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One of the most important ways to achieve the best skin of your life is to follow the fundamental rules of great skincare.

Be consistent. For best results, a great skincare routine should be used regularly. Some products you may use once or twice daily, others every other day, or once a week, but consistency is the key. 

Apply products in the right order. This is more important than people think. For example, sunscreen should be the last skincare product you apply in your morning skincare routine before you apply your foundation and the rest of your makeup. This is very important so as not to dilute the sunscreen with other skincare products. It’s skincare details like this that are vital to getting the best results from the products you choose and use.

Don’t expect instant results. There are products that can have dramatic, even overnight results, but they are the exceptions. It takes time for most products to really make a difference, and maintaining those results requires ongoing and regular use.

For example, products to brighten skin and create an even skin tone can take three to six weeks to begin showing positive outcomes (assuming they are well formulated and you are also using sunscreen every day).

Products that are meant to protect and replenish skin and to defend it against signs of aging and other problems may show instant hydration and smoothness, but the long-term significant underlying benefits will take years to see. 

Using sunscreen every day helps protect skin from the serious consequences of sun damage, and you’ll see a dramatic difference in skin tone and dull skin rather quickly when you start using it daily. But the real long-term benefit of using sunscreen daily will become astonishingly evident later in life when you compare your skin to the skin of friends who didn’t protect their skin from the sun. Then you will be thrilled that you followed our advice.

Your skin must be “nourished and fed” daily. As you age, and mostly because of sun damage from not wearing an SPF 30 or greater every day, your skin cannot naturally replenish the substances it needs to be healthy. Great skincare products give those substances back to the skin. We cannot stress this enough!

Skin-replenishing substances get used up quickly and must be resupplied on a constant, daily basis, twice a day. Don’t cheat your skin by not giving it the indispensable ingredients it needs to maintain a beautiful, healthy appearance, now and for years to come.

Skin doesn’t renew itself only at night. We hear this repeatedly, “skin renews itself only at night” and needs special ingredients that it doesn’t need during the day—it isn’t true. All of our skincare woes are happening all day long, whether from the environment, daylight, aging, health problems, or midlife changes. Skin needs help, day and night, to renew itself and minimize more problems from taking place. Also, there is no research showing that there are skincare ingredients your skin needs at night that it doesn’t need during the day, although during the day, the important skincare ingredients must be accompanied by sun protection.

One product can’t do it all. All skin types (especially if you have multiple concerns) require a variety of products to give you the best skin of your life. For some people, basic core products you need for every day (i.e., cleanser, toner, exfoliant, sunscreen for daytime, and moisturizer at night) can be all you need to take the best care of your skin. But if you have special skin concerns, such as very dry skin, advanced signs of aging, extremely oily or extremely combination skin, uneven skin tone, among many other concerns, you will need to address those with specialized products designed for that specific problem.

For issues like skin brightening, advanced sun damage, enlarged pores, clogged pores, dehydrated skin, rough skin texture, or acne, your basic core skincare routine will likely not be enough. Layering targeted solution products specially designed for your specific skincare concerns will be the optimal way to get the best results possible from your skincare routine.

Regularly use a leave-on exfoliant. The benefit to your skin from using a gentle leave-on exfoliant with AHA or BHA can be astounding and can show immediate results. Helping skin naturally shed the build-up of dead surface skin without any abrasion or harsh scrub particles can make all the difference in the world. The feeling of smoothness you will experience from the first day you start using it will surprise you. Keep in mind the cause of the build-up of dead surface skin doesn’t go away permanently rather an AHA or BHA exfoliant is a maintenance step that you must apply consistently to take excellent care of your skin.

And do not use an abrasive scrub or rough cleansing brush. The scraping of these causes creates negative consequences that can make many skin concerns worse.

Do consider a retinol and/or niacinamide product. There are so many reasons to apply a well-formulated retinol or niacinamide product it’s hard to know where to begin. We will focus on retinol and how it relates to specific skin types and concerns later, but for now, just know that both these skin-restoring ingredients help all skin types be healthier, unclog pores, smooth skin, and improve the appearance of wrinkles and bumps.

Of course, the skin needs more than anyone or two ingredients can provide, but retinol and niacinamide are two of those ingredients with special properties that work for everyone, and the results can be amazing, over the short term and the long term. 

Pay attention when your skin changes. There are all sorts of things that can cause your skin to change seemingly overnight. Many women are aware of how monthly changes affect their skin; others experience skin differences when midlife changes start taking place. Seasonal weather variances, traveling to different climates, and extreme emotional stress can all affect your skin negatively.

Given that most people’s skin is not static, it is often necessary to adapt your skincare routine accordingly. For example, even if you never have had a bump or oily skin growing up, midlife changes or just cycle changes can make your skin react in a completely new way. If that happens, you’ll need to reconsider the skincare products you are using and change to products that are appropriate for your new skin type. That may mean you need to create an entirely new skincare routine, but far more typically you just need to add one or two products to what you are already using and/or stop using one or two products in your routine.

Everyone needs the same vital ingredients to obtain healthy, younger, smoother, even-toned, former-looking, and bump-free skin. This is another fundamental aspect of skincare we must emphasize. All skin types—and we mean ALL skin types—need the same critically important skincare ingredients to have the best skin possible. These ingredients include antioxidants, skin-restoring ingredients, and skin-replenishing ingredients. Each of these is mandatory, and we mean imperative if you are to obtain the best skin of your life; we explain why in detail later throughout this book.

Balance the needs of your skin type with the needs of your skin concerns. By skin type, we mean how oily, dry, combination, or sensitive your skin is. Skin concerns are signs of aging, uneven skin tone, loss of firmness, clogged pores, blemish-prone skin, redness, and sun damage from not using sunscreen daily (sunscreen is always part of the picture).

Your skin type determines the texture of the products you use. Whether a cleanser, toner, exfoliant, moisturizer, sunscreen, or specialty formula for specific concerns (such as serum, boosters, targeted solutions, or masks), the texture of the product (rich cream or lotion for dry skin and gel, lotion-gel, fluid, or liquid for normal to oily skin) will again make all the difference in the world.

So, while everyone’s skin needs the same fundamental ingredients—antioxidants, skin-restoring ingredients, and skin-replenishing ingredients—everyone should NOT be using the same type of texture in their products. 

If you have dry skin, using a matte-finish product will make your skin drier; if you have oily skin, using an emollient moisturizer will make your skin feel oilier and potentially clog pores. This is a very basic concept, but many companies and women don’t realize it.

Know your skincare concerns. Separate from knowing your skin type (normal, oily, dry, or combination), you need to identify your specific skincare concerns, such as uneven skin tone, clogged pores, bumps, the appearance of wrinkles, loss of the feeling of firmness, sun damage from not wearing sunscreen (and how advanced that damage is), and so on. These concerns will determine what types of products or additional specialty products you need. Balancing the basic core skincare products you need for your skin type with the specialty products you need for your skin concerns are the pieces of the puzzle you need to put together to create the best skincare routine just for you.

Layering products is often the best way to take care of your skin. While it is possible to maintain and achieve great skin with a relatively simple skin-care routine, that’s only true only if you have few or no multifaceted skin care problems or concerns. If you are not one of those lucky people, then layering products with beneficial formulations specifically for your concerns is often the key to obtaining the best results.

Specialty products for advanced skincare concerns, such as complex signs of aging, more pronounced oily skin, temperamental skin, extremely dry skin, bump-prone skin, clogged pores, and many other problems, will require a more advanced skincare routine with solutions that work synergistically with the other products in your basic core skincare routine.

Sunscreen. By the end of this book, you will surely be tired of hearing this, but nothing is as vital as sun protection. Despite the abundant research showing how damaging unprotected sun exposure is and how tanning causes irreparable harm to skin, less than 20% of the population wears sunscreen on a regular basis and far less know how to apply it correctly or that wearing sunscreen but still getting a tan is devastating for the skin. That’s why we keep repeating this because so many haven’t gotten the message that sunscreen and being sun smart is a cornerstone of getting the best skin of your life now and forever!