........A Chicago area beauty blogger's foray into day-spas, med-spas, and countless beauty counters........

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Skincare 101: DayTime Products: Cleanser, Antioxidant, Eye Cream, Moisturizer, Sunscreen

Yes, I love skincare products, but I understand that most people don't want to invest in a lot of products or spend the time using a ton of them everyday. So, I often get asked what the "basics" are for daily skincare to keep skin looking young and healthy.

Don't get me wrong, even skipping the lighteners, brightners, peptides, sonic cleansing tools (I still love my Clarisonic Cleansing System!), scrubs,  faux-tox, masks, lip treatments, de-puffers, shine control, and all the other products that can confuse people, you still should have a few products on hand to fight the elements (aka: sun, wind, free radicals, stress, dry air).

Some people are just soap and water kind of chicks, and that's fine, but that's not what this blog is about, so my "101" still has a few steps.
Don't get lazy on me now!  ;)


Yes, you need to wash your face in the morning AND before you go to bed at night. Washing will unclog your pores, help stop breakouts, and create a porous surface so the products you apply can be absorbed. If you apply a lotion or serum over a dirty, sweaty, oily face or over makeup, it won't do much for you.

Use a cleanser that is specifically formulated for the face, not the body. The ones I mention here are for normal skin, but if you have breakouts, look for a cleanser that treats acne. Cleansers don't stay on your skin long, so you don't need to worry so much about the strength of the ingredients the way you do with treatment products. I like MD Skincare All In One Facial Cleanser which can be purchased at Sephora or Ulta for $32 and lasts around 6 months. This is a non-foaming cleanser which tends to be gentler than some of the foaming ones. Other cleansers that can be purchased at beauty stores and that I have found to work well are Philosophy Purity Made Simple One Step Facial Cleanser ($20), and Clinique Liquid Facial Soap ($16).  Aveeno Positively Radiant , Neutrogena, and Olay, and several other drugstore brands make great products that can be purchased right at the local Walgreens, CVS or Target stores for under $7, and these are perfectly fine.


1) An antioxidant product. In layman's terms, antioxidants help to keep skin healthy and to fight wrinkles and sagging (and sometimes acne as well) by fighting off all the bad stuff it's subjected to each day: pollution, second hand smoke, smog, stress, UV light, ozone....you name it! Antioxidants actually help to repair the damage that these free-radicals cause. These little skin warriors include products containing: vitamin A (better for night)vitamin C, vitamin E,  idebenone,  green tea, soy, Coenzyme Q10, coffeeberry, ferulic acid, and grapeseed polyphenols. There are a handful of others, but these are the primary ingredients you'll see popping up on product labels.

I like to switch up the antioxidants I use every few bottles, and most bottles last close to 6 months. Nearly any skincare line will have an antioxidant product, but some that experts say are effective and that I like include: Prevage (idebenone), Cellex C Advanced C Serum (17.5% vitamin C), Skinceuticals C E Ferulic, Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus, and Dr. Dennis Gross MD Skincare Hydra-Pure Firming Serum (multiple antioxidants). Finding inexpensive antioxidant products, especially serums, which tend to have the highest percentage of ingredients, isn't easy. There are some lotions with vitamin E in them, but lotions usually don't have the highest percentage of ingredients, and vitamin E isn't known as the strongest antioxidant. Still, a little active ingredient is better than not using anything at all. Aveeno Positively Ageless makes a treatment cream for under $20 and also an anti-aging system for around $35, and if you look in the skincare aisle of your local drugstore, look for the ingredients I posted above on various products as one of the first 3 ingredients on the label.

A note about products containing vitamin C: this antioxidant is sensitive to light and heat, and while being stored, can be broken down and made less effective by either. It should come in a dark bottle, serum form, and the bottle shouldn't be exposed to extreme heat.

2) Also recommended for daytime skincare is a light, moisturizing eye cream. I like one with hyaluronic acid to plump skin like Kiehl's Double Strength Deep Wrinkle Filler for $39 (Hey Kiehl's--why don't you give your eye cream a little more depressing name???!)If it didn't moisturize so well, I'd boycott it based on the awful name alone. Neutrogena makes a hyaluronic acid eye cream with an equally awful name for around $19. Although eye creams usually go on after antioxidants, my experience when using hyaluronic acid eye creams, is to make sure they are the 1st thing put on the skin after cleansing or they pill or crumble under other products.

Some eye creams that moisturize well but don't contain hyaluronic acid include: Philosophy Hope In A Tube $33 (WHO is giving these products such depressing names???), Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado (sounds delicious!), and Malin And Goetz Rice Bran Eye Moisturizer $42. Excellent drugstore brands include Neutrogena Healthy Skin Eye Cream $13, Olay and Aveeno.

3) Light daytime moisturizer. As many as I've tried, I almost always come back to Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizer ($23). It absorbs well and lasts all day. Also recommended: Malin & Goetz Vitamin E Face Moisturizer $45. There are a ton of drugstore brands as well and in any line, whether it's Neutrogena, Olay, Aveeno, or any other, for day you want a product that says "lotion" or "moisturizer," or is formulated for DAY, which will be lighter than a "cream" and go on well under makeup.

4) Sunscreen. YES. You DO need to wear sunscreen.  Every day. Summer or winter. Even when it's not sunny out. UVA and UVB rays will break down the collagen in your skin even when the sun isn't shining brightly. I know you want to be tan, but use a bronzer or get a spray tan, because that color that comes from the sun or a tanning bed will wrinkle your skin like nothing else. Sunscreen in a lotion, foundation, or treatment product isn't enough because you don't use enough of the product to get the full strength of the SPF. The standard recommendation is SPF 15 or higher. Dermatologists I've talked to actually recommend for the face and neck, SPF 30 or higher. There's a sunscreen in nearly every skincare line in every price range. You want a product that says it protects against both UVA and UVB rays, not just one or the other. I like Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sun Block ($10), or Neutrogena Sheer Liquid Sunblock ($12) because they're both very light and makeup goes on well over them. A department store brand that I really like for the same reasons is Clarins Sunscreen Cream High Protection SPF 30 ($32). It's made for the body, but I've found it absorbs well on the face too. Clarins also makes UV Plus HP Day Screen that is very light. And SkinMedica Environmental Defense SPF ($40) donates $1 toward skin cancer prevention for every SPF product it sells.

For more information on SUNSCREEN, click this link to the American Academy of Dermatology here.

...and remember, these products aren't just for the face---your neck and chest are exposed to the elements every day too. Use these products there every morning too.

That's it for daytime: cleanse, antioxidant, eye cream, moisturizer, sunscreen. I swear it's not as time consuming as it sounds--you were probably going to cleanse and moisturize anyway. :)

Ok. you're ready to be released into the daylight. Go! :)

Evening Products, coming after the weekend....

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