February 6, 2012

Beauty Basics: How to get the most out of your skin care products

Hello, Beautiful!

This is the first in many "Beauty Basics" posts to come. I realize there are some younger readers out there, or even older readers new to makeup, so I wanted to create a series of posts designed to give basic information and helpful tips. The next Beauty Basics post will be all about foundation! But onto this Beauty Basics post...

I've been testing out a lot of skincare over the past few months; I'm working towards a goal of being able to go without foundation in the summer when I go to the amusement parks. I've even gotten friends and family in on the action of testing skincare, so be prepared for a bunch of skincare products reviewed on my blog over the next few months (don't worry, still plenty of makeup and nail polish posts too!).

Not long ago I received an email from a reader asking me how she could get the most of her skincare products. I thought it was a great question and decided to answer it by making a blog post sharing my 5 simple tips that can make big changes in how your skin care products perform. Skin care products can cost big bucks, so make sure you're taking all the right steps to make that investment count!

Please feel free to leave any more tips in the comments section below!

Beauty Basics: How to get the most out of your skin care products

1. Make sure you follow directions exactly as labeled.
  • You'd be surprised how often people don't read the instructions for each product they use. They assume if it's a cleanser it works like every cleanser they've used before, or if it's a moisturizer it works like every moisturizer they've used before. But that could be a reason you're not getting the most from your skin care products.
  • For example: Some cleansers want you to dampen your skin first while others want you to apply to dry skin. Some moisturizers are just for day, others for night, and some twice a day. Some exfoliators you'll use on dry skin while others you'll use on wet skin. And so forth.
  • Take a few seconds or a few minutes to read the instructions for each product before you use them, and follow as directed.
  • Most of the time you can find the directions on the actual product, but some products don't include them and you can only find instructions on the box. If you don't have instructions on the product itself, and no longer have the box, visit the brand's website to get all the details on how to use that product per their instructions.

2. Keep skin exfoliated.
  • Keeping your skin exfoliated and clear of dead skin cells is key to helping all your skin care products go on better. Plus, your makeup will go on better too and your over all skin appearance will look better.
  • You should use an exfoliator at least once a week.
  • Going back to tip #1, make sure you read the instructions on each exfoliator you use. Sometimes the directions say to use it 1 to 3 times a week, while others will limit it to once a week. If the instructions limit it to once a week then I would not recommend using it more than instructed. It may be stronger than other exfoliators, which list using up to 3 times per week, and you don't want to over exfoliate your skin.
  • There are daily exfoliators, but they are not the type I'm talking about. They are great for anyone with very dry skin to do as a daily step before or after cleanser, but you still want to incorporate a better/stronger exfoliator at least once per week.

3. Properly clean your skin.
  • I highly recommend incorporating a skin care brush to get your face as clean as possible.
  • A face brush helps get deep down into pores and really clean them out; it will clean better than using your hands alone. Cleaner pores mean all the skin care you put on top can penetrate your skin better.
  • The electronic versions work best (from my experience), like the Clarisonic or Clarisonic Mia (I have the Clarisonic Mia), but non-electronic versions work great too.
  • Non-electronic face brushes can cost as little as $1, but most are around $5 to $7. I used a $5 Sephora Face Brush for over a year before I saved up money for the Clarisonic Mia. If buying a non-electronic face brush I suggest purchasing two at a time; one to use in your morning routine and one to use in your nighttime routine. The reason being is they wear out faster than an electronic brush head, and using one for morning and one for night means you'll need to replace them fewer times per year; or just keep one as a back-up.
  • Electronic versions can cost upwards of $250, but there are more reasonably priced options in the $30 to $50 price range (like the one from Olay). You do need to replace the brush heads on the electronic versions every now and then; for example, with the Clarisonic it's recommended to change the brush head every 4 to 6 months. I have to admit I went a little over a year before changing my brush head; but now I plan to change it every 6 months.

4. How are you applying the products to your skin?
  • This may not make much sense right now, but stick with me for a minute...
  • How are you applying the products to your skin? Are you massaging them in or spreading them on? Most people try to make their skin care routines fast, and therefore may only be applying the product onto their skin just enough to spread it out all over and until they don't see it anymore. That will work for the most part, but if you want to get the most out of your skin you may want to take a few seconds longer to massage the product in properly.
  • You'll want to massage the product into your skin using small circular motions. Not only will that help to evenly distribute the product, but the heat from your fingers will help the product melt into your skin better. Plus, the increased circulation to your skin is good for you too.
  • If you're still not seeing my point, think of it this way: Imagine for a moment that your liquid foundation is your moisturizer. You wouldn't just spread the foundation onto your skin in a quick manner like you may be doing with your moisturizer, would you? I know I wouldn't! I would take the time to blend the foundation into my skin, making sure it's evenly distributed and melted into my skin so it looks natural. But if I were to just spread it around on my skin it would look noticeable and likely be unevenly distributed.
  • If you're still not seeing my point, I want you to take a pump or two of your liquid foundation and apply it exactly as you do your moisturizer. You'll see my point.
  • No worries if you spread your skin care onto your skin instead of taking the time to properly massage it in. Most people don't take the extra time to massage it in, I'm even guilty of doing that from time to time, but you're still able to see results because the product is still going onto your skin. However, if you want to get the most from your skin care products then take the extra time to properly massage the product into your skin.
  • Another tip: The Beauty Blender Pure was developed for applying skin care products, like serums, to help push the products into your skin. That's another way to apply your skin care products; I just prefer to use my fingers.

5. Stay consistent, be patient, and don't make excuses!
  • Unless the company puts out a claim such as "see results in 10 days", you should expect to wait 4 to 6 weeks before you can determine if a product is working for you or not. And that's 4 to 6 weeks with consistent use, applied as directed. Skin care takes time to work, so you should expect to be patient. Everyone's skin regenerates at a different rate, and the older you get the slower your skin regenerates. If a product works in 3 weeks for one person it may not work for 9 weeks for you. Being patient is key.
  • Staying consistent with your skin care routine is so important too. If you miss a morning or a night time routine once or twice a month it won't affect you too much, but miss a whole day or two or miss a morning or nighttime routine a few times a week, and it can really throw off your skin  -- especially if you have acne prone or very sensitive skin. If you have to, write up a skin care schedule and check it off each morning and night.
  • Don't make excuses!!! I always hear friends say "but I don't have time" and I always want to scream "well then make time!". There is always time. Stay up 5 minutes later or wake up 5 minutes earlier; you need to make an effort for yourself; you're worth the effort! If you know at night you get sleepy by 9:30pm, then you'll want to take care of your skin care routine before 9pm. You don't have to do your skin care routine the second before you go to sleep. 
  • In the morning I especially hear people complain about not having time; again, wake up earlier or simplify your routine. If you take care of your skin at night, morning routines can be very quick and easy; sometimes even as simple as a cleanser and moisturizer. And if you're really in a rush, just splash your face with water, quickly run a cotton ball soaked in toner over your face, and apply your moisturizer. Don't do that every morning, because if you're trying to get the most from your skin care routine (which is the point of this blog post) then you'll want to make an effort to have a real morning skin care routine for your skin needs.
  • Sure, everyone (including myself) misses a morning or nighttime routine every now and then, but it shouldn't happen every day or every other day. Skin care routines don't have to take long, so if you think you don't have time to take care of your skin you need to stop making excuses and rearrange your schedule. You can also invest in products that are quick, easy, and proven to work so you're not wasting your time on products that take a long time to apply (such as products you need to wait a few minutes before rinsing off).
  • Don't skip more than an entire day unless you have no choice at all. The time when people fall off track the most is when they are on vacation, traveling, or when they are sick.
  • I recommend keeping a pack of skin care cleansing wipes by your bed; just make sure they are the kind that don't require water. If you're tired and skip your nighttime skin care routine you can just reach over and pull a wipe out and clean your face while you're laying in bed, even if you're eyes are closed. You're still making an effort to remove your makeup at night, and even if you didn't wear makeup that day you still need to remove the dirt & oils from the day.
  • It may just be the mom in me who likes to carry around a bunch of random items for those just-in-case moments, but I also keep skin care cleansing wipes in my purse. That way I always have a way to clean my face, if I don't have all my regular skin care products available. But I don't keep the regular kind of skin care cleansing wipes in my purse, I actually use baby wipes! I use the unscented kind, and a non-name brand. They're affordable and come in handy for more than just cleaning my face!

One more suggestion...
  • Choose one day of the week to pamper your skin
  • Pick a day where you have the most free time, or can dedicate an hour or so to yourself and your skin care. My day is Sunday.
  • On your at-pamper day I recommend doing your exfoliators, peels and masks.
  • I like to put on my favorite show or put on a movie while I'm doing all this.

I hope these tips and suggestions help you to get the most from your skin care products! Please feel free to add any more tips/suggestions you may have by leaving a comment below!


  1. Wow this was really informative! I'm really looking forward to these posts, I'm new to makeup and could really use the tips :) I'd love to see one on school basics too! I can't wait for the foundation one. I just got the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer and even though it's not a foundation, I could still use some tips for applying it :D I just ordered a whole skin care routine a bit ago and I can't wait to try out these tips.

  2. this is really informative!


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