Rules can be an attractive thing. They provide structure and certainty in the ever-expanding world of skincare. If common adages for what, when, and how to use skincare work for you, that’s great! I’m not here to fix what isn’t broken.
That said, you’re not alone if you’ve ever felt frustrated by the overwhelming number of rules out there. Many of my clients struggle to separate the useful tips from the cacophony of marketing hype. They try to follow competing recommendations and wind up drowning in skincare products, half of which they’ve been told can’t be used at certain times of day or in conjunction with other particular products.
If the rules are stressing you out, you don’t have to follow them! I’m a firm believer inquestioning the rulesand even breaking them altogether. People are individuals, and their skin and priorities differ in countless ways. A single set of rules won’t work for everyone across such a diverse range of wants, needs, lifestyles, and budgets.
You may have been told at some point or another that you must use vitamin C, or you have to use a brightening product to address pigmentation issues, and that you should only apply chemical exfoliants at night. There are valid reasons to disregard every one of these so-called rules. Maybe your skin is like mine and reacts poorly to vitamin C. Maybe you have freckles that you love and you don’t see a need to “correct” that pigmentation. If that’s the case, then those specific rules don’t necessarily apply to you. And when it comes to regular use of exfoliants, your skin will be just as susceptible to photosensitivity if you apply them in the morning as it is when you use them at night. As long as you practice sun protection, feel free to use that AHA during the day!
You can break any skincare “rule” as long as you pay attention to how your skin responds and adjust accordingly. You can also set self-imposed rules based on your own skin needs and concerns. For example, you may decide that your rule is to double cleanse every night. This isn’t necessary for everyone, but may be in line with your individual goals—especially if you frequently wear makeup and your skin tolerates that much cleansing. Ultimately, it’s up to you.
What are some common rules you break in your skincare routine? Are there any rules you stick to 100% of the time?Tell me about it in the comments!
If there’s one phrase that sums up my whole philosophy on skincare (and life), it’s “less, but better.” The concept is simple: edit the things that don’t serve your greatest needs. Shedding the non-essential frees you up to focus on what matters. As I’ve witnessed firsthand with my clients, many people barrage their skin with too many products and don’t achieve their desired results. The truth is that skin doesn’t need much to thrive.
Humans have a tendency towards solution-orientation. We see a problem and want to take direct action to tackle it head-on. Feel too oily? Better ramp up your cleansing routine. Feeling too dry from over-cleansing? Slather on a moisturizer. Skin feeling congested from over-moisturizing? Add an acne treatment to the mix. Although I am a huge believer in assessing your skin every day to see what it needs (a topic that I talk more about with Gothamista here), doing too much all at once often results in skin that’s over-cleansed, over-exfoliated, and over-burdened with too much stuff.The answer isn’t to add another product in your 10-step routine to fix this fatigue—just give your skin the opportunity to self-correct.
I truly believe that we were created and evolved into an amazing species that inherently knows what to do. Our skin is remarkably efficient at creating its own inherent moisture and protective barrier, thanks to millions of sudoriferous and sebaceous glands producing the perfect ratio of sweat and oil in our acid mantle. We naturally shed old skin cells to reveal plump, new skin. Of course, our skin can’t do everything on its own; it still needs cleansing, gentle exfoliation to aid the natural cell turnover process, and (most importantly) sun protection. But for the most part, consistent use of a basic routine is all you need.
“Less, but better” doesn’t only mean that your skin will react better to using less. It also means that those fewer products you’re using should themselves be better—more efficient, more effective, and better formulated. Focus on the quality of the essential products in your routine.
On a case-by-case basis, you may find that you still need some “band-aid” products. These are direct solutions to issues you may find with your skin. For instance, you may have pigmentation concerns that you want to address. The SPF in your basic routine will lessen these issues long-term, but adding a brightening product can help to accelerate your results in the short term.
If you can commit to a few simple steps you can achieve naturally healthy skin. It’s easier than you think! And although I would love to be able to tell everyone what will work best for their particular issues, the best person to help you assess what you might need is a facialist or dermatologist who can closely look at and feel your skin.
Let me know in the comments what you think of the “less, but better” attitude and how you keep your skin looking and feeling great.