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Remember when someone told you about the "adjustment period" of skin care, and you kept using that product that made your face red and irritated even long after you stopped using that product? Yeah, don't do that! While the adjustment period is real, it isn't what we think of it as.
Firstly, the adjustment period should be equal to our own specific cell renewal factor (CRF). CRF is the process by which our skin produces new skin cells which travel from the lowest layer of the epidermis to the top layer and then shed off the skin. Our CRF is dependent on our age as well as certain medical conditions (such as psoriasis). For those without such medical conditions, here is a chart to show you what your CRF should be.
Since the adjustment period is equal to one full cycle of cell turnover, you should be using the same product for at least your CRF to accurately gauge the effects it has on your skin. So if you're a teenager trying out a new acne cream, you should use it the full 3-4 weeks to see if it's the right cream for you. The most important part of the adjustment period is tracking the progression (or regression) of your skin during this process.
Lastly, know the difference between purging and a more serious skin reaction to the new product. Purging is a natural skin reaction to new products that contain Alpha Hydroxy Acids. The special thing about AHA is their ability to speed up your CRF. However, if your product does not contain this ingredient and you're still experiencing new breakouts (and even irritation), do NOT continue use of the product.
Product # 1 - Cleanser
This is the cleanser I personally use that works for me. It is very basic, unscented, multi-tasking (I use it as body soap, as well), and a surprising plus: uses a 100% recycled bottle. I'm not claiming that this cleanser will work for everyone (even the most gentle ingredients can be irritating when you have hidden skin allergies), but it is a great place to start your skin care journey no matter what skin type you are.
I use this product at least once every day. I always use it before bed, before a workout, and before applying makeup; so I could be washing my face anywhere from 1-3 times a day. However, each cleansing is absolutely necessary for me (I have many skin allergies and am prone to breakouts). I also have dry skin, yet this product never leaves my skin feeling thirsty or flaky.
*Tip* Use a normal washcloth to work in the product if your skin needs exfoliating.
Product # 2 - Toner
Toner is important if you need an additional level of cleaning after using cleanser (usually necessary for acne prone skin). For this, you would put a liquid astringent on a cotton pad to swipe over the problem areas of your face. I personally use witch hazel for its inflammation-fighting properties and natural healing abilities.
*Tip* If your skin reacts poorly to pollen or other airborne allergens, use this right after exposure to reduce the chance of a negative skin reaction.
Product # 3 - Moisturizer
Moisturizers should always be used after cleanser or toner. For moisturizers, you do need two different products (one for daytime, one for nighttime). The daytime product needs to have SPF in it. The nighttime product should be light enough to not clog pores (that means no SPF) and hydrating enough to soothe your skin while you sleep. For nighttime, I use Thirst No More! Moisturizer (unfortunately on hold through Ulta). It's the perfect smooth consistency, is not sticky, not heavy, and moisturizing enough to replenish my skin after cleansing. The same brand also sells a daytime moisturizer for your SPF needs.
*Tip* You do not need the daytime moisturizer if you always wear makeup with SPF when out in the daytime. The Thirst No More! Moisturizer happens to be an amazing primer/base for makeup to sit atop because of its lightness and smooth texture.
*Cautionary End Note*
If you have any medical condition that affects your skin (or think you might have one), then always talk to your doctor about the proper skin care regime for you.