How Many Steps Does Your Skin Care Routine Really Need?

July 21, 2016
Jessie Quinn
By: Jessie Quinn | by L'Oréal
How Many Steps Does Your Skin Care Routine Really Need?

As beauty editors, it is seemingly impossible to not go crazy with incorporating new products into our regimens. Before we know it, we have a skin care routine that marries our essentials— cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and SPF—to a long list of add-ons that may not even be necessary for our skin. Which makes us wonder, how many steps do we really need? To sum it up: there is no short answer, as the number of necessary steps in your skin care routine ranges from person to person and from skin type to skin type. However, The Body Shop’s Beauty Botanist, Jennifer Hirsch, likes to think of this as the desert island question. “If I were stuck on a desert island, what steps would I need to keep my skin healthy-looking and protected,” Hirsch says. “I’ve narrowed it down to four: cleanse, tone, moisturize, and treat.”

Step 1: Cleanse

“Why cleanse?” she asks. “To lift away grime, dead skin cells, excess sebum, pollution, and makeup from skin’s surface. This is the most important step and it is a waste of time applying [other products to] skin that hasn’t been cleansed.”

Step 2: Tone

Hirsch explains that toning—which can often be overlooked—is an opportunity to replenish and rehydrate the skin. “Hydration is critical to the the skin, acting as a barrier to keep the outside world out. I champion ingredients like aloe, cucumber, and glycerin that are intensely hydrating and humectant.”

Step 3: Moisturize

She’s a fan of moisturizing—as we all should be—for its ability to seal in all of the hydration that a good alcohol-free toner provides. And when it comes to moisturizing products, she prefers a formula packed with plant-based oils that work to enhance the skin’s natural barrier function, while nourishing the complexion.

Step 4: Treat

As far as targeted treatments go, Hirsch says that you can skip this step if you have perfect skin…but, as Hirsch says, who does?! Treatment—like serums or facial oils—give you “a great chance to check in with your skin and address any issues.”

Back to Basics

Like Hirsch suggests, everyone should stick to their basics. This can vary by preference and skin type, but usually includes a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, treatment, and of course, an SPF. One way to decipher how many steps is right for you is to take a look at your schedule and evaluate your morning and nightly routines, splitting the products up accordingly, as some products don’t need to—and shouldn’t—be used both in the morning and at night. An easy product to evaluate is sunscreen. At the risk of sound like a broken record, you absolutely should incorporate an SPF in your skin care routine—however, wearing SPF at night is just silly and wasteful. Same goes for spot treatments. While there are some spot treatments that you could wear under your makeup or use while making breakfast and getting ready for work, we recommend using most of them in the evenings, as they may have more time—a full night’s sleep’s worth—to work. Once you’ve narrowed down your morning and evening products, take a look at the products that you use only once or twice a week—like a face mask or sugar scrub. Instead of doing these once-a-week treatments on the same day, and adding on a few extra steps to your everyday regimen, try spreading them out throughout the week, that way you can avoid an unnecessary 15-step regimen.

All things considered, think of the core of your skin care regimen as “the essentials” and the rest as add-ons. Go for products that can tackle two-in-one, like this must-try mask for busy women, and perhaps stay away from adding products into your routine that have the same end goal as a product that already exists in your regimen.

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