Having a skin care routine has never really been my specialty—not because I didn’t care but I grew up thinking that Clinique was the cream of the crop with skincare. Between Clinique, Noxema, Clean & Clear and Neutrogena, I thought I was doing the right thing. But last year when my longtime friend called me out on how I could be doing better in using toxic-free skincare, I took deep diving into what works for me seriously.
If you remember, I shared this post on using AnnMarie Skincare. Their products are really amazing and I still love them. Then I tried some great products from The Clean Beauty Specialists. She even sent me a guide on how to use the products because, well, she knows her clients. But there’s more to skincare than just washing, toning, and moisturizing—especially in the winter. So let’s get into this.
Key Components To A Sustainable Skin Care Routine
Truth moment: I had no idea what serums were for prior to 2018 but I knew I needed to use them. I just though they were something that you had to use as your skin got older. And I thought toner was like to get up extra dirt left on your skin. So let’s get into what components should be part of your skincare routine and what role these play.
Ok, so this one is kind of obvious—it cleans your skin. But it doesn’t stop there. It sets the tone for your routine. During the winter months when the air is drier, you don’t want to use a cleanser that is going to strip your skin of ALL the oils. Also: just because you have oily skin doesn’t mean that you need to use a cleanser that is going to get rid of all the oil. Oftentimes dryer skin will overproduce oil because it’s not sure that you’re going to give it the moisture it actually needs. Your cleanser can be anything from a gel to a foam or an oil—yes, oil.
Again, another semi-obvious one. The exfoliator gets rid of dead skin and does a deeper clean. You can have a chemical exfoliant like fruit acids and enzymes or a solid one made with something grainy that physically buffs the skin off. This can be turmeric, sugars, salt, coffee and nutshells, and other things of a similar texture. Generally speaking, your skin should be exfoliated 2-3 times weekly.
Friends, this is not to get extra dirt off your face *facepalm* Now, there are astringent toners that do just that but these are normally reserved for teens who are battling pubescent skin concerns. I’m old so I’m referring to the ones my fellow Lisa Frank lovers should be using at this stage in the game. Toner is the first leave-on step in hydrating your skin. It can contain antioxidants, acids, and anti-inflammatories.
My first encounter with serum was when I was in college managing a Bath & Body Works. I didn’t know what it was then but I do now! Serums are like a super-concentrated hydrator and help to deliver long-lasting hydration through active ingredients. They come in liquid form—normally a gel or oil—and are less thick than a cream moisturizer. It’s important to note that a serum is NOT a replacement for your moisturizer—it’s kind of like a top sheet when you’re making the bed. It gets you ready for the moisture that’s about to come with the comforter or cream.
Well, friends, it does just that—moisturize. I know, no fun here. But I will add that you should have a daytime moisturizer that contains an SPF (yes, Black people as well) and a nighttime moisturizer that is more concentrated. When you’re sleeping, it’s a great time to get some solid moisture in there.
There are quite a few different options for masks out there and they have multiple functions. A clay mask is used to detox your skin and pull out impurities. There are masks that are made with fruit acids for deep exfoliation. Then there are super hydrating masks for deep moisture. Masks are excellent for providing your skin with a concentrated treatment. These are done weekly or 2 times per week.
So these are the components to your routine. Next we’ll get into the tools—yes, there are tools—for your routine.