There’s no shortage of skin care advice on the Internet, but most of it requires a trip to Sephora and a good chunk of your paycheck. It’s like the whole web is saying: sure, you can have glowing skin, but first you’ll need this very particular cream, or a trip to your dermatologist’s office, or a hex from your local witch.
We’ve been hard pressed to find priceless (key word: easy) tips outside of drinking more water or prioritizing exercise (ugh). More often than not, there’s just not enough time to take in every article, tweet or info-graph. Some of it requires more effort than our schedules allow. And a lot of it is just way too complicated to unravel. So, we put all of our hope into an overpriced product, hoping it will solve our problems overnight. Spoiler alert: it never ends well.
Regardless of where your routine falls on the spectrum of minimal to extreme, we can guarantee you’ve spent money on at least one product without knowing if it actually worked. We’ve all been there; it’s the unfortunate downside of figuring out what works for you.
But because we’re all about kicking bad habits, there’s no better time than the present to attempt a skin care makeover without breaking bank. Yes, we’ll be hitting the gym and aiming to get our eight hours of sleep every night, but these expert tips are worth incorporating into your daily grind, too.
Limit Your Cleansing
Less work for better results? This one’s a doozy. According to Alana Riviera of Etta+Billie, her skin has never been happier since deciding to wash her face just once a day.
“I wash my face at night to remove makeup and dirt with a gentle cream cleanser, then apply a solid face oil,” she says. “In the mornings, I rinse my face with lukewarm water, pat dry, apply a serum and a facial moisturizer. Try it, it’s a game changer.”
Practice Self Awareness
Oftentimes, we’re in such a rush to fix our skin problems, that we don’t take the time to really listen to our bodies. Claire Zhao, co-founder of Amareta, recommends slowing down and realizing that above all things, your skin care journey is a personal one. Ultimately, you may find that your physical challenges are linked to an emotional or mental setback, thus completely changing how you alleviate the problem.
“Get more in tune with your body, as our bodies respond to every little thing going on in and outside of us,” she says. “Skin is an organ that tells a lot about our bodies’ overall wellness. Spend some time everyday to connect skin health with how you generally feel physically and emotionally on that day. You will become more aware of changes that are taking place.”
To that end, you may find that it’s best to support whatever change you’re going through instead of trying to cover it. Zhao says, “for example, anything that occurs right before your period, such as cramps, breast tenderness, blemishes, bloating is considered pre-menstrual syndrome.”
We tend to use pills or makeup instead of testing what works best for us individually. “Limiting salt, caffeine, and cutting out sugar will help reduce skin and body’s water retention, thus reducing bloating…Find comfort in knowing that there are things you can do to support your skin.”
Shorten Your Shower
Few things are more satisfying than a long, hot shower; especially in the dead of winter. However, doing this everyday can actually strip your skin of its natural oils. According to Dr. Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, Director of cosmetic dermatology at South Shore Medical Center and Consultant for HydroPeptide, “showers should be lukewarm and no more than 10 minutes. When you get out of the shower, pat your skin dry and moisturize immediately.”
Slay in Your Sunnies
The winter sun may not be as bright, but UV rays are still running rampant year-round. Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip says to “always wear your sunglasses. The skin around the eyes is the thinnest skin our on bodies and is very susceptible to damage from UV rays. Wearing sunglasses will help prevent fine lines and wrinkles as well as skin cancer.”
Be Mindful of Application
Just as K-beauty experts recommend patting instead of rubbing in skin products, Imahiyerobo-Ip recommends a similar method that won’t pull at the skin.
“Apply skin care products in a circular, upward motion. This allows products to be absorbed more effectively and also helps stimulate collagen production.”
Turn Down the Heat
Those subzero temps will soon arrive, which means your heat bill will be going all the way up. But like a hot shower, it’s also one of the sneakiest ways to dry out your skin. This time around, keep the house a little cooler and if you have a humidifier, utilize that instead.
“Portable humidifiers or those that work with your heating system put moisture in the air that will be absorbed by your skin and hair,” says Imahiyerobo-Ip.
Master the Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Okay, this one sounds way fancier than it actually is, but we promise it’s worth practicing. According to Monastery founder Athena Hewett, products are just one part of keeping the skin supple and youthful. She and other estheticians also recommend the lymphatic drainage massage, a technique that energizes and moves toxins out of the face. You can visit a professional to have this done, but it’s just as easy to do at home.
“Press on your lymph sites; there is one located between your brows, one on each side of your nose, one on each your temples, and two above your lips,” says Hewett. “Press and roll on these areas. While you are there, give your face a little massage. Massage from the outside of the face towards the nose. Relaxing tense muscles helps them to work better in the long run. Healthy muscles fight gravity and hold your skin up nice and taught, so give them a little love.”
Get Into Ice Cubes
After you’re done taking that lukewarm, ten minute shower recommended by Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip, create the illusion of firmer, glowy skin by rubbing ice cubes on your face. According to Hewett, “cold water tightens the skin by bringing blood to the surface.”
Just remember to put a barrier on the skin first, like a cream, oil or even yogurt from the fridge.
Put In What You Take Out
Yes, drink your water and exercise, but be cognizant of the balance between your water intake and water loss. According to Dr. Helen Knaggs, Vice President of Global Research and Development at Nu Skin, having more or less of either one is what contributes to dry skin.
“An inadequate skin barrier will increase transepidermal water loss (TEWL), where water passes through the skin into the air,” she says. “This is an invisible and unnoticeable phenomenon that differs from sweat which can be seen and felt. TEWL can be measured and is an indicator of the skin’s barrier function.”
Selecting products that contain a combo of humectants, emollients and occlusive ingredients obviously help maintain a healthy level of moisture. But before you can think about buying anything, get familiar with your day-to-day water habits and see if you can make any adjustments there.
Who says skin care has to be complicated? These tips are almost impossible to mess up.
A version of this article was originally published in November 2017.