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Regina Belmonte's Better Skin in 7 Steps
Regina Belmonte
Published on

When I did an informal survey with my Twitter and Instagram followers on what beauty things they wanted to learn more about, the overwhelming answer was “skincare”. Just that word: skincare.
So for my first foray into skincare discussion, I’ll give you the basics: Your first skincare regimen.
How to create it, what to look for, and in what order it should be applied. Welcome to Skincare 101.

Step 1: CLEANSER

What is it for?
It removes the buildup of dirt and sebum from the surface of your skin.
Is it mandatory?
Um, yes. Cleansing is one of only two skincare steps that I consider a requirement for anyone and everyone.
How often should you use it, and when?
Morning and night. Night, because you don’t want to go to sleep with any gunk left on your face. Morning, because sebum can build up as you sleep and you want to start with a fresh face.
How do you choose one?
If your skin tends to be dry, the last thing you want is a strong cleanser that strips your face of all its natural moisture. If a cleanser makes your skin feel super tight after you use it—squeaky clean is the term—then it’s probably too strong.
How do you use it?
It depends on the formula, but typically, you squeeze a small amount of product into your hands, gently (gently!) lather it onto your wet face, then rinse it off.
iamClaire. Recommends: Cosrx Salicylic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser

Step 2: TONER


What is it for?
It’s rebalances the pH level of the skin and minimizes the appearance of pores.
Is it mandatory?
Nope, but it’s still recommended. You can skip the toner if you’re trying to pare down your regimen.
How often should you use it, and when?
The rule of thumb when it comes to skincare is that you should apply products in order of thickness or heaviness. Toners—typically some of the most watery skincare products—should go right after cleansing, in the morning and evening.
How do you choose one?
Based on the effects you want to achieve. Different toners will contain different key ingredients. Most people who use toners use it to minimize sebum and acne. If this is your goal, steer clear of toners that contain too much alcohol. It can be too harsh and too drying. Skin that’s too dry can go into overdrive with sebum production, bringing all that oil back in full force. The age of astringent toners is over. Look for something antioxidant-rich, with soothing and hydrating properties.
How do you use it?
Toners are typically applied with a cotton ball or cotton pad. You can also use your fingers for thicker solutions. Always use upward strokes. Gravity’s already taking a toll on your skin; no need to help it out.
iamClaire. Recommends:  Innisfree Bija Trouble Skin
Step 3: EXFOLIANT

What is it for?
It sloughs off dead skin cells to reveal a fresher, brighter new layer of skin.
Is it mandatory?
Believe it or not, yes. Dead skin cells on the surface of your skin leave it feeling rough and looking uneven and patchy.
How often should you use it, and when?
Anyone would benefit from using a mild chemical exfoliant daily. It’s probably better to apply it at night if you want to keep your daytime routine to a minimum. Although, if your skin is used to the acid, you can use it in the daytime too.
How do you choose one?
Your choice will be between chemical exfoliants (like AHA and BHA) or physical ones (scrubs). Some scrubs contain abrasive ingredients like crushed seeds or microbeads that tend to irritate and damage the skin. Microbeads are also terrible for the environment. If you really want to use scrubs, use one that’s water-based and limit it to once or twice a week. Mild chemical exfoliants are still infinitely better. Using them regularly will improve your skin’s texture, help you control blemishes and sebum, and make you look luminous.
How do you use it?
With a cotton pad, if it’s liquid. With your fingers, if it’s a little thicker. Again, apply in upward motions, and don’t apply it too close to your eyes.
iamClaire. Recommends: Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Step 4: TREATMENTS

What are they for?
Many, many things. This is the umbrella under which all other products fall. Brightening treatments? Here. Acne treatments? Here.
Are they mandatory?
No. Use as necessary. If you feel like your skin will benefit from its use or if you have a specific skin concern that only a specific treatment can target, then go for it.
How often should you use it, and when?
Daily, for as long as you feel like you need to.
How do you choose one?
Depending on your needs.
Some examples:
Niacinamide will help reduce the appearance of blemishes.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that will brighten your skin. (Never use Niacinamide and Vitamin C at the same time. Use one in the morning and one at night if you want to incorporate both.)
Retinoids are great for anti-aging.
Hyaluronic Acid isn’t a hydrator, but a hydration booster that will help draw moisture to your skin, keeping it fresh.
How do you use it?
As directed, probably with your fingers with—if I haven’t emphasized it enough—upward strokes.
iamClaire. Recommends: It's Skin Power 10 Formula PO Effector
Step 5: SERUM

What is it for?
These nutrient-packed products deliver a concentrated variety of vitamins and antioxidants to your skin.
Is it mandatory?
No, but for those who want to hit many birds with one beauty product, serums are usually the way to go. They incorporate a bevy of skin benefits, and they go on very, very light compared to creams.
How often should you use it, and when?
Once or twice a day. Skincare products are applied by order of consistency: from light to thick. Serums are very light, so after you cleanse, tone, exfoliate, and treat, serums come next.
How do you choose one?
There are so many serums out there that it will be difficult to write briefly and comprehensively about it. Serums are designed to address specific skin concerns. Select one based on the active ingredients it contains, and based on your skin goals.
How do you use it?
Apply sparingly with your fingers. You’ll never need to use too much of the product to achieve the effects, and besides, serums are typically pretty expensive, and come in small bottles. A little has to go a long way.
iamClaire. Recommends: Meishoku Organic Rose Moisture Foam Serum
Step 6: MOISTURIZER

What is it for?
Hydration, hydration, hydration. You want healthy-looking skin? You need a moisturizer. Moisturizer will make your skin feel smoother and plumper, and regular use over time will really improve the way your skin looks. You want to look like you woke up like this? Moisturizer. Fresh to death.
Is it mandatory?
Not really, but it is very much recommended.
How often should you use it, and when?
Daily, morning and night. You can use different formulations for day and night, if you prefer—a lightweight moisturizer in the morning and a heavier one at night. You can opt to use a moisturizer with sunscreen in the daytime, but please note that this is not enough SPF to save you from the sun. It’s just a supplement.
How do you choose one?
Using any moisturizer will be beneficial for your skin. Choose one with a texture that you like, one that makes your skin feel great and doesn’t sit heavily on your face. Choose based on the formula. Do you want a gel moisturizer? A gel cream? A straight up cream? Pick your poison.
How do you use it?
Moisturizers usually go second-to-last in your day regimen, and last for nighttime, because they’re the heaviest. Spread a small amount in your fingers to warm the product, then gently massage or press into your face. (Upward movements only!)
IAC Recommends:  Missha Super Aqua Cell Renewal Snail Essential Moisturizer
Step 7: SUNSCREEN

What is it for?
Sunscreen is the single most important skincare step. It is the best anti-aging cream money can buy, and everyone needs to be using it.
Is it mandatory?
YES YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES.
How often should you use it, and when?
Every single day, in the morning. I know Filipinas are blessed with more melanin, but that doesn’t mean we should slack off on sun protection. You can still get hit by UV rays when you’re indoors, because windows.
How do you choose one?
It’s hard to find a formula you like. Many physical sunscreens leave a bit of a white cast, and some feel too heavy or too greasy. It’s going to be a game of trial-and-error. Check the label for micronized zinc oxide so you can get physical protection without looking like a ghost. SPF30 is a safe number; you don’t really need to go all the way up to SPF50.
How do you use it?
Religiously. You will thank me when you’re 60.
IAC Recommends: Beauté Lab Forever Young Sunscreen with Placenta SPF 45

Leave a comment to let us know how these tips work out for you. And show us your selfie-ready skin by tagging us on Instragram @iamClaireph.