Which is more important - toner or moisturize
[ Edited ]
I don't exactly have the funds to support a full-fledged 4-step skincare regimen as advertised, but I do have a cleanser, and I'm looking for one more staple to complete an ideal routine. I have combo/acne-prone skin, so I imagine a toner would regulate oil, though possibly make me drier; a moisturizer would hydrate, though possibly make me shinier.
Of the two, which stage is more crucial and which is more expendable?
PS. In addition, I'm currently on retinoid treatment, so salicylic acid is a no-no.
1. SPF Moisturizer. UV rays are major cause of wrinkle/aging/skin damage so you need an SPF moisturizer during the day. Preferably you'd get a separate one for night, but you can also use the SPF moisturizer at night. Your body repairs and replenish itself at night. Since moisturizer is what stays on your skin, it's the most important regardless of skin type. The general guideline is gel for oily skin, lotion or cream for combination skin, and cream or oil for dry skin.
2. Toner is second most important if you have oily or combination skin. Sometimes a cleanser can be too harsh and dry the skin from deep down, thus forcing it to produce more oil and get flaky. A toner help clean off the surface oil/dirt etc, hydrate and prep the skin for moisturizer. Personally I need it in the summer when I get oily combination, and I skip it some times in the winter when I have dry skin.
3. Cleanser. It's as important as moisturizer, but there are just as many good drugstore cleansers as high end so you don't need to spend that much money. As long as it cleans and is not too drying, it works.
Masks and scrubs are extra, but I highly recommend you get a cleanser and moisturizer. If your skin is not where you want it to be, get a toner. The cleanser doesn't need to be expensive, my favorite is L'oreal 360 Go Clean, which comes with a scrubber (that sephora sells for ~$4) you can use with the cleanser for mild exfoliation and the $5 bottle last me ~1 yr(I think the white/blue one for sensitive skin doesn't have sacrylic acid. I love the green one). My stable toner is Clinique Toner 2, a $20 lasts me ~8 month and is great for my combination skin (if it's too drying, Avalon Organic Vitamin C toner is very hydrating and non-irritating and available in drugstores for ~$12/8oz). I tend to go high-end with moisturizers, but I suggest start with L'oreal or Neutrogena (especially for spf) in the drugstore stuff, then onto Clinique and such from high-end when you have more budget. Over cleansing could be bad for your skin, too, so I usually just wipe with wet towel in the morning then apply moisturizer with SPF, and use the 3-step at night. You can have a pretty good skincare regimen for $50-$80 a year.
If you want to go even cheaper, many people with combination/oily skin uses organic apple cider vinegar (+water) as toner with good result and it's cheaper than toners. For people with dry skin, some use coconut oil as moisturizer and it's <$10 for a good size jar and you can also use it for cooking obviously. For scrubs and masks, there are plenty good DIY ones (brown sugar+olive oil+honey = scrub. Honey+yogurt+oatmeal = clarifying/oil-absorbing/hydrating mask for combo skin).
I also have combo skin with clogged pores so I have some suggestions for you. Try a toner in the summer when it's more humid and a moisturizer with oil-control in the winter when you are drier. I also reccommend a regimen(cleanser, scrub, spot treatment, moisturizer, and toner) from your local drugstore. Much cheaper than these high-end department store brands and sometimes more effective! I like Neutrogena, Biore, and Clean&Clear for all around regimens. Sometimes there are diamonds in the rough from other brands but I find that those three have some of the best products. I hope this helps
I have oily skin and I still could not live with out moisturizer. I think the key is finding the correct one for you. I use witch hazel for a toner, which is like $2 a bottle, and induldge with a more expencive moisterizer.
Definitely choose a good gentle moisturizer over a toner if you have to choose one. Origins Zero Oil - Oil Free Moisturizer. Gentle, effective, budget friendly, and won't disrupt your retinoid treatment. Make sure you use some sort of SPF during the day.
Check it out!
Look into the moisturizers from CeraVe. My skin is normal/combo and their day moisturizer feels light, absorbs quickly, has a higher SPF than most lotions (it's a 30), and is packed will with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides.
It's about $13 at Walgreens and even gives some bigger named lotions a run for their money in terms of ingredients used.
out of everything you stated in your question, I would suggest a gel moisturizer. Your skin would benefit from the hydration and the gel formula is absorbed quickly by combo skin. Don't worry about being shiny because gels are light not greasy or heavy. Your skin will be able to breath without feelilng overwhelmed, especially with the use of retinoids/retinols!
Some brands that offer these formulas and many skin care vitamins are:
First Aid Beauty
Most of the products pictured range from $13-$38, these are a few of my go to's as well. Hope you fall in love with one of these gems!