With all the new products flooding the market it’s rather hard to decide what we truly need and what is redundant. Since healthy skin always begins and ends with a good morning and evening skincare routine, today we will explain the basics of a good routine, so that you can apply this advice to your specific case, regardless of the skincare brands you choose to use.

Key elements of a good skincare routine

Basic care should include a product for makeup removal and face cleansing, a day cream that has SPF and a mild, neutral and non-irritating cream suited to your skin type that can also be used on the eye area. Unfortunately, for this routine to be sufficient in this form you should have normal, healthy and undemanding skin, while sadly most of us suffer from dermatological disorders such as acne and comedones, enlarged pores, wrinkles, melasma or post-inflammatory pigmentation, rosacea, excessive dryness or dehydration and other forms of dermatitis, which all require a more complex approach.

For this reason most people will profit from adding at least some form of specialised skin care element to their routine. These mostly come in the form of a serum or booster and the type you choose will depend on your individual needs. Dry and rough skin should lean towards oil serums and AHAs while dehydrated skin needs hyaluronic acid. Development of acne and comedones is possible to prevent by adding niacinamide, salicylic acid and retinoids which regulate the function and appearance of enlarged pores. Pigmentation issues are best treated by arbutin, hydroquinone and vitamin C, while an anti-oxidant booster formulated without irritants will benefit all skin types.

All skin must be properly cleansed in the morning and evening, its pH then must be restored to normal, then it should be infused with antioxidants and moisture, followed by special, targeted care (if needed) and at the end, it should be properly nourished (with a SPF cream for daytime and richer products for night time).

Face cleansing

The face needs to be properly cleansed, both in the morning and evening. For the morning routine it’s important to choose a cleansing product that is mild enough not to dehydrate and irritate the skin. Face cleansing products formulated with large amounts of denaturated alcohol, products containing strong perfume, citrus and essential oils of eucalyptus and mint, as well as products based on SLS and SLES are considered inadequate and too aggressive for everyday use and we do not recommend them.

The evening face cleansing routine should be performed in two separate phases: first, makeup and remaining traces of SPF products need to be removed. Since primers, powders and SPF products are often designed to be long-lasting and might even be waterproof, they are best dissolved by a product that is not entirely watery but also has an oily phase, such as a makeup removal cream, milk/lotion or oil. Micellar water is also good at removing makeup, although for waterproof products it is best to use oily or creamy cleansers.

After makeup removal, skin needs to be cleansed from remaining product, especially if we used an oily cleanser, since possibly remaining traces might clog pores and irritate the skin. Gentle gel, foam or cream products (depending on skin type) intended for face cleansing are the ideal choice for both morning and evening cleansing. One must remember that products for makeup removal and products for facial cleansing ARE NOT ONE AND THE SAME and they are most often not designed to remove dirt and impurities in the same way.

Why use exfoliators as the first step after cleansing?

If we have problems with imperfections or simply skin that is dry, rough and lifeless, exfoliators are an extremely important step in skin care. The term “exfoliators” actually stands for liquid, chemical peels that entirely replace abrasive, mechanical peels. By restoring the skin to an acidic pH (taking into account that a proper skin pH ranges between 4.5 and 5.5) and assisting the natural process of shedding of dead skin cells, our epidermis becomes more and more resistant and proliferation of bacteria is prevented, especially in the case of acne-prone skin. Normal to dry skin needs to choose products based on glycolic and lactic acid, while skin prone to imperfections is the perfect candidate for being treated with salicylic acid or, in the ideal case, with a combination of acids that also include salicylic.

Apart from the fact that they prompt cell turnover and make the skin visibly clearer and fresher, exfoliators are an important factor in proper anti-aging skin care since they enable a more complete and deeper penetration of nourishing products that follow in our skin care routine. Due to that fact, as well as the fact that the peel being used is a chemical one, Skintegra recommends that exfoliators, however mild they might be, are used exclusively as part of the evening routine.

Booster, serum, cream, SPF – in which order?

In the morning routine it is best to avoid exfoliators, but a vitamin C serum or a niacinamide-based cream can serve as a fantastic “base” under an SPF cream and it can work at restoring your skin unnoticeably throughout the whole day. Do you have several products you wish to combine? That’s great. The first thing you need to know is which active ingredients clash with each other and where your individual limits for combining active ingredients lays.

Active ingredients we recommend for the morning routine are niacinamide, vitamin C and E derivatives and antioxidants, paired with SPF protection if you are spending time outdoors. Active ingredients we recommend in the evening routine are vitamin A derivatives (retinoids) or acids (lactic, glycolic and salicylic acid). In case of very sensitive skin, the “less is more” rule applies and we recommend that you avoid combining multiple potent products in one application.

The order of use, except in the case of retinoids and acids which are always applied first following face cleansing, is determined depending on the texture of the products, starting from lighter towards richer textures. Putting it simply, watery products go first and oily products go last. Whatever you use, one rule remains unchanged: the SPF product is always applied as the last step in your skin care routine.

The Skintegra routine

In order to make it easier for our users to navigate among the products we offer at present, as well as among those that will appear in the future, we have developed the Skintegra routine which is made up of six separate large categories. Each category describes a certain group of products and the place the product should take in your routine, with the exception of category 6 which consists of supplementary products such as lip balms, eye creams and face masks.

The first category is ‘CLEANSE’ and includes products for make-up removal and facial cleansing.

The second step is ‘REPAIR’ and includes products that regulate skin functioning, primarily exfoliators and toners.

The third step is ‘UPGRADE’ and includes vitamin serums and anti-oxidative boosters.

The fourth step is ‘RESTORE’. It consists of serums, gels, creams and oils that restore the hydrolipidic barrier by targeting specific problems (imperfections, dehydration, dryness etc.)

PROTECT’ is the fifth step and includes SPF products for use in the daytime and specialised products for night-time use.

The sixth step ‘SUPPORT’ includes weekly and special treatments such as masks, lip balms, eye creams etc.

In short, the first five categories serve as a pointer towards the order in which the products are to be used. This however doesn’t imply that you have to use products from each category all at once. Your morning routine might consist of 1+5, and your evening routine might be 1+2+3+4. The point is that you always start from the first and end with the fourth or fifth category, depending on your personal preferences.

The last, sixth category marks a special group of products that are used as treatments according to need.

Anti-aging – when is the right time?

The term ‘anti-aging’ is one of those misunderstood and commercially abused terms because it implies that an anti-aging cream can in fact erase wrinkles, turn back the clock or make you fifteen years younger. Unfortunately, this is not the case. What ‘anti-aging’ actually means is timely prevention of wrinkles and other signs of premature skin aging and in that sense, there are no age limits. One of the most potent ‘anti-aging’ fighters is SPF protection and this is something we apply even to our children’s skin, don’t we?

When it comes to anti-aging products, very young individuals and pregnant women should exercise caution in the case of AHAs and BHAs, some essential oils and retinoids. Apart for them, there are no other constraints or limitations preventing you from taking immediate action against possible premature wrinkles.

Do we really need a summer and a winter skincare routine?

The answer in short is: it depends. Most people will have dried out and dehydrated skin during the winter, while in the summer they will be somewhat oilier or they will simply wish to limit use of heavy and occlusive products due to excessive sweating. But this might not be your case. The best answer is to simply try out and find out for yourself what kind of skin care routine your skin prefers in the winter and what it likes in the summer. If you get (too) easily oily during the summer, but don’t usually have very oily skin, then it’s obvious you’re using products that are too rich. In the same way, in the winter time you certainly won’t want to ignore the feeling of tightness and flakiness but will meet your skin’s needs by enriching your standard skin care routine with extra lipids and moisture. Always listen to your skin since it is the best indicator as to whether a certain product is suitable for you or not, regardless of the season.

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