Beauty junkies everywhere, it's time to take a hard look in your medicine cabinet. If you're anything like me, you’ll probably find several products that you haven’t used in months, ranging from cleansers, to treatments, eye creams, exfoliants, and "do-it-all" magic potions. And, even though it's hard to let go of products that you spent your hard-earned cash on, if they're just taking up valuable real estate in your home, they're not worth keeping. Ahead, I've laid out six essential steps — the same streamlining process I tell my celebrity clients — to zone in on your skin care essentials.
Step 1: The Line Up
Pull out all of your skin care products — yep, that means body care products, too! — and set them on a table.
Step 2: The First Cut — Dates and Labels
Inspect each product and think back to when you purchased it. If it's been more than two years — which is generally how long products are safe and effective to use — or, if you can’t remember when you purchased it, toss it. At the very least, look at the packaging. If the label is peeling or wearing off, that may be an indication that the product is old and is no longer effective. For your next skin care purchase, write the purchase date with a marker on the bottom of the jar or bottle so you won’t have to rely on memory.
Step 3: The Second Cut — See And Sniff
With the products that are left, open each one and smell them. Keep in mind, some products may not have strong preservative systems and therefore may have altered over time. If it smells strange, if the ingredients are separating, or if the consistency appears to have changed, get rid of it. Then look at the product. If the product ingredients are separating, it has changed consistency, or it just doesn’t look right, toss it.
With the remainder of the products leftover, determine if each product is a good fit for your skin. If you pay close attention, your skin will always tell you if a product that you're using is beneficial. Do you like the way it feels? Does it make your skin appear brighter, or more refreshed? Get rid of anything that feels irritating, leaves your visage tight or dry, or causes unnecessary redness. When in doubt, an aesthetician can offer professional advice to make sure your routine is appropriate for your skin's individual needs.
Step 5: The Fourth Cut — Check Your Ingredients
Even if you determine your products are compatible with your skin type, certain ingredients may not give your skin the best results over time. In my professional opinion, it's best to beware of the following ingredients, which may be cause more harm than good in the long-term: mineral oil and petrolatum, which can be pore-clogging and occlusive to the skin; SD alcohol 40 and denatured alcohol, the “bad” alcohols commonly found in toners, which are very drying; Isopropyl Myristate and Isopropyl Palmitate, which may cause blackheads; synthetic dyes and fragrances, which can irritate skin and cause allergic reactions for sensitive skin; sodium or ammonium laureth/lauryl sulfate, which are extremely drying and irritating to the skin and commonly found in cleansing gels; apricot kernels, or seed/shell powders, as naturally-made particles like these that are found in facial scrubs can scratch, irritate, and even break the skin, causing bacteria to spread.
Step 6: Be Realistic About What You'll Actually Use
Now that your collection has narrowed significantly, make sure that you have the essentials: Every skin care routine should include a cleanser, toner, daytime moisturizer with SPF, nighttime moisturizer, and a facial scrub. Products that are in good condition — and, ideally one with pumps so your fingers do not have to come contact with the product — that you won't be using make great donations to friends or to a local women's shelter, who are always in need of beauty products. With the products you are keeping, read over the directions for usage, and be consistent! You've likely spent a lot of money on these products, so put them to good use to get beautiful, healthy skin!