Yes, skincare is where it’s at—BUT HOW DO YOU START? I got you, boo!
Skincare is one of my favorite things, but it can also be one of the most intimidating subjects if you’re new to it. So that’s where this post comes in!
So sit back, relax, and get into this skincare education! Make sure you bookmark this post and share it with your homies.
NOTE: you might be here because you asked me to recommend products for your skincare routine. This post will help you to understand why my answers are usually so general.
Figure out your skin type.
Knowing your skin type is key to figuring out which products are better to use in your routine. Note that your skin type can also affected by the seasons—you might need lighter products in the warmer months and even more hydrating products in the colder months. Your skin type can also change as you age—for instance my skin isn’t as oily at 38 as it was in my teens or in my 20s.
You can get a general idea of what your skin type is by taking this quiz from esthetician-backed skincare brand Rene Rouleau.
Skincare Routine Basics.
A basic skincare routine is to cleanse, treat, and moisturize (plus protect with sunscreen during the day). Your skincare products can change slightly from day to night. Likely you’ll use the same cleanser, but your treatment products and moisturizer may change. This is for a number of reasons. One is because some skincare products/ingredients shouldn’t be used during the day. Another reason is because the skin goes through a renewal process at night and you might use “heavier” products at night to help aid in this process.
Here’s a chart you can pin or print out to help you figure out the order to use your products.
Here are some blog posts to read about starting a skincare routine as well as a few on my own skincare routine and how it can change with the seasons:
click on any title to head over to the post
Serums and Other Treatment Products.
Do you NEED a treatment product? Maybe. It depends on your current skincare issues. Treatment products are always going to depend on what your current skincare needs are—and your needs can and most likely will change.
Serums are a type of treatment product. It’s an overall category of products that have a similar consistency. There are serums for hydration, serums for brightening, serums for dark spots, serums for acne, serums for wrinkles, etc. Serums are typically very fluid although some may be watery and some may even feel sticky. Because of their consistency, serums are able to penetrate the skin in a way other product forms cannot. For example, look at the consistency of a serum and how it sinks into the skin. Now compare that to a moisturizer.
READ: A Refresher on Serums
Typically serums are used daily (but make sure you read the product’s instructions to be sure), but there are other treatment products you might not use as often. This can include masks, peels, and acne treatments. You want to refer to the directions on these for how often you should use them.
Routine exfoliation is important because cleansing alone can’t get rid of things like excess dead skin cells that sit on top of the skin’s surface which can block your shine literally. Excess gunk on your skin can also clog your pores which can lead to issues like acne.
You can read more exfoliation in the linked post and videos.
Adult acne. PHEW. I’ve written so much about it that I’m just going to give you the links and skip the summary…lol.
Dark spots are SO annoying. But I also have some intel on how to get rid of them for you, so click below and get your life, boo.
I also have a series on my Youtube channel where subscribers come on and talk about how they got rid of their dark spots. Check it out below:
When it comes to figuring out WHICH treatments are good for getting rid of dark spots, check out this video I did with Dr. Alexis Stephens.
Listen, you need to wear sunscreen during the day. The sun’s harmful rays are the biggest culprit behind the breakdown of collage, the protein in the skin that helps keep it snatched. Not only that but if you’re dealing with dark spots, or melasma, the UVA rays (the aging sun rays) can actually make it worse! Plus some skincare products make the skin more sensitive to the sun. And most importantly, you need protection against skin cancers. I used to lead with this, but there are so many people who tune this out and don’t listen to anything else I say after it. So now I lead with the cosmetic reasons :/
While people with deeper skin tones may not get skin cancers as often as our white counterparts, it progresses at an alarming rate. Why? Because we’re not as inclined to check our skin for signs of skin cancer and neither our many of our care providers.
In order for you to wear sunscreen, you have to find one that feels good on and works with your lifestyle. I’ve tested a bunch over the years—mostly chemical but a good amount of physical sunscreens. Check them out below!
Definitely make sure you check out my Youtube channel because I do a bulk of my sunscreen for darker skin videos there.
You Need the Pros.
The internet will have you thinking everything should be a DIY, but not with skincare, boo. You should call in the pros to enhance your skincare routine and for advanced issues. An esthetician who has proven receipts working with darker skin tones is someone you’d see once a month or so for facials and maybe other skincare treatment that they recommend for your skin. An esthetician can also help you figure out what to use in your skincare routine. But again, make sure you find one who has extensive experience working with darker skin tones.
Ditto with dermatologists. A dermatologist is also a good ally in your quest for better skin. If you have advanced issues that aren’t responding to over the counter products or if you have a skincare condition that requires care (eczema, chronic acne, etc) you definitely want a great dermatologist in your pocket. BUT you want someone with RECEIPTS that they have extensive experience working with darker skin tones. Some of these people will jack your skin UP. If your derm or esthetician is on some “We are the World” mess talmbout “I don’t see color,” RUN!!!!??????
No for real, there are things you just can’t do on darker skin that you can do on white skin. Last thing you need is to make your condition worse or ADD more conditions to what you’re already dealing with.
So do your research to find an esthetician and/or dermatologist in your area who fits the criteria. And no, I cannot recommend anyone for you—yes, I go to a bomb derm and know some dope estheticians that have been on my Youtube channel, but I like them for *me*—doesn’t mean they’re going to be what *you* need. Take the time and research who the right people are for what you need.
Skincare is like a part time job, man. Even if you have decent skin, you still need a routine to keep it that way and to protect it. Some people think my skin is perfect, but girl, it ain’t always sweet.
Choosing Skincare Products/Brands.
I often get asked if I can recommend specific products for someone’s entire skincare routine. While I’m flattered that you’d trust me, a complete stranger, with such a task (haha), I unfortunately am not able to do so. IF I were to do something like that, it would require me to ask you a TON of follow-up questions and although it may seem all I do all day is post IG Reels, I do not have the time…lol. Nor does it make sense for me to just randomly name a product for you to use (which some of you seem to want me to do :/)
But luckily this post is a guide that will help you help yourself 🙂
But figuring out which products you need in your routine can be a lot easier for you now having read this post. And perhaps knowing that it can take time to really find what works best for your skin may take some of the pressure off of having to find the right products NOW.
First thing of course would be your budget. We all have different ways in which we prefer to spend our coins. It’s funny, I have more money now than I did in my 20s, but I spend LESS money on skincare products now at almost 40 than I did back then.
Find products that you can easily buy that won’t find you tossed out on the street in a month. And also understand that the phrase “skincare is an investment” can mean way more about an investment in time and patience than it has to do with the cost of your products. Just because something is more expensive doesn’t mean it’s better for your skin. (Oh, and while we are here, just because something is NATURAL doesn’t mean it’s better for your skin either. See more on DIY skincare here).
A skincare brand also may need to fit in with your ethics and values. If you feel strongly about a particular subject, I’m sure you’ll want the brands you use to also align with your values. Make sure you check that out as well.
One thing that may be particularly helpful for you is to browse the skincare aisles at a retailer that fits within your budget. Look at the products that seem to stand out to you—read the labels. Yes, there’s a lot of marketing and fluff on a lot of these labels, but a majority of skincare brands will clue you into who the product is for on the label. So for instance, if you have dry skin you may want to look for words like “hydrating” “moisturizing” or shoot, simply look for “for dry skin” on the label…lol.
When you start to come across products that look like they might be a match, it might also be helpful to google the product for reviews. See what folks have to say about it, but keep in mind that everyone’s skin is different but reading reviews can give you a little more insight than buying something blindly.
And this is the part that a lot of people don’t want to hear: YOU WON’T KNOW IF A PRODUCT IS RIGHT FOR YOU UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY TRY IT.
Here’s a quick guide as to how long you can expect to see results within a few skincare product categories:
CLEANSER: typically right after use. Your cleanser shouldn’t make your skin feel tight, dry, or stripped after using it. Also try using your cleanser in different situations: after the gym, after you remove your makeup, etc.
MOISTURIZER: usually about a day or so. If your moisturizer makes your skin feel tight or dry or if it feels extra greasy after using it, it might not be the right moisturizer for you. Also note that moisturizer is typically the product in your routine that may need to be switched out the most often as the season change (assuming you live somewhere with distinct seasons).
ACNE PRODUCTS: depends on the severity of the acne. It can take up to a week to see OCCASIONAL breakouts go away. Moderate to severe acne can take upwards of nine months to control even with a pro. If you have moderate to severe acne, seeing a pro is your best bet since any numbers of factors can be contributing to your acne and a doctor’s visit can help pinpoint that.
ANTI-AGING PRODUCTS: depends on how deep your situation is and the type of product you’re using—but it can take a few months to see results from things like retinol, vitamin C, etc.
SUNSCREEN: this is tough to quantify because sun damage isn’t often detectable by the naked eye. But a good sunscreen, similar to a good moisturizer, isn’t going to dry you out or make you feel extra greasy. See more on sunscreens on my Youtube channel.
EXFOLIANTS: some people can see a difference right away, but it can take up to a week to begin seeing changes.
Also remember like I mentioned above, sometimes you may need to switch out your products if you have distinct seasons where you live. For instance my summer skincare products often aren’t the same things I use in the winter.
Also note that some skincare products can only do but so much before you may need to see a pro.
Yes, ingredients are important and making sure to steer clear of ones you could be allergic to is important. Often times people will “review” a product just based on the ingredients list, but that doesn’t tell you the full story. One of my favorite skincare channels to watch Glow by Ramón has a video on this here.
There is a ton of fear mongering out there when it comes to some skincare ingredients—and some of this is perpetrated by brands looking to use that sort of marketing to get you to buy their products. There are even whole entire sites that benefit from fueling this fire. I personally like to look up ingredients on the Paula’s Choice website. Paula’s Choice started as a directory to figure out what was worth buying in beauty. Back in the day I used to buy the “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter without Me” books. Very good resources. Now yes, they do sell products as well, but I personally trust the info I get there.
Now remember, this is just a guide—it still won’t tell you if the product will work on your skin. An analogy I’ve heard a number of times about skincare ingredients is like reading the ingredients for cake: eggs, butter, sugar, flour etc. But without knowing where the ingredients came from or who made the cake (was it someone making a cake for the first time or a pastry chef?) it’s hard to tell if that’s going to be a good cake or not. Similar deal when it comes to skincare ingredients.
Definitely make sure you check out my Youtube channel. I’m way more active there than anywhere else on the internet and have more room to discuss skincare topics. And comb through this blog! There are tons of resources here as well.
And again, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO THIS ALONE. If you aren’t comfortable with putting together a skincare routine, schedule an appointment with a trust esthetician who has extensive experience working on skin of color.