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Skin Care Routines

(And When To Use Them)


In this post I want to give you guys outlines to a few different skin care routines, so you can know which products to use and how often to use them as to not under/overdo any. This will be for ALL skin types!

A few pointers before we begin:

  • Bar soap should never, ever, ever, for any reason ever, touch your face. Ever.
  • Not every burn is a good burn. Salicylic acid and isopropyl alcohol are both going to burn when they come in contact with broken skin, but only one of these should ever touch your face. (Peep Skin Care Ingredients You Should Know for a better understanding of what you should and should not use).
  • Removing your makeup does not count as a cleanse, but should be removed before cleansing.
  • You’re allowed to use different products from different companies. Sticking with a full line is not necessary. Everyone’s skin is different.
  • Skin care products/routines are not a fix -all. These are only used to aid. Do not expect miracle results if you treat your body like a human garbage can. Healthy skin starts from the inside so, you must take control of what you are putting into our body before you start seeing any real results on the outside.
  • Avoid MLM skincare. You’ll save your skin and your wallet.
  • Gentle cleanser almost everyone can use: Cetaphil. Is it something I recommend? No. I’d honestly use warm water and a terrycloth rag before I would use this (especially because it’s not cruelty free), but it is a cleanser that generally has the least amount of adverse reactions and side effects to it.
  • Toner almost everyone can use: Witch hazel. Unless you have a direct allergy to witch hazel, it should be perfectly fine to use. This is what we used on all of our clients for a toner unless we were doing an intense treatment facial where a stronger toner was needed. It is light enough that it should almost never produce a burn (broken skin doesn’t count) and effective enough that it can still rebalance the skin.
  • Gentle moisturizer: Cetaphil as well, but again not what I would ever recommend, but moisturizer wise, it’s better than nothing.
  • Moisturizing oil everyone can typically use: Vitamin E oil.
  • All routines are customizable with whatever products work best for you, but I am giving them to you in the proper order, so try not to switch them around too much or get out of order.

The Daily:

This is your basic, everyday cleansing routine you should do both morning and night.

  1. Quick Cleanse
    • This is just a quick wash (I typically use a fairly gentle cleanser for this one or sometimes just a rag and warm water) to remove surface debris. Don’t spend more than 30 seconds on this so you aren’t pushing any of the dirt and oil back into your skin. Rinse with water (I usually keep my face a little damp in preparation for a second cleanse).
  2. Treatment Cleanse
    • This is where you can either continue on with your gentle cleanser (if you’re someone who has very sensitive skin or if your skin is a bit angry/irritated and needs to be soothed) or switch to a cleanser that has a specific purpose (acne-fighting, anti-aging, texture improving, etc.). Your cleanser should cleanse thoroughly without stripping the skin of its natural conditioners and essential moisture. Massage into skin for 1-3 minutes adding a little water when needed to keep cleanser moving. Rinse and pat dry.
  3. Tone
    • This admittedly is the step that I skip the most, but it’s honestly very important to your skin’s health and regulation. Using a gentle toner/astringent on the skin helps restore the skin’s natural pH level following the cleanse, since most cleansers tend to be on the acidic side. While this step is incredibly important, it’s the one most commonly done incorrectly. This is the product that most people believe is supposed to burn and that’s not true. Most people believe that because so many toners and astringents are super harsh and contain stripping alcohols that it’s hard to find any that don’t make your skin feel like it’s on fire. Yes, toners that contain AHAs and BHAs are most likely going to have a little sting to them, but it should never be unbearable.
  4. Moisturize
    • It does not matter how oily you think your skin is, the goal of skin care should never be to strip/dry out your skin. Period. People with oily skin who skip moisturizers are only increasing their oil production. For the most part, our bodies are self healing so, when our skin begins to notice the drastic drop in moisture, it will begin rapidly producing more sebum (oil) to try and overcompensate for moisture loss. Keeping oily skin (and all skin for that matter) both hydrated and moisturized at all times is one of the best ways to avoid the overproduction of oil. If the body/skin is healthy and hydrated, the body knows it does not have to work as hard to maintain that moisture level. This is also where proper water intake comes into play. YES IT IS THAT IMPORTANT I DON’T CARE IF YOU’RE TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT IT. Drinking water IS the best and most effective way to achieve healthy skin, but you must be willing to drink enough water, not just more. 64 oz a day. Sometimes more if your body needs it.
  5. Protect
    • Sunscreen. Zinc oxide or titanium dioxide based. Even if you work in an office, florescent lighting produces free-radicals that can damage your skin. Just use the bloody sunscreen.

The Professional: Basic

This is the facial outline that we are taught to perform in Salons. Since I’ve already done a good bit of explaining in the previous routine, I’m going to try to keep these explanations short. This is a much more intense cleaning so, I only suggest doing the full routine once a week to avoid over exfoliation.

  1. Remove all makeup prior to first cleanse
  2. Quick Cleanse
  3. Rinse + Hot Towel
  4. Tone
  5. Second Cleanse
  6. Remove + Hot Towel
  7. Tone
  8. Exfoliate + Massage
    • Techniques like effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, and friction can be applied, just remember to be gentle since you will most likely be using a mechanical exfoliant.
  9. Rinse + Hot Towel
  10. Tone
  11. Facial Mask
    • This is where you can use something like a clay mask to help combat acne, a hydrating mask to combat dry skin, a firming mask to help with aging, or even a soothing mask to help with angry/sensitive skin. Allow mask to sit for 10-15 minutes or for the recommended time the instructions on your product suggests. Most of the time keeping a mask on a bit longer won’t be a big deal, but it’s still a good idea to read your instructions first.
  12. Rinse + Hot/Cold Towel (depending on the treatment)
  13. Moisturize
  14. Protect

The Professional: Treatment

Because these treatments are a little more intense, I would start off by maybe only doing them once a month. Then maybe bump it up to one every two weeks (depending on what it is; microneedling can usually only be done safely every 4-6 weeks if I remember correctly). Some of these treatments can get down to the frequency of once a week, but if you’re going to do that (to avoid building up too much of a tolerance too quickly), i’d suggest doing a milder treatment 3 weeks out of the month and then on the fourth week do something that may be a step or two up in intensity. Do be careful about combining any of these though.

  1. Remove all makeup prior to first cleanse
  2. Quick Cleanse
  3. Rinse + Hot Towel
  4. Tone
  5. Second Cleanse
  6. Remove + Hot Towel
  7. Tone
  8. Exfoliate + Massage
  9. Rinse + Hot Towel
  10. Tone
  11. Treatment
    • This is where we would do something like extractions, high frequency, microdermabrasion, microneedling, dermaplaning (which is nothing more than a dry shave btdub), chemical peels, etc. There is a reason these types of treatments are supposed to be done by professionals, but I also know many people think they can do what professionals do without any training so, if you’re one of those people, make sure you at least know you have a good product before proceeding with something like an at-home chemical peel or microneedling tool.
  12. Facial Mask
    • If you did something like extractions or a dry shave, you could still go back in with something a little more intense like a mask designed for the treatment of acne or aging skin, but if you did any kind intense exfoliating treatment, you should follow with a soothing mask to help combat the redness and angry skin and begin the healing process. Allow you mask to sit for 10-15 minutes or as the instructions on your product read. Most of the time keeping a mask on a bit longer won’t be a big deal, but it’s still a good idea to read your instructions first.
  13. Rinse + Hot/Cold Towel
    • After a treatment both the temperature AND the material of your wet towel are important. When multiple layers of the epidermis are penetrated, your skin becomes incredibly sensitive so, to avoid doing any damage, it’s best to follow these treatments with cool water using a towel made of microfiber instead of terrycloth. Terrycloth is considered a means of mechanical exfoliation, so try to avoid using them at a time when your skin is very vulnerable.
  14. Vitamins/Serums/Eye Treatments
    • The consistency of these products is usually thinner than your moisturizer so, they are applied first to be able to penetrate the skin. These products should mostly be based around healing. this is NOT where I would suggest using something like a retinol. You honestly shouldn’t be doing any kind of intense treatment like these while using a routine retinol, but especially do not apply one during your at-home facial.
  15. Moisturize
  16. Protect.
    • It is even more dire to use sun protection after treatments like these because during this process, you will end up removing a couple of your outermost layers of skin (usually dead skin), leaving your healthy, living skin exposed and more susceptible to sun damage.

For the most effective and safest way to figure out what will be best for your skin, I really do suggest taking all of this info I’ve posted over the last few weeks and combining it with an in-person consultation with a well-respected esthetician in your area. Save up the money for just one facial (usually a consultation is free in conjunction with a facial, but do make sure to ask or mention that you would like to have one done). Most well-respected estheticians will automatically do this because they genuinely want to try and figure out what works best for their clients before they treat them so, they don’t use the wrong products and their clients will want to keep returning to them. To do this and for it to be most effective, your at-home regimen has to be something that really works for you as well so, most estheticians won’t mind supplying you with that information if they genuinely want to help. Do pay attention to body language, how they speak to you, and how they deliver their response/analysis. If they are someone who tries to give you a lot of broad, general knowledge, it most likely means they are trying to give you the tools you need to be able to make a good and educated decision for yourself, but also they will probably suggest one of the products in the lines they have as well, because most people use products they actually like and believe in and that also makes it easier on you, the client. If your esthetician goes straight for the product and doesn’t give you much more information on why it works other than “they just know it works because their customers love it” know this person probably makes a commission off of product sales and while that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it can be a means for people to push products they don’t really believe in (ie. every tanning lotion I’ve ever sold to anyone). Good estheticians genuinely want to help you and will do what they can to help you (for a price of course, it is a service). It was one of the reasons I became one. I wanted to be able to put out correct and useful information on the internet and to help people who struggled with acne as badly as I did, in my treatment room. Unfortunately, the area I live in only brought me a few wax clients so it just wasn’t worth the effort. Plus, this was around the time that photography was really becoming something I wanted to focus more and more on. Even though I chose to go on a different career path, I am still thankful I went to school and got licensed as an esthetician because even though I’m not working in a salon/spa, I feel like I can actually reach and help more people here than I could there. Here is a place where most readers know they can trust what they read because I’m also on the hunt for these things for myself as well. As always, feel free to give some feedback if you’ve made it this far through the skin series! I’d love to hear that some of you at least learned one new thing so I can verify that I’m not just repeating information that’s been known for years. Also, always open to any and all blog topics you guys would be interested in hearing about 🙂

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