HLM Editors Shared Our Skin Care Routines with Expert Dermatologists — How Did We Do?

By Staff 11 Min Read

We’ve been talking a lot about skin care “do”s and don’t”s throughout Healthline, and the editors decided it was time to put our skills to the test.

While we stick to the pros when it comes to giving advice on keeping your skin healthy, some of us consider ourselves well-versed in skin care speak. I would say I know my way around an Ulta (and an Amazon search bar) fairly well.

But — do our routines stack up? Have we fallen prey to flashy TikTok trends?

We reached out to Board-Certified Dermatologists Elaine Kung, MD of Future Bright Dermatology in New York City, Caroline Robinson, MD of Tone Dermatology in Chicago, and Ife Rodney of Eternal Dermatology & Aesthetics in Fulton, Maryland, to ask their opinion.

Read on to see what they had to say.

Skin type: Sensitive

When it comes to skin concerns, Erin says because she can get a little red and blotchy, she’s aiming to keep her tone balanced.

As a Bay Area native new to New York, she’s aiming to slow down the aging process while recuperating from the recent changes, including being a new mom.

“Between all the hormonal changes and lack of sleep over the last year it’s definitely showing up in my skin,” she says.

What do the experts say?

“Prioritizing balanced skin and healthy skin as we get wiser is so important so I love that this is the goal of your routine,” Robinson says.

Kung says that the Kristina Holey & Marie Veronique is a great brand choice for concerns of rosacea.

Both experts are fans of the B3 serum and the mineral sunscreen, but Rodney says that the oil could undo the product’s work and could be left out.

Kung also suggests cutting down to just a few of the products because of their similarity.

What do the experts say?

Because the skin Barrier Restore Serum and Skin Barrier Lipid Complex have similar ingredients, Kung suggests choosing one or the other instead of layering them.

Kung told us that as long as The Ordinary Granactive 1% Retinoid every other night is just a drop, this is a fine choice, and Rodney gave a thumbs up to choosing these products for the PM, as they can cause sun sensitivity.

Robinson suggested incorporating antioxidants into the routine, saying they can,“…help repair past sun damage, even skin tone, and stimulate collagen production to give you more even and more bouncy skin.”

Skin Type: Oily

Mellanie lives in the very humid and sunny Houston, Texas, and says her primary skin concerns revolve around texture, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation.

She only gets the occasional hormonal breakout (lucky!) and sometimes deals with blackheads and whiteheads.

What Do The Experts Say?

Kung says that each of Mellanie’s chosen products has positive benefits.

But because she’s aiming to be wary of clogged pores, the dermatologist is wary of more than one choice at a time that has multiple oils that vary on the comedogenic scale — a rating for pore clogging.

“I would reboot her skincare routine so she’s not layering or using ingredients that can clog her skin,” Kung says.

Rodney agrees with the less-is-more approach and says three different serums could be too much for the skin.

“Three serums (the Anthelios also has serum qualities) do not mean more effective penetration,” she says. “We want to avoid too many acids on the skin at once. I would choose one serum or alternate every day.”

This altered routine could help eliminate steps and lessen oils.

What do the experts say?

Rodney says, “Big points for alternating products. This technique gives the face a rest from some ingredients while keeping the efficacy of both long-term.”

Fewer products would be beneficial for Mellanie’s nighttime routine too, suggesting sticking to one serum to avoid too many acids on the face, so Kung suggested using an all-inclusive serum.

Some examples of a great serum for Mellanie could be Sente’s Bio Complete Serum — it has niacinamide, vitamin C, vitamin E, retinol, polypeptides.

A lightweight moisturizer option is Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cream or CeraVe Lotion.

Skin Type: Combination & Sensitive

Don’t ask me how, but I have both eczema and oily skin.

For me this means in the winter I’m likely to have dry patches, but when it’s humid (as it often is in North Carolina) I have to be mindful of both additional moisture and my skin’s sensitivities.

These issues plus hyperpigmentation and hormonal acne are my biggest concerns.

What do the experts say?

Both experts like the idea of micellar water starting in the morning, but Kung says I should consider one good for sensitive skin, such as Bioderma Sensibio H20.

They also agree that the toner can be skipped, and Rodney suggested adding a gentle cleanser in its place.

They were in sync in terms of approving the use of sunscreen in the AM, but Kung suggested trying the matte version of my Supergoop! product due to the oily nature of my skin.

What do the experts say?

Because my skin is sensitive as well as oily, Kung says not to overemphasize exfoliation to deal with acne, hyperpigmentation, or texture.

“Instead transfer the focus toward antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients that don’t strip the skin’s barrier,” she says. “Remember, our skin cells naturally shed every 28 days so you don’t have to rush or push the process.”

Robinson says finding a balance between controlling oil & potential breakouts and not drying out your skin is key.

“To reach this balance, I recommend using products like retinoids and benzoyl peroxide which address breakouts and oil and their source and using light lotions that truly hydrate the skin,” she says.

The experts also suggested saving the CeraVe SA bar for once a week if I’m feeling particularly oily.

Professionals have varying opinions, but there’re a few things these folks were emphatic about:

  • Keeping it simple
  • The importance of cleansing
  • Tossing out your toner
  • Hydration is vital

Less is always more

Stick to simple routines with less products

With all the hype around “must have” products routine steps, it can be easy to want to hit all the marks. But the experts agreed that simpler is better when it comes to skin care.

When it came to our individual routines, all three derms were in unison — we can shave off some of our products and still have healthy skin.

“Multi-step routines with products containing similar ingredients but just different in consistency, feel, or thickness is wasting money and complicating skin care in a way that may cause more problems than good,” she says.

Only 4 rice grains worth of leave-on product are necessary

“Be careful of how much product you are squeezing out from those medicine droppers,” Kung says.

“We don’t need to draw out the full length of the medicine dropper for serums, especially those that contain AHA, BHA, or vitamin C.”

Cleansing is vital

Don’t skip the morning cleanse

“I think it’s important to wash off our overnight products and facial secretions in the morning,” Kung says.

Double cleansing

For the editors, a double cleanse (traditionally with an oil-based cleanser followed by a cream-based one) has been reserved for days we’ve worn makeup.

But the derms let us know that it can also be helpful for folks with oily skin regardless of your makeup that day.

“When you have sensitive skin and feel oily, it can be hard to find the right cleanser that does not overly strip the skin but leaves your skin clean,” Robinson says.

“Twice a day cleansing can be very helpful for more oily skin types that are experiencing acne and larger pores because both can result from clogged pores.”

To tone or not to tone?

The verdict is in — all three experts said you can totally skip your toning step.

“Most dermatologists will tell you that a toner is not necessary because it contains many of the same ingredients as your serum or moisturizer,” Kung says.

Robinson and Rodney agree — your toner, regardless of the brand, likely doesn’t add much to your routine. Instead, consider adding a gentle cleanser in its place.

Seal in that moisture

All three experts emphasized the importance of moisture, which can be done by adding an oil-free moisturizer at the very end of your nighttime routine. AM routines should always include sunscreen, but you can opt for one that’s also hydrating.

Everyone is a little different

These are great suggestions from a few field experts based on our skin profiles and products, but of course — here’s no one-size-fits-all solution for every skin type and concern.

If you have questions are want recommendations tailored to your specific needs, if you’re able, connecting with a professional (either in-office or virtually!) is always a great option.

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