by Catherine Conelly
Are you ready to switch your skin over to a natural ingredient zone? Or maybe you already have, but you want to make sure you’re maxing out the benefits?
Beyond making the initial decision to use cleaner products, it can be overwhelming to create a natural skin care routine that best manages your skin woes. After all, it’s great to use products free of toxic ingredients, but it’s also critical that your products are effective at fighting skin concerns like dryness, aging and acne.
Natural Skincare Routine Basics
So what makes a product natural? In a nutshell, it’s not synthetic. Seems obvious right? But there are varying levels of natural ingredients according to the School of Natural Skin Care. An ingredient can be naturally derived but chemically processed. For example, lactic acid is a fabulous exfoliant that’s derived from corn starch through fermentation, which changes its chemical makeup. But other natural ingredients are completely unprocessed or processed non-chemically (simply filtered or pressed). While avoiding synthetic ingredients can help you avoid skin irritation, it’s important to take it slow before you go smothering your skin with any ol’ natural oil or balm you find at Whole Foods.
Know this: Just because an ingredient is natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe for your skin. And some natural skin care brands give the rest a bad rap by incorporating potentially harmful natural ingredients (they do exist!) or using primarily synthetic ingredients with just a small percentage of one natural ingredient. Read labels and research the ingredients.
Here are a few additional pointers to make sure you get the best results.
Point blank, order matters. You need to give all those beneficial natural ingredients a chance to penetrate your skin. Otherwise, they can’t work their magic. Applying products in the right order ensures your skin absorbs each amount rather than pitting them against one another.
For example, if you apply a thick, oil-based moisturizer before a lightweight, water-based serum, your moisturizer creates a barrier on your skin that blocks out all of the serum’s goodness. It basically puts up a “keep out” sign, which is great for warding off environmental toxins — but not ideal before applying your helpful, healing serum.
The general rule of thumb is to apply products from thin to thick and water-based before oil-based. That said, there are some misconceptions to be aware of. People tend to apply eye cream last, but it’s often thinner and more delicate than moisturizers and creams, so you actually want to apply it after your toner but before your moisturizer. Facial oils also break the mold. While technically a thinner consistency, they can block your moisturizer and anything else you apply after.
To sum it all up, your base routine might look something like this:
- Exfoliator (though not daily)
- Toner or hydrating spray
- Eye cream
- Facial oil
Customize Your Routine for Day and Night
Your routine can — and should! — differ from morning to night.
The most obvious examples? First, always add sunscreen at the end of your morning routine. Second, don’t exfoliate both day and night — once at night max, but every couple of days may suffice depending on your skin type. (Keep in mind that if your cleanser contains a chemical exfoliant like our InflorEssence Facial Cleanser does, you may be able to skip a physical exfoliant).
Next, consider double cleansing before bed. By starting with an oil-based cleanser, you’ll remove makeup as well as oil, dirt and grime that could be built up on your skin’s surface. Then your water-based cleanser or exfoliator can go deeper (this is an exception to the whole water before oil rule). This process helps create a clean slate, so your serums and toners can fully absorb and give you the best results. However, it’s not necessary to double cleanse in the morning, and if you find that it starts to dry out your skin (though oil cleansers should help hydrate), simply cleansing once or twice a day with a gentle cleanser may be more your skin’s MO. That said, it is possible to over-cleanse your skin, and some dermatologists caution against double cleansing for sensitive or rosacea-prone skin. Test what works for you.
Finally, depending on your skin concerns, you might try applying a different serum in the morning than at night. An antioxidant serum during the day can aid with UV protection and brighten skin while a more hydrating serum in the evening can help replenish your skin as you sleep (especially during winter when preventing dry skin is a top-of-mind).
Have Eyes on All Ingredients
What do people and skin care products have in common? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. Different natural ingredients tackle different skin issues, so read the label and research what each ingredient offers.
For example, Altilis Beauty products are all formulated around breadfruit flower extract, which comes from a plant that grows in the tropical islands and is filled with antioxidants that fight free radicals. It’s also anti-inflammatory, so it can help calm and soothe troubled skin that may be prone to acne or rosacea flare-ups.
But don’t stop your research at the main ingredient that’s touted on the package. There’s power in numbers when it comes to natural ingredients, and you want them all to cater to your various skin needs. While breadfruit flower extract is the key ingredient throughout the Altilis Beauty line, it’s not the only one. In the InflorEssence Serum, Vitamin C adds additional antioxidant power while kukui nut oil strengthens skin’s natural lipid barrier to help keep skin hydrated. Aloe vera gives the InforEssence Cleanser hydrating properties while Gotu Kola helps stimulate collagen production. It also contains lactic acid (that great exfoliator from earlier). Know what your skin is getting into before you dab, swipe, and apply in a circular motion.
Wait Until Each Product Dries Before Applying the Next
Why rush a good thing? According to skin experts at Allure, there’s a growing body of dermatologists and aestheticians who believe in waiting for one product to dry before applying the next. While there isn’t a ton of scientific evidence that says this makes products more effective, and some dermatologists will tell you to not bother waiting, there’s still a strong argument for it.
Dermatologist Kim Nichols told Allure that it can be essential for preventing your products from “rolling up” (sort of like when you apply too many layers of wet paint on a wall). Another pointed out that it’s especially important before applying sunscreen, which can become less effective when diluted with other products. Case in point: It’s not hurting anyone to let each product soak in for 30 to 60 seconds before layering the next.
When it comes to creating a natural skincare routine, it is important to understand the basics that we’ve outlined above. Then, it's time to experiment! Layer in new products slowly to give your skin the best chance to acclimate to each one (and to help you identify what might be the culprit of irritation if anything flares up). At Altilis Beauty, we know that your skin is as unique as you are —— so pay attention to what works to unlock your happiest, healthiest complexion.
Catherine Conelly is a former beauty and health editor turned freelance writer. She’s written for Shape, Thrillist, PopSugar, and StyleCaster. Her work has also appeared in Forbes, Entrepreneur, the Glassdoor blog, and Adidas Game Plan A.