Read This Before Changing Up Your Skin-Care Routine

Photo: MCV Photo
In theory, switching up your skin-care routine should be a walk in the park. You swap out your old stash for a cutting-edge new cleanser, moisturizer, and retinol serum — and suddenly you look like a glowier, more even-toned version of yourself. Boom. That's the dream. Sadly, though, that's rarely the case.

You see, changing up your skin-care regimen — if not executed properly — can actually trigger your complexion to freak out. We're talking far-from-fun reactions like peeling, sandpaper-like dryness, and redness (basically, all the stuff you want to steer clear of).

So, to help you safely shift your regimen sans the backlash, we enlisted three board-certified dermatologists to serve up their expert advice on the matter. Keep on clicking for the rundown — something tells us next time you'll think twice before trying three new products at once.

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As tempting as it might be, rehauling your routine and trying a bunch of new products at once is never in your best interest. According to dermatologist Julie Russak, your skin needs time to acclimate, especially to anti-aging products like retinol. She suggests introducing a new product with a few applications a week — then, after two weeks of being in the clear, you can move it up to every night.

Dermatologist Jessica Weiser also notes that patch-testing can be very helpful when trying to gauge whether a product will work for you. "It's helpful to test on a sensitive skin site, such as the inside of the wrist, for a few days prior to applying directly to the face, neck, or chest," she says. This lowers the chance of inducing a bad reaction on a more visible surface like the face.


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While you may sail through those first two weeks with few to no problems, don't go wild and add in even more products. "Switching too many products at once can make the skin reactive," says dermatologist Francesca Fusco. "Then [if you have a reaction], you don't know what the culprit is." Trying too many anti-aging products at once (i.e., retinol plus glycolic cleansers plus chemical peels) is a prime example, as it can lead to unwanted dryness, Dr. Fusco explains.
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Pretty-smelling products are lovely and all — but they won't do your face any favors. According to Dr. Russak, you should steer clear of perfumed products when switching things up in your routine. "If your [new] regimen includes several highly fragranced products, a reaction may develop," she explains.
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What works wonders for one complexion may wreak havoc on another. Take retinols, for instance: While normal skin can handle them in stages, Dr. Russak says sensitive skin should not introduce them as its first anti-aging product (she suggests SkinCeuticals Retexturing Activator instead).

To be safe, and to find out what products will work in conjunction with your skin type, Dr. Weiser highly recommends seeing your dermatologist. "If there is significant uncertainty, speak to a dermatologist who can help you cater your skin-care products to your personal problems and needs," she says.
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You might not think much about what you mix together on your face, but here's why you should. "It's important to know if your products interact with each other — for example, tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide neutralize each other when applied simultaneously, yet still cause compounded dryness and irritation," says Dr. Weiser.

Additionally, Dr. Russak doesn't recommend using glycolic acids and retinol at the same time because together they can be too aggressive. You should also never wash with a harsh, oil-stripping cleanser while using retinol, she adds, as it will make the skin more sensitive. And, both Dr. Fusco and Dr. Russak suggest smoothing on a hyaluronic-acid-based moisturizer before applying your retinol, which will help to buffer any sensitivity.

If you're still confused about which products to use (or layer together), seek out your derm. (That's what they're there for!)
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