The Beauty in Simplicity: Letting go of Skincare products that don't serve you

Lisa Bova

Minimalism is a philosophy that I have practiced for years. I have very few possessions, and you won't find many knick knacks strewn about my home. As frivolities disappear, there is a clear sense of just how few things are actually needed to thrive and live richly. Naturally, I approach skincare formulation for Arcadian Winds Beauty with this same stripped down philosophy, and that is giving skin everything it needs without anything it doesn't.

During my years as an esthetician I found that, aside from prolonged sun exposure, most damaged and compromised skin was a direct result of product overuse. Our skin is an incredible organ with built-in protection components that takes pretty darn good care of itself. Very few ingredients are needed to to combat the signs of aging and tackle most skin concerns. Provided is a guide to minimizing your skincare arsenal and sorting through the vast wilderness of skincare products to determine just how many of those "must haves" are in fact, not worth having.

First, the good stuff. If your home skincare collection contains several of the following products and ingredients, consider yourself one savvy skincare consumer!

  • Night time prescription strength Retinol: Not only is retinol the gold standard for anti-aging, it also virtually eliminates the need for harsh chemical peels or AHAs. This Vitamin A derivative keeps skin continually shedding dead skin cells for clear and vibrant skin.
  • A moisturizer or treatment product with Essential Fatty Acids: You may know these as Omega Fatty Acids and they work to balance skin. We don't always get these through diet, so it is important to topically receive this nutrient density with formulas containing these nourishing oils that lock in moisture for slow evaporation.
  • A moisturizer or treatment product with Hyaluronic Acid: Our modern world forces us to combat not only personal stresses, but environmental ones. Skin's hydration is compromised resulting in dry, lackluster skin. Humectants works wonders to bring back the plump and radiant look of healthy, and none work better that HA.
  • A moisturizer or treatment product with Antioxidant Protection: So important in the preservation of skin, and not just from an anti-aging standpoint, but from a structural one. Oxidative stress can actually break down skin components. Vitamin C and other high potency antioxidants are irreplaceable for healthy skin.
  • SPF 50: Every. Single. Day. Rain or shine.
  • A Gentle Cleanser: Preferably an oil cleanser or one that uses minimal surfactants. Cleansing is the foundation to which the rest of your routine is built on. It's an integral step for making sure skin is free of dirt and debris and imperative for keeping skin clear and smooth in texture.

Now onto the stuff you don't need. Clear that skincare shelf of anything that is not serving your skin. Marketing is powerful, and not always indicative of useful products.

  • Toners and Astringents: Pretty sure we all know these are useless, right? A toner's purpose is to bring the skin pH "back down" to a normal 5.5, or so. To suggest that the pH even has to be brought down indicates that something is making it go up! This something, of course, would be a cleanser containing harsh surfactants that's kicking your pH way up to the 9 or 10 range, or high alkaline. Using a gentle cleanser that doesn't disrupt the skin's pH eliminates the need for a toner all together.
  • Expensive Cleansers: Speaking of cleansers, no marketing ploy gets my goat more than a cleanser claiming to be anti-aging. These tend to be high in price due to that tagline. Here's the thing, cleansers are on the skin for about a minute before being rinsed off. No ingredients are being left behind to go to work on the skin, and all those expensive ingredients go right down the sink. If you're paying more than $20 for a cleanser, you are paying too much.
  • Pore Shrinking topicals or strips: Having performed hundreds of extractions in the treatment room, I'm pretty confident in saying that blackheads are stubborn little suckers that require a lot of schmoozing before they'll come out. Steam and enzymes are used prior to loosen the compaction and soften it's contents. Then, you have to apply just the right amount of pressure at just the right angle to extract. Pore strips are doing no more than Scotch tape would, lifting only dead skin cells and debris. Also, pores don't shrink, so be weary of any product that claims to do so. Silicone based pore minimizing formulas found in makeup primers work best as a quick fix, but there just is no permanent topical solution for this issue.
  • Creams for Every Body Part: While I agree that the skin around the eyes and neck is a bit different from the skin on the face and crave richer consistencies, to treat every body part separately is just goofy. The neck and chest don't require different products. The hands and feet don't require different products. If you feel like slathering your eye cream all over your elbows, go for it. Just avoid interchanging your prescription retinol and lip treatment and you should be fine.
  • Products with Inferior Labels: A label is really all you have to look at to identify quality skincare. I know it's hard sometimes to bypass the pretty packaging and flashy design elements of the presentation in order to get to it, but a label never deceives. If the featured ingredient is at the bottom of the list, let it go. If the active ingredients are at the bottom of the list, let it go. If you can't pronounce the first seven ingredients (knowing that is the bulk of the formula), let it go. Filler ingredients are everywhere and provide no real benefit to the skin. Know your ingredients, and know your labels.
  • Too many Oil Controlling Products: A never ending cycle of oil over-production is usually the result of this. We feel like we have oily skin, so we go cray on the oil control products and spot treatments. These super drying formulas typically contain benzyl peroxide and other drying agents that kick your sebaceous glands into overdrive, producing even more oil. Rather than loading up on acid based cleansers, alcohol based pads or wipes, and lotions made for acne, limit your use to just one of these. Also, consider adding some oil back into your routine. Sounds silly, but it will balance out oil production.

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