How to Build a Nighttime Skincare Routine

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Learning how to care for your skin can feel overwhelming. For example, you may be buried under a pile of conflicting information about how to treat a skin condition. Or perhaps you feel intimidated by the twenty-five-step nighttime routines on YouTube. Maybe you need a step-by-step guide to skincare or a nighttime routine. The bottom line: you want to take care of your skin, but don’t know where to turn. No worries. Start here!

What You Will Learn

In this article, we will examine the core elements of a solid nighttime skincare routine and common skin conditions. You will learn a step-by-step process for caring for your skin using simple, powerful, and affordable products. (If it is possible, I recommend you work with a trusted dermatologist to tailor these steps according to your specific needs). Let’s get started!

1. Cleanse

There are two types of cleansing: using face wash and oil-based cleansing. I recommend picking one or the other, and not combining them.

Face Wash

Face washes can easily be found at most grocery stores. They include detergents that remove oil, dirt, sweat, makeup, etc. The most basic face washes with the least amount of chemicals are preferable, as they are less likely to irritate your skin. Cetaphil, for example, is an excellent, gentle face wash with minimal ingredients. Using face wash is pretty straightforward: wet your face, apply the face wash, rub it around, and wash it off.

Oil Cleansing

In science class, did you ever hear the phrase “like dissolves like?” That is the secret to oil cleansing. Here’s how it works: our skin produces oil, which can clog our pores and cause acne. However, not all oils clog pores. There are some oils, like castor oil, hemp seed oil, and jojoba oil that are unlikely to clog pores and also have nutritional value for the skin. When applied to the face/neck, these oils will dissolve the oil buildups in our skin that clog our pores, leaving the skin clean and moisturized. Oil dissolves oil. It sounds counterintuitive, but it works. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Apply a quarter-sized dollop of castor oil to the palm of your hand.
  2. Add jojoba and/or hemp seed oil until the mixture is as thin or thick as you like it.
  3. Smear it onto your cheeks and rub it all over your face. (If you are wearing eye makeup, rub some into your brows and eyelids).
  4. Drape a hot, wet washcloth over your face and massage the skin with it as it cools.
  5. Use the washcloth to wipe the oil off your face.
  6. Repeat with just jojoba and/or hemp seed oil if desired.
black woman with towel applying cream on face
Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

If you do not want to buy separate oil products, or if you want the benefit of oils but prefer the simplicity of a face wash, you might like Mountain Rose Herb’s Lemon Face Wash. It is a delightful botanical cleanser with organic coconut, jojoba, and olive oil, as well as aloe, organic lavender hydrosol, and red clover extract.

Why Oil-Cleansing?

Oil cleansing not only cleans the skin, but it also nourishes it. For example, castor oil is high in ricinoleic acid, which helps prevent moisture loss in the outer layers of the skin. It also removes makeup, sweat, and sunscreen like a dream. Jojoba oil and hemp seed oil are soft, lightweight oils that contain fatty acids, and will leave your skin silky smooth. You can also add other oils to your oil cleanse, including tea tree oil and manuka oil, which kill acne bacteria, and pomegranate seed oil, which contains antioxidants that fight aging. You can learn more about oil cleansing here.

2. Exfoliate

woman with towel on head after shower
Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

Exfoliation is the process of sloughing off dead skin. You can exfoliate the skin all over your body, but for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on the exfoliation of the face. Exfoliation keeps the skin bright and primes it to absorb additional products. You don’t need to exfoliate every night. Working it into your nighttime routine two or three times a week is sufficient. There are two types of exfoliation: chemical and physical.

Chemical Exfoliation

Chemical exfoliation involves using-you guessed it-chemicals-to exfoliate the skin. The most common chemical exfoliants are retinoids. You can purchase retinoids over-the-counter or request prescription-strength retinoids from your doctor. Apply a small amount to the face and rub it in per the instructions or your doctor’s advice.

Physical Exfoliation

Alternatively, physical exfoliation involves using a rough substance or surface to slough off dead skin. For example, you can gently rub a small handful of salt or sugar on your face and wash it off. Alternatively, you can purchase an inexpensive buff pad to rub on your face with water or face wash. Be gentle, especially if you have open acne wounds. Overdoing exfoliation can scrape the skin and cause it to bleed and dry out.

3. Moisturize

Drinking water keeps our skin moisturized, but sometimes the skin needs a little help topically. The type and amount of moisturizer you should apply depends on your skin type. If your skin is very dry, SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator is a phenomenal product for your nighttime routine. It contains five forms of hyaluronic acid, which is a lubricating substance our bodies produce naturally. One hyaluronic acid molecule can hold a thousand times its weight in water and will rehydrate your skin quickly when applied topically.

Here’s a neat trick: splash your face with water and apply HA5 on top of the water. The serum will absorb the water and disappear into your skin, which will feel softer and plumper almost immediately. You can use HA5 to treat individual dry patches or your entire face and neck.

A more affordable alternative is Cetaphil’s moisturizer for dry or sensitive skin. This rich cream penetrates skin deeply and will soften any dry or scaley spots. A little goes a long way, and an entire tub will last you months. It can be used morning or night and it is generally safe for acne-prone skin.

4. Treat and Protect

white plastic bottle on white table
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Now, in the last step of the process, it is time to specifically address issues such as acne, texture issues, sun spots, scars, and wrinkles. To save product, you can spot treat the affected area, rather than applying product to your entire face.

Wrinkles

Everyone ages, but there is no reason we cannot do it gracefully. You can combat wrinkles by nourishing your skin with antioxidants such as Vitamin C and E, which help your body defend itself from free radicals that cause cell damage.

Leven Rose makes a lovely Vitamin E Serum that combines argan, jojoba, almond, and avocado oils. It blends easily with Zum Eye Butter, a balm full of vitamins and fatty acids that penetrates the skin and stays on all night.

Sun Spots

Sunspots, age spots, dark spots, whatever you want to call them, they suck. You don’t have to live with them though! There are a number of options to minimize them. The simplest is to apply lemon juice to the spot with a Q-tip or cotton pad. Over time, the lemon juice will lighten the pigmented skin. Another option is to see your dermatologist for a chemical peel. Chemicals such as glycolic acid work wonders in brightening the skin and fading dark marks. You don’t have to get a chemical peel to benefit from glycolic acid, however. Glycolic acid pads like these are available online (warning: they make your skin feel like it is on fire, but you’ll get used to it!)

Acne and Scars

If you have active acne, I recommend applying Zit-O, followed by the damn near magic ClearZit Masque to the affected area. I have been using these incredible Tamahra’s Secret products since 2007. Packed with wound healing nutrients, this combination will disinfect and spot-treat acne, soothe irritated skin, and help lighten acne scars. Apply the masque at the end of your routine, on top of any moisturizer, serum, or other treatment you use.

This stuff is magic!

I hope this was helpful! ~Taylor

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