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Notes on An Optimal Evening Routine

The evening skincare routine exists to balance and restore the skin after everything it has experienced throughout the day. Sun exposure, pollution and other environmental aggressors take their toll. Think of your evening routine as a time for rest and repair. It’s also the perfect opportunity to incorporate some overachieving active ingredients, as these are best absorbed at night while your skin isn’t exposed to environmental stressors and is free of sunscreen and makeup.

While each of our skins is unique and requires different ingredients the philosophy and guidelines remain the same, keep things simple and purposeful. The key is to be consistent. These are the steps I follow without fail, setting the foundations for an easy and efficacious evening routine. After a long day, sometimes you just want to revert to the basics. Abide by the below and you’ll reap the rewards the morning after.

Step 1. Double cleanse
As soon as I get home, even if it’s still afternoon, I remove makeup, sunscreen and debris with my first cleanse – using an oil, balm, milk or even a quick swipe of micellar water. This is followed by a second cleanse to deep-clean the pores and prepare the skin for the products to follow using a more active formula containing AHAs or enzymes.

Step 2. Lotions or essences
Lotions and essences help to prep and prime the skin before layering on your active serums allowing them to better penetrate the skin. After cleansing pat the lotion or essence onto your skin allowing it to dry before moving on to your next step.

Step 3. Chemical exfoliation
A vital part of a nighttime regime is exfoliation. Work away dead skin cells and strengthen your acid mantle (the skin’s protective barrier) with a gentle exfoliator. I like to use chemical exfoliators containing Poly-, Alpha- and Beta-Hydroxy Acids to even out skin texture, promote cell turnover and in turn leave the skin brighter, smoother and more supple. Using a cotton round, press the product into the face, neck and décolleté with the same pressure you’d use to see if a peach is ripe.

Step 4. Serums
Serums allow for a targeted approach so you can tailor your serum to your specific concern. Depending on our skin’s needs you might introduce a corrective formulation such as Retinol or reach for a hydrating or soothing serum such as Hyaluronic acid to nourish and strengthen the skin. Serums can be layered together however, I don’t recommend more than one or two at a time.

Step 5. Eye Cream
If you’re only going to use eye cream once per day, I would recommend incorporating it into your evening routine (although twice daily is ideal). At night your skin goes through a natural process of renewal, plus you’re not wearing SPF or makeup to bed, so your eye cream is given optimal time to absorb. I love to use an eye cream with Retinol or other active ingredients at night.

Step 6. Moisturiser
The final step in your evening routine to lock in all the hard-working products layered before it as well as a much-needed dose of hydration. If you’re anything like me, you may find your skin yearning for a richer moisturiser at night. If your skin is on the oiler or more congested side don’t skip this step instead, look for a lightweight water-based gel cream.

Wanting a bit more? Feel free to add in any of the below for added after-hours nourishment.

Personally, I’ll pick a mist over a toner. Spritz a hydrating mist over your face after cleansing to rebalance and soften the skin. I love mists that hydrate and brighten, using luxurious ingredients like rose water or white tea.

Applied after your moisturiser, oils lock in the active ingredients from the products you’ve applied prior, hydrating the skin and even balancing out the skin’s natural sebum (oil) production overnight. Just be sure to apply it last, as our other products won’t be able to penetrate its dewy veil! I love to use a face oil to give myself a massage to promote blood flow and radiance. Start at your neck and work upwards and outwards, gently massaging the oil into the skin using a Gua Sha tool, roller or simply your hands.

Masks also deserve a consistent place in our evening regime however they shouldn’t be done daily instead select one or two nights a week. I love to unwind and reset with a mask in the bath after a big week.