In a world where everything from fitness trackers to personal trainers helps propel you toward your unique goals, it’s no wonder that skin care is moving in a customized direction, too. “Everyone has a different skin type,” says New York City-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. “With a more personalized regimen, you can get fewer side effects and better results.”
Just-for-you skin care is on the rise, with products that can be tweaked to meet your complexion’s needs. Thanks to concentrated, highly active “booster” formulas, you can learn how to layer skincare products to assemble your very own dream-team roster of star ingredients, each chosen for its ability to create radiant, healthy-looking skin.
Yet there is always the risk of cocktailing ingredients that might not play well with others. “You don’t want to combine two exfoliating options, like salicylic acid with glycolic acid, or you could end up with irritation,” points out dermatologist Elizabeth Hale, M.D. (Kojic acid with retinol is another no-go, says Zeichner.) But if you’re willing to heed those recommended guidelines, customization can bring its own reward: high-performance skin care that’s designed to work around you—and to change the game for the better.
Here’s how to layer skincare products for maximum results.
1. Shrink pores with a blend of salicylic acid and retinol.
Use a salicylic acid product like Sunday Riley U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Face Oil, $80, in the A.M. to remove dead skin cells and clogging debris. Then, swipe on a retinol at night to keep pores tight, firm up skin, and reduce fine lines. Try RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum, $23.
2. Achieve a clear complexion by layering benzoyl peroxide and soothing ingredients.
Turn to benzoyl peroxide to clear blemishes and kill acne-causing bacteria. Try Paula’s Choice Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment, $17. And top with soothing botanicals like chamomile or green tea to reduce inflammation. You can find these ingredients in Cover FX Custom Infusion Drops E + Chamomile, $48.
3. Minimize shine with a combination of tea tree oil and red clay.
Try a tea tree oil like Belif Tea Tree Oil, $26, to help control excess sebum on the skin’s surface. And use a red clay treatment like the Algenist Perfect Clarifying Pore Corrector Mask, $55, to mattify shiny skin and soak up excess oil production.
4. Get smooth, dewy skin with glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid.
Glycolic acid exfoliates and smoothes the surface of skin. Try L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Bright Reveal Brightening Peel Pads, $20. And then use hyaluronic acid like in the Skin Inc Hyaluronic Acid Serum, $45, for long-lasting moisture and a plumping effect.
5. Get a brighter, more even skin tone with niacinamide and vitamin C.
Niacinamide (a.k.a. vitamin B3) fades dark spots and improves elasticity, while vitamin C helps reduce inflammation and prevents spots from coming back. Combine Olay Regenerist Luminous Tone Perfecting Treatment, $26, and Glossier Super Glow Vitamin C + Magnesium Serum, $28.
6. Banish puffy eyes with caffeine and blackberry.
Use caffeine to bring down swelling and stimulate microcirculation. Try Clarins Booster Detox, $39. Then, smooth on a product with blackberry to boost elastin production and reduce collagen loss. Try Aveeno Absolutely Ageless Intensive Renewal Serum, $20.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of SELF. For immediate access to our newest issue featuring Ashley Graham, subscribe now and download the digital edition. This full issue is available September 27 on national newsstands.
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