When it comes to using skincare products, it seems that if a little is good, then more is certainly better. And if you have multiple skin concerns (like adult acne plus fine lines and wrinkles, or hyperpigmentation plus redness and sensitivity), then you are probably using several different products already.
But instead of getting the results that you were expecting, you may find yourself left with sensitized and irritated skin from too much experimentation with different treatments. You are now left with the unfortunate conclusion that more is not better at all, but perhaps harmful. So what do you do next?
Give Your Skin a Break
We all have a skincare routine, or at least are trying to find the right one to keep our skin feeling healthy and beautiful. But, are we using too many products in our routines? Are we tipping the scale toward harm rather than healing?
Chances are, if your skin is becoming oilier, drier, sensitive, red, flaky, or even painful, you might be overdoing it.
Chances are, if your skin is becoming oilier, drier, sensitive, red, flaky, or even painful, you might be overdoing it. The products you use may include extremely effective active ingredients, but mixing and matching them incorrectly can cause negative results like irritation and inflammation. Each of those different products may also contain filler ingredients like silicone, alcohol, glycerin, butylene glycol, or mineral oil, or toxic ingredients like phthalates, dyes, artificial fragrances and parabens.
So how can you reduce the number of products you use when each is supposed to help you with a different skin concern?
Find the Right Ingredients for Your Skin
Instead of using too many products and layering treatments on top of each other in an elaborate multi-step routine, we recommend this: get the most from your skincare by using fewer but better products formulated with the right active ingredients.
Activist is different from the vast majority of skincare companies because we firmly believe that less is more, and we want our clients to use fewer products and ingredients by identifying the ones your skin actually needs and leaving everything else out.
Our products are formulated to leave out everything that isn’t going to directly benefit your skin.
Yes, our serums are custom-formulated with active ingredients to address any combination of skin concerns, but that doesn’t mean that a large number of ingredients is needed to give you results. Our products are formulated to leave out everything that isn’t going to directly benefit your skin. We focus only on the active ingredients that will help your skin, no matter what state it is in — including irritation and inflammation from too much experimentation with previous products.
An Ideal Skincare Regimen
1. Cleanse. This step can consist of one to three products, and includes makeup removal, an overall facial cleanse, and any exfoliation or toning you want to do. We don't recommend doing all of these every single day!
Cleansing is the step where you're most likely to disrupt your skin's natural balance by removing too many of its natural protective oils and upsetting your lipid barrier. So generally, foaming cleansers that get your skin squeaky clean are not a good idea, especially if you have sensitive skin or a problem with oiliness. The more oil you remove, the more your skin will over-produce oil to compensate for what you've lost.
You should also realize that some dead skin on the surface is actually protective as well — it's like armor to protect your new, fresh skin cells just below the surface from the elements, like UV rays (not that it fully replaces sunscreen) or dry air. So go easy on the exfoliation, and save it for times when your complexion is truly dull and hidden under a layer of dead cells.
Toners help restore the pH balance of your skin, which is naturally acidic (anywhere between 4 and 7, but most commonly around 5.5). Cleansers tend to be basic, especially if they contain soap (like Dr. Bronner's), so some rebalancing may be necessary. Toners also help remove residue from your cleanser, or any impurities your cleanser left behind, if you feel that is needed. And, since they are water-based (don't use one with alcohol!), they add hydration.
Our philosophy is one of "less is more," so we hope that you won't get too aggressive in either putting too much on your face that needs to be taken off at the end of the day (like pore-clogging foundation or waterproof eye makeup), or go overboard with cleansing.
2. Treat. Now your face is clean and primed to receive the treatment that will make a big difference for your complexion: your serum, like our Hyaluronic Acid Serum. Obviously, this step is our favorite, because it's where your skin will soak up the active ingredients and nutrition that it needs to address whatever concerns you're facing, like hyperpigmentation, anti-aging, acne, etc.
Active ingredients are less effective in the cleansing step because they don't stay on your skin very long. Same goes for the moisturizer step, because moisturizers tend to sit on top of the skin rather than being soaked in completely. It's their job to provide a barrier against the world, locking in moisture — not get absorbed. For more on the important differences between the two, see our post on serums vs. moisturizers.
So when it comes to making a real investment in your skincare, think serums. That's where you're going to get the most bang for your buck because this is where the active ingredients come into contact with the deeper layers of your epidermis.
3. Protect. Here comes the icing on the cake: the final, outer layer that provides a nice, soft and hydrated feeling. Like cleansing, this step can involve a few different products, including sun protection, moisturizer, and a face oil like our Precious Oils Serum. (Yes, its name is a little confusing, since it belongs in this last step.)
We advise you to stick to mineral sunscreens, since they are more natural and appropriate for sensitive skin. They form a physical barrier against the sun instead of involving a chemical reaction that degrades over time (and can even start hurting your skin after the protective nature of the chemical sunscreen wears off in 90 minutes or so). If you must use a chemical sunscreen, you'll want to use it before your moisturizer. If you go with a mineral sunscreen, use it at the very end of your routine.
The moisturizing step is important; this is where you help seal in the active ingredients you got with your serum, as well as add softness and hydration. Top your moisturizer off with a face oil, if you're so inclined. Many people only use a face oil at night since it will add a sheen. Those with dry skin will appreciate the dewiness.
And finally, apply your mineral sunscreen. We recommend trying a powder form, whether it's in mineral makeup or a stand-alone mineral powder sunscreen. That way, you won't be rubbing off your moisturizer or face oil as you rub in your sunscreen.
If it's daytime and you're skipping a face oil, you can also consider a beauty balm to get both your moisturizer and your sunscreen all in one step.
How to Heal Your Sensitive Skin After Overdoing It
If you’ve found yourself with a skincare product hangover, the good news is this: we can help you! This complaint is so common among skincare enthusiasts who are constantly trying out new products on their faces, and we have treated clients with this exact issue!
The ideal first step is to discontinue as many of the products you're currently using as possible and start over with an extremely simple and mild skincare routine. The only two real essential steps are a gentle cleanser and moisturizer.
The ideal next step is to ask us to custom-formulate serums for you with ingredients that calm irritation and inflammation, helping rebalance your skin. Or go-to skin calming ingredients include licorice root extract, bisabolol, niacinamide, and our antioxidant cocktail. We'll determine which of these fit your particular skin issues the best, and include them along with other highly effective but extremely gentle active ingredients in your serums to address your skin’s other needs, whether that includes acne, aging, hyperpigmentation, or anything else.
A Holistic Approach to Skin Care
For a more in-depth approach, we offer a Holistic Skin Care Consultation over phone or email to get to the root of the problem. We look at all the products you are currently using and help eliminate the ones that are harming more than benefiting your skin. We also identify which ingredients specifically might be causing the inflammation and irritation so that you can avoid them in other products you buy in the future. And for those interested, we can even recommend dietary supplements and skin care devices to round out your routine to the great benefit of your skin!
We offer a service that can’t be found anywhere else. Our clients truly trust our recommendations and expertise. Some questions we have received from clients using this in-depth holistic consultation include:
- Are the ingredients in the products I’m using safe?
- What should I look for on an ingredients list? What ingredients should I stay away from?
- How can I figure out which product is causing my skin to be dry, sensitive and irritated?
- What sunscreen do you recommend for my skin type?
- How should I incorporate serums into my routine?
- What is clogging my pores?
Our clients who have tried our in-depth consultation in the past have learned so much about their skin type and the right ingredients and products for their unique needs. Most importantly, they've seen excellent results. Here are a few excerpts from thank-you emails we've received:
“Reading the description sheet that explained what ingredients were added to the products and why, I actually got a little choked up! Everything you included addresses everything I wanted it to! ... My skin now feels more like what I'd imagine it's like to have 'normal' skin! I seriously can't believe it! ” — Annie R.
"This is truly wonderful — I cannot thank you enough! This email was so super informative! You're so knowledgeable!" — Rosalba C.
“Thank you so much for taking the time to write such an informative email. I appreciate you letting me know about the ingredients. I am so happy to have found your amazing company, and I am so glad it was you who answered my call. It was a true pleasure! Thank you again for all of your time and efforts, especially for your efforts in attaching the links. And thank you for making me feel so special with your time and attention!” — Summer L.
We are confident that we can deliver for you and your skin too!