What NOT To Do When Diving Into Skincare


Imagine a person—you, maybe?—who isn't VIB Rouge at Sephora yet. Not even close. A person who has a stick of deodorant in their cabinet, along with a few Cetaphil samples from that one time they went to the dermatologist for a mole check. A person who— * gasp * —has no idea what a double cleanse is.

Now imagine this person (you, again) wants in. They want a skincare routine that rivals the Korean 10-step. They want to start exfoliating and toning and essencing... They (you) want it all. And they (you, still) deserve it all. But where to start? Lucky for you (just admit it), the answer to that is "Right here." Succumbing to skincare is an exciting, wild ride. And because ITG's editors (myself included) have been to hell and back again with most of the products on the market, I'm here to give you a little guidance. Come on in, the water's fine, and all that—but let's also avoid cannonballing into the deep end right away. Skin is a persnickety organ; it likes to do things at its own pace. So here are five tactics to keep it calm while inching your way towards that VIB Rouge membership you know you're in line for. In good time, my friend.

One Product At A Time

This is Beauty Editor Tenet #1. A complete and total routine overhaul can happen, but if you change everything at once, how will you know what's working? Or more importantly, what's not working? If you're starting from the ground up, think about it like this: Maybe you have a cleanser and a moisturizer. First, start using those regularly for a week. Then use those regularly + add in a toner. See how it goes, then maybe try a mask on Thursdays... And so on and so forth. Steady as she goes.

Ride The Cycle

Skin regenerates itself, which is pretty nifty. Baby skin matures, moving to the outer layers of the epidermis, showing itself, and then finally shedding off. That process can take anywhere from 28 days to closer to 6 weeks depending on who you consult. Perfect timing aside, it's important to note because it impacts when you'll see the actual results of any given product—particularly a product aimed at seriously transforming the condition of your skin. So sit tight. It might not seem like it's working, but be patient. Let your skin turn over (several times if you can stand it) before you pass judgement on that anti-aging serum. (The one caveat here is if it breaks you out or gives you contact dermatitis. If you know right off the bat that a product doesn't mesh with your corporeal self, stop using it or talk to an expert.)

You Only Have One Moisture Barrier—Don't Destroy It

Ah the moisture barrier—I know it well. Or I used to, before three years of beauty editing completely destroyed it. Where was once a starry-eyed, sensitive-skinned noob became a foolhardy "Thinks She Knows Everything" over-exfoliator who couldn't help but break out every week because she scrubbed her natural defenses away. Don't let this happen to you! Your moisture barrier is made up of your cells, some lipids, and your skin's natural moisture content and exists to keep bacteria out and hydration in. Resurfacing might be all the rage (the process by which you exfoliate away older, deader skin to reveal fresher baby skin that's also a tad more vulnerable to the elements), but approach with caution. Once weekly to start, just to slough off what really doesn't need to be there anymore. Maybe you have thick, resilient skin that can handle P50 daily with no problem—but for the love of a clear complexion, please discover that gradually. I'm only just beginning to see my normal, clear skin again after feeling like an oily, acneic mess for a good, long time. Skin does crazy things when you mistreat it. Learn from my mistakes.

One Zit Does Not Equal Acne (AKA Respect Your Skin Type)

Pimples. Boutons en français. Nosferatu's face palm. Call it what you want, but we all get 'em and we all wish we didn't. But a few spots every once in a while doesn't mean you should reach straight for the clarifying cleansers, drying spot treatments, and resurfacing toners. It goes back to the point directly above this—over-treating can lead to more problems than you had to begin with. Respect your skin type: If you're not oily, that's OK! If you're not dry, also OK! Just use the products that were developed with your underlying issues in mind. It'll feel better than using the new and trendy products in the long run. I'm fairly certain of this.

Dermatologists Exist For A Reason

At Glossier HQ, my desk is in the back, hidden behind a fortress of new beauty products. I get on the phone with Dr. Wechsler regularly. Renée Rouleau and I are pen pals. I dole out advice like candy on Instagram. And yet, I was still at the dermatologist's office yesterday for a problem I wasn't quite sure how to solve. All of which is to say, everyone's an expert—until they're not anymore. At ITG, we're more than happy to guide you through the in's and out's of skincare basics, but there's a point at which your very valid questions should be directed to an actual professional who went to medical school and did a residency for a very long time. Beauty editors and bloggers and vloggers can give you personal recommendations until they're blue in the face—but very few of them can prescribe you Spironolactone if you really need it. Puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

—Emily Ferber

Photographed by Tom Newton.

That's great, but where are the product recommendations? Right this way.