreen, but if you're really concerned about sun damage, you can use sunscreen in addition to moisturizer (sunscreen goes on first). Primer isn't strictly necessary, but it does help your makeup stay on longer, especially eye makeup, so if you find that halfway through the day your eyeliner has melted away or your eyeshadow is settling in the creases, an eye primer will work wonders (Urban Decay's is one of the best eye primers out there). BB cream serves as moisturizer, primer, sunscreen, foundation, and serum, though I have never tried it myself so I don't really know much else about it.
In terms of what specific products to use, my go-to is a line that isn't carried by Sephora, but I have heard great things about philosophy. I'm a big fan of Bare Minerals, and even though I've never used their skincare products I'm sure they're probably excellent. You should try a couple different brands and see what you like.