If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then the responsibility of skincare is quite literally, in the hands of the consumer. Proper care and protection of the skin on a holistic level involves multiple layers and moving parts to keep (and maintain) an effective routine.  

Realistically, most women have a skincare regimen that unfortunately may not be the best match. Beyond the basics of daily cleansing, subscribing to a well-balanced (or at least decently balanced) diet plus consuming an adequate amount of water, most overlook other practices that can help ensure glowing skin.

At the very least, some of these other factors are likely being employed through the lens of false information that we have accepted and subsequently turned into our daily habits.

At the surface of it, every beauty gal should know that healthy skin helps your makeup go on smooth and last long.

To illustrate, we spoke with two experts that cover both ends of the spectrum. Diandra Davidson, a makeup artist that has over 6 years of experience and currently serves as a supervisor at SpaceNK Apothecary, and Dr. Fran Cook-Bolden, MD, Director, Dermatologist and Principal Investigator at Skin Specialty Dermatology and Ethnic Skin Specialty Group in New York. Together, they debunked some of the biggest beauty myths and shared insight for maintaining healthy, radiant skin with and without makeup.

‘Cleanse, Moisturize, Hydrate’ is Your New Mantra

There is no one-size-fits-all skincare routine but both Davidson and Dr. Cook-Bolden agree that the holy trinity consists of cleansing, moisturizing and hydrating.

“It’s important to follow washing with an appropriate moisturizer and to use a moisturizer with sunscreen during the day to protect the skin both day and night,” explains Dr. Cook-Bolden.

Both Davidson and Dr. Cook-Bolden share that they consistently educate and remind clients to stay hydrated, with Dr. Cook-Bolden recommending approximately 8 glasses of water (64 oz.) daily.

Digging Deeper Into Your Full Skincare Routine

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“It all depends on your skin-type but your basic routine should always include a cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, moisturizer, SPF and a mask and/or exfoliator (2 to 3 times a week),” says Davidson. “You should also wear a makeup primer if you plan on applying makeup after.

To cut your steps down you can use a cleanser that also tones the skin and a face cream that’s safe to use around the eyes.” A cleanser that also acts a toner is typically called out on the label but also check for ingredients including frankincense, white wood extract, GABA amino acids, silk protein and hops oil.

Serums are great because they penetrate deep into the skin and fix and repair your skincare concerns while moisturizers stay on the surface level…it’s one of the most important steps because that’s what’s really going to rejuvenate your skin,” Davidson continues.

More About Toners

In regard to toners, Dr. Cook-Bolden adds that while they can be helpful, especially for oily skin, to be careful not to overdo it. “Be weary if alcohol is a major [or first] ingredient  [on a label] of a toner and look for natural ingredient astringents, such as tea tree oil, rosewater, or witch hazel [which are less harsh on the skin],” she suggests.

When to Cleanse vs. Double-Cleanse (Hint: Almost Never!)

Now that we have skincare basics down, what about some of those less clear and seemingly established practices.  Most of us deem it logical to cleanse both morning and night, right? It turns out, both aren’t necessary and actually can be harmful to the skin. One extensive night-time cleansing is typically an appropriate ritual.

However, there are a couple of exceptions to the rule. “You do not have to cleanse your skin twice a day especially if you’re dry because you can strip the skin of all the nutrients you received in your night-time regimen,” explains Davidson. “If you have oily skin twice a day would be ideal, using a gentle gel or cream cleanser in the morning.”

If you wear makeup, especially on the heavier side, it is definitely a good idea to double cleanse. Use a balm or cream which are great makeup removing cleansers first followed by a lighter formula gel or foam to make sure everything is removed,” she finishes.

The Role of Facials and Exfoliators

While facials are a pampering (and relaxing) treatment, they aren’t a must for all skincare routines. You can save time (and money) in the comfort of your own home.

“I don’t believe you have to go to a facialist as long as you have the proper products at home that mimic what you would receive at a spa,” encourages Davidson. Trying a facial on your own, like this simple DIY at-home facial which uses ingredients such as baking soda, yogurt and coconut oil is an acceptable substitute.

Exfoliation plays a more important role in achieving glowing, radiant skin. With age, the body takes longer to shed dead skin cells which in turn causes a buildup. This materializes in the form of dull, rough skin, which is where exfoliation comes into play as it helps to unclog the skin of dead skin cells.

“It is important to get rid of the dead skin so new skin can surface allowing your skincare to penetrate deeper. What’s the point of using amazing skincare products if it’s just going to sit on dead skin?” Davidson asks.

The trick to exfoliation? Adjust based on your skin type and apply gently. Sensitive skin is especially prone to redness or irritation from exfoliation and Dr. Cook-Bolden warns against rough exfoliators or harsh scrubbing. “Your skin exfoliates naturally and gentle exfoliation with your hands is usually enough,” she assures.

SPF is a Non-Negotiable for All Women

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Now that your cleansing and exfoliating routine is tightened up, the question remains:  do you wear SPF faithfully? Unless we are lounging at the beach or pool or extremely prone to sunburn, we are probably all guilty of not wearing sunscreen daily. This is, of course, a bad habit for all women no matter the complexion.

One of the biggest myths that Dr. Cook-Bolden and Davidson encounter frequently with clients is the idea that SPF is only necessary on sunny days or that women of color do not need to use it at all. “Although the pigment in darker skin is a type that does a better job at deflecting the sun’s rays, it is not enough for adequate sun protection,” explains Dr. Cook-Bolden.

In addition, Dr. Cook-Bolden stresses the importance of SPF due to the fact that skin cancer is on the rise. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation’s latest statistics, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of a lifetime. “Not only is it vital to use sunscreen to protect against the sun’s rays as the ozone layer thins, the incidence of deadly skin cancers is on the rise in all skin types even in dark skin,” she warns.

Diversify Your Products Based on Need

Your skincare regimen is almost down to a science but what about the products you are utilizing?

Most brands try to sell women a full range of beauty and skincare products to make bank, claiming that certain products work best when used in tandem with another product from the same line.

Davidson shares a little secret with us: “It’s unnecessary as you can mix and match to tailor your specific needs.” The truth is that a moisturizer from one brand may be best for you while a foundation from another is your perfect tone and so on.

Dr. Cook-Bolden agrees that the most important aspect of any product is that it fulfills its purpose for the user and their skin type. “It is common for us to recommend a product that is from a different line or brand if it can be of benefit to an individual patient’s needs.” She points out, however, that the benefit of products from the same brand are that they are developed to work synergistically and can take out a lot of the guess-work.

While skincare is a multifaceted world that hinges a great deal upon specific skin type, the most important aspects remain steady across the board. Working from the inside out, it starts with careful attention to your diet and water intake. Next, work to master your external skincare habits by implementing the advice presented by Davidson and Dr. Cook-Bolden, as well as your own dermatologist who we encourage you to see at least twice a year.

Make-up expert Diandra Davidson recommends a few great products for your face cleansing routine: