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Types of skincare products

Here are the types of skincare products you’ll find on the market. While not all of these products are absolutely essential (we’ll talk about the necessities below), they each serve a specific purpose, and certain products may help you achieve your skin goals.

  • Cleanser: removes dirt, sweat, excess sebum, dead skin cells, makeup, sunscreen, and other debris from the skin
  • Toner: refreshes the skin and preps it for the rest of your skincare products
  • Exfoliant: exfoliates the skin
  • Serum: contains a blend of potent active ingredients that may protect, brighten, soothe, hydrate, even skin tone, or serve another purpose (depending on the formula) 
  • Treatment: similar to serums, but typically serve to address issues like acne, fine lines, wrinkles, or dark spots
  • Eye cream: a cream formulated specifically for the eyes that may hydrate, smoothe lines, de-puff, and/or minimize dark circles
  • Mask: a product you leave on for a short period of time that can help with a variety of issues, like unclogging pores, hydrating, or soothing the skin
  • Moisturizer: hydrates and protects the skin barrier
  • Face oil: locks in hydration and nourishes the skin
  • Sunscreen: protects the skin from UVA and UVB rays

How to apply skincare products in order

First, cleanse your skin, and then use a face mask (if using). From there, you can use a toner, and then apply your chemical exfoliant. Next, you can apply any serums or treatments. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to apply thinner consistency products first, and then progress to thicker products. Then, you can apply an eye cream, a moisturizer, and then a face oil. During the day, you’ll want to finish with sunscreen.  

Keep in mind that toners, exfoliants, serums, and treatments may contain ingredients that should not be layered together, as they may either counteract each other’s effects or cause irritation. In many cases, it’s best to alternate your usage.

For example, you may use a treatment one night, and then an exfoliant the next, and then use a serum during the day. Ultimately, this depends on what specific products you’re using, and what your skin needs. 

You should also keep in mind that you do not need all of these products in your routine. A basic routine will include a cleanser, a moisturizer, and sunscreen. You can add more products to your routine if it seems fit.

How to choose the right skincare product

When picking out new skincare products, the biggest thing to keep in mind is your skin type. You’ll get the best results from using products that are formulated with your skin type in mind. You’ll also want to consider any skin concerns you may have (acne, fine lines, redness, etc.) so that you can look for treatments, serums, and other products that address those concerns.

Another tip: slowly introduce new products into your routine one by one, rather than all at once. This way, if you have any negative reactions, you can more easily pinpoint which product is the culprit, and remove it from your routine.

Make sure to test patch your product

Patch testing is the process of trying out a new product on a small area of skin in order to see if you might have any negative reactions. To patch test, simply use or apply the product to a small section of clean skin (the forearm works great). After 24 hours, check to see if there are any signs of irritation.

Common Questions

What skincare products do I need?

A basic but effective skincare routine will include a cleanser, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen. Start there, and then decide if you’d like to add any other products to address specific concerns. 

Are more expensive skincare products better?

More expensive skincare products are not necessarily better, and in many cases, you end up just paying for the brand name. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of affordable skincare products available on the market that contain effective ingredients proven to address a wide variety of skin concerns.

How long does it take to see results?

This can vary greatly, depending on what issue you’re targeting, how severe it may be, and what product you’re using. In general, you should give at least four to six weeks to begin seeing results. Consistency and a little bit of patience is key.

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