A simple skincare routine
In today's episode we're talking about how you can meet your skin's 6 main needs in just 3 steps. This episode will be a bit different than others because I'll be sharing info about Rain Organica's products throughout today's episode. The reason for this is 2-fold:
- to give you an idea of just how multi-functional a single product can be
- to share with you my mindset in formulating each product
There are really six main purposes of skincare products:
If you’re wondering why brighten is missing from this list, it’s because it’s included in the list above (you'll get the scoop on that later in today's episode).
And, well formulated products can meet all 6 of those purposes in just 3 steps.
We'll talk about the 3 steps in a simple (and complete) skincare routine first.
Step 1: Cleanse
Whether you wear makeup or not, cleansing your face at the end of each day is key for maintaining a clear complexion. Daily cleansing doubles as a gentle exfoliation, sweeping away the layer of skin cells ready to shed. It also removes dirt, grime, dried sweat, and excess oil.
One of the keys to cleansing is to be careful not to overcleanse. During my years of battling acne, I overcleansed my skin perpetuating a cycle of increased sebum production, which contributed to clogged pores and more acne, as I stripped my skin of oils by using aggressive cleansers. Since realizing just how damaging overcleansing was for my complexion, I started using gentler cleansers.
The universal cleanser offered by Rain Organica is cream based and includes soothing ingredients like licorice root. It’s incredibly gentle and can be used as a regular cleanser and also a rinse free cleanser making it even more versatile for your lifestyle (especially if you spend a bit of time in the backcountry).
How important is cleansing?
It’s so important it takes 2 steps in a 3-step skincare routine.
Okay, toners aren’t technically necessary for skincare, so I guess I could have called this “2 is all you need”, but toners can be so beneficial to how your skin looks and feels after cleansing that you probably want to include this step.
What do toners do?
Toners are made with distilled water rather than tap water. When you cleanse your face, typically the last thing on your face is tap water. And, if you live in the US, chances are you have hard water.
By following your cleansing step with a toner, you can rinse away any remaining soap residue left behind from hard water. There’s typically a profound difference in how your skin feels when you skip a toner (you may be familiar with it, a tight feeling after cleansing) compared with when you use a toner (soft, smooth skin).
(*the next section reads a little too rich with “your moisturizer” and “moisturizer”. Is there a good way to reword this so I can dial that back a bit?)
Toners are often credited as being necessary to “restore your skin’s pH or balance your skin’s pH” back to 4.5 to 5.5 range, and while they help adjust your skin’s pH, bringing it closer to that natural pH value immediately after cleansing, your moisturizer can also help with this pH shift.
A toner’s real value lies in its ability to thoroughly dampen your skin so that it’s more receptive to your moisturizer. By applying moisturizer to skin damp with toner, you can use less moisturizer, and because you’re applying moisturizer to toner dampened skin, your moisturizer (and all the active ingredients it contains) soaks in more quickly.
A good toner is so much more than just a way to remove soap scum and help your moisturizer soak in. This step (toning) offers a great opportunity to hydrate (moisturize), soothe, and protect your skin as well.
Moisturizing is one of the most muddied terms in all of skincare. Why? Because it’s possible to increase our skin’s ability to retain water using oils and humectants (water soluble ingredients). And, the idea that an oil can be moisturizing (restore moisture/hydration/water to the skin) just seems odd.
Let’s break down the ways that we can moisturize our skin:
- Humectants: Humectants are water loving ingredients that draw water into the skin. Examples of these are hyaluronic acid, panthenol (provitamin B5), glycerin, and sodium PCA (this one might sound scary, but sodium PCA is a naturally occurring compound in our skin that helps maintain healthy levels of water within our skin).
- Emollients: Emollients are oils and oil soluble ingredients, like ceramides, that help repair the skin’s natural moisture barrier.
- Occlusives: Occlusives are oils, butters, and even some water loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid that help form a film on the surface of skin preventing trans epidermal water loss (TEWL).
You probably noticed that some ingredients can belong to more than one group. Oils can exhibit more emollient properties or more occlusive properties depending on their composition. For example, oils rich in essential fatty acids (polyunsaturated fatty acids) are generally more emollient than occlusive. A good example of these oils are pumpkin seed, hemp seed, and evening primrose oils.
Oils rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, or with a particularly high composition of unsaponifiable compounds (like skin nourishing phytosterols & antioxidants), are generally more occlusive in nature helping to form a moisture barrier on skin’s surface.
Humectants alone usually aren’t enough to keep skin feeling moisturized throughout the day, and you most often want a product containing all 3 of these, humectants, emollients, and occlusives, as your daily moisturizer.
The universal day & night time lotion offered in Rain Organica’s Essentials collection combines ingredients across these three categories:
- Humectants: hyaluronic acid, panthenol (provitamin B5), aloe, glycerin
- Emollients: hemp seed oil, meadowfoam seed oil, olive oil
- Occlusives: hyaluronic acid, meadowfoam seed oil, olive oil
While restore is technically a sub-category of moisturize, it is so important for our skin’s health that it needs its own section. Essential fatty acids (like omega-3 and omega-6) are integral compounds in the cellular membrane of our body’s cells (skin cells included). We can provide these essential fatty acids (EFAs) to our skin by eating a diet rich in these fatty acids, however, many studies show that skin benefits from (and certain skin conditions can be resolved) by a topical application of oils rich in EFAs. A few great non-comedogenic oils that are rich in EFAs are hemp seed oil, pumpkin seed oil, and evening primrose oil.
A few additional oils brimming with essential fatty acids that you may consider for your body (but not for your face because of their comedogenicity score) are chia seed oil and flax seed oil.
Beyond the cellular level, the outer layers of skin cells (the stratum corneum or infamous dead layers of skin that provide a protective barrier between our living layer of skin and the great wide world) are bound to each other by compounds like ceramides, cholesterols, & fatty acids. If you’ve ever wondered about the secret behind glowing skin, this is it… the molecules that bind cells in our stratum corneum to each other.
Naturally occurring in our skin, ceramides are compounds similar in structure to cholesterol. The plant kingdom has its own version of these compounds known as phytosterols. Many botanical oils are rich in phytosterols, and these compounds can absorb into skin, nourishing it and restoring that important protective barrier.
Fatty acids are the ones we just discussed – essential fatty acids (also commonly called polyunsaturated fatty acids), monounsaturated fatty acids, and even saturated fatty acids. Any botanical oil offers these fatty acids just in wildly varying ratios.
If your skin is lackluster, try blending just a drop or two of I am Enough Botanical Oil with your current face lotion to boost your radiance.
Of all 6 purposes of skincare, aside from cleansing, soothing may be the one that’s hardest for the body to do from the inside. Because of skin’s amazing ability to absorb ingredients, topically treating sensitive irritated skin, soothing is easily achieved through skincare.
(*how do I transition into this smoothly? I very much want to include that soothing has been used for generations, commonly used in countries around the globe even today, but I’m really struggling w/ this transition)
Soothing skin topically is also where home remedies shine. Aloe has been used for centuries and is still used today to apply to minor scrapes & burns. My grandmother kept aloe plants for this very reason. If she ever burned herself on a hot pan or with the splatter from something cooking on the stove, she’d send me out to pick an aloe leaf, slice it open and set the split leaf on her burn.
One of the best treatments for puffy eyes are cold cucumber slices (and maybe a light touch of manual lymph drainage… if you’re curious about that, stay tuned for an upcoming blog post).
Argan oil and tamanu oil are still used as primary treatment for superficial wounds in many countries today, and even Western medicine has conducted research into argan oil’s ability to improve healing time of second degree burns (reference: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26978857/).
Soothing ingredients in skincare include aloe, cucumber and rose hydrosol, & licorice root extract. Each of these ingredients can help relieve irritated skin and reduce the appearance of redness, and you’ll find healthy doses of these skin soothing ingredients in Rain Organica’s cleanser, toner, and face lotion.
Our skin contains many naturally occurring antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, melanin, and gluatathione. And our bodies are wonderfully capable of regenerating spent antioxidants. However, under times of stress (for instance when we’re in sunlight), the volume of free radicals bombarding our skin is greater than our skin’s ability to maintain its antioxidant levels (*or supply). For this reason, using products rich in antioxidants (and reapplying those products throughout the day) can help our skin reverse the effects of UV exposure.
Common antioxidants in skincare are resveratrol, vitamins C & E, coenzyme Q-10, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), green tea extract, & olive leaf extract. Several botanical oils also contain naturally high amounts of antioxidants: argan, meadowfoam seed oil, and hemp seed oil are just a few renowned for their antioxidant properties.
Some peptides also work like an antioxidant to protect your skin from the effects of UV rays. PreventheliaTM and JuvelevenTM are two such peptides, and you’ll see these listed by their scientific names on product labels rather than their trade names.
Rain Organica’s cleanser, toner, and face lotion all contain vitamin C. Rain Organica’s First Light Day & Night Lotion also features resveratrol and the peptide, PreventheliaTM.
Because protecting your skin is so important, Rain Organica also offers Marine Layer Antioxidant Spray, a pocket size mister you can take with you anywhere allowing you to reapply antioxidants midday without having to touch your face with your hands. Marine Layer contains vitamin C and the peptides PreventheliaTM and JuvelevenTM. It’s also brimful of soothing ingredients like cucumber & rose hydrosol, aloe, and a third peptide, TelangynTM, which helps diminish the appearance of redness and soothe skin. Marine Layer provides an especially welcome cooling spritz on a warm day.
Exfoliation is the act of encouraging faster cellular turnover. Usually, exfoliation is accomplished by focusing on the very last step of keratinization, desquamation, the act of shedding skin cells. Keratinization is the entire process of continually renewing the outer most layers of skin, the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum is vital to healthy skin and key in maintaining our skin’s moisture barrier. Skin with a healthy stratum corneum is radiant (glowing), bright (even complexion), and supple.
You’re probably familiar with two types of exfoliation: mechanical and chemical. Both of these forms of exfoliation encourage desquamation, encouraging exfoliation in skin’s outermost layer, the stratum corneum.
Mechanical exfoliation is any sort of action that removes dead skin cells through friction. Everyday cleansing with your hands or with a very soft washcloth or sponge is a gentle act of mechanical exfoliation. Many masks use this technique also (finely ground powders gently massaged into the skin to help encourage removal of skin cells). Ground coffee, sugar, and salt scrubs usually make excellent exfoliants for our arms and legs, but for sensitive areas like our face, gentle is key.
Some of the best mechanical exfoliating ingredients for your face are clays (French clay and rose clay are two examples) and dead sea mud. These ingredients help pull oils, dirt, and other impurities out of pores (not technically exfoliation, but this action promotes brighter skin) while also encouraging exhausted skin cells to detach from your skin (surface exfoliation). Dead sea mud is one of my favorite ingredients for brightening skin. Because mechanical exfoliation is localized to the skin’s surface, morning and night time use of products containing mechanical exfoliants is fine (*is there a better word for fine here?).
Chemical exfoliation usually involves specific ingredients, like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) that help reduce the “stickiness” of skin cells to one another making it easier for these skin cells to shed naturally. AHAs are water-soluble and tend to help the outer skin layers shed while BHAs are oil-soluble and are beneficial for resolving blackheads and whiteheads.
Chemical exfoliants go beyond just surface exfoliation, soaking into the upper layers of skin and encouraging exfoliation at deeper levels throughout the stratum corneum.
It’s recommended to avoid exposure to sunlight for 24 hours after using products containing AHAs. The general body of research on BHAs suggest they pose less risk of sunburn than AHAs, but in general, if you’re using a product with chemical exfoliants, I recommend to do so at night and avoid those products during the daytime.
In addition to typical chemical exfoliators like AHAs and BHAs, a host of other ingredients serve to promote cellular exfoliation at deeper levels
Another way to promote brighter skin is to encourage faster turnover of cells in the base (living) layers of the epidermis. Niacinamide encourages keratinization, the process that resupplies those outer layers of skin cells in the stratum corneum (reference https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6650737_Nicotinic_acidniacinamide_and_the_skin). This ingredient promotes exfoliation from within.
I’m going to share what I’ve learned through experience. With chemical exfoliators, it’s possible to over exfoliate. The result is reddened sensitive skin more prone to acne outbreaks. By encouraging skin at the basal level to keratinize more quickly, the natural exfoliation process is promoted and you can typically avoid using AHAs and BHAs.
For me, a gentle daily cleanser like Leave No TraceTM, which includes dead sea mud, is enough during most seasons for a bright, healthy complexion. During the wintertime, I substitute Eventide Night Lotion for First Light Day and Night Lotion at night. With niacinamide and (*does this sound off warning bells?) L-carnitine, a natural amino acid that gently encourages cellular exfoliation acting in a manner similar to BHAs, Eventide promotes brighter skin.
(*do I need to include this paragraph? Do I need to rewrite it?) With simple skincare at its heart, you may wonder why Rain Organica offers a day & night lotion and a separate night lotion. First Light Day & Night Lotion is designed to be wildly functional to meet all your skincare needs day & night.
First Light moisturizes, restores, soothes, and protects skin.
Eventide moisturizes, restores, soothes, protects, and exfoliates skin from within with niacinamide to promote cellular turnover and L-carnitine to gently encourage exfoliation.
You may be wondering why Eventide isn’t the universal day & night lotion since it performs all the functions of First Light + exfoliation. (*I don’t like this sentence, but I would like to drive home this point) From an abundance of caution, promoting exfoliation during the daytime is generally not advisable.
A Simple Skincare Routine
We covered a ton of information in this download, so I wanted to quickly sum up the 6 purposes of skincare once more. Ideally, your skincare routine should:
And, it’s possible to achieve all 6 of these purposes in 3 products.
About the Author
Brandy's a formulation scientist and self-proclaimed health geek who loves hiking, gardening, bird-watching, and body boarding.
Her struggle with acne during her teens and 20s led to a holistic and healthy approach to skincare, embracing skin as an organ to be loved and cared for rather than a canvas to wage war on.
Since 2008, she's been developing all-in-one products for a simple routine at home, & Rain Organica started when her backpacking friends asked for a portable skincare routine to keep their skin healthy & happy on and off the trails.
You can try Rain Organica for yourself with The Essentials Kit, a complete skincare routine in just 3 steps.
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