Cleansers, moisturizers, toners… oh my? We’ve all been there. Whether it means standing ponderously in the skincare aisle and reading online reviews or ordering every single product in our favorite YouTube star’s 10-step Korean beauty regimen, when it comes to skincare, many of us just can’t stop experimenting.
Because all skin isn’t one and the same, the same products don’t work for everyone — depending on the person, some might even have adverse effects! Before burning a hole through your wallet, consider these 5 tips when adding a new skincare products to your regimen.
1. Add one new product at a time
As tempting as it might be to revamp your whole routine, it’s best to add no more than one new product per week — especially if you’re not sure you’re allergic to anything. If you notice yourself developing dry, itchy skin or breaking out, it’s a lot easier to diagnose the culprit when you’ve only added one new product to your routine, not ten.
Plus, it’s good to give your skin some time to adjust to something new. If you’re starting to use retinoid medications, for example, be sure to ask your dermatologist what you can expect as your skin gets used to the treatment.
2. Do a patch test for allergic reactions
Allergies and skin sensitivities to certain ingredients found in skincare products are common, unfortunately. Fragrances and preservatives are the most common causes of contact dermatitis — the itchy rash you can get when you’re sensitive to something you’ve just put on your skin.
If you know you have sensitive skin or are not sure you have an allergy, do an open application test (or patch test) before introducing a new product to your regimen:
Identify a patch of hairless skin that hasn’t recently been exposed to the sun, like under your forearm or in the bend of your elbow.
Apply the new product to a small area.
Reapply the product to the same patch of skin twice a day for a day and observe for a week.
Short-lived redness for 10-15 minutes immediately after applying the new product is okay — products that contain acids, hydroquinone, and retinol could cause a mild reaction like this. But keep an eye out for a red, itchy, splotchy rash that may develop over the course of the week.
Keep in mind that all allergies start somewhere, sometime. Even if you’re not changing up your skincare routine, keep an eye out for any allergic reactions — it’s possible for your skin to develop sensitivities to products that you’ve used in the past.
3. Dab some on your nose
Worried that your new product will cause you to break out? Then patch test a small amount on your nose.
Because your nose has a ton of oil-producing glands, it’s extremely susceptible to breakouts and blemishes (blackheads anyone?). There’s no better place to test for a product-related breakout. If you don’t find yourself breaking out within a week of testing your new product, you’re probably safe.
4. Check the directions
Simple enough, right? Don’t lather your skin with product until you check the directions for use. You already invested time and money into this new product, may as well try to mitigate any adverse effects and achieve optimal results.
Take note of how much to apply, how often, and when; and check if there are any warnings or precautions too. Some products like Accutane, for example, make your skin more sensitive to UV rays — you’ll have to use adequate sunscreen in the morning
5. Use products in the right order, with the right timing
Double-check your skincare routine to make sure you’re using your products in the right order. To achieve good results make sure you’re doing:
Any kind of prescription medication
If you’re introducing prescription medications, take extra caution to test out what works for you (and talk to your dermatologist!).
For example, when you add any kind of retinoid (Vitamin A creams) into the mix, make sure it goes on 10 or more minutes after you’ve cleansed, toned, and applied serum in the evening. Usually retinoids go on before moisturizer. Moisturizing can help with the dryness and peeling that can sometimes accompany retinoid treatment. But if you have extra sensitive skin, you can moisturize first and then apply the retinoid to dilute it out and reduce its harsh effects.
Skincare doesn’t have to be complicated
If all of this sounds incredibly complex, don’t worry. You don’t need a 10-step beauty regimen to achieve beautiful skin. In fact, the more products you add, the more you have to worry about allergies, sensitivities, and breakouts.
Keep your regimen as simple as possible. One multi-faceted, custom formulation can save you the time, effort, and stress of finding something that works.