Updated 05/14/21. We all love our skincare products and the benefits they can provide, but how well are we really using them? What can we do to get the most out of them? Well, I’ve been a practicing esthetician for over 30 years, and along the way, I’ve picked up quite a few skincare “hacks” that can make life easier and maximize product potential. I’m excited to share them with you. Keep reading to see all 15 of my favorite skincare hacks.
1. Use Less Eye Cream
Yes, you read that right! You’re probably using too much eye cream. Since the skin around the eyes is one of the first areas to show signs of dryness and aging, it’s an area of concern for a lot of people. In an effort to address this, they tend to use a heavy hand when applying eye cream. Well, I’m here to tell you that more is not always better. Why you ask? Well, for starters, the skin can only absorb so much, so overusing any topical cream is just a waste of product. By nature, eye creams tend to have more moisturizing agents than regular creams. They’re also formulated with active ingredients that support the firming structures of the skin. This means that eye creams are formulated to work hard, and a little goes a long way.
There are two main benefits to using less eye cream. The first benefit is that you save money (it’s no secret that eye creams tend to be pricier than other products, so using less means you won’t have to restock as often). The second benefit is that it may slow down the aging process. Yes, you heard me right! Applying too much eye cream can actually backfire because the excess product can seep into the eyes, causing irritation and swelling. This could cause you to wake up with more puffiness in the morning, which stretches the skin and leads to a loss of elasticity over time. Premature wear and tear is the last thing the skin around the eyes needs, so use eye cream sparingly and correctly. (On that note, this is how you should be using your eye cream.)
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. Let me explain. If you have dry skin under your eyes, it means there is an accumulation of dead skin cells there. If you apply eye cream without removing these dead cells first, you’re just trying to rehydrate dead cells, which makes no sense. What you should be doing instead is applying a thin layer of an acid exfoliator that’s specifically formulated for the sensitive undereye area, like this eye serum. This way, all the effective ingredients in your eye cream will be able to penetrate deeper into the skin, so you can reap all of their benefits.
3. Hold Your Makeup Remover Over Your Eye For at Least 30 Seconds
When you’re tired and ready for bed, you want to get your makeup off as quickly as possible—I get it. However, since the eye area is so delicate, it’s worth taking extra time to treat it 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, like the Renée Rouleau Soothing Eye Makeup Remover, and hold it on your eye area for 30 to 60 seconds. This will give your eye makeup time 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, pulling, or any kind of friction, since it 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 skin benefits: they boost water levels, balance pH levels, and remove drying minerals that are often found in tap water. In addition to these benefits, when you leave a toner damp on your skin before applying your next product, it allows you to spread that product more easily. Whether that product is a serum or moisturizer, you won’t end up needing to use as much and it will last longer. What’s more, is that damp skin is thought to be 10 times more permeable than dry skin, so your serum might actually penetrate deeper within the skin, which can enhance its efficacy.
5. Stop Using Thick, Absorbent Cotton Balls to Apply Product
The reason I’m such a big fan of toning cloths is that they really allow you to get the most out of liquid products like toner and eye makeup remover. They’re less absorbent than traditional cotton balls and pads, so they don’t “steal” as much product. In fact, when you use toning cloths, you’re able to use about 50 percent less product overall, which means you’re able to deliver the product to your skin while actually using less of it. It’s a win-win.
6. Use Your Exfoliating Acid Serum for Bumpy Skin on the Body
While most of us regularly exfoliate our faces, many people neglect the rest of the skin on their bodies. An exfoliating acid serum can be beneficial anywhere you experience dry or bumpy skin. For most people, these bumps crop up on their legs or the backs of their arms and sometimes even turn into keratosis pilaris. Applying an exfoliating acid on these areas a few nights a week can dissolve existing bumps and dryness and prevent these issues from reappearing in the future.
7. Use Your Exfoliating Acid Serum as a Cuticle Dissolver
I love using this skincare hack all year round, but especially throughout the winter months! I put a thin layer of the Renée Rouleau Pore + Wrinkle Perfecting Serum on my cuticles, follow up with hand cream, and go to bed. While I sleep, the acids work to dissolve some of the dryness around my nails. I do 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 skincare hack is especially relevant if you have an old prescription retinoid sitting around that you’re not using anymore due to the dry, flaky side effects you experience when you use it. Instead of letting it go to waste, give yourself an at-home peel—that is if 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 (so two pea-sized amounts instead of one). Spread the retinoid evenly across your skin and leave as-is without applying moisturizer over the top. This may sound intense, but the whole point is to get your skin to peel and provide a skin-smoothing, resurfacing effect.
The only thing is that 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. And when it comes to regular, ongoing exfoliation, consider using a gentler alternative to a prescription retinoid, such as a serum that contains retinol. I recommend the Renée Rouleau Advanced Resurfacing Serum.
9. Use Your Acne Spot Treatment on Bug Bites
Bug bites can be so itchy and uncomfortable! There are many products on the market you can use to soothe them, but you might be overlooking one you already have: your acne spot treatment. Many acne spot treatments contain soothing itch-alleviating ingredients like sulfur, zinc oxide, and calamine. I, for one, like to use the Renée Rouleau Night Time Spot Lotion on bug bites, since it contains both sulfur and zinc oxide. Other good options include Kate Somerville’s Eradikate, which contains these ingredients as well, and the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, which adds soothing calamine to the mix.
10. For Serious Hydration, Don’t Rinse Off Your Hydrating Masque
This skincare hack is most helpful when using a cream-based masque. Instead of rinsing it off, leave it on overnight to create an occlusive layer over the skin to trap moisture. This will allow the hydrating agents in the masque to infuse deep into the skin, so you wake up with a bouncy, glowing complexion. For best results, use an at-home peel, such as the Renée Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel, before applying your hydrating masque. This will rid the skin of dead, dry cells, which will allow the hydrating masque to penetrate deeper.
11. Soak Toning Cloths With Liquid Products for Easy Travel
I’m on the road a lot, and 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 skincare 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. Here are step-by-step instructions.
12. Use a Facial Oil to Customize Your Moisturization
This may not sound like a skincare hack, but hear me out. Many of us struggle to find the perfect moisturizer—especially those of us who are acne-prone. Unfortunately, the moisture levels in our skin are always fluctuating, whether that’s 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 non-comedogenic facial oil, like the Renée Rouleau Pro Remedy 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 great for other things, too. I like to apply one over my cuticles after using an exfoliating serum on them. Facial oils can also be used to protect your skin from the dry cabin air on an airplane, to soften stretch marks and scars, and to nourish the skin after a chemical peel.
13. Bring Your Facial Scrub Down to the Neck
The neck is an area that’s often neglected, so it ends up looking dry and crepey over time. A gentle facial scrub is a quick and easy way to give this area a boost. After all, just like the skin on your face, the skin on your neck can benefit from regular exfoliation. Just be sure to follow an exfoliating scrub with a neck cream, which will nourish and moisturize the delicate skin. My favorite is the Renée Rouleau Intensive Firming Night Creme.
14. Use Powder Makeup as Sun Protection
These days, there are many powders with SPF ratings, but did you know your regular pressed or loose powder foundation can also 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, so I’ll dust on a generous amount of my Revlon powder (as mentioned in this post) to get some sun protection. It’s important to note that powder makeup should never be a replacement for proper sunscreen, but in a pinch, it’s a quick and easy way to get much-needed protection.
15. Prevent Clogged Pores From Glasses With an Antibacterial Blemish Product
If you’re acne-prone, wearing glasses can present a problem. 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 the Renée Rouleau 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.
These are truly some of my favorite effective skincare hacks! 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.”