Let’s face it — we’ve all read hundreds of articles on how to get better, smoother, or glowier skin. There is a lot of skincare talk when it comes to “Holy Grail” products, but an amazing product for one person’s skin might not work for another. The key to improving your skin is not using the most expensive and luxurious products. It’s the small daily habits that make a difference. The “secret” to better skin is becoming more intuitive with your skincare.
I know it sounds weird, but hear me out. Think about how you typically go about your skincare time. When you look in your bathroom mirror, do you ever find yourself obsessing about your skin, poking + picking at all its perceived flaws, and stressing out from its lack of cooperation? And after all of that, you mindlessly put on some skincare products that you aren’t sure is even working for your skin, but continue to use it because it’s 1. expensive or 2. recommended by someone who might not even share your skin type? Yeah, I’ve been there, and we’ve all done it.
Intuitive skincare is about actually checking in with your skin and seeing what its changes are telling you. When you learn to tune into your skin, you are better able to give it what it needs. Plus, you’ll save money, time, and stress, once you begin to read the signals and find products that actually deliver the goods for your skin.
Since timing is EVERYTHING when it comes to skincare, I’m going to give you a few tips throughout the day to help bring more intuition to your skincare journey. Just to note, I will also be sharing some of my favorite skincare products, as these products have worked well for my sensitive, oily, acne-prone skin.
Keep scrolling for tips on how to start your intuitive skincare journey
A.M. skincare tips
First of all, let’s just drop the notion that your skincare routine has to be the same everyday. The routine is in the act of caring for your skin not the products you use for it. Intuitive skincare is about being in tune with your skin’s changing needs. And those needs not only change seasonally, but also from morning to night. In the morning, your goal with your a.m. routine is to incorporate defensive skincare — protecting your skin from the day ahead; from the sun, your makeup, and any dirt/debris that may come in contact with your face (and can be floating around in the air).
Observe your skin
Before you start doing anything to your skin, notice how you skin is feeling first. It is always trying to tell you something. Did you wake up with dry skin? It’s time to hydrate. Is it oily? You are likely over washing your skin at night. Is your skin irritated? It might be time to switch to more natural skincare.
Now it’s time to cleanse your face. If your usual cleanser leaves your skin feeling tight that indicates it is damaging to the top layers of your skin. Your face doesn’t need to have that tight + dry feeling feeling for it to be clean, it should feel supple + smooth. Even if you have oily skin (like me), over washing can dehydrate your skin can lead to more oiliness + breakouts. A great gentle cleanser alternative is using micellar water. With just a few swipes of a cotton pad, it cleanses your skin without removing the important protective skin barrier. If micellar water seems like too light of a cleanser, try Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleaner or Drunk Elephant’s Beste No.9 Jelly Cleanser.
Take note of any changes
If you wake up with swollen eyes, puffy skin, or under eye circles, it might mean you need to make changes in your life beyond skincare. Simple changes like getting a good night’s sleep, drinking more water (and less booze) during the day can really help. But since we can’t change the past, try a chilled jade roller (straight from the freezer) can help depuff your face. Also consider using an eye cream for both the morning and night, I personally use Tula’s Glow & Get It Eye Balm for the day.
Prep for the day ahead
The a.m. skincare routine is all about protection, so think about how your products can best serve + defend your skin through the day. Moisturizers like Origins Ginzing Cream helps boost energy, hydrate, & revitalize tired-looking skin. If you want something that is price sensitive or if you are new to starting a skincare routine, the Ordinary’s Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA is a great (and cost-effective) place to start to see how your skin responds.
I know I’m not the first to say it, but ALWAYS put on SPF EVERYDAY! I’m not even going to go into detail because you already know sun protection is important! A lot of makeup products have some SPF in it, that’s great, but it’s often no enough. I personally use Coola’s Daydream Mineral Makeup Primer with SPF30 for my makeup days or Coola’s Mineral Face Matte Moisturizer SPF30 for my non-makeup days. If your face sunscreen usually has a white cast, mixing your SPF with your moisturizer can really help!
Midday skincare tips
Since your morning skincare routine is protecting your skin throughout the day. Midday skincare is about refreshing your skin and protecting it from germs.
Refresh with a spritz
If you need to replenish your skin’s moisture in the middle of the day (without disrupting your makeup), grab a facial spray for a quick mid-day pick-me-up. It’s super-refreshing and super-convenient! I often reach for Biossance Squalane + Micronutrient Fine Mist Spray.
Limit unnecessary touching
Think about how many times you touch your face in a day? It’s probably a lot more than you think. Now think about how many other things your hands come into contact with that carries millions of germs. Those germs are basically your skincare’s worst enemy as they often lead to breakouts, so its important to limit touching your face.
P.M. skincare tips
Unlike your morning skincare routine, your evening skincare is about going on the offensive. Your nighttime routine aims to address any skin issues before the regenerative process of sleep begins.
Take off the day
It’s SO important to cleanse well at night. You want to take the time to deep clean any makeup, debris, or dirt from the day off of your face. When it comes to removing makeup, I like using Biossance Squalane + Antioxidant Cleansing Oil (its non-comedogenic, or non-acne causing, unlike coconut oil), and using Simple Micellar Water to gently remove eye makeup.
For cleansing your face at the end of the day, you should use products that cleanse more deeply, but you still want to avoid products that damage the top layer of the skin leaving you feeling tight + dry. Youth to the People Superfood Cleanser cleanses deep in your pores without stripping you skin. Make sure to work your cleanser into a light foam, then gently massage it into your skin, and then rise with cold water. You can use a cotton round or a clean washcloth to gently pat your skin dry.
Observe your skin
Take a look at your skin just as you did in the morning and observe any changes. Does your skin look congested? Maybe its time to consider using lighter coverage with your daytime makeup. Is it oily? Let’s start using oils to combat oiliness (sounds counter-intuitive, but it works). Is it dry? It’s time to find a hydrating serum.
Use a toner
Toner is an important step as it helps to close pores after cleansing, which reduces the penetration of impurities and environmental contaminants into the skin. I have 3 go-to toners depending on how skin needs it to be. Glossier’s Solution is a great option because it both exfoliates and tones. Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Green Tea Balancing Toner is great natural option for bringing balance to combination and blemish-prone skin types. If you want something v gentle on your skin, Thayer’s Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera is a great choices as it both tones and moisturizes.
Use serums + oils for any concerns
Serums + oils are your skin’s best friend for nighttime routines. These highly-concentrated products help to treat your skin’s personal needs, and to prep your skin for the remaining products in your routine, which allows them to absorb and work better. If you plan to use both, make sure you apply serum first, but wait to apply your oil once the serum has fully absorbed into your skin. My go-to serum is Oliveda’s Cell Active Face Serum. I also use retinol very other night, which I switch with my serum. My fav oils are Herbivore Botanicals Phoenix Facial Oil and Biossance’s 100% Squalane Oil.
Treat any baggage
If you are noticing any undereye baggage, it’s time to up your eye-treatment game. Even if you don’t see a need for it yet, it’s still recommended to use an undereye cream. Also, getting more sleep, using a silk pillowcase since it is gentle on the skin (make sure to launder it regularly), and slowing down on alcohol and sodium can really help. I also use Oliveda’s Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream at night.
If you want to avoid waking up with any nighttime dullness, a good moisturizer is key! You should aim to use moisturizers that help to seal in hydration while you sleep. That usually means using a rich, deep-penetrating night cream or moisturizer (yes, there is a difference). For a night cream, I like using FRÉ Skincare’s Recover Me (use the code “HEALTHLETE” for a discount) as it is formulated with ingredients to nourish, restore, and strengthen your skin’s barrier. For a moisturizer, I like using Skin Authority’s Ultra Rich Moisturizer as it helps my skin to feel moist and more hydrated without feeling greasy. Never skip this step as your skin will be fresher, firmer, and stronger in the a.m.
Zapping out zits
When it comes to zits, spot treatments help, but try to think about the daily habits that can cause them. Maybe you need to clean your phone more often, wash your hands before you touch your face, and change your pillowcase more often. With just these small changes you should see a difference. But if you want to know the spot treatment I do use when zits happen, its Glossier’s Zit Stick.
When you start viewing your skincare routine as a daily ritual, paying attention to your skin’s unique needs becomes less of a chore. You can serve it with the right habits and ingredients—and the results will show.