Steps You Really Shouldn't Skip in Your Beauty Routine

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

After a long day at work or a late night involving questionable food and beverage choices, the last thing you want to do is deal with your skin and hair. But as much as you may enjoy waking up with raccoon eyes and a rat’s nest, we promise you’ll look and feel much better if you set aside a few minutes for a simple beauty routine.

And we do mean simple. You don’t need a cheat sheet on your bathroom mirror to remember to use a toner before an essence but after a dry oil and only when you use an acid on the third Thursday after a full moon. We partnered with HUM Nutrition to focus your routine on seven crucial steps. With more than 30 all- natural, super-specific vitamin formulations, HUM Nutrition makes it easy to care for your skin, hair, and body from the inside out—which means less time covering problems up and more time enjoying healthy skin and hair.

1. Wash it all off.
ishonest No.101 - Extract Dead Cells

No.101 - Extract Dead Cells

You may have heard that overcleansing can strip cells of moisture and oils that keep skin and hair follicles healthy and strong, but that doesn’t mean you get a free pass from washing up every night.

First things first: Wash your hands when you get home and before beginning your nightly routine. Touching your face with unwashed hands can transfer lingering dirt, oil, and germs onto skin, which is basically a one-way ticket to acne city with a stop at influenza-ville.

If you’ve just done a workout or had a particularly sweaty day, you’ll also want to shower off. The combo of sweat and tight clothes can lead to friction- based conditions like folliculitis and acne mechanica. Whether you’re shampooing or not, add a dollop of conditioner, says celebrity hairstylist Chad Wood. “It hydrates your hair and has bonds that make your hair silky and smooth,” he says.

Lastly, your mom wasn’t wrong when she told you to wash your face. “Cleansing is the most important thing,” dermatologist Jennifer T. Haley says. “Nothing will absorb without removing dirt and dead skin cells.” In other words, you can slather on a $500 serum, but it won’t do jack if last night’s dirt, makeup, and dead skin are in the way. If you’re feeling extra lazy, skip a full face wash and grab a cleansing makeup remover wipe instead.

2. Exfoliate every couple of days.
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Brooke Jackson, M.D., a dermatologist and medical director of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago, agrees that cleansing is a must. But to prevent drying out, chafing, or irritating skin, she suggests using a gentle cleanser daily and then exfoliating every few days.

To save time, Haley says you can use an exfoliator in place of a cleanser to clean your skin and scrub off dead skin cells at the same time. She suggests using one with alpha or beta hydroxy acid, since it cuts through the gunk of the day quickly and exfoliates gently. You can even use presoaked toner pads from the drugstore. Just open the bag, wipe your face, and voila!

3. Add in a serum.

Serums add extra moisture and wrinkle-fighting ingredients. Haley likes vitamin C serums best because they clock in at various price points and work for all skin types.

Using a vitamin C serum after cleansing “helps you ward off environmental toxins and UV damage,” Haley says. Though you can skip it on your laziest days, using a serum in the morning gives your skin extra protection for the day to come. Reminder: If and when you do use a serum, it should come after cleansing and before moisturizing.

4. Turn your focus inward.
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Taking care of how you look starts on the inside. When your diet is full of processed junk and meh ingredients, your skin and hair cells don’t get the nutrition they need. Adding the right balance of vitamins and nutrients to your diet helps your entire body thrive. You might even have to put away the highlighter, because you’ll be as dewy as the decimal system.

Make sure you’re eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Green is queen (if it rhymes, you know it’s true), but olive oil, tomatoes, and berries all help reduce inflammation, which relieves redness and puffiness.

You can also use supplements to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients. For example, Collagen Love from HUM Nutrition contains three types of collagen and vitamin C to promote skin elasticity and firmness. Or try Hair Sweet Hair gummies (which are vegan, BTW). Biotin, folic acid, and zinc support hair growth, strengthen follicles, and give strands a natural radiance. Plus, they’re gummies. There’s really no downside.

5. Moisturize.

Day or night, you need a moisturizer. It locks the moisture into your skin, giving you that dewy Meghan Markle look.

ishonest No.111 - Purge Impurities

No.111 - Purge Impurities

The experts all agree you don’t need to spend a lot of money. “I don’t think there is any benefit to spending $50 on a moisturizer,” Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, M.D., medical director of Mudgil Dermatology says. Instead, use any drugstore moisturizer you like. Look for one that suits your skin type and has mostly (or all) natural ingredients.

Even better: This step can be combined with other important skin-care tasks. For example, use a moisturizer that contains 30 SPF during the day, then put on one with retinol at night.

By now we all know how important sunscreen is, but Mudgil says retinol is also pretty crucial. Retinol helps unclog pores and stimulates collagen production, helping your skin keep its elasticity.

Haley recommends using a pearl-size amount (can be mixed into moisturizer or not) for your face, neck, and chest. “[But] if your skin is sensitive, you may not be able to use a retinoid nightly,” Mudgil says.

6. Don’t just throw your hair up.
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A few thoughtful habits can be the difference between a Priyanka hair day and a Cynthia one. Whether you’ve showered or not, give your hair a quick brush before bed. But not 100 strokes per the old wives’ tale, which can actually damage hair. A couple swipes will distribute oils and detangle, Wood says.

And don’t pull it all up into a tight ponytail either. Wood recommends sleeping in a braid, which protects strands from frizz-inducing tossing and turning. Or, if you have coarser hair, invest in a silk sleeping cap. And if it’s volume you’re after, Amika pro educator Eddie Ceritos suggests pulling hair into a loose top knot. “Sleeping with your hair this way will help keep those pesky knots away and minimize breakage,” he says. “Your morning hair routine is super simple—just remove the tie and shake out.”

Lastly, both experts agree a healthy hair routine does not include frequent heat styling. “Your hair grows faster and better when you don’t heat style,” Wood says. So keep it to once or twice a week, if you can.

7. Clean your tools.

This isn’t something that has to be done every day or night, but cleaning the things that come into contact with your skin and hair is as important as any other step on this list. That means makeup brushes, hairbrushes, and loofahs or washcloths.

For most tools, a quick wash with gentle soap and warm water every one to two weeks should do the trick (though experts recommend swapping out loofahs more regularly).

Hairbrushes also need to be cleaned to remove hair, dead skin cells, oil, and product residue, which can snag on strands and cause damage, Cerritos says. To wash your brush, first remove any excess hair with a rat tail comb. Add a couple drops of shampoo and scrub to help remove buildup from the base and bristles. Then rinse with hot water and let the brush air dry with bristles facing down on a dry towel.

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