How to get started in skin care

(Photo by Julie Ann Docena, Eagle News Service)


By Julie Ann Docena
Licensed Esthetician
Eagle News Service

(Eagle News) — Finding the right skin care products can be so frustrating and even overwhelming when you’re new to skin care. You go to the store knowing you want better skin but then see hundreds of options to choose from. Between brands, ingredients, and types of products, how can you distinguish between what’s necessary for your skin or not?

To start a basic skin care routine, there are only three steps that are absolutely necessary–cleanse, moisturize, and protect. You can add more steps as you advance, but starting with these three steps every morning and night can help you create the habits you need as the foundation of a lifelong skin care routine.

Step 1: Cleanse

Everyday, our skin is exposed to dirt and debris from the air and the physical matter with which our skin comes into contact, such as our pillow cases, pets and face masks. This can lead to several skin issues or conditions, including acne, pore congestion, dullness and even premature aging. Properly cleansing our skin is important key in keeping our skin healthy and young looking.

Choosing the right type of cleanser can be frustrating since there are literally hundreds to choose from. A good general rule to shop by is the more sensitive your skin is, the more natural your products of choice should be. This doesn’t have to mean natural in nature, but instead, natural to our bodies.

For example, essential oils are very pure substances extracted from certain plants found in nature but many people experience sensitivity to products containing essential oils because they’re not naturally contained within our bodies. On the other hand, hyaluronic acid is a substance naturally created and stored within our bodies, which is why it’s virtually impossible to find anyone who is allergic to hyaluronic acid.*  (NOTE: if you find yourself sensitive to a product with hyaluronic acid, check the product’s ingredient list to determine what may be causing the reaction so that it can be avoided in the future.)

For sensitive skin, choose products with less chemicals and fragrances.  Read the product’s ingredients list and choose a cleanser with no artificial fragrances (sometimes listed as parfum), parabens, ethanolamines (sometimes listed as DEA, TEA, MEA, etc.), sulfates, phthalates (sometimes listed as DBP, DEHP, DEP, etc.), or polyethylene glycol (sometimes listed as PEG compounds) and other ingredients you suspect you may be allergic to.  This same guide can be applied as you search for skin care products for all the steps in your routine.


With cleansers, you do not want your skin to feel tight or excessively dry after cleansing your face. Your skin should feel normal. If you are experiencing that tightness or dryness after cleansing, find a cleanser that is considered to be more gentle. Your goal is to clean your skin without stripping it excessively!

Step 2: Moisturize

The second essential step in every skin care routine is to moisturize.  Cleansers typically remove whatever is on our hair and skin, including our own natural oils. Without proper restoration, this can cause our skin to become dehydrated and even malnourished, both of which can cause our skin to produce even more oil as a counteracting measure. The resulting oiliness paired with a lack of nutrition often leads to dull, congested skin, while dryness leads to fine lines and wrinkles. So regardless of skin type,  moisturizing after cleansing is a necessity.

When choosing a moisturizer, it’s a good idea to consider how your skin typically feels halfway throughout your day-to-day routine. If you feel like your skin progressively gets oilier and oilier throughout the day, it would be a good idea to start with a moisturizer designed for oily skin. These moisturizers are usually in gel formulas and contain lots of ingredients for hydrating, antioxidation, and calming effects, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin for hydration, green tea leaf extract, oat kernel extract, etc.

If you usually have dry skin halfway through your typical day, consider using a moisturizer with a creamier consistency designed for dry skin. These moisturizers often contain lots of hydrating ingredients along with emollients that act as a protective barrier to keep the moisture from evaporating into the air before your skin can even absorb it. Some examples of ingredients you might find in these moisturizers would include squalane, shea butter, and dimethicone.



Step 3: Protect

The last essential step in every skin care routine is protecting your skin! This is a commonly neglected step, but it’s so important to protect your skin with sunscreen or occlusive products to ensure your skin stays evenly toned and hydrated.

No matter the weather, use a sunscreen product every single day. Reapply it every 2 hours if you can.  When selecting a sunscreen product, the most important factor to consider is that it has a minimum of SPF 30. This provides the best protection for your skin against the sun and other sources of light.

Consider that some sunscreens can cause the skin to appear white, referred to as a whitecast. If the whitecast of one sunscreen bothers you, search for a new one. When it comes to protective products, it really doesn’t matter what brand you get. At the end of the day, the most important thing about your sunscreen is that you simply use it.

Practice, Practice, Practice

After all is said and done, remember that there are three basic steps to skin care–cleanse, moisturize, and protect. If you commit to doing these steps every morning and night, then you can achieve better skin. Leave yourself a note by your bed to go through your skincare routine before going to sleep and upon waking.

Strive to find the products that work for you and then display them where you can’t ignore them.  Do what you have to do to practice morning and night. With commitment and mindfulness, you will soon find yourself mastering your routine in just a few minutes, with healthy glowing skin looking back at you in the mirror.  So start today.  You will not regret it!

(Eagle News Service)