Chances are you're washing your face totally wrong.
Photo: VICUSCHKA / Shutterstock
You probably know that women spend a lot of time (and a lot of money) on their beauty routine. A big part of that price tag comes from skin care. (Anti-aging serums don't come cheap!) But just how much effort and cash, you might ask? Well, the average woman spends $8 per day on her face and uses 16 products before leaving the house, according to a Skinstore survey of 3,000 women from ages 16 to 75. If that seems like a lot, consider your own skin-care routine: When you count everything from face wash to toner, serums, eye creams, foundation, eyeliner, mascara, and more, that doesn't sound so high-maintenance after all. (Related: 4 Signs You're Using Too Many Beauty Products)
That arsenal of products doesn't come cheap, either. The same survey found New York women, in particular, will drop up to $300,000 in their lifetime on skin-care products and cosmetics. (And hey, we believe it: When you're dealing with dry, itchy skin on your face during winter, you'll do just about anything to make it go away.)
If you're spending your hard-earned cash on skin care in hot pursuit of the latest "yoga skin" glow, it makes sense that you'd want to maximize every product you have in your toolbox. Finding the products that work for your skin is a matter of trial and error (and by the way, what you eat affects your skin too). Luckily, there are hacks to help maximize their efficacy—and it doesn't always involve buying the most expensive product. You've heard all the benefits of exfoliation; now learn a few trade secrets to help make all your potions and lotions even more productive.
#1 Always mix oils with creams.
Your skin naturally has a delicate balance of oils and waters, and oil on its own can't penetrate the surface. "Think about a salad dressing—oil and water sit on top of each other," says Anne Yeaton, a licensed medical aesthetician at Terrasse Aesthetic Surgery and Erase MediSpa in Lake Forest, IL. "That's the same thing that will happen on your skin, so there needs to be an agent that can penetrate through that barrier." If you're integrating face oils into your routine, be sure to mix the oil with a cream product that will hold oil as a passenger and draw it into the skin. (P.S. The order you apply your skin-care products matters just as much.)
#2 Don't wash your face with your hands.
Say what? It sounds odd, but listen up: "Cleansers unbind dead skin cells, but the pads of your fingers are too soft to lift them off," explains Yeaton. Instead of going to town scrubbing with your hands, add a pea-size drop of cleanser to a washcloth or even a little square of woven gauze (you can buy on Amazon) to help exfoliate while cleansing, or invest in a Clarisonic facial cleansing brush.
#3 Exfoliate under your eyes.
You know that crepey skin that appears under your eyes more and more with every year? All too well? Yep. The way you're cleansing (or not cleansing) your face might be a culprit. "It's been drummed in your head that under-eye skin is delicate, and it is, but often you're afraid to cleanse that area," says Yeaton. "The reason why most people walk around with wrinkles there is because they don't get that dead skin off, and are just globbing things on top of it."
If the thought of wasting that expensive eye cream you splurged on isn't reason enough, consider the wrinkle prevention you'll be doing by scrubbing (~gently~) under each eye. And the tauter you can get skin while you're cleansing, the better, says Yeaton, so pull each side carefully while exfoliating to help products penetrate better. (Dark circles more your problem? Here's how to get rid of dark under-eye circles for good.)
#4 Don't use your fingers to apply serums.
Your hands can soak up a lot of product before it ever reaches your face, especially in winter when the skin on your hands tends to be super dry. Instead, elongate the life of your serums (and improve their effectiveness) by applying the drops directly to your face with the dropper, says Amy Lind, an esthetician at The Ritz-Carlton Spa Orlando, Grande Lakes. "Use five drops: one on your forehead, one on each cheek, one on your chin and one on your neck/décolletage," suggests Lind.
#5 Wash your face only once a day.
"Cleaning the skin twice a day is excessive because it strips out all the oils from your skin, and oils are what preserve us," says Yeaton. She recommends only washing your face once—at night. Just like the body sleeps to repair itself overnight, so does your skin. That's why it's important to remove dead skin cells right before going to bed, she says. (Related: The Best Anti-Aging Night Creams, According to Dermatologists)
#6 Make eye products do double duty.
Eye serums can be used on the eyelids as a primer or around the lips for early-stage wrinkles—so you don't necessarily need to purchase separate products for each area, says Lind. Eye serums are better than eye creams, she notes, due to their smaller molecular structure, allowing for better penetration into delicate areas. (Related: Multitasking Beauty Products That Save You Serious Time In the Morning)
#7 Don't be afraid of the blade.
Many people think the procedure called dermaplaning is about shaving the "peach fuzz" that covers your face, yet it's actually designed to remove the outermost layer of dead skin—the stratum corneum—that will majorly open up your pores to receive all the delicious skin care products you slather on, says Yeaton. Though there are YouTube videos out there showing how to do it at home, this is one skin-care routine that's not meant to be DIY. "The blade has to be held at a specific angle, or you're just getting hair, so you want to be going to someone who's been trained on how to do it properly," she says.