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3 Tips To Simplify Your Skin Care Routine (Without Losing Benefits), From A Derm

Hannah Frye
Author:
January 11, 2024
Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
By Hannah Frye
Assistant Beauty & Health Editor
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more.
Woman applying post shower skin care
Image by Ani Dimi / Stocksy
January 11, 2024
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Every beauty professional has their nonnegotiable steps. In our series, Like a Pro, we tap experts for the top three techniques they absolutely swear by. Here, you'll hear from a variety of industry insiders on the fail-safe tricks they always keep in their back pockets. We're all about simplifying your beauty regimen wherever you can, and sometimes the best routines are as easy as one, two, three.

Seeking a simpler skin care routine? As someone who has interviewed countless dermatologists, estheticians, and cosmetic chemists, I'll let you know that's an expert-approved pursuit. 

However, trimming your routine should be done with intention and nuance to ensure benefits like brightening, tightening, and hydrating don't get tossed out the window too. Below, find some expert advice on refining (but never downgrading!), your beauty shelf: 

1.

Look for combination products 

First up: Look for products that boast more than one benefit. "A combination product, meaning one that has multiple active ingredients, is a great way to simplify a skin care routine by reducing the number of steps," says board-certified dermatologist Julia Schwartz, M.D., FAAD

This will also help you limit excessive product layering, she adds, which can lead to pilling (aka, when tiny bundles of product gather like lint on the skin). 

For example, if you're seeking hydration and brightening, look for a serum with antioxidants (vitamin C, astaxanthin, etc.) and powerful humectants like hyaluronic acid or glycerin. 

Just don't take matters into your own hands and mix powerful actives like retinol and chemical exfoliants. Otherwise, you may spark some irritation or render them both ineffective. A pre-combined product already did the legwork for you, and they're specifically formulated to be combined.

A few noteworthy combination products include the Acaderma Star Light Spot Corrector Serum that works to eliminate texture and ease hyperpigmention, The Ordinary Soothing & Barrier Support Serum, which soothes redness and hydrates, or The Organic Skin Co. The Good Oil, which delivers antioxidant protection and locks in a dewy finish. 

2.

Invest in treatment steps 

"If I were going to put my money and time into any skin care topical, I would definitely choose a retinoid, like tretinoin," Schwartz says. 

Tretinoin is a prescription-only retinol formula, with a similar goal to over-the-counter options (ease fine lines, treat acne, banish discoloration, etc.) but delivers a stronger concentration, which may deliver more noticeable results. 

One perk of prescription-only retinols is that they can be customized for your skin concerns—meaning one person may have 0.25% retinol, while another may have 1%, depending on their skin sensitivity and concerns. Some formulas even have additional ingredients, making them combination products too. 

For example, Ro (a direct-to-patient healthcare company) offers Custom Rx, a "compounded topical treatment" that can be custom-made with other noteworthy skin superstars, like niacinamide, vitamin E, and ceramides, Schwartz explains.

If you don't want to go the prescription route, there are plenty of great options OTC too—here's a list of our eight favorite picks right now

3.

Optimize your topical routine before opting for devices

Schwartz notes that at-home skin care devices, like microcurrent tools and LED light therapy, can certainly improve skin health (so a worthy step if you can handle commitment), but they shouldn't be your first priority. 

"If the goal is to simplify your routine, you'll get more bang for your buck by using active topical ingredients in the form of serums and creams rather than expensive and time-consuming devices," she says. 

Consider beauty devices an extra step if you decide to level up, not something you desperately need to round out an effective, minimal skin care routine. 

And remember: Your skin care routine doesn't have to be the same night after night. You can opt for skin cycling or just keep extra products (masks, devices, peels, etc.) for special occasions or when your skin needs a refresh. 

The takeaway

If you want to simplify your skin care routine, start by looking for combination products that contain more than just one benefit to your skin. For the major treatment steps like retinol, consider that a place to invest in a higher-quality product. Finally, keep beauty devices in mind as an option, not a necessity, for glowing, healthy skin. Here, learn even more about building a minimalist-friendly routine

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