After all the product testing and reviewing—I'd like to think I've curated a great morning and evening skincare routine. But I wanted to make sure. Enter Renée Rouleau, a well-known celebrity esthetician, and Julie Russak, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic and Russak+ Aesthetic Center in NYC. (They both happened to give me the two best facials of my life, by the way.) I showed them both my curated list of products, both for day and night, and explained (in-depth) about my skin.
I went through my routine, from cleansing balm and serums to facial oil and eye cream. Both experts agreed I take great care of my skin (phew) but that I was doing a few things wrong (yikes). In fact, they decided to throw out three of my prized products. Keep reading to find out why.
I've been using the same all-natural cleansing balm, religiously, for the last six months. It smells like a spa and feels so luxe and velvety, and (I thought) it was really great for my skin. Turns out, Rouleau had a different opinion.
"For starters," Rouleau notes, "I love that you wash your face in the morning. A lot of people skip this step because they did their cleansing routine before bed, but nighttime skincare products combined with toxins and sebum (that secrete out of your skin while you sleep) create a barrier that may prevent your morning skincare products from absorbing properly.
"However, the cleanser that you are using is not working for you. The reason for that is because it uses liquid paraffin, a form of mineral oil, which as you know is very rich and greasy. When rinsed off, although it will make your skin feel very soft, it leaves behind a coating that will prevent the skincare products that follow to effectively absorb into your skin." She adds, "Especially because you use serums in your regimen, you want those active ingredients to be able to penetrate into the skin. I would definitely suggest that you wash with a water-based cleanser that can properly clean the skin and create that fresh start."
In lieu of a traditional moisturizer, I've been using a rich facial oil. It's filled with vital antioxidants for the skin and works to soften and smooth. However, both experts pointed out that, paired with my cocktail of serums, the oil wasn't doing me any favors.
"Your facial oil has great ingredients to keep your skin’s moisture barrier intact, which is important for the health and integrity of the skin—especially during the winter. However, you should be using a moisturizer with SPF instead," begins Rouleau. Russak agrees, adding, "The serums add layer after layer of moisture, and applying oil over top may be too much. I suggest using a corrective moisturizer, like SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3 ($110), with a great SPF."
Rouleau continues, "All of this amazing work and effort you’re putting into your skin—using preventative aging serums, etc.—is not going to be effective if you don’t block out the damaging rays. Serums give you one step forward, but then when your skin is exposed to daylight coming through windows in your office, it’s two steps backward if you’re not keeping it protected with a good sunscreen.
"If you like the dewiness the facial oil gives, I would take two drops (at the most) and massage into the palm of your hands and pat, not rub, the facial oil over the sunscreen moisturizer. You never want to mix the oil directly in with your sunscreen because it messes with the formula and perhaps the amount of protection it yields. By patting it on, you can get that reflection of light and dewiness."
For both my morning and nighttime routine, I used the same light gel formula on my eyes. Rouleau suggests, though, I switch it up before bed.
"I like that you’re using a gel eye cream in the morning—they cooling, great for puffiness, and more compatible with eye makeup," Rouleau explains. "But, she continues, "I would suggest using another eye cream at night. Nothing too heavy, but something cream based will lock in moisture better—especially during the winter months."