We all love our skincare products and the benefits they provide but are you really maximizing the use of your products and reaping all their benefits? Over the last thirty years as an esthetician, I’ve picked up a lot of skincare “hacks” and I’m excited to share them with you. Here are fifteen of my favorite hacks to make your life easier and help you get the most out of your products.
1. Use LESS Eye Cream
Yes, you read that right! You’re probably using too much eye cream. Since the eyes are often one of the first to show dryness and signs of aging, it’s an area of high concern for a lot of people. In an effort to address this, people tend to use a heavy hand when applying their eye cream. Well, I’m here to tell you that more is not always better. For starters, the skin can only absorb so much, so overusing any topical cream is really just a waste of product. Eye creams by nature tend to have more moisturizing agents than regular creams and are formulated with active ingredients that support the firming structures of the under-eye area. What all this boils down to is that eye creams are formulated to work hard for you, and a little goes a long way.
There are two main benefits to using less eye cream: the first is that you save money. It’s no secret eye creams tend to be pricier, so using less means you’ll be able to restock less often. The second is that using less may be making the eye area age slower. Yes, you heard me right! Applying too much eye cream can actually end up backfiring because the excess can seep into the eyes, which can cause irritation and swelling. This could also cause you to wake up with more puffiness in the morning, which over time stretches the skin and leads to a loss of elasticity. Premature wear and tear is the last thing the skin around the eyes need so use eye cream sparingly.
2. Use an Under-Eye Exfoliator to Enhance the Effects of Your Eye Cream
Since the undereye area has very few oil glands, it tends to get drier than the rest of the face. Unfortunately, this makes lines around the eyes look more prominent. A lot of my clients have told me that they struggle to keep this delicate area properly hydrated, and I tell them that moisturizing isn’t the only option—they should actually be using an exfoliating product under their eyes. If you have dry skin under your eyes, it means there is an accumulation of dead skin cells there. If you try to apply eye cream without removing these dead cells first, you’re just trying to rehydrate dry cells which makes no sense. Instead, a few times a week, apply a thin layer of an acid exfoliator specifically formulated for the sensitive under-eye area. This way, all the great ingredients in your eye cream will be able to penetrate more effectively within the skin, and you’ll reap the true benefits.
3. Hold Your Makeup Remover Over Your Eye For at Least Thirty Seconds
I realize that when you’re tired at night, you just want to get your makeup off as quickly as possible. (Hopefully, you’re going to sleep without makeup!) However, since the eye area is so delicate, it’s really worth taking the extra time to treat it super gently. This means avoiding unnecessary rubbing when you’re removing eye makeup. Instead, saturate a cotton pad or toning cloth with a gentle eye makeup remover, then hold the pad on your eye area for thirty to sixty seconds to give your eye makeup a chance to dissolve. When you wipe it away, you can do so gently and your makeup should come off much more easily. Again, the goal is to minimize rubbing or any kind of friction that weakens skin elasticity.
4. Leave Your Toner Damp When Applying Your Next Skincare Step
I’m a huge believer in gentle, alcohol-free toners. They offer so many benefits: they boost water levels in the skin, balance the skin’s pH level and remove drying chlorine and minerals often found in tap water. But in addition to all these, when you leave a toner damp on your skin before applying your next product, it allows you to spread that product more easily. Whether the product is a serum or moisturizer, you won’t end up needing to use as much and it will last longer. An added bonus is that damp skin is thought to be ten times more permeable than dry skin, so your serum might actually penetrate deeper within the skin to enhance the results.
5. Stop Using Thick, Absorbent Cotton Balls to Apply Product
I often mention our toning cloths, and the reason I’m such a fan of these is that they really allow you to get the most out of liquid products like toner or eye makeup remover. Traditional cotton balls and rounds are pretty absorbent, so they actually end up “stealing” a fair amount of product that never makes it onto your skin. Using something like a toning cloth, you use about fifty percent less product so it lasts longer.
6. Use Your Exfoliating Acid Serum for Bumpy Skin on the Body
While most of us regularly exfoliate our faces, people often end up neglecting the skin on the rest of their bodies. But an exfoliating acid serum can be beneficial anywhere you experience dry or bumpy skin. For most people, these bumps crop up on the legs or the backs of the arms and sometimes turn into keratosis pilaris, an excess of keratin that causes skin bumps. Using an exfoliating acid on these areas a few nights a week can help dissolve existing bumps or dryness as well as prevent these issues in the future.
7. Use Your Exfoliating Acid Serum as a Cuticle Dissolver
I love doing this, especially during the winter months! I put a thin layer of Pore + Wrinkle Perfecting Serum on my cuticles then put hand cream on before I go to bed. While I sleep, the acids work to dissolve some of the dryness around my nails. This is definitely the time of year for dry cuticles, so I like to nip the problem in the bud by doing this exfoliation treatment a few times a week to keep my cuticles nice and smooth.
8. Use Your Prescription Retinoid to Give Yourself an At-Home Peel
This is especially good if you have an old prescription sitting around that you’re not really using anymore because of the dry, flaky side effects it gives. Instead of letting it go to waste, give yourself a treatment when you don’t mind a day or two of dryness! To do this, use twice the amount of product that is normally recommended for regular use (two pea-sized amounts instead of one). Spread the retinoid evenly across your skin, then leave as-is without applying moisturizer. This may sound intense, but the whole point is to get your skin to peel to give an effective skin-smoothing, resurfacing treatment, so you want the product working in full effect. You might want to put a thin layer of moisturizer around your eyes before applying the retinoid cream or gel. This will create a protective layer around that delicate skin so you avoid unnecessary dryness and irritation. For regular ongoing use, consider using a gentler alternative to a prescription retinoid with a serum that contains retinol like Advanced Resurfacing Serum.
9. Use Your Acne Spot Treatment for Bug Bites
Bug bites can be so itchy and uncomfortable, and there are certainly many products on the market that cater to soothing them. But you might be overlooking something already in your medicine cabinet: you acne spot treatment. Look for ingredients like sulfur, zinc oxide, and calamine as these are some of the best for alleviating itchiness and calming swelling. I like to use my Night Time Spot Lotion since it contains sulfur and zinc oxide. Other good options are Kate Somerville’s Eradikate, which includes these ingredients as well, or the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, which adds soothing calamine to the mix.
10. For Serious Hydration, Don’t Rinse Off Your Hydrating Masque
This is most helpful when using a cream-based masque like Pure Radiance Creme Masque, try leaving it on overnight instead of rinsing it off. This will create an occlusive layer over your skin to “trap” moisture in. This way, the hydrating agents in your masque will be deeply infused within the skin so you wake up with skin that’s bouncy and glowing. For best results, use an at-home peel like Triple Berry Smoothing Peel before applying your hydrating masque. This will allow your skin to soak up even more of that hydrating goodness.
11. Soak Toning Cloths With Liquid Products for Easy Travel
I’m on the road a lot, and as much as humanly possible, I prefer to travel with a carry-on to make my life easier. This means I’m always a little tight on space (especially when it comes to toiletries), so this space-saving travel hack is one of my favorites. Instead of bringing a bottle of toner or eye makeup remover, I simply pre-soak a few toning cloths with the product and store them in a Ziploc baggie so they’re ready to use when I need them.
12. Use a Facial Oil to Customize Your Moisturization
This may not sound like a hack, but hear me out. Many of us struggle to find the perfect moisturizer—especially those of us who are acne-prone. (Sound familiar?) Unfortunately, the moisture levels in our skin are always fluctuating, whether from travel, seasonal changes, hormones or anything in between. Instead of trying to find multiple moisturizers to address your needs, I suggest customizing your routine with a noncomedogenic facial oil. Regardless of your skin type, if you’re feeling a little dry or dehydrated, it’s a lot easier to pat a few drops of oil over your moisturizer to seal it in than it is to find multiple moisturizers that agree with your skin.
Facial oils are also great for so many different things. I like to use one over my cuticles after applying an exfoliating serum to them. They can also be used to protect your skin from the dry cabin air on an airplane, to soften stretch marks or scars or to nourish the skin after a chemical peel.
13. Carry Your Facial Scrub Down the Neck
When you use a facial scrub, a lot of it tends to stay on your hands anyways—so why not carry it down to the neck and get that extra benefit of exfoliation in this area? The neck is an area that definitely can get neglected and will end up looking dry and look crepey, but a gentle facial scrub is a quick and easy way to give this area a boost. Be sure to follow with an application of a nourishing neck cream.
14. Use Powder Makeup as Sun Protection
These days there are a number of powders that have SPF ratings, but did you know your regular pressed or loose foundation powder could act as sun protection? Titanium dioxide is an active ingredient used in many mineral sunscreens and is found in most powder makeup, even if that makeup doesn’t have an SPF rating. When I go for a walk in the mornings before work, I don’t feel like doing a full application of sunscreen that’s just going to come off in the shower soon after. Instead, I’ll dust on a generous application of my Revlon powder (as mentioned in this post) to get some sun protection during my walk. It’s important to note that powder makeup should never be a replacement for a full application of proper sunscreen, but in a pinch, it’s a quick and easy way to get much-needed protection.
15. Use an Antibacterial Acne Treatment to Prevent Clogged Pores From Glasses
Wearing glasses can present a real challenge if you’re acne-prone. They’re constantly in contact with your face, which means they’re picking up dirt and oil and spreading it around. It’s not uncommon for people to get congestion in the areas where their glasses touch their faces, so I suggest using a product like Daytime Blemish Gel to create a protective barrier. Make sure you look for a treatment that won’t dry out the skin and that preferably includes antibacterial ingredients.
In summary, these are truly some of my favorite hacks for making my skincare products work as hard as I do. I hope they make your life a little easier and help you get the most out of your products!
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”