For this post I'm going to share a little bit of insider knowledge of a facial protocol. We estheticians absolutely love all our tiny little bottles of skin magic, but I'm completely aware that an 8 step skin care routine may seem daunting, and quite honestly, is in no way necessary. So for this session, I'm going to break down what each facial product's purpose is, how and when to use it, and if your skin would even benefit from it.
Let's get down to it.
Step 1: The pre-cleanse
Ok, first let's recognize that this is a silly name. Cleanse before we cleanse. Ridiculous. But often necessary. This step is meant to remove make up and excessive grime. This product is usually in the form of an oil or micellar water. The oils stick to whatever is to be removed from your skin without stripping your delicate barrier. This is an important step for you if you have on make up, are blessed with excessively oily skin, or have been out gardening all day. This is a step you may use on some days but not on all of them. It really just depends on if your skin has a lot of stuff on it or not. This is also a step you would only be using in the evening time, since we all make sure to take our make up off at night, right?
Step 2: The actual cleanse
This step is to cleanse your skin from the regular dust and debris that we encounter from the environment in our everyday lives. Most people only need to wash their skin once a day, in the evening, and use a toner or plain water to rinse in the morning. Our society has a fetish with being overly clean and this really does lead to serious problems in skin. Skin is meant to have an acid mantle covering it at all times. This is what helps your skin not only protect itself but protect you as well. Your skin is a major part of your immune system, and if you strip your acid mantle away, it cannot function properly. Cleansing is a step that should be used by everyone. There are many different cleanser types and which one you should use is based on your skin profile. If you don't know your skin profile and want to, schedule yourself a visit with me for a computerized skin analysis here.
Step 3: Exfoliator
This is a step that people seem to either overuse or never do at all, and I'm here to tell you that there is an in-between my friends. An exfoliator should be used by almost everyone, excluding those with extensive barrier disruption. There are great many types of exfoliators, but they can all be broken down to one of two categories. The first one is manual exfoliation and the other one is chemical exfoliation. A manual exfoliator is one that uses friction to remove dead skin cells. This is something like a scrub. A chemical exfoliator is one that uses some type of chemical process to break down the skin cells in some way. It can be something like a strong peel that essentially burns skin cells or it can be something like an enzyme that speeds up the desquamation process. Exfoliation should typically be done about once a week but this varies greatly depending on the type of exfoliator you're using. If you're using a scrub that has extremely fine granules or a silicon skin scrubber, that may be something you can use a few times a week. If you're doing a strong peel or much deeper manual exfoliation such as dermaplaning, that's something you wouldn't want to do more than once a month for a short amount of time. A big problem with over exfoliation is that sometimes you don't see the repercussions quickly. Your skin may feel baby soft and smooth for quite a while, but then all of a sudden it will start to feel rough again. And a lot of people make the unfortunate choice to exfoliate more because they think that the exfoliation is helping. However what's really happening is that your skin has been over-exfoliated long enough that it's decided to make the long-term decision to thicken itself in order to be more protected. So my best advice is to be cautious with exfoliating. It is not in your skin's best interest to try to scrub it away.
Step 4: Mask
In my personal opinion masks are one of the most fun parts of a skincare routine. Trying out different masks with different textures and smells is like buying a new pair of shoes. The purpose of a mask is to treat a skin condition. You could be treating dehydration, or a breakout, or is simply trying to provide your skin with extra nutrients for anti-aging. Masks can be in the forms of clays, gels, and creams. A mask should be used about once or twice a week. You only need a mask if you are trying to correct specific conditions that your skin is exhibiting. However, you can still use masks for preventative measures. A mask can help keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
Step 5: Massage
This is the step that is the most often skipped in home care, however it is one of the most important steps for healthy skin. Skin needs to be manipulated and some way, shape, or form to keep its flexibility, circulation, and strength. Massage technically should be done everyday, but it does not need to be a super long routine. Just like brushing your teeth, a couple minutes will do. One of my favorite forms of massage for home care is using a jade roller since they are so user friendly. For more advanced types of massage you can use a Gua Sha stone or look into facial acupressure. All types of massage should be used with some kind of product that provides slip, such as a good facial oil.
Step 6: Toner
Toner is used to balance the pH of skin. Astringent also fall into this category. The difference between an astringent and a toner is the pH of the product. Toners will be closer to the pH of skin and astringent will be slightly more acidic. Human skin should have the pH of around 5.5, which is an acidic pH. This is a very important part of your skin's balance. This is what helps it keep out bad bacteria and pathogens. When we come in contact with pollution in the air or sweat or excessive oil on our skin, the pH of our skin changes. Not everyone needs a toner or an astringent. If your barrier is not disrupted, then your skin has a proper pH balance and does not need to be adjusted. Toner should be used once or twice a day. It can also be used in the morning time and place of a cleanser. Toners do not cleanse, however they can be used in the morning time to wipe down your skin. This process will only work if you are properly cleansing your skin in the evening time. Toners are not to be used in place of cleansing your skin at all.
Step 7: Serum
Serums are concentrated formulas that are meant to deliver active ingredients directly to the skin. They are treatment products that correct conditions. They can be creams or gel-based. Serums do not need to be used by everyone. They only need to be used to correct skin conditions or to prevent certain skin conditions. They are typically used once a day and are best used in the evening time because that is when your body heals itself.
Step 8: Moisturizer or Hydrator
Moisturizers add oil to your skin. Hydrators add water to your skin. A lot of moisturizers will also have a hydrator in it, but hydrators do not have moisturizers in them. Most people will need one of these, but it is true that not everyone does. If your skin is dry or dehydrated, then you need one. Moisturizers and hydrators should be used once to twice a day, depending on the extent of your dryness or dehydration. Many people confuse dehydration with dryness, so it is important to know which condition your skin is experiencing. If you're over-moisturizing dehydrated skin, which is common practice, you will experience conditions like clogged pores or excessive oiliness.
Step 9: SPF
SPF is typically needed on a daily basis for most people, in most areas. However you don't need a high SPF. I will straight up tell you that SPF 100s are a complete waste of money. On a typical day an SPF of 15 is perfectly fine. If you're spending a significant time out in the sun, then going with an SPF of 30 will work just fine. If you want to learn more about SPF and which types I recommend,
So now you've been walk through the insider protocol of a complete European style facial. This should help you use your products correctly and know what types of products you should be using on your skin and which ones aren't necessary for you.
If you want a more personalized protocol, scroll back up to the cleanser section and click on the link to schedule an analysis. Each person's skin has different variables to it and it's important to know the makeup of your own skin.