#1 TAKE IT ONE STEP AT A TIME
If you’re adding a new product to your routine, don’t change everything at once or you’ll never be able to tell what’s working. Try one new product with one new ingredient and see how it goes. You want to be able to find out what’s working and what’s not — so if that new cleanser is giving you splotchy redness, check what the active ingredients are and learn to avoid them.
#2 WATCH YOUR ENVIRONMENT
It’s not always your skincare that’s causing the problem. Changes in your diet can directly affect your skin, like increased sugar intake causing breakouts and inflammation. Or if you’ve got a deadline coming up and you’re getting less sleep than usual. Write down the products you’re using and any other information that could be important.. Over time, you can start to see patterns emerge and understand if the reaction was related to an external factor, rather than the products in your skincare routine.
#3 TEST A SAMPLE AREA
If you’re trying a new product (especially a serum or treatment with a high concentration of active ingredients), then you should do a patch test before you use it on your face. According to our dermatologist co-founder Dr. Ranella Hirsch, “A good place to patch test is on the inside of your lower arm. After gently cleansing the area, apply a thin layer of the new product and leave on for 24 hours to observe.” If you have sensitive skin, start with a low dose of active ingredients and slowly increase over time. Dr. Hirsch suggests that “with any ingredients that can be irritating, start slowly, perhaps once or twice per week.”
#4 KNOW YOUR STEPS
Think of your skincare routine like a step-by-step recipe. Putting the tin in the oven is useless if you haven’t got the right mixture. The general rule is to apply active products that will penetrate the skin first, then moisturizer and/or sun protection.
The order goes:
2. Toner (optional)
5. Sun protection (AM)
#5 DOING LESS IS A-OK
If you’re experiencing a negative skin reaction, less is more. As Dr. Hirsch says, “There are two ways to go wrong with skincare: using the wrong products the right way, or using the right products the wrong way.” In trying to fix the problem, especially by adding new products, you might actually make things worse. A reaction could be caused by something you’re using or doing, so you should eliminate as many variables as possible, write down what you used, and look for common ingredients or themes.
Now get out there and find your ideal skincare routine — whether it’s nine steps or three.