While we dermatologists LOVE our skin care products and have a million recommendations of what to use, we also know that there is really only time for a few products in the morning and even fewer in the evening! So, if you care for a minimal effective routine, we will be discussing the 5 skin care essentials in the morning and evening for healthy, happy skin.
The five essentials
Cleanser [AM + PM]
Cleansers can be foams for oily skin, creams for dry skin, or oils/balms for mature skin. Cleansers remove impurities, exfoliate dead skin, and prepare the skin for sunscreen, emollients, serums, makeups, and more. Regularly cleansing the skin reduces your chance of acne, skin irritation, and photoaging. Of course, a good cleanser itself should not irritate the skin and should leave the skin feeling soft and supple.
For evening, a cleanser is again a must, with particular attention paid to removal of makeup and any other product on the skin. For those who wear heavy makeup or eye makeup, you can use micellar water. It neutralizes oil and product due to the ionized water suspended in drops. After use of this, a regular cleanser can be used.
Antioxidants are great in the morning to protect skin from photodamage caused by free radicals, which in turn prevents photoaging. Vitamin C (with ferulic acid to stabilize the compound) is a great choice here, as it soaks up free radicals and leaves skin feeling bright and smooth.
Moisturizer [AM + PM]
In the morning, you can use a moisturizing containing sunscreen. This is an easy way to combine the two essentials and save time. Just remember all the criteria mentioned below about sunscreens. Consistent moisturizer use protects your skin, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and allows your skin to handle treatments better.
Using a moisturizer in the evening helps to set in treatments such as retinoids and serums. You can apply it as a final step in your evening regimen.
Sunscreen [AM only]
If there is only one thing you can do in the morning, it should be sunscreen. There are three essential components: an SPF factor, UV range, and waterproof range. An excellent sunscreen must have an SPF over 30, full-spectrum UVA and UVB range (termed “broad spectrum”), and be waterproof for at least 40 minutes.
SPF stands for “sun protective factor” and is a measure of UVB protection. UVB rays are responsible for DNA damage that can lead to sunburns and increase the risk of skin cancer. Therefore, it is essential to have sufficient SPF to protect against the risk of skin cancer.
UVA is critically important in the biology of photoaging. UVA rays also cause DNA damage along with collagen, protein, and pigment damage, all of which contribute to dull, lax, uneven skin associated with photoaging. Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect against UVA and UVB. Waterproof sunscreen will ensure that the product stays in place even while sweating or being in the water.
Retinoid [PM only]
Retinoids are a critical part of the evening regimen. They are vitamin A derivatives that exfoliate, remove oil, reverse photoaging, and normalize tone. The most effective form of retinoid is Tretinoin, which has 50+ years of extensive scientific research behind it. It can be drying, but to counteract this, your evening regimen should finish with a good emollient moisturizer to replenish the skin barrier.