Skin Care Basics
Finding the right products for your skin can be frustrating. What do you buy in a sea of options?
To best navigate skin care shopping, you’ll first need to determine your skin type, then you can focus on your skin concerns, and finally, your skin’s sensitivity level. The combination of these three factors will dictate the products best suited for your skin.
Going through this process will ensure you don’t waste your money or add to the graveyard of under-used skin care products you have under your sink (And I know you have one!). Selecting the wrong product for your skin type or concern, or simply selecting them in the wrong order of importance, is the biggest reason that graveyards keep growing.
This is why I’ve created your Priority Investment Guide below.
But first, let's discuss skin types, and concerns.
Step One: Determine Your Skin Type
Normal: Skin shows neither oil nor flaking skin on the tissue. It has the proper balance of water and lipids. The pores are just about visible and skin has minimal to no sensitivity. It should feel supple and smooth. If you have it, consider yourself lucky.
Oily: Skin is characterized by the grease on the tissue. It is also common for a person with oily skin to have large pores and a shine. It is more often seen in young people, caused by overactive skin glands secreting excess lipids. It is due to, or made worse by puberty (hormone imbalance), stress, excess heat, or humidity.
Dry: Skin may feel taut or show flakes of dead skin. It is associated with a dull complexion, red patches, small pores and peeling, cracking, itchiness, or irritation. Moisturizing is important for this skin type.
Combination: Most common. It exhibits traits of all three of the above skin types. It can be due to genetic factors or hormone levels that affect the amount and location of lipids, which become unevenly distributed in the skin. Usually, the skin is oily in the T-zone and normal to dry elsewhere.
Step Two: Determine Your Skin Concerns
There are many words you can use to describe common skin concerns, but we've narrowed it down to these top ten. We suggest that you always choose your primary skincare concern and then a secondary skin concern, as there is often overlap between the two. But before we do that... let's check your skin's sensitivity level.
On a scale of 1 - 10, how sensitive is your skin? (1 is not at all - you could take sandpaper to it and not even flinch; and a 10 is skin that is red, raw, cracked and hurts you to even smile.)
If you decide your skin is a 7, or higher, while your primary skin concern might be aging or acne for example, because you are a 7+, you actually need to address your sensitivity first. Then, once your skin’s barrier is no longer compromised, (i.e., less sensitive), you can tackle your other skin concerns. (For more explanation read the blog on (“How To Navigate Sensitive Skin”)
If you chose 6, or less, on the sensitivity scale, then you can choose two concerns from the following list:
- Pore Size
- Sensitive Skin
- Uneven Skin Tone
This can feel confusing sometimes, right?
This is why we often see people wasting money on the wrong skin care investment for their immediate need. You might not be investing in poor quality products, but you could be investing in the wrong place first.
You have sensitive skin ( 7+), but you’re concerned with aging, so you buy a retinol. You’re almost certainly going to have a reaction. Why? Because while aging might be your most prominent skin concern, your skin’s sensitivity (7+) needs to be addressed first.
This same situation can apply for Acne + Sensitive Skin. While acne may be your biggest concern, if your skin’s barrier is so stripped, tired, dehydrated (compromised) even the most powerful acne kit won’t work. You’ll first need to add a serum to combat inflammation, otherwise, you’ll almost always find your skin “burns” or “reacts” to the acne kit.
Skin care is like baking - you need to add just a pinch of sensitive serum plus a ½ a cup of acne fighting products to equal a beautifully baked loaf of bread.
Step Three: Your Priority Investment Guide
- Find an SPF you LOVE. You need to wear this 365 days a year. Yes, even in Winter. Not wearing SPF, and buying retinol to fight aging, is like eating a Big Mac while you run on the treadmill. Sun equals inflammation; it is the biggest culprit for almost every single skin concern. Period. We LOVE Tizo.
- If you are a 7+ on the sensitivity scale, then your first priority is to calm down that barrier of your skin and reduce inflammation, so your skin is in a good place to tackle your other skin concerns. We like iS Clinical Pro Health Advanced +, or Dermalogica Ultra Calming Serum Concentrate.
- Exfoliation: If you don’t get rid of the dead skin cells, your treatment serums can’t do their magic. You can choose a scrub, enzyme, or retinol. They can be in a mask, cream, or serum form, but the goal is to remove those dead skin cells on the outer layer, so your serums can penetrate deep into the skin and do their thing. (Read “The grapes, raisins and oatmeal” blog.)
- Serum One: Vitamin C. This is going to help your skin from losing collagen, reduce brown spots, and provide it with the antioxidants it needs for optimal skin health. TIP: Choose IS Clinical Pro Health Serum Advance + to target sensitive skin + Vit C in one single product. Always use it in the daytime.
- Serum Two: This is a corrective serum. Possibly for hydration, congestion, brightening for age spots, or perhaps an oil serum for very dry skin. This serum is often used at night.
- Cream: Choose a cream that perfectly tackles your hydration needs, plus addresses a secondary skin concern. We like iS Clinical creams because this pharmaceutical line is packed full of botanically based, clinically tested, pure ingredients, and their creams can actually help to change your skin’s appearance, not just protect it. (A cream’s job is usually just to protect your skin. Where a serums job is to correct your skin.) IS Clinical can help with both.
- Cleanser: Unless you are using soap, or the body wash you have in your shower, you can invest here last. (If you are using Dove soap, or shampoo, please buy a cleanser.) When you do, pick one that suits your skin type. Gel is universal = all skin types. Sensitive, but not acne = cream cleanser. Acne = RejudiCare Cleanser. Aging, sensitive, dry skin = iS Clinical Honey Cleanser
- Masks: I LOVE a good mask, but a serum that sits on your skin all day will definitely give you a longer lasting effect. However, if you're still looking for that spa-like experience at home, we LOVE masks.
- Eye Cream: Why do I put eye cream last on my list? Because the other concerns above are going to help the overall health of your skin. Once you have invested here, and it’s time to tackle those crows feet, or puffiness, then you can invest in an eye cream. Buying a good eye cream if you're still washing your face with Dove soap, is like putting on a fancy dress for an event, but not bothering to shower, shave and do your hair and make up. Got me?
Three Ways To Start
If you're ready to return to the spa, book in for a facial and we can give you a jump start on your skin’s health, plus offer in-person home care recommendations.
Not ready to return to the spa, but still want help? Book a customized skin consultation with me.
Want to self guide? Read this article, follow the priority investment guide and get shopping.
No matter which option you choose, please know that I respect all people’s time and budget. We all work hard for our money and you deserve to have the education you need in order to spend it wisely. You’ll never get a pushy sales pitch from me or my team, we’ll simply educate, offer advice, and help you invest right, the first time.