The Beginner's Guide to Skin Care
If you’re starting to notice and pay attention to commercials and articles about putting together a skin care routine, you’re likely ready to take the plunge. But, skin care steps can be intimidating if you’re new to skin care, so if you’re wondering “where should I start, and why?” you aren’t alone.
If you have normal skin, and you don’t have any stubborn, chronic skin concerns (like acne breakouts, brown spots, or sensitivity), sifting through specialty products can be confusing. You don’t want something to treat a specific issue, you just want your skin to get healthier and keep it that way. So, how do you do that? Let us simplify the process of choosing a routine for you.
Skin Care to Protect from Environmental Damage
The first thing you need to do is select a skin care routine that helps protect you from the effects of environmental damage. Even if you have normal skin, and no skin concerns, one thing is universal: the environment is having an impact on your skin, every day, no matter your age or skin type. You must keep that in mind when you’re looking to start a skin care routine.
Pollutants—smog, cigarette smoke, car exhaust, particles in the air, and even the blue light from your cell phone or tablet—can affect your skin in ways you’d never expect. All these factors hammer away at skin’s defenses, leading to signs of damage like brown spots, uneven skin tone, bumpy skin texture, dryness, and wrinkles.
One question we get a lot at Paula’s Choice is: “Am I too young for such and such a process or product?” The answer is always “no!” Age isn't a skin type, and the negative effects of pollution aren’t something you’ll see overnight; in fact, it’s possible, and even likely, that you’ll not see anything for years or even decades, which is why it’s so important to start a skin care routine sooner rather than later.
An Anti-Pollution Skin Care Routine
An anti-pollution skin care routine can have as many steps as you wish, but many people want to start with just the basics, and that’s usually the best place to begin. A cleanser, serum or treatment, and moisturizer —just a few simple steps!—can get you headed in the right direction.
- For cleansers, look for options that are gentle and fragrance-free. Fragrance, even in a rinse-off product, has the potential to aggravate skin, so steer clear. Cleansers are the critical first step in a routine because they remove dirt, debris, and surface pollutants from your face, setting the stage for all the other skin care products that follow.
- When it comes to choosing a serum, lightweight formulas packed with antioxidants are the way to go. Antioxidants shield skin from deterioration from sun damage and defend against the visible effects of pollution, making them some of the strongest protectors against environmental damage. Because serums are concentrated, they’re a great way to deliver high amounts of antioxidants to skin without having to add more products to your routine.
- Regardless of skin type or concern, all skin needs hydration from key groups of ingredients. Finding a good moisturizer doesn’t have to be difficult; again, look for one with plenty of antioxidants (including plant-based superfoods and vitamins), replenishing ingredients, and ingredients that soothe skin (like licorice extract ). Skin-brightening, tone-improving ingredients are also welcome additions. The result of all these is healthy, glowing skin!
Note: During the day you must always wear a moisturizer that includes broad-spectrum sunscreen with antioxidants. Sun damage is the number one cause of visible skin flaws, so protecting yourself from the sun’s rays is critical!
References for this information:
Cosmetics, Volume 5, January 2018, ePublication
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology, September 2017, pages 18–21, and December 2015, pages 2326–2,332
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, May 2016, pages 1,053–1,056
Life Sciences, May 2016, pages 126–134
About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!