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Starting a Skin Care Regimen

We are living in an amazing time for skin care. Ingredient knowledge, high tech delivery systems and professional procedures make it possible to have a greater impact on our skin health and appearance than ever before. It can feel overwhelming for those of us just starting out on a skin care routine. Do you need a ton of products? How do you know which products will work for your specific skincare concerns?

Professional vs Retail - I am a proponent of professional products because they tend to have more active ingredients. Products in a retail setting must be safe for anyone to use, regardless of skin type and that limits the number and strength of active ingredients. For example, I may have thick, oily, non-reactive skin but if I choose a resurfacing product at a department store, it must be mild enough for the most sensitive skin types to use safely. An OTC product by definition cannot cause a physical change to the skin. And that's true of expensive department store products as well as those found in the drugstore. It can be more economical in the long run to spend money to get results than to spend money chasing results.

Where to start?

The Basic 4 - A good regimen starts with 4 basic steps: Cleanser, serum, sun protection and night time treatment. Odds are you have one or more of these steps already so it's possible to ease into a full skin care routine even when the budget is tight.

In the graphic, the treatment product is referred to as anti-aging but for younger clients, this step could be a serum to reduce sebum production or anti-inflammatory ingredients to calm acneic skin. Other examples of ingredients that may be included in a serum are peptides, stem cells, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories, hydrators or lightening agents, depending on your particular concerns. After cleansing and serum, always use a sun protection product. Fortunately now many sun protection products contain a host of ingredients that compliment your skincare and provide cosmetic benefits.

Night time Repair - for many of us this will include some sort of retinol product as well as alpha and beta hydroxy acids to promote cellular turnover, bringing fresh new skin cells to the surface.

Once you have your basic routine, you can optimize over time. Some add on's could include a weekly mask to amp up your results, as well as an eye creme if puffiness or dark circles is an issue.

Think of professional treatments as the exercise part of your regimen and your home care products as nutrition for your skin. When professional treatments are combined with effective, consistently applied home care, the result is healthy, beautiful skin.