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What every skin care routine should have, no matter your skin type

Dr. Debra Wattenberg brings protective skin care into the conversation with TODAY Wellness.

The winter months are already harsh on our skin — combine that with the way our lives have changed over the course of the past year, and there are bound to be some complications we weren't quite expecting. From "maskne" to general irritation, our skin is in desperate need of repair.

Though we're preparing to welcome spring in just a few short weeks, we'll still be dealing with dry indoor air, a lack of humidity and likely as a result, breakouts, until it arrives. What your skin needs is a skin care routine — and you need to stick to it.

No idea where to start? Dr. Debra Wattenberg shared everything you need to know during a TODAY Wellness segment about all things skin care, no matter your skin type. Skin care regimens don't have to be an elaborate, multi-step process — keeping to the basics is often the best way to get glowing skin. Wattenberg designed easy-to-stick-to skin care routines for acne-prone skin and for dry/combination skin that only use five products each.

Dermatologist-approved skin care tips:

  1. Consistency: It's important to remember that your skin requires consistency, Wattenberg says, so you should expect to see results in about six to eight weeks after revamping your regimen.
  2. Order matters: The order of application is important. Always apply your products from thin to thick. Therefore, you should apply serums (liquids) before lotions and creams.
  3. Habits make perfect: The habits you create have a huge impact on your skin. Skin care routines help your skin function at its best.
  4. Five is the bare minimum: Regardless of your skin type, your skin care routine should include at least 5 products.
  5. Your skin needs supplements: Active ingredients, which can be found in products such as serums, oils and even prescription medicines can be your supplement, depending on your skin.

If you've been sticking to face wash and moisturizer as a means of taking care of your skin, you might be wondering why you should take the leap to add more products to your lineup. Wattenberg did all of the legwork, so you can shop these no-fuss skin care products and get ready to glow.

Acne-prone skin care routine


Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

If you struggle with acne, Wattenberg recommends a cleanser with salicylic acid, such as this one from Neutrogena. The non-comedogenic formula won't clog your pores, but penetrates them for a deep cleanse in order to help prevent future breakouts.

CeraVe Vitamin C Serum

Wattenberg calls serums "the work horse of your regimen." Since they are often packed with high concentrations of heavy-lifting ingredients, they can get to work by hydrating, restoring and protecting the skin.

Cetaphil Pro Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30

Dealing with oily skin means straying away from ingredients that can make it worse. Wattenberg recommends choosing oil-free products and avoid ingredients like petrolatum, oils and coconut oil. Cetaphil's oil-absorbing moisturizer is hypoallergenic and is formulated with micropearl technology that helps absorb oil, reduce shine and leave a matte finish.


Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

Wattenberg recommends Differin as a PM serum or retinol. A prescription-strength retinoid, it helps clear breakouts and prevent future ones by regulating cell turnover and alleviating inflammation. It is meant to be applied once a day and even doubles as an anti-aging product.

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

This nighttime moisturizer is oil-free and is the last step in the skin care routine. It is formulated with skin-loving ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, essential ceramides and niacinamide, which help restore and protect the skin's natural barrier overnight.

Dry/combination skin care routine


CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

People with dry skin should opt for target ingredients that will help tackle this specific issue, Wattenberg says. She recommends adding hyaluronic acid into skin care regimens for dry skin. "Skin care is very personal and you need to treat accordingly," Wattenberg said.

La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C Face Serum

Serums should be applied before you start moisturizing. Wattenberg recommends this vitamin C serum from La Roche-Posay to help protect your skin against the elements. Ten percent of the formula is pure vitamin C, which helps boost the appearance of the skin while also improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30

This bestselling moisturizer features SPF 30, making it a perfect layer of protection to put under makeup or to wear alone. The oil-free formula moisturizes the skin with ingredients such as niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.


Olay Regenerist Max Hydration Facial Moisturizer

This facial moisturizer is what Wattenberg deems as a serum in the nighttime portion of the routine. It's packed with key ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin B3+ that absorb into the skin without leaving a greasy feel.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

If you have dry skin, Wattenberg says you should consider switching from lotions to creams when it comes to moisturizing. La Roche-Posay's creamy moisturizer provides up to 48 hours of hydration, and can be applied to both the face and neck.

Mask irritation problem solvers

Dealing with chapped lips? Breakouts on your chin? Wattenberg has a few easy fixes to minimize irritation. Aside from wearing a clean mask each day, skipping makeup and opting to clean your masks with something other than detergent, your skin care products can also help get your skin back in shape.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment Advanced Therapy

Wattenberg says she always carries Aquaphor ointment to protect her lips and irritations around her nose while wearing a mask. The Petrolatum-based formula is thick enough to protect, but light enough to allow for air flow.

Bioderma Hydrabio H2O Wipes

For a quick cleanse on the go, Wattenberg recommends using these wipes from Bioderma after you remove your mask. The beauty brand also makes this Shop TODAY editor–approved makeup remover with a similar formula.

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