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Is Toner Pretend? A few words on facial products, and when and how to use them.

The battle with my skin has been a long one. I’ve taken Acutane 3 times. I escaped this hormonal nightmare unscathed, with no acne scars. But despite having such issues with my skin, I have always found it painful to invest in, or even pay much attention to, what products are best for my skin and why…and what I should even do with them once I get them home. It's like I just do nothing just to simplify things!

Sometimes I don’t take the time to do things for myself, and skin care is one thing I have often skimped on…but hello! It’s my face!!!

So I’ve been trying to be regimented and thorough…after all…skin care is a big part of my goal of getting carded at 40! You should play along too!

So let’s break this down like a recipe, with steps and pictures. Pictures are always fun. I’ll use products we actually carry as examples, but to pick something best for your skin, you should consult with your aesthetician.

Step 1. Cleanse.

face wash.jpg


Use a cleanser that’s right for your skin type, and recommended by your aesthetician. I have the T-zone skin and I like Obagi’s Foaming Cleanser and also Elta MDs Foaming Cleanser.

Step 2. Toner.


I’ve never looked that happy spraying toner on my face.

So is toner real? Yes. It basically just helps restore a pH balance to your face after cleansing and before applying product. You can apply it with clean fingertips or even put it in a small spray bottle (if it’s not already in one) and spritz it on.

OK, now what about the serums, the moisturizers, the antioxidants, the SPFs, the eye creams….do you wear them all the time? Which are morning and which are night? What does what? Welll…..a general rule is to start with the thinnest product and work your way up in layers based on product thickness and consistency.

The Step 3s…. (You may not be using all of these all at the same time):



Your serum products will likely be some form of antioxidant. Our favorites are Skin Ceuticals and we have several for different skin types. So why do you need antioxidants and what do they do for you? Antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals, can help speed up the skin's natural repair process and inhibit further damage from UV rays. They can also act as a preventative for further sun damage. So after toning, apply your serum. Serums may or may not be used twice daily, or even every day. It will be specific to your product and your skin care needs.


Retinoic acid is the active form of vitamin A in the skin. Retinoids (you may have heard of Retin-A) increase collagen production, exfoliate the dead layers of skin, reduce visible signs of sun damage, and restore even skin tone. When used properly, you can use it year round, even in the summer.


Products containing this can help lighten visible sun damage, such as brown spots. Prescription hydroquinone can help to create dormancy in damaged pigment, helping to prevent further stimulation of brown spots in the future. We offer a compounded product that is a retinoid with hydroquinone.

So if you're using all three: serum, then retinoid/hydroquinone.

The Step 4s: Moisturizers:


Eye Creams.

Eye creams are generally used day and night. We like Lumiere and Lumiere Riche by Neocutis. They have hyaluronic acid in them and PSP, a blend of proteins that help heal and positively change the skin. They can help visibily lighten dark circles, help diminish fine lines and wrinkles, and reduce puffiness.


In winter you will likely need to moisturize twice daily. Your evening moisturizer will probably be a little heavier than your day moisturizer. And your day moisturizer will likely (a.k.a. SHOULD) contain SPF. We like Neocutis’s Journee for daytime because it not only has hyaluronic acid as a moisturizer, but it also includes green tea as an antioxidant, and contains a zinc based SPF.

Two side notes here on hyaluronic acis and zinc oxide.

Hyaluronic acid: This is a naturally occurring substance in the human body, and it is a lubricant that also draws water to it. It is also the substance that is in fillers like Restylane and Juvederm. In topical form, it provides excellent hydration and collagen stimulation. Make sure you’ve got some of this in your moisturizer!

Zinc Oxide: When purchasing a SPF for your face, look for one with at least five percent of zinc oxide. Zinc oxide creates a physical barrier between your skin and the sun and is not absorbed into the skin like a chemical sunscreen, but rather acts in such a way as to reflect the sunlight away from your skin. It protects against both UVA and UVB (ultraviolet rays), and because it is not absorbed into the skin, zinc oxide is nonirritating and nonallergenic. It also adheres well to the skin, making it less likely to seep into your eyes and give you that terrible burning sensation.

So there. Four steps. Easy peasy. Pull out all your products, organize them (after all it is almost the New Year and we are going to start organizing and cleaning out everything!), and start using them to keep your face looking fresh for your holiday party, for the New Year, or for whatever beauty goals you have (like me and my obsession with getting carded after 40.) :)

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