Today’s blog will cover the benefits and “how to” for each of these 4 steps to help you create your own basic skincare routine.
Skincare can be a daunting and overwhelming topic if you let it, but it doesn’t have to be! Adopting a skincare routine can be easy when you break the steps down into 4 simple steps: cleansing, exfoliating, toning, and moisturizing & SPF.
Step 1: Cleansing: Regardless of your skin type, cleansing is one of the most important parts of any skincare routine. We could argue that each step is important, but let’s just say cleansing is the most important. Cleansing the skin not only removes dirt, oil and other impurities, it can help boost hydration by managing the skin’s PH level. Cleansing the skin regularly will also help maintain clearer skin as buildup on the surface of your skin can become one cause of acne. If you do nothing else for your skin, at least clean it up regularly!
How to cleanse your skin: firstly, wet your face, neck and if you choose to, your chest, with warm water to open the pores. (Try to avoid hot or scalding water as this will dry your skin out.) Then, use a small amount of your favorite type of cleanser and distribute it between your hands while mixing it with more warm water as needed. Once your hands are covered with a decent amount of the wet cleanser, gently apply it to your face (be sure to avoid your eyes). Using circular motions, gently rub your fingertips against your skin, to allow the cleanser to penetrate your pores. One rule of thumb is to start from the jaw line and work upwards towards your forehead, working against gravity to help reduce sagging of the skin. To cleanse the neck, keep your fingers straight and flat. It may be easier for you to cleanse the left side of the neck/throat with your right hand, and vice versa. Move them in a wiping gesture upwards, from the bottom of the neck to the jaw line. Ensure you’re using a very small amount of pressure as you do not want to cause damage to your lymph nodes, esophagus, or anything else within the neck. To cleanse the chest/décolleté (the upper chest area), use the same basic technique as you would for the face. Once you’ve completed the cleansing process, rinse with warm water to remove product. It is recommended to cleanse the skin at least once daily, but no more than twice a day.
Pro tip: Be sure to choose a cleanser that’s appropriate for your skin type and has ingredients that are safe for use.
Step 2: Exfoliation: Exfoliation is super beneficial for your skin (not just the facial skin either), as it removes dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, and is a great way to initiate cell turnover, which gives you baby fresh skin. Also, the older we get, the slower our skin cells regenerate, which adds to the look of aging skin. Exfoliating regularly will help keep us looking young. Exfoliation can also increases blood circulation, which makes the skin look refreshed and lively. If you’re not yet exfoliating, you’ll want to adopt this practice slowly and ensure you’re using exfoliants that are gentle and safe for the face.
To exfoliate: similarly to the way you would cleanse your facial skin, choose your desired exfoliator and distribute the product between your hands. Using those same gentle, circular motions on the face, move upwards from the jaw to the forehead. You can also exfoliate the neck, but once again, use very gentle pressure. And don’t forget the chest/décolleté either! Once you’ve completed the exfoliation process, rinse with warm water. It is recommended that you exfoliate about 3 times a week, but depending on your skin type, level of experience and even your type of exfoliator, you can choose to exfoliate once week or even up to once a day. After cleansing & exfoliating, pat to dry with a soft towel.
Pro tip: When choosing an exfoliator, it’s important to pick the right type for your face or body. Sugar scrubs are gentle for both the face and body, as sugar granules are small and round. Salt-based scrubs however, may be better recommended to exfoliate the body, not the face, as grains of salt are larger and have rough edges that can be damaging to more-sensitive facial skin.
Step 3: Toning: I think out of all the steps within a basic skincare practice, toning is the most forgotten about, which is sad because toner has so many benefits, which we’ll get to shortly, but first we should understand the difference between a toner and an astringent.
Toner vs. Astringent: There is an important distinction between these two products as they perform similar, but different tasks. Toner works on the surface of the skin and astringent is used to cleanse and tighten the pores. Astringents also fall under the toner family and many people aren’t aware that they’re two separate products.
Toners usually contain rose, aloe or another herb-based water as the base. Toner is used to improve the surface of the skin, as it removes any leftover product residue from the cleansing and exfoliating steps listed above. And if used between cleanings, it can remove sweat, dirt, oil, and makeup too. It balances the skin’s PH level and can even help smooth, nourish and hydrate the skin (depending on which ingredients it contains). Toner is usually more gentle than astringents too.
Astringents work to clean and tighten the pores as they’re product bases contain ingredients that contract the skin’s pores; like witch hazel, tea tree oil and rubbing alcohol. Astringents are known for their disinfectant and healing properties and are therefore often used for breakouts. Many people with oilier skin types are attracted to astringents because it helps reduce the look of larger pores (oilier skin can be identified by their characteristically larger pores). However, these products should be used with caution as overuse may lead to over-drying the skin and causing irritation.
To tone: Whether you’re using a toner or astringent, the application process is the same. Usually, the product is poured onto a cotton ball, cotton round or another fabric facial pad (hello sustainability practices!) and gently applied to the face, neck and chest. Again, let’s defy gravity and use gentle, upward strokes. Allow the product to dry before moving to step 4.
Pro Tip: Comment below if you want me to share a basic toner and astringent DIY recipe that you can make yourself to save some money and to prove you’ve read at least this far! 🙂 If I can get 5 comments, I’ll do it, so spread the word!
Step 4: Moisturizing and SPF: I have combined these two steps into one because there tons of moisturizers and lotions out there that contain SPF, so whether you’re lazy or like to find products that do more than one thing, this combination is for you! Even if you don’t have a facial moisturizer or body lotion that contains SPF, applying sunscreen is crucial. Moisturizing, hydrating or lotioning the skin is extremely important when you live in a drier climate, and especially as we age. However, it should not be neglected if you live in a humid climate or have oily or combination oily skin (this seems counterintuitive to some folks, but oil does not always equal hydration). Just like we hydrate the inside of our bodies with water, our outer skin deserves to be hydrated too. When our skin is hydrated, it’s healthy, supple and younger looking. Dry skin can peel, irritate and even break more easily, causing us to look tired, haggard and older. You can use lotions, body butters or even oil to moisturize, lotion and hydrate the skin. Be careful not to use body lotions on the face as their ingredients can clog pores or even cause irritation.
To cover the benefits of SPF or sun protection, I’ll keep simple: by practicing sufficient sun protection, you can avoid getting skin cancer. Need I say more? The base rule of SPF is 30, but most facial products contain SPF 15. So be careful if you’re using a moisturizer that contains SPF and you plan to be in the sun. And keep in mind, having more melanin does not protect you from getting skin cancer!
To moisturize & SPF: with clean hands, apply a small amount of facial moisturizer to your fingertips and gently massage onto your face. Keep in mind the gentle pressure and use upward, circular motions. To lotion the body, place a larger amount of body lotion, butter or oil to your hands. Rub hands together to evenly distribute the product, then apply it to the body’s skin. Don’t forget your elbows, knees and the bottoms of your feet (but be careful when walking, you don’t want to slip!).
Pro Tip: Heavier creams and lotions are better suited for drier skin, winter time or for use in the evening. Lighter products that contain less oils are better suited for oilier skin types, humid climates and day wear. And for those of you with oily skin, don’t completely avoid oils as some have many benefits. For example, lavender essential oil helps keep oily skin balanced. Please keep in mind that these are tips, not hard and fast rules. For example, when I lived in Colorado, I’d wear heavier body butters year round because of the more arid climate I lived in, and the fact that I have desert-dry skin.
Well that complete’s the 4 basic steps for a simple skincare routine! It was a lot of information, but hopefully you have a better understanding of why each step is important and can adopt or improve upon your own skincare routine!
~Sending you all the love!