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Healthy skin doesn't necessarily require a 10-step regimen or convoluted routine.
"A complicated skin care routine is not the key to healthy, glowing skin," explained Dr. Debra Wattenberg, a New York City-based dermatologist. "Rather, the key is creating a skin care routine that is geared to your skin type and skin issues. If a 10-step routine works for you and it makes you look and feel good, there is usually no harm but for most of us it's too complicated, too expensive, exhausting and unnecessary."
Another problem with complex routines? They can be too "one-size-fits-all," without accounting for individual features like skin type. "Simple is usually better," Wattenberg said. "It's more cost-effective and usually sustainable."
"Most skin types can generally follow a routine of three steps in the morning and three in the evening," Wattenberg explained. The three steps she recommends are:
- Target specific skin issues
Wattenberg stopped by TODAY to share a few of her favorite products and tips for finding the right products to fit your individual needs.
Cleansers are an important part of a skin care routine, but according to Wattenberg, people don't always apply them correctly.
"It's best to first wash your hands using soap and water, and then use about the size of a dime amount of a gel or cream face cleanser, or about one pump of a foam cleanser, directly onto your clean hands," she said. "Rub together and massage the cleanser onto your face. Rinse with fresh, warm water, and pat dry."
If you're already a skin care expert, you can use a specialized electric brush or cleansing cloth to up your routine — but your own two hands work just as well.
Cleansers for Normal Skin
Wattenberg recommends this jelly-textured gel cleanser from Drunk Elephant. Perfect for removing makeup without drying out skin, it's free of harsh chemicals and works on most skin types.
This gentle soy cleanser from Fresh is a Sephora bestseller. With soy proteins that aim to remove all traces of skin and dirt, it can powerfully clean without stripping essential moisture from the skin.
Wattenberg recommends using the same products for evening use.
Cleansers for Dry Skin
With tiny lipid spheres that remove makeup and dirt, this micellar water from Kiehl's leaves skin feeling soft and hydrated.
Wattenberg recommends this nondrying cleanser, which has hyaluronic acid that helps cleanse and moisturize skin. Fragrance-free, it's perfect for sensitive skin.
This oil- and soap-free gel is great for most skin types. It gently removes dirt and makeup but doesn't leave skin dry or irritated. Instead, it locks in moisture for long-lasting hydration.
Cleansers for Oily Skin
This mild cleanser won't clog pores or dry out skin while it works to improve tone and texture. Oil-free, it leaves skin soft, smooth and even-looking.
Wattenberg recommends this cleanser for acne-prone and oily skin because of its salicylic acid, which destroys acne-causing bacteria and offers a refreshing finish.
This clarifying cleanser exfoliates and minimizes breakouts, and helps balance skin's moisture levels.
Wattenberg also recommends keeping the Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser in your evening routine.
Targeting skin issues
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According to Wattenberg, targets are products that contain active ingredients used to target a specific skin area. Most products are highly concentrated and work under a "less is more" approach. For serums, you'll usually just need one or two pumps to create a thin film of active ingredients. If you're using a cream or gel, try starting with a pea-sized amount and dotting it over the surface of your face in small amounts before spreading it and rubbing it into the skin.
Products for Normal Skin
This potent serum from Drunk Elephant uses vitamin C to help with uneven skin tone and make skin firmer. Packed with antioxidants, it's a great treat for your skin.
Wattenberg recommends this vitamin C product, which is high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and helps improve pigmentation while preventing fine lines and wrinkles.
This night cream visibly reduces the look of lines and wrinkles while you sleep. Full of retinol and an essential mineral complex, it claims to leave your skin smoother and more youthful.
Providing 48 hours of moisture and radiance, these lightly scented drops are great for those with dry or combination skin.
This retinol serum helps tackle and repair the appearance of wrinkles and makes skin look visibly younger in just one week.
Products for Dry Skin
Wattenberg recommends this serum, which is full of hyaluronic acid, to improve hydration and plump the skin.
This gel from Skinceuticals also has hyaluronic acid and helps restore and retain moisture.
This instantly absorbing face oil combines vitamin C, turmeric and evening primrose oil to brighten and hydrate skin.
This serum immediately quenches and refreshes skin, delivering high levels of hydration and helping skin glow.
Products for Oily Skin
"This is a great anti-acne product that contains benzoyl peroxide and lipohydroxy acid to fight blemishes and acne-prone skin," said Wattenberg.
This serum works with the skin's natural renewing process to visibly reduce wrinkles.
This over-the-counter acne treatment both clears and prevents blemishes and regulates skin cell turnover to fight the main causes of acne, like clogged pores.
You only need to apply a quarter-sized amount of moisturizer or sunscreen to your face, according to Wattenberg. For full-body application, try using about the same amount that would fill a shot glass.
Moisturizers for Normal Skin
Wattenberg recommends this moisturizer, which contains a blackberry complex to help fight aging.
This cream infuses skin with high-potency vitamin C to fight visible signs of aging and provide powerful antioxidant support.
With hyaluronic acid, this cream provides 24-hour hydration.
Moisturizers for Dry Skin
This multi-action moisturizer helps delay signs of aging and offers protection from the sun's harsh rays.
"This product is fragrant free (and) contains a fabulous SPF for every day," said Wattenberg. The product uses green tea and niacinamide to calm inflammation and goes on smooth without clogging pores.
This ceramide-rich treatment cream uses moisture to help heal, mend and soothe dry or damaged skin.
"For those with sensitive skin, this product is great," said Wattenberg. "It's hydrating and fragrance-free and won't irritate your skin."
This cream works overnight to actively manage sensitive skin and soothe redness and irritation.
Moisturizers for Oily Skin
Wattenberg recommends this oil-free sunscreen for those with acne-prone skin.
"This water-based, hyaluronic acid-containing moisturizer is great for hydration without leaving a greasy residue on the skin," said Wattenberg.
This unscented moisturizer uses micropearl technology to absorb surface oil and reduce shine without clogging pores.
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