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Best Skin Care Regimen

People often ask what is the best skin care regimen for healthy and youthful skin.  It can be confusing for people to know exactly what to use because there are so many products available.  There are many excellent skincare products out there (although, I have my favorites).  Rather than identifying the single best skincare products, I will focus on creating a great skincare regimen.

The ideal skincare regimen consists of several steps and should include products in several categories.  It can be modified depending on whether you have sensitive, dry, or oily skin; but, these steps and product categories generally hold throughout all skin types.

The basic steps are simple and are cleansing, protecting, and hydrating.

Let me briefly discuss the step of cleansing.  A lot of people ask me about using a toner.  I do not believe toners are necessary for most people.  I basically view them as part of the cleansing process since they are most often used after a cleanser to remove any extra residue on the skin that wasn’t removed by a cleanser.

It is fine to use a toner if you need and like it, but it is not necessary.  And, some would argue that there are better ways to cleanse the skin like washing with a cleanser twice or using a Clarisonic rather than cleansing and toning.

The basic product categories are antioxidants, retinoids, glycolic acids, and growth factors.  There are others, but they generally lack good scientific evidence.  Products in those categories can be used, but they should not be used in place of the basic product categories.

How these product categories are applied is where the creativity comes into play.

The easiest way to get antioxidants is via a serum, in a moisturizer, or in a sunscreen.  It is a good idea to use an antioxidant in the morning since it provides an extra level of protection against solar radiation, so either apply an antioxidant serum after cleansing in the morning, or use a moisturizing cream or sunscreen with an antioxidant.  Not everyone needs to use a moisturizer in the morning.  Stable vitamin C is a common antioxidant.

Retinoids include names such as retinol and tretinoin.  Retinoids do a great many good things to the skin.  Retinol is available without a prescription and can be found in many over-the-counter rejuvenating creams.  However, more pure versions come as a serum.  Retinoids should be applied at night because they are broken down by sunlight.  Retinoids may be difficult to tolerate if you have sensitive skin, but they should be used even if you can only tolerate using them 1 or 2 nights per week.

Glycolic acids exfoliate the skin.  Again, they can be difficult to tolerate if you have sensitive skin.  If you can tolerate them, the easiest ways to use them are either in a wash, in a nighttime moisturizing cream, or as glycolic acid pads that can be used 1 or 2 nights per week like a mini-peel at home.

Lastly, growth factors are not absolutely essential, but they have value if you can fit them into your regimen.  They often come as serums, so using them adds one extra step to your routine which may not be acceptable to some people.

Hopefully, this post provides some guidance to how to select a skin care regimen.  There are so many products out there that it can be hard to know what to pick.  By focusing on the steps and products rather than trying to find the one “best skincare product”, maybe it will be a little easier to create a program that is right for you.  Below is the skincare routine that I use for myself (note that I don’t use a moisturizer in the morning).

Gentle cleanser
Antioxidant serum
Antioxidant containing sunscreen

Gentle cleanser
Glycolic pads once per week
Prescription tretinoin
Moisturizing cream

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