New Season, New Skin: Navigating the Complexities of Skincare

Taking care of your skin is incredibly important; especially in cold conditions when it is susceptible to cracking, flaking, and irritation. It does not matter whether you consider yourself a skincare junkie or barely wake up in time to wash your face, everyone needs a routine that works for them and their lifestyle. With many unique skin care products targeting various issues, it can be difficult to understand which are most important. Below is a basic compilation of products that will help the most when developing your skin regime going into the spring as well as some product recommendations. None of these are completely necessary, however, hopefully this creates inspiration for anyone looking to expand/re-work their skin care regime and need more information.



Cleansers are exactly how they sound. They clean the face of dirt, makeup, and other grime that collects on your face. This is usually the first (and sometimes only) step people take when performing their skincare routines. Some people prefer fancy cleansers designed for a particular skin type and others prefer a regular soap bar. As long as the product does not irritate your skin, it will get the job done (if the product does cause irritation, immediately stop using it). During the colder seasons, it is a good idea to look into cleansers that both scrub and exfoliate to prevent dullness.  

Dr. Brandith Irwin of SkinTour suggests to always look for a cleanser that does not strip your skin of vital essential oils (believe it or not, oil can be a good thing!). However, for people with generally oily skin, you may want to take it a step further. Find a cleanser which caters to your skin type and acne treatment.


*Cleanser tip: buy a facial cleansing brush to avoid using your hands when washing. Marshall’s sells these for 8-14 dollars.


Try: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (for dry/sensitive skin), Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Cleanser (for oily skin), Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Cleanser (for acne-prone skin) or Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash (for combination skin).   



Toners are an optional part of a skin care routine. They are used between cleansing and moisturizing to “prep” the skin for serums and moisturizers. They are helpful with removing any leftover dirt or makeup from your face. Toners can target specific areas of concern for skin. Some have less oil for oily skin and other have more water to hydrate people with drier skin. According to Dr. Christine Choi Kim M.D of the Body Shop, you should look for toners with Aloe Vera if your skin is easily inflamed or ones with Chamomile for a more soothing sensation.


*Toner tip: a small, handheld facial roller can help the toner penetrate the skin deeper while reducing facial puffiness; especially in the eye, cheek and neck area. These can be found at Marshalls, Ulta, and Amazon.  


Try: Neutrogena Alcohol and Oil Free Toner, Mario Badescu Witch Hazel and Rose Water Toner, or The Body Shop Skin Clearing Mattifying Toner


Serums and Essences

Serums/essences are an extra step in the skin care process between cleansing and moisturizing. Once again, this is a more optional product. Serums have small molecules to revitalize your face with a high concentration of moisturizing ingredients to nourish the deep layers of the skin. If you’re about to go out to town Friday night, a serum or an essence may be in your best interests to put on before makeup in order to keep your skin looking fresh and even.

Many serums and essences have anti-aging properties to reduce fine lines which is something to keep in mind for the future (note: for those with sensitive skin, you may have to wait 10-20 minutes after cleansing your face before applying one of these products). Essences used to be a watery, lighter version of a serum. However, both have evolved to become nearly similar to each other. When choosing a serum or essence, it is important to experiment with brands and consistencies in order to find one that feels right.


Try: Botanics Hydration Burst, Laneige Water Bank Essence or Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum (for a splurge)


Face Masks

Ahhh, the face mask. The staple of slumber parties and a great form of self-care. Some Korean skin care regimes utilize a face mask every day. While that is not convenient, it is possible, but you must make sure the mask is gentle enough and suitable for your skin (especially if your skin is sensitive). If you plan on using a mask everyday, gel masks and sheet masks are your best bets. If not, the aforementioned masks can still be used once or twice a week. Look into a weekly exfoliating mask which clears your face of dead skin cells, in turn preventing zits and blackheads.  

Like many products, face masks target certain skin concerns. If your skin is oily, look for a clay mask that cleanses effectively. If your skin is dry, look for a cream mask that gives moisture.    


Try: The Body Shop Seaweed Oil-Balancing Clay Mask (for oily skin), Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydration Mask (for dry skin), Dr. Jart+ Lover Rubber Masks (for combination/sensitive skin), or Origins Brightening Superfruit Mask (for all skin types).          



Moisturizers are particularly helpful for people who have dry skin but they can be beneficial to any skin type. Just like your legs feel extra soft once you apply a dose of lotion, so can your face. Moisturizers keep your skin looking young and fresh in the long term if you apply routinely.  

According to Dr. Irwin, if your skin is oily, use a moisturizer gel which will add water to your skin (and not oil). If you are dry, use a heavier moisturizer and apply more than once a day. If you are oily on the t-zone, apply your moisturizer to eyes, cheeks, and neck only.    


Try: Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion, L’Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Comforting Cream or Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer



Dr. Brandith Irwin M.D, Cosmetic Dermatologist, SkinTour


Dr. Christine Choi Kim M.D, Dermatologist, The Body Shop