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7 Skincare Habits All College Girls Need to Have

Ah, skincare — it’s super hard to stick to a routine, but we all want that clear, smooth skin we see on TV. So where can college girls find the balance? We talked to Dr. Kenneth Mark, a skin cancer and cosmetic dermatology expert, and collegiettes with experience to let you in on the skincare habits you can’t skip out on if you want flawless skin. Wash, rinse, repeat.

1. Take your makeup off before going to sleep

This may be something you hear all the time, but it’s so true! Sleeping in makeup causes dirt and residue to accumulate, leaving more room for problems. “It is essential to remove makeup, as by definition all makeup clogs pores,” Dr. Mark says. “Over time the clogging of pores can and will cause blemishes, pimples and even cysts. At the minimum, it will cause unsightly dilated pores.” None of that sounds fun!

Amanda Goecke, a junior at Carthage College, is trying to get into the habit of this. “Usually I’ll come home at night and change into comfy clothes and become so tired that I don’t even care that I’m going to bed in my makeup,” she says, “Sleeping in makeup isn’t good!” She’s right; we all know the feeling of wanting to hop into bed with a full face of makeup on, but think twice. This could be where your issue lies.

2. Find products that work for you (and stick to them)

It may take some trial and error, but finding the right products for you is super important. “[The] most important would be a daily moisturizer with spf/sunscreen,” Dr. Mark says. “Given stress and hormones that are also prevalent for collegians, it is a great idea to use a daily exfoliator even if it is just in your cleanser, such as Neutrogena acne wash which contains 2 percent salicylic acid. This exfoliates and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the formation of pimples.”

Claire Biggerstaff, a sophomore at Davidson College and skincare goddess, says, “Consistency is key when taking care of your skin, and even if your routine is only two steps, you should do those everyday without fail.” If you have dry or irritable skin, you may need a lighter face wash. If you have oily skin, you’ll need to find products to accommodate that. Once you find products you love, there’s no turning back!

3. Drink a TON of water

Water is super important for your body and skin’s, health. “The skin is the largest organ in the body and as such its hydration is essential for optimum looks and performance,” Dr. Mark says. No one wants dry or inflamed skin!

Lauryn Higgins, a first year graduate student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, finds this to be the easiest way to keep her skin glowing. “Fill up a water bottle before each class, and make sure you drink it all before your next,” she says. “And when drinking on the weekends, make sure you drink as many glasses of water of alcohol that you have!” When you’re hydrated, your skin is happy.

Related: How to Revive Dull, Dreary Winter Skin

4. Use an exfoliant and toner

Wondering what products you should be incorporating into your routine? “Another benefit of exfoliating on a consistent basis is that over time, the superficial stripping of the top layers of the epidermis sends signals to the dermis to produce more collagen and thus help prevent fine lines and wrinkles,” Dr. Mark says. “A toner helps prepare the skin like a canvas for the application of other skin products including makeup.” Our skincare guru Claire agrees that a light exfoliant and toner are a must.

“It can help to slough off dead skin, prevent blackheads, and keeps your skin’s pH in balance,” she says. Sounds good to us!

5. Moisturize daily

Keeping moisture locked into your skin is crucial, especially during the winter months. “Especially for those with oily skin and/or combination skin, the right moisturizer can actually help balance out the oil glands and help treat their acne,” Dr. Mark says. “I have almost all of my acne patients use a custom formulation of vitamin B, zinc and aloe.” There’s nothing worse than dry, cracked skin you can’t seem to heal!

“I have dry skin, so I need to moisturize after showers and washing my face, otherwise my skin becomes really dry and tight,” says Amanda. “Some of my friends, however, don’t moisturize at all, and I think they’re missing out on some really great benefits of moisturizers.” These benefits include hydrating your skin, preventing flaking and dullness and creating a protective layer of moisture that lasts all day.

6. Try a sheet mask

You know those moods when you just want to apply a facemask and relax? Next time, try a sheet mask for the perfect pick-me-up! “There are so many kinds to choose from, with different ones made for basically any skin care concern you could ever think of,” Claire says. “Ulta and Sephora now carry several brands of them (woo!).” Online shopping, anyone?

7. Check out different routines

If you’re really looking to amp up your skincare routine, Claire suggests looking into the 10-step Korean skincare routine. “It’s absolutely amazing, and I recommend it to anyone (it’s not as intensive as it sounds, I promise),” she says. If you have the money to spend, this may be worth it.

Now that you’re cued in on that skincare habits you need to start immediately, you can do some more research to find out what products will work best for you. If you still feel lost, schedule a visit with a dermatologist. Most importantly, keep your skin clean and moisturized, and you’ll be glowing in no time!

Rachel graduated from the Honors College at James Madison University in May 2017 and is pursuing a career in the media/PR industry. She majored in Media Arts & Design with a concentration in journalism and minored in Spanish and Creative Writing. She loves spending time with friends and family, traveling, and going to the beach.