How To Upgrade Your Skincare Routine for 2017

Skincare experts tell us which products to add—and which you could skip.

We love being nosy and reading about other people's skincare routines, but the sheer amount of products out there is overwhelming. There are so many serums, essences, eye creams, pre-serums, toners...way more than we have time to add to our nightly routine! So, we asked five experts (a dermatologist, organic skincare brand founder, plastic surgeon, Korean beauty expert and an esthetician) what products they recommend most and which could be skipped. Read on for their answers.

Tata Harper, founder of her own high-end, non-toxic skincare and beauty brand

The essentials you can’t skip

It's so important to exfoliate. It removes daily buildup and debris so your skin can be its glowing, radiant best. It can be hard to find the right product, though—many exfoliating products can include particles that are so large or rough that they can actually damage the skin by causing micro-tears, so they can't be used daily, and you can't get the benefits of daily exfoliation. Our Regenerating Cleanser was formulated with Micro-Spherical Apricot Seed Powder so that the particles are not only biodegradable but are also gentle enough for daily use.

What steps you could get away with skipping

I'm a huge proponent of a complete and comprehensive, consistent regimen for the best results. Toners and essences may seem like an easy step to miss, but they help your product penetrate so much better that I think they're a real must-have. If you have to skip something, you can get away with not using eye cream and applying your serum all the way up to your orbital bone. Another time-saving method is skipping your moisturizer, and instead adding a few drops of face oil to your serum, so you still get your daily hydration. Lastly, the skin around your lips is delicate and thin, similar to the skin around your eyes, so if needed you can miss your lip care and apply your eye cream or serum to your lips as well.

Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, board certified dermatologist at Washington, DC’s Capital Laser & Skin Care

The essentials you can’t skip

I find it very important to cleanse the skin (and get all the makeup off) at night before bed, followed by a good moisturizer.

What steps you could get away with skipping

Skip the toner (which most derms agree you don't really need) and "essences" are a marketing thing...[They are] just a serum rebranded as an essence.

Dr. Dara Liotta, MD, a double board certified, facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon practicing in New York City

The essentials you can’t skip

A sprinkle of Botox! Gone (mostly) are the days of the post-injection frozen face, the seemingly emotion-less Botox-bot shopping its way down Madison Avenue. As highly trained plastic surgeons in Manhattan’s upper east side beauty mecca, our needlework is getting much more subtle, “smarter,” and more customizable! Over the past year, I have seen a huge increase in younger patients hoping to incorporate a little Botox into their regular beauty regimen to help prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles, and to set the stage for lovely, natural, beautiful wizening. (I don’t like to say “aging.”) My patients, both men and women, want to look natural, just a little more refreshed and less stressed. They want to be able to express themselves with their faces—to laugh, to get mad, to cry.

Little touches of Botox can be used to raise the eyebrows and open up the eyes, ease smokers’ lines around the mouth, help augment the chin, slim the jawline, smooth both vertical and horizontal neck lines, shrink pores, decrease sweating, and even decrease oil production in the T-zone.

What steps you could get away with skipping

I never got into toners. The idea of a toner is that it is meant to balance the pH of the skin surface. Harsh soaps tend to raise the pH of the skin after use, and toner is meant to bring the surface of the skin back to an appropriate pH. However, gentle cleansers like IXXI Essenxiel Velvety Cleansing Milk not only succeed at leaving a layer of healthy oils on the skin after use, but they do not raise the pH of the skin, and therefore, toners are not needed. I am a fan of simplification!

Step 2: Balance and exfoliate. Discover our range of Lotions P50 for an improved skin texture and increased cell renewal.

A photo posted by Biologique Recherche UK (@biologique_recherche_uk) on

Danuta Mieloch, esthetician and owner of Philadelphia-based Rescue Spa

The essentials you can’t skip

The most important step in your skincare routine is the entire evening skincare regimen. In my experience, most of us do something to our skin in the morning and often forego the evening [steps]. Yet an evening routine is essential because that is when your skin regenerates and rejuvenates.

A proper evening regimen starts with a thorough cleansing (a double cleanse is recommended), gentle exfoliation with your choice of P50 (like a facial in a bottle!), serums, and moisturizer. It works wonders. When you wake up in the morning your skin needs less work and you'll be selfie ready for a #wokeuplikethis photo opp! My must-have favorite product is actually a toner, Biologique Recherche P50 1970. There is no substitute for its multi-tasking properties.

What steps you could get away with skipping

Prescription Retin-A. It is just too harsh. Opt instead for retinols in a milder form. It's hard for me, a skincare devotee, to talk about skipping steps. Keep in mind that not all products are created equal!

Alicia Yoon, founder of East Asian beauty product boutique Peach & Lily

The essentials you can’t skip

The basic building blocks that you really shouldn't skip are the cleansing steps. Keeping your skin clean is really half the battle. A lot of the dermatologists in Korea will say, if you just cleanse your skin properly, don't strip it dry and cleanse down to the pores, half of your skincare problems will be addressed. For that, you really need to do an oil and water cleansing step. The oil-based cleanser is really the only thing that can effectively cast out oil-based things like your own sebum, or makeup or SPF. You really want to use that oil to draw and dissolve those things out, rather than having it clog up the skin. Then follow up with a water-based cleanser that removes all residual residue is also very important.

After that, a great moisturizer to lock everything in, and then SPF. Those are the three that no matter what, you should just never ever ever skip. Once you have your basic building blocks down, you can add those in to really target specific skin concerns or needs. But the first few things are just mandatory. [Yoon says the next steps she would add in are a hydrating toner, essence to get moisture and hydration deep into your skin, and then an eye cream]

What steps you could get away with skipping

I actually think moisturizers are where you can save, because moisturizers are essentially a sealant, and they sit on top of your skin to seal everything in. For me, as long as a moisturizer is good for your skin type and it's not going to make you react and it really helps lock in all that moisture, that's the primary function of a moisturizer. All of the other really great benefits from a moisturizer, you actually can get that much more effectively through serums, which are formulated to penetrate more deeply within your skin. So if I were to pick where do I splurge, where do I save, I actually would save on a moisturizer and spend a lot more on serums.

The Korean beauty routine is not always this thing that requires many, many steps. Korean beauty is about personalization. It's not necessarily about using a lot of steps no matter what. People in Korea don't really walk around saying, "Here's my 10-step routine.” It's not really a thing. For sure, people have more steps than in the States. For example, I have very dry skin and I have eczema. So I have 12-plus steps in my routine. My sister was blessed with perfectly, balanced normal skin, so she has like three to five steps. She's in her late 30s and it's been going great of her. It's really about knowing your skin type and just treating your skin well.

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