Cleanse-Tone-Treat: Your Step-By-Step Skin Care Guide

WashingFaceWe invest time and money into stocking our beauty cabinets with skin care products that have the potential to make our skin look and feel better. But do you know which order to apply them in for the best results? Should serums be under or over moisturizer? And where does sunscreen come in? Esthetician Jeanette Hickox in Novato walks us through the five easy steps of healthy, beautiful skin.

Step 1: Cleanse

Prepping your skin for treatment is the first step, says Jeanette. She recommends a thorough cleansing with either a Clarisonic device or a “double cleanse.” This means washing your face twice, first gently massaging cleanser into your skin to open pores, then washing it again to be sure the loosened debris and oil are removed.

Step 2: Exfoliate

It’s important to exfoliate on a regular basis to remove dead cells on the surface of the skin; this allows treatment products to penetrate better and makeup to go on smoother. Try DeVita’s Gentle Aloe Facial Cleanser; it exfoliates with pure, round jojoba beads that are kind to skin. Note: If you use a Clarisonic you’ll need to exfoliate less often, since the device already supports everyday exfoliation.

Step 3: Tone

Often overlooked, this step is all about balancing the skin. A toner can restore skin’s natural pH, which cleansers sometimes disrupt, Jeanette tells us. Toners can treat skin, too. For oily skin, try a toner that balances the skin without stripping moisture. The Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner from Paula’s Choice helps calm skin and reduces redness, while evanhealy’s Lavender Facial Tonic Hydrosol is a good choice for sensitive skin, protecting it with natural plant antioxidants.

Step 4: Treat

Serums are an intensive treatment made to quickly penetrate the skin. Apply them directly to clean, toned skin, says Jeanette. Depending on its ingredients, these concentrated solutions deliver nutrients that can plump, firm, repair, brighten, treat blemishes and more.

Step 5: Moisturize

Moisturizers keep skin hydrated and seal in the treatment products you’ve applied. But they are not made to penetrate the skin like serums are. Instead, moisturizers stay on the surface of the skin, creating a barrier that locks in moisture.

Daily moisturizers are lighter than night-time moisturizers, and many have SPF protection, combining two steps into one. MyChelle’s Replenishing Solar Defense SPF 30 moisturizes with kukui and macadamia oils, and protects skin from sun damage with a clear zinc oxide. At night, Jeanette says, try a richer moisturizer that includes antioxidants or peptides that can repair skin while you sleep. Andalou Naturals’ Super Goji Peptide Perfecting Cream has both!

(Important) Bonus Step: Protect

If your daily moisturizer doesn’t have an SPF of 15 or higher, you’ll need to apply a sunscreen next (and liquid makeup or foundation after that). Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your neck and ears…and lips! Try Alba Botanica’s Very Emollient Lip Care Sunscreen SPF 25 for lip hydration and protection.

A good rule of thumb: When applying skin care products on clean skin, layer them by weight, lightest to heaviest!

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