When the goal is clear skin with a healthy glow, there’s truly no shortage of pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter products to choose from.
The question is, which ones do you really need?
Whether you’re trying to eliminate acne or reduce wrinkles, your daily and nightly skincare routine should always include a few essentials to help your skin look and feel its best.
Regardless of skin type, your skincare routine should accomplish two main objectives: It should protect your skin and regenerate it as well.
I noticed that once I had these essentials, my skin started looking and feeling better, which was a relief after years of struggling with spots and acne. Below are the basics to understand which products you need to keep in your medicine cabinet shelves, and which ones you can leave behind.
1. A good, gentle cleanser
A good facial cleanser is the foundation of even the most basic skincare routine. When used in the morning, your cleanser rehydrates your skin and prepares it for any additional products, such as makeup or shaving cream. Used at night, your cleanser washes away the dirt, grime and excess oil you’ve accumulated from just living your best life.
Choose a gentle cleanser suitable for your skin type. Some cleansers include oil-based ingredients for additional moisturization, which may not be ideal for oily skin prone to acne breakouts. Other cleansers offer ingredients like salicylic acid, which clears acne and exfoliates.
If you have sensitive skin, also avoid scented cleansers and look for noncomedogenic products – they’re less likely to block your pores or cause irritation.
2. Sunscreen / SPF 30 or higher
It’s often called the first lesson of smart skincare: Sunscreen is your best friend. Applying an effective SPF to your face every day is just as important as keeping it clean!
The sun’s harmful rays – which are hitting your skin even when it’s overcast – can cause sunburned skin and at its most extreme, skin cancer. Exposing your unprotected skin to the sun can also accelerate the appearance of dark spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
By sticking to a sunscreen product with SPF 30 or higher (and applying it every day!), you’re helping your skin fight the good fight against cancer and premature aging. Look for products that offer broad spectrum protection,
The good news? Today it’s easy to find SPF in everything from makeup setting spray to the next must-have item on the list.
Moisturizer can help reduce extreme dryness and at the other end of the spectrum, oiliness. Both can cause breakouts and blemishes, so it’s important to stock your shelf with a good moisturizer that works with your skin type.
If you’ve got dry skin, look for an ointment that helps lock in moisture. For combination skin, opt for a thinner, water-based cream that allows your skin to breathe after applying the product. And yes, even oily skin needs a moisturizer.
Once you’ve fully incorporated a moisturizer into your daily skin cleansing routine, you can begin exploring day and night creams, which differ in thickness and ingredients that address specific skin concerns like fine lines and dark spots.
4. Exfoliating peel or mask
Think of an exfoliating peel as a spring cleaning for your face. You don’t do it every day, only when things need to be refreshed and updated.
Back in the day, you had to book an appointment with an esthetician or dermatologist to reveal the best parts of your skin. Today, you can exfoliate at home, all while browsing Instagram or binging on Netflix.
Peels usually contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs). When these two elements work together, they get under your skin’s surface to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores.
Exfoliants like the Famous AF O.G. Peel incorporates AHAs and BHAs to reduce the visibility of blotchy skin spots caused by acne, melasma and hyperpigmentation. If your skin needs a little more help bringing out its natural shine, there are stronger peels like The Glow-torious B.I.G. Peel which should be done once a month as part of your nightly regimen, due to your skin’s sensitivity to light when AHAs and BHAs are applied.
Exfoliating is your skincare routine’s secret weapon. When you exfoliate, you also remove all the barriers that prevent other products from working on your face, especially the coveted products next on our list.
Serums function the same way a super green smoothie does, making them a good companion for your at-home regimen. Just like your smoothie makes it easy to consume a truckload of veggies, your serum gets high concentrations of nutrients into your face, for maximum results.
Serums are often formulated with nutrient-rich vitamins, peptides, antioxidants and acids – anti-aging ingredients that pack a punch in a small dose. They’re much lighter, however, because they skip some ingredients you may find in lotions and creams.
It’s important to note that because of their lighter composition, serums don’t offer the same protective features as moisturizers, so you’ll usually apply a serum before moving on to other products.
Getting started with a confident and simple skincare routine doesn’t have to be complicated af. Ultimately, skincare means protecting the long-term integrity of your skin. With these essentials on your side, you’re helping to strengthen your skin and ensure it remains healthy for years to come.