You’re probably thinking you’re about to slip down a rabbit hole, but skincare doesn’t need to be complicated. It only feels like it is because we’re bombarded by product ads, and at least two-thirds of the internet, by this point, is consumed by beauty blogs.
Really, though, a good skincare regimen comes down to doing a few basic things every day.
Moisturize like it’s your job
The struggle with dry skin in the winter is real. You don’t even need to spend that much time outside to know that. A good moisturizer is your first line of defense. You’ll find them at every price point. Look for one that’s oil-based, as opposed to water-based, because it’ll be better at retaining moisture. And use a separate facial lotion on your face. Body lotions are prone to clogging pores on the face. Apply both right after you step out of the shower in the morning and then, if needed, before you go to bed.
Slather on the sunscreen
Yeah, I know it’s below freezing outside and about to sleet again, but UV rays can damage your skin year-round. So, find a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and apply it to your face, ears, neck, and hands—basically, any exposed skin—a half-hour before you head out in the morning and then again every few hours. If you find a moisturizer you like that doubles as a sunscreen, score! Just make sure it provides enough protection.
Pay special attention to your face
When it comes to your face, a shower isn’t enough. Excess oils and dirt build up on your skin over the course of the day and night, clog your pores, and ultimately lead to a breakout. So, wash your face before you go to bed with a mild-foaming facial cleanser or a milk-based one. Then, while your skin’s still damp, apply some moisturizer to lock in the moisture. If you want to take it a step further and try a mask, avoid the clay-based kind and opt for one advertised as “deep hydrating.”
Avoid hot baths and showers
I know; most mornings, the thought of a steaming, hot shower is about the only thing that’s going to pull you from your toasty blanket cocoon. But that hot water degenerates lipid barriers. Basically, you’re disarming your body’s own system for sealing in moisture. Think of it this way: A shower or bath that’s merely warm carries the added bonus of adding a few minutes to your morning because you probably won’t want to be in there as long. So, when it comes to a beginner’s guide to skincare, there’s that, too.
Start seeing a dermatologist regularly
If you’re 30 or older and you’ve never been to a dermatologist, schedule an appointment. Once you finish reading our beginner’s guide to skincare, it’s time for a full-body skin exam. A dermatologist is also going to be able to teach you how to do a skin check on yourself, which is important, because melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, is almost completely curable when it’s caught in its earliest stages.