5 Essential Skincare Steps & the Details You Need to Get Started

Written On November 2, 2020

Cleanser

The right cleanser for you may not be the right cleanser for me.

Cleansing is the most important step in the beginning of any skincare routine, day and night. The right cleanser will gently clear dirt, oil and harmful bacteria from your skin so that you have a clean canvas to apply your next steps. Unfortunately, not all cleansers are created equally, and some may not be suitable for everyday use. Not to mention everyone’s skin is different—even members of the same family. The wrong cleanser could be to blame for red, irritated skin, for excessive dryness or even for breakouts.  But don’t fret—with a little trial and error and guidance from a dermatologist, you’ll soon be able to identify which everyday cleanser best suits your skin type. 

Mix it up.

So you’ve found your staple cleanser and you’re thriving…congratulations! But did you know that alternating between another cleanser can bring additional benefits to your skin? For example, your everyday cleanser should be hydrating and gentle, leaving your skin calm and moisturized, whereas your “once-in-a-while” cleanser should be formulated to drive cell turnover. These types of cleansers are often formulated with chemical exfoliators. Common examples include alpha and beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic, lactic and glycolic acid. While these acids function differently on a cellular level, they’re generally all recognized for their brightening and clarifying properties. 

*It’s important to speak with a dermatologist before using chemical exfoliators to ensure the ones you’ve selected are right for your skin type and will not cause adverse reactions with other products you’re using.

Dr. Kademian’s Cleanser Recommendations:

Everyday Cleansers

Avène Mousse Cleansing Foam

Avène’s Cleansing Mousse is a great everyday cleanser for most skin types, including those with sensitive skin. 

SkinMedica Facial Cleanser

Great for all skin types, this gentle cleanser washes away dirt and oil but leaves skin feeling hydrated and also helps to reduce inflammation. 

Avène Micellar Water

This gentle, no-rinse micellar water is great for removing makeup and is extremely gentle on skin. 

Brightening Cleansers

*In general, these are good choices for those with combination,  oily or acne-prone skin. Note that these products may be too drying for some skin types, however guidance from your dermatologist may allow you to benefit with appropriate, directed use. 

Revision Brightening Facial Wash

Formulated with alpha and beta hydroxy acids and brightening botanicals, this face wash from Revision is an office favorite for gentle exfoliation. 

French Girl Vitamin C Polishing Wash

Dr. Kademian recommends periodically mixing French Girl’s facial polishes with a gentle cleanser to add grit for routine exfoliation. 

French Girl Charcoal Wash

This charcoal facial cleanser is gentle and purifying, which is great for anyone who is acne-prone but also has sensitive skin.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a workhorse antioxidant that improves photodamage, corrects uneven pigment, improves skin texture, brightens the appearance of skin and even protects against ongoing sun damage. It’s worth noting that some Vitamin C formulations can cause minor irritation in some people, however most people tolerate it very well.

Vitamin C comes in many different forms, but not all forms are created equally, and molecular structure can make a difference in tolerability and efficacy.  While there is ongoing debate about whether Vitamin C is most effective as a serum or lotion,  Dr. Kademian has found high-performing products with both formulations that she recommends to patients. Vitamin C can be applied both day and night, but if you’re just starting out, it’s best to apply in the morning directly after cleansing the skin.

Dr. Kademian’s Vitamin C Recommendations:

Vérité Glow Serum

Dr. Kademian’s curated Vérité skincare line includes a Vitamin C serum with 15% L- Ascorbic Acid that is formulated with Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid. This combination increases the efficacy of Vitamin C. 

Revision C+ Correcting Complex 30%

Revision’s lotion containing THD Ascorbate — both a potent and stable form of vitamin C — is an incredible brightener and sun damage corrector.

SPF

You should be wearing SPF every day, even in the winter months or on cloudy days. Wearing a reliable SPF is the best way we can protect our skin from sun damage, which can lead to sun spots, premature wrinkles and skin aging, and of course, skin cancer! So which sunscreen offers the best protection? Dr. Kademian’s advice is this:

The best sunscreen is the one you’ll actually wear.

If you don’t like how a sunscreen feels or looks when it’s on, you simply won’t use it. Finding the right sunscreen may take some time, but once you’ve found it, you’ll never look back.

What to look for

When beginning the selection process, look for a moisturizer with at least SPF 30 and broad spectrum protection (also called UVA and UVB protection). Dr. Kademian favors physical (also called mineral) sunscreens, with titanium dioxide and zinc because they eliminate the need to apply chemicals to your skin for sun protection. 

Dr. Kademian’s SPF Recommendations:

EltaMD UV Clear

It can be incredibly difficult to find physical based sunscreens at a reasonable price that aren’t white and pasty, but EltaMD’s zinc-based sunscreen is affordable and goes on clear for a lightweight, flawless finish — and it’s even available in a tinted version.

Colorescience Sunforgettable Brush-On Sunscreen

This full-mineral formulation is great for reapplication throughout the day — so much so that Dr. Kademian likes to always have one on the go!

SENTÉ® Invisible Shield Full Physical

This sunscreen is purely physical, goes on clear and absorbs quickly for a weightless feel on your skin. 

HUM Nutrition Here Comes the Sun

Worried you aren’t getting enough Vitamin D? Enter: Hum Nutrition Vitamin D3. These high-potency softgels have you  covered all year round, so you never have to feel bad about protecting your skin from the sun. 

Retinol

A Vitamin A derivative, retinol is one of the most recommended, studied and scientifically proven anti-aging products on the market and should be added to your skincare routine as early as possible. When used properly, retinol helps minimize pore size, works to prevent blemishes, corrects uneven pigment, and helps to plump the skin and stimulate the production of collagen. 

The biggest mistake of introducing retinol

Many different concentrations of retinol exist, but when you first add this product to your skincare routine, it’s best to start with a low concentration used only a few times per week, however we recommend consulting your dermatologist when you begin using retinol. People often use too much too quickly, resulting in excessively red, dry skin, and then they give up on the product. While peeling and irritation do occur when you first begin using retinol, it should be mild and tolerable…and means it’s working! Overtime, your skin will adjust and you’ll be able to use retinol regularly without any irritation. 

*Only apply retinol at night as it is deactivated by sunlight and makes your skin sun-sensitive. Cleanse skin thoroughly each morning (often a gentle cleanser is best), and make sure to apply sunscreen! 

Dr. Kademian’s Retinol Recommendations:

SENTÉ® Bio Complete Serum

SENTÉ® offers an effective retinol serum (which is also available in a stronger cream when appropriate) in conjunction with moisturizing technology that helps skin adjust with less drying and peeling. 

Emollient with hyaluronic acid, ceramides & peptides

After applying retinol, you’ll want to make sure the skin is adequately moisturized. The most effective moisturizing ingredients on the market are hyaluronic acid, ceramides and peptides. If your skin tends to be dry, use a moisturizer in the morning as well, applied right before sunscreen.

Hyaluronic acid is a natural component of collagen, which we lose as we age. It aids in preventing epidermal water loss and keeps skin plump and moisturized. 

If skin cells are bricks, then ceramides are the mortar that holds those bricks together. When the mortar breaks down, ceramides are lost and skin becomes dry, irritated and sensitive. If you have dry skin, you likely have a ceramide issue! Applying ceramides to the skin daily can help prevent epidermal water loss and combat dryness. 

Finally, peptides are the building blocks of collagen. Peptides are amino acids that are essential for healthy skin, and when applied topically, can reduce fine lines and wrinkles and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. 

Dr. Kademian’s Moisturizer Recommendations:

Vérité Plumper

Verite’s hyaluronic acid-based plumper provides both immediate and lasting moisturization to the skin and is the product Dr. Kademian applies to her skin each night after retinol. 

Avène Cicalfate Restorative Cream

Avene’s water-in-oil cream is a great option for those with dry or sensitive skin who prefer a thicker moisturizer that won’t clog pores and cause breakouts. Proteins, copper and zinc sulfate as well as Avène’s thermal spring water are the building blocks that restore and repair the skin. 

Vérité Youth Needle Free Serum

One of Dr. Kademian’s all-time favorite products in her store, this serum packs a powerful punch with copper, proline, lysine, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide to reactivate the production of  collagen and elastin while improving existing wrinkles and preventing new ones from forming.