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A Beauty Product Formulator Says Your Skin-Care Routine Should Only Take 5 Minutes

Zoe Weiner

Zoe WeinerNovember 1, 2019

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There’s no question that the Internet is a great place for discovering beauty advice, but there’s one problem: All of the tips, tricks, and product recommendations out there can often make it seem like your skin-care routine needs to be 20 steps and two hours long. But I am happy to report that that is simply not the case.

According to cosmetic chemist Lalita Vedantam (… if you’re a skin-care nerd like I am, her Instagram is well worth a follow), all you really need for an effective skin-care routine is five minutes and five basic products: a cleanser, a light moisturizer, an active serum, a heavy moisturizer, and (of course) sunscreen. Here, she lays out the quick, easy routine that anyone can squeeze into their day—plus a few affordable products that can help make it happen.

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Hi friends, ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ Let's talk about how to achieve a good skincare routine in 5 minutes. We're all pretty busy and it's not always easy to find time for a 30 min skincare routine. ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ I've put together 5 steps that I feel are essential in your skincare routine. ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ Step 1 – A cleanser that will not strip your natural oils from your skin. This means it can be either water-based or oil-based. If your skin feels clean and supple, it's probably a good cleanser for your skin type. ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ Step 2 – Apply moisturizer on a damp skin. This step helps seal in moisture right after you cleanse your face. Moisturizer used in this step must be light weight, hydrating, and contain a few occlusives to "lock" in moisture. If you use an essence or toner, ensure that it contains a few occlusives to "lock" in moisture as well. ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ 3. Leave on "active." This is your treatment step. This includes everything from AHAs, BHAs, acne treatments, retinoids and niacinamide. ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ 4. This step is optional. For oily and combination skin types, applying moisturizer again after actives may feel too heavy. If so, skip this step. For all other skin types, if you find that you still need more hydration, use a moisturizer. Your moisturizer for this step can be heavier than the one you used in step 2. This step is very dependent on your skin type. ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ 5. This step is AM only. Sunscreen is THE MOST important part of any skincare routine no matter what your skin type. Look for sunscreens that are labelled "broad spectrum" and are SPF 30 or higher. Reapplication every 2 hours is important to effectively block UV rays from damaging your skin. ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ I hope this was helpful! As always, do what works for your skin type! Let me know if you have any questions or comments! :)

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1. Cleanse: The first step of any routine—morning or night—should be to wash your face. This helps remove any nastiness like dirt, debris, and makeup, and leaves a clean palette for you to apply the rest of your products to. Vedantam is a fan of CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash ($13) to get the job done.

2. Apply a light moisturizer: Next, Vedantam suggests putting on a light moisturizer, like CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($17) (which derms love), on your still-damp skin to “disrupt the lipid barrier,” which makes the following actives absorb more effectively. This step also helps lock in moisture and prevent water loss. Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides in whatever formula you go for.

3. Use an active serum: This is the real meat of the routine, as concentrated active ingredients are what will make the most difference in your skin. The type of active you’ll use here will depend on a number of factors, including your skin concerns, the time of day, and what other products you’re using, but this is where your antioxidant, retinoid, or hydroxy acid would go in your routine.

4. Slather on a heavy moisturizer: Lock in all of that ingredient goodness with a moisturizing cream (“heavy” meaning that it’s heavier than the one you used in step two) like Garnier SkinActive Moisture Rescue Face Moisturize ($7). Vedantam says this step is optional, as you may be getting enough hydration from your light moisturizer and sunscreen, but listen to your skin to see what it needs.

5. Load up on SPF: “The most important step in any skin-care routine is sunscreen,” says Vedantam, and we (along with every other dermatologist and beauty pro on the planet) agree. Sunscreen protects against UV damage, which staves off early signs of aging and, more importantly, skin cancer. Try La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-in Sunscreen Lotion ($60), or one of these derm-approved picks.

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