‘Intuitive Skin Care’ Will Change the Way You Care for Your Complexion

Photo: Current State / Well+Good Creative
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Emily Parr goes through her skin-care routine up to five times a day. Of course, like the rest of us, she does it when she wakes up in the morning and before bed at night. But if she goes on a morning run, spends the afternoon at the beach, or heads to an evening hot yoga class, she'll do the whole thing all over again. And each time, the process looks a bit different.

"By no means am I telling people that they should be using six or seven steps—my typical skin-care routine is three steps, but I'm using a different cleanser each time I wash my face," she says. In the morning, for example, she'll use a hydrating cleanser and a serum; after a workout, she'll exfoliate and use some vitamin C, and eye cream; and her nighttime routine is totally different depending on what her skin needs on a given day.  "Those are three different routines incorporating a totally different set of products," she says.

Experts In This Article

This idea that your routine should be flexible instead of stagnant informed the creation of Parr's new brand, Current State. The 'intuitive' skin-care line is all about listening to your skin, and launched with nine products—three cleansers, two moisturizers, and an eye cream—that are meant to be used interchangeably depending on the state of your complexion at any given time.

How to practice intuitive skin care

Because your skin's needs can change based on factors like your diet and the weather, having an arsenal of different products allows you to adapt your routine to account for these shifts. "Let's say you went to a Greek restaurant last night and you were like, 'Screw it. I'm having the feta cheese,' knowing that you're probably gonna have a mini breakout later in the week," says Parr. "This is not a skin situation—or a skin state—that you need to run to the dermatologist for. Instead, you should have an arsenal of products that you can swap around to tackle any skin concern that comes up."

In order to properly practice intuitive skin care, it's important to understand how each product works and when it should be used in your routine—which means education is key. "The best way of understanding skin care and your skin-care needs is by looking at the ingredients and making sure that you understand what each ingredient does," says Parr. While many retailers only list and explain two or three key ingredients, State of Skin lists eight to 12. "I'm not just going to call out the benefits of strawberries and probiotics—I'm going to call out the functional, intuitive ingredients in the product, because that's the only way you're truly going to know what it does for your skin.

To make the education process as straightforward as possible, each of Current State's product boxes have little icons that signal what the ingredients do. "I thought about how, when you go to many restaurants these days, you look at the menu and they've got a little key on the bottom of the menu with symbols that denote vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free," says Parr. "I was like, 'How can I take that and apply it in a way that makes sense for this brand?'"

With that in mind, she came up with the brand's six "skin food groups" (listed above) that are core to any solid skin health routine. Skin-identical hydrators hydrate and strengthen the skin; cell-communicating ingredients like retinoids and peptides that guide skin cells and remind them of what they need to do to function their best; non-fragrant plant oils moisturize without causing irritation; vitamins nourish; and exfoliants sweep away dead skin and debris.

A good routine includes all of these elements, but with Current State, how you mix and match them throughout the day (or week) is up to you. "This isn't about a brand telling you this is what you need and this is why you need it," says Parr. "You know what you need and we're gonna give you the tools—you are your own best skin expert."

Keep reading to learn about all nine of the brand's products and decide which ones are right for your routine.

Current State cleansers

A blue bottle of Balancing Gel Cleanser.
Strawberry + Probiotic Balancing Gel Cleanser — $14.00

This gentle cleanser has a gel texture that foams up nicely when you add water. It heroes strawberries, which deliver astringent properties that make pores look tighter, plus probiotics to keep your barrier balanced and hydrated. It also includes marshmallow root extract to calm skin and reduce redness along with aloe and glycerin to keep skin hydrated and prevent potential dryness and irritation that the cleansing agents can cause. Finally, grape seed oil moisturizes while balancing dry and oily patches.

A bottle of Exfoliating Cleanser.
Salicylic + Green Tea Exfoliating Cleanser — $17.00

In moments when you need a deeper clean, opt for this exfoliating face wash. Its two main ingredients are salicylic acid (which reduces breakouts by unplugging clogged pores) and green tea extract (which calms redness and irritation while protecting against free-radical damage). The formula also includes a blend of exfoliating AHAs and antioxidant-rich fruit extracts, and will keep skin clear without disrupting its barrier.

A bottle of Melting Cleansing Balm.
Sunflower + Oat Melting Cleansing Balm — $20.00

Hate scraping your cleansing balm out of a tub? Well, Parr does too—which is why she decided to package hers in an easy-to-access tube. “That’s not a natural texture for oil—there are ingredients that give it that really hard waxy texture that I just am not a fan of,” she says of the typical tub formulations. “So we use a sugar molecule that binds to the oils and it creates this jelly-like consistency.” In this formula, sunflower seed oil dissolves makeup, grime, and daily debris while oat kernel extract soothes and calms while strengthening the skin barrier.

Current State serums

A bottle of Hydrating Serum.
Hyaluronic + Arnica Hydrating Serum — $18.00

Lightweight yet hydrating, this serum can be used alone for those with more oily skin or layered under moisturizer for anyone who needs more hydration. Hyaluronic acid draws water into the skin and plumps fine lines, while antibacterial arnica flower extract calms acne-related redness and irritation. It’s also got aloe and glycerin to kick its hydrating properties up a notch, plus quinoa extract to restore skin barrier function and boost collagen production.


A bottle of Brightening Serum.
Vitamin C + Super Greens Brightening Serum — $20.00

Although this vitamin C is only $20, Parr wanted to make sure customers really get the bang for their buck. So instead of using a high concentration of L-ascorbic acid (which is the cheapest form of the ingredient), she opted to use lower concentrations of two other, more expensive vitamin C derivatives (3-glyceryl ascorbate and 3-o-ethyl ascorbic acid). “The derivatives are the most stable, so they’re the most active,” she says. The formula also includes a blend of antioxidant-rich leafy greens to reduce signs of visible skin aging, plus Kakadu plum seed oil, which is naturally rich in vitamin C and helps brighten skin discoloration while smoothing fine lines.

A bottle of Renewing Serum.
Retinol + Marula Renewing Serum — $22.00

Designed for nighttime use, this serum is made with 2.5 percent encapsulated retinol which allows it to penetrate deeper into the skin layer before its activated. Then, the skin can better reap retinol’s line-smoothing, skin-firming, complexion-evening, and radiance-boosting properties. The formula also has ingredients that smooth skin, even tone, and hydrate like marula-seed oil, kojic acid, and aloe, respectively.

Current State moisturizers

A tube of Lightweight Gel Cream.
Aloe + Algae Lighthweight Gel Cream — $15.00

This lightweight gel cream is perfect for those with combination or oily skin. The star ingredient is aloe, which provides a surplus of hydration while also giving the product a refreshing tingle that I love. The formula also includes an antibacterial algae (called spirulina) to reduce breakouts, horsetail leaf extract to minimize the appearance of pores, and a slew of hydrating ingredients like glycerin, cacao, and jojoba seed oil. Just keep in mind that you’ll want to limit yourself to a thin layer of product—laying it on thick may result in pilling under SPF and makeup.

A photo of Mega Moisture Cream.
Bamboo + Amino Mega Moisture Cream — $18.00

This mega-moisture cream will drench parched skin with hydration—but that’s just the beginning. In addition to hydrating heroes like aloe and glycerin, it offers skin-firming, discoloration-fighting, anti-inflammatory, and brightening benefits thanks to ingredients like chia, sunflower, carrot, and camu camu.

Current State eye cream

Firming Eye Cream
Peptide + Caffeine Firming Eye Cream — $17.00

Last but not least is the firming eye cream. It’s made with a peptide complex that mimics the effects of injectable neurotoxins (ahem, Botox), plus caffeine to reduce puffiness, tighten, and smooth. Coconut water, aloe, and glycerin provide lightweight moisture while mango seed butter, jojoba evening primrose, and rosehip oils provide thicker moisturization. Finally, a blend of acai extract, acerola fruit extract, amla extract, and rice extract provide antioxidant protection from environmental stressors.

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