Sometimes with skincare, it’s easy to get so focused on the problem-solving stuff (at-home peels or acne-fighting masks) that we zoom through the basic steps. Our advice: slow down and get those essential rituals right. Here are a few key tips you might want to tape inside your medicine cabinet.
When you wash your face
Before you rub on your cleanser, be sure to wet your skin. "It makes it easier to spread the product around your face," says Vivian Bucay, M.D., a San-Antonio, Texas-based dermatologist. Stick with a lukewarm water temperature every time you cleanse. If the water is too cold, your pores will close up, making it more difficult to get out the gunk; turn it up too hot and you'll dry out your skin.
Another common mistake: using excess product. "Women think they need a lot of lather to get their faces clean, but a cleanser doesn't necessarily have to suds up a lot to be effective," Dr. Bucay says. A dime size amount is enough to get the job done. When it's time to rinse, skip the usual splash, splash, splash routine and wipe off your face wash with a big, damp cotton pad instead—it's an easier way to remove the residue. Bonus: you'll save water.
When you put on moisturizer
The less is more rule applies to this step, too. If you have normal or dry skin that still feels tight after you dab on face lotion, try upgrading to a richer cream. You'll get more hydration and it'll last longer because you won't need as much. For oily or combination skin types it's all about where you apply your hydrator. "Focus on the areas that tend to be drier like the cheeks and around your mouth," says Dr. Bucay. Skip shine-prone spots like your T-zone, and if slick skin is a constant issue, opt for oil-free formulas with mattifiers. If you use a separate sunscreen (you are wearing SPF daily, right?) slather it onto your skin after you moisturize for the best protection.
When you take off your makeup
No matter how tired you are at night, resist the urge to hop into bed wearing what's left of your makeup. Just think about how many things your fingers come into contact with—those germs often get transferred to the skin. "People tend to touch their faces all day so you're creating a breeding ground for bacteria," says Dr. Bucay. And sleeping in leftover makeup will only add to that. So whisk it all away! Start with your eyes: Wet a cotton pad then add the makeup remover. Press it onto your lid for about 10 seconds then glide it off in a downward motion. "Don't tug too hard. And you may have to do it more than once." says Dr. Bucay. To fully get rid of makeup on your face, just use a wipe and follow with a non-alcohol based toner. It'll guarantee that you get every last trace, and preps your skin for moisturizer.
What tricks do you use to step up your skincare routine?