I’m a Dermatologist and This Is Exactly How Many Steps Should Be in Your Skin-Care Routine

Looking at the bottle-heavy shelfies that dominate Instagram, it's easy to believe that, when it comes to skin care, more is more. But according to board-certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, that's not necessarily true. In fact, all you need for an effective facial regimen is six steps—three in the morning and three at night—which means you're about to get a whole lot of space cleared up on those bathroom shelves.

Derms will tell you that using too many product at once can actually compromise your skin barrier, and ultimately lead to issues like dryness and acne. So in order to keep skin healthy, you really want to make sure you're slathering on the right products, and nothing more. The best way to do this, says Dr. Gohara, is to think of your routine as being "protective" in the morning and "restorative" at night, and choosing products that will help achieve those goals.

First things first, you're going to want to start with a cleanser in both the a.m. and in the p.m. to clear away any grease and grime from your skin. In the morning, you'll want to apply products that will stave off environmental damage from things like pollution and UV rays, so antioxidants and SPF are key. At night, it's all about rebuilding and nourishing your skin barrier, which means you should reach for ingredients that stimulate collagen and contain skin-similar lipids to help support the barrier. To find out which products to use, check out the video above, in which Dr. Gohara breaks it all down for you. Then say hello to more money in your wallet and more time in your day thanks to your new and improved (and seriously pared down) skin-care routine.

These are the products that Dr. Gohara uses in her own skin-care routine, plus the serum that she calls the "little black dress" of her regimen

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