Ok, Bare Babes. FINALLY the post you've all been waiting for and asking for is here. We wanted to bring you the best information, so in addition to our own personal research and experiences, we worked with a licensed esthetician on this post, Tessa (that beauty with the glowing skin pictured above). Our friend and trusted skincare guru gives us her product knowledge and suggestions for a routine based on skin types, and we give some of our personal recommendations and favorites!
Because we take a holistic approach to our health, before telling you what products we like to put on our skin, we had to do our due diligence and tell you about the "why" behind troublesome skin and aging (part 1), and we had to tell you about the foods to eat and avoid (part 2).
We will reiterate again that the most important thing you can do to truly improve your skin appearance FIRST is to consider what's going into your body. Think of the good and the bad-- the nourishing foods filled with vitamins, enzymes, healthy fats, and phytonutrients and the foods that can cause inflammation or are filled with additives, preservatives, and chemicals.
Now, the final piece is to consider your skincare routine. How well are you taking care of your skin? Are you including steps that allow your skin to fully absorb and benefit from the products you're using? Are you using the right products for your skin?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of products out there that seem like they're doing you good or are marketed as "natural" or "for sensitive skin" may be filled with just as many fillers and weird ingredients as anything else. On the contrary, while there are some chemicals that strip your skin and can cause a build up of toxins in your body, there's also some that are OK and actually aid in the effectiveness of the product.
It's important to check ingredients in skincare products, just like you would with food, although with skincare it is a bit different (like we mentioned with certain chemicals) since you're not ingesting the product (duh). You can read about our routine and the products we like to use below, but as always do your own research and only use what works for you.
If we went into detail on ingredients to look out for and why, we would need a whole different post on it's own, so we'll give a quick mention of some big ones.
Here are a few main guys that *could* potentially cause a disruption to your endocrine (hormone) system, inflammation or irritation to the skin, or toxic buildup (such as heavy metals):
parabens, aluminum, BHT, sodium lauryl sulfates (SLS or SLES), fragrance, formaldehyde, petroleum, polyethylene glycol (PEGs), and more.
Again, we wanted to give you credible info, so we collaborated with a trusted esthetician on this post, Tessa, who is experienced, talented, and, of course, has BEAUTIFUL skin! Below is her take on a great skincare routine with suggestions based on skin type. Again, this is our take, so do your own research, and do what works best for you personally.
You must choose the right cleanser depending on how much oil production you have in your skin. For all skin types, especially dry, you may consider an oil-based cleanser. Sounds scary and counter-intuitive, but as you may remember from basic chemistry, "like dissolves like," so "oil dissolves oil." This makes cleansing oils highly effective at removing dirt and oil, while keeping your skin's natural oils fully balanced and in tact. Simply massage the oil into your skin, then massage and rinse with warm water, and gently wipe away the dirt and excess oil with a cloth, or follow with another cleanser. See our favorites in the next section!
For dry skin, you need to be using a cleanser with a creamier consistency. You don’t have the oil to lose, so you need to attempt to re-balance your skin. For combination and oily skin types, you should always seek out gel cleansers to properly remove oil, debris, and makeup.
Toners are helpful to balance the pH of your skin. While they are not completely necessary, they can be incredibly beneficial in many ways and can help prepare your skin to better receive your serums and other products to follow. For dry skin you may use a hydrating toner with hyaluronic acid. For rosacea or inflamed skin you may want to use a calming antibacterial toner with aloe, rose water, tea tree, witch hazel, or willow bark.
For combo to oily and acneic (acne-prone) skin you can veer towards using AHAs and BHAs like salicylic acid and glycolic acid (these are better to spot treat on areas with active breakouts or blemishes so that you don’t dry out other areas).
There are many different types of serums out there and it can be confusing with marketing these days, but you can always revert back to these basics for healthy skin:
Antioxidant serums- Antioxidants help to repair damaged and compromised skin. Your skin can get inflamed over time and slowly start to cause broken capillaries and redness in the nose/cheeks. Antioxidants such as Vitamin C will protect, prevent and repair distressed skin. If you're dry you may want to use an oil based vitamin C and if combo/oily then you may choose to use one with a gel-like consistency. These are used in the morning to protect your skin during the day and an option to use at night if you need extra repair.
Hydrating serum- When our skin is hydrated properly it will improve overall functions of the skin. You want to focus on hydrating before you think about moisturizing as the molecules are much smaller in serums so you absorb the ingredients a lot quicker. This is a great way to give your skin a glowy plump look. Hyaluronic acid is the number one hydrater. It’s a humectant which means it holds in the water weight in your skin, preventing water loss. **Keep an eye out on the ingredient list for Sodium Hyaluronate and make sure water it is one of the first three ingredients for a higher strength hyaluronic acid.
Brightening serums- Depending on if hyperpigmentation is a concern for you, brightening serums may be in your interest. Usually used twice daily, they will help to even skin tone and lessen the appearance of freckles and hyperpigmentation from the sun or scarring. Hydroquinine is a fast acting brightening agent that is usually used as a treatment, which means you will not continually use it but rather for only about 3 months. A favorite brighter of ours is from Skinbetter, and it has Alpha Arbutin which is a naturally derived brightener. You can find more recommendations below!
*Retinol (Vitamin A)- Retinols and retinoids are commonly used to even out texture, fine lines, wrinkles, brighten skin tone, an exfoliate. Vitamin A is only used at night as it is photosensitive. When you begin using a regional start only 2x a week for 2 weeks, then every other night for 2 weeks, and then you may use every night. It can be a strong aggressive ingredient but can have many benefits. I (Tessa) would recommend starting with a low percentage of .02 or .05z. A favorite is called the Alpharet from Skinbetter.
*Some sources consider Retin-A to be toxic or harmful and irritating to the skin when not used properly. Some studies show it may interfere with your body's own ability to utilize vitamin A. Glycolic acid can provide a lot of the same benefits without the potential risks, so we ourselves do not use Retionol, but we encourage you to do your own research as well as talk to your dermatologist.
Glycolic Acid- A good alternative to Retinol that provides the same anti-aging benefits and will also brighten skin tone and exfoliate by "resurfacing" the skin. AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA stands (beta hydroxy acid) work together to exfoliate the skin through a natural chemical process. You can often find products that combine glycolic acid with hydrating antioxidants. See more on our favorites below!
As mentioned above, it's best to truly hydrate the skin with something like hyaluronic acid first before adding topical moisture. Using moisturizer helps you skin's uppermost layer, the stratum corneum, to function optimally, aka keep moisture in the skin.
We love oils like rosehip during the day or blue tansy at night for moisturizing the skin. These oils are as minimal and pure as it gets as for moisturizing your skin, they're light enough to use on your face, and they nourish by delivering essential fatty acids to the skin. They also carry beneficial vitamins and are anti-inflammatory, which helps improve skin tone and texture. If you're worried about using oils, there are some nice cream moisturizers that can be used day and night, which we mention in the next section. You also may consider using an oil at night and an SPF moisturizer during the day (see number 5).
5. SPF (of course this is a daytime step)
It is CRUCIAL to wear SPF every single day, as even just getting 15 minutes of sun exposure through your car window in the winter can cause damage. This damage is surface level in the form of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation, but also on a deeper level, affecting collagen production, and on a DNA level, potentially causing cancer. Our hack is to use make up or a tinted moisturizer with SPF so that including into your routine as a no-brainer. See what we use below!
All with direct links to shop!
Cream- Acure Radically Rejuvenating Cleanser
Gel- One Love Beauty Easy Does It
Gel- Skinbetter Daily Enzyme
Oil- CocoKind Cleansing Oil
Rose Water- Mario Badescu Rose Facial Spray
Rose Water- Coco Kind Rose Facial Toner
Witch Hazel- Thayers Witch Hazel Mist
Witch Hazel- Mario Badescu Witch Hazel & Lavender
Purifying: Glo Beauty Purifying Mist
Antioxidant- SkinBetter Alto Defense
Vitamin Serum- Skin Ceuticals C+E Ferulic
Hyaluronic- Eminence Strawberry Rhubarb HA
C + E + Hyaluronic- TruSkin HA
Moisture Treatment- Skinbetter Trio
Glycolic Acid- Beauty Counter Resurfacing Peel
Acure Blue Tansy Night Oil
Acure Rose Argan Oil