Whether you're starting a new skincare routine or just trying to get back to consistency, we love to do a little cleaning and organizing to streamline our skincare and get inspired.
Here are some guidelines for decoding your product labels and choosing products that align with your skin type and goals. Once you've pared down your current products and tossed out any old and/or toxic products you can then better assess what you've got to work with and determine if there is anything you're lacking.
By taking the time to think mindfully about ingredients and about what you are putting on your face, you'll be well on your way to making room for healthier choices and building the perfect care routine for your skin!
Step #1: Gather all of your beauty products
This is really the easiest way to get a good look at everything you have. Pull all of the products you have off of the shelves of your medicine cabinet or out of anywhere they might be hiding. Gather everything in one place, such as your sink or countertop. (Pro tip: also take this opportunity to wipe down your storage shelves or containers. You don't know when you'll see them this empty again.) From there, start sorting.
Step #2 - Toss out anything expired or that has turned
How do you know if a product is expired or not? There are a couple of ways to tell. Some will have an expiration date printed on the packaging. Others will have a little symbol that looks like an open jar. This tells you the shelf life after opening. (Usually a number of months symbolized by the letter M. For example 24M = 2 years after opening.) You can also tell by opening products up, looking at them, smelling them and feeling them on your hand. If a product seems off compared to how it was when you bought it, it probably is. Once a product has turned, it is no longer effective in terms of the active ingredients and could also contain bacteria. The same goes for makeup. Don't feel guilty. Toss it.
Step #3 - Look for toxic ingredients
For a longer explanation of toxic skin care ingredients, we suggest reading this blog. However, for a quick label check, here's a rundown on the big twelve to avoid, also known as "The Dirty Dozen"
-BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT(butylated hydroxytoluene)
-Coal tar dyes: p-phenylenediamine and colors listed as "CI" followed by a five-digit number
-Diethanolamine (DEA), cocamide DEA, and lauramide DEA
-Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
-Polyethylene glycol (PEG)
-Petrolatum (aka petroleum jelly or Vaseline)
-Sodium Laureth Sulfate
The ingredients that comprise the dirty dozen are labeled as such primarily based on suspected claims that they can disrupt the endocrine system and interfere with hormones. Others are seen as potentially cancer-causing. Some cause irritation to the skin. Others like Parfum are problematic because they are not regulated and could be any number of things from a natural fruit oil to a hazardous synthetic chemical. To read more specifics on each ingredient, check out this article.
Step #4 - Check for pore clogging ingredients (if you are acne prone)
Pore-clogging ingredients in our products or makeup can sometimes trigger acne. If you are breakout prone, we recommend including a check for these ingredients which are called "comedogenic" ingredients. If you aren't prone to regular breakouts, comedogenic ingredients are likely not of concern for you. However, we think it's always important to be aware that not all ingredients are created equal. The list is long, so here is a a cheat sheet we love.
NOW LET'S ORGANIZE
One of our favorite ways to get inspired is to organize your skincare products in a place where they are easy to access and in a way that cues you to follow a routine. Here are just a few ideas, but as always, this is about finding what works for you. If you have any hints of your own for organizing your beauty products, we would love to hear them, so please share!
Tip #1 - Keep it in your sights
If your skin care isn't already visible, let's start there. We like to keep our daily go-tos on the bathroom shelf, in our direct line of vision. If you have an open counter top that you can utilize, even better. Consider investing in a cute organizer or two. You can usually find something that works perfectly at the dollar store. Or a nice tray, if you like. Having these visual cues as you go about your morning and evening routine can help keep you in the habit of reaching for that serum or moisturizer.
Tip #2 Organize your steps
If you're getting a new routine down or bad about forgetting steps, try setting up your products in order on the shelf. You could try putting daily use products on one shelf, weekly products a higher shelf and makeup on its own shelf. You could also them up according to my day and night routine. There are a tons of ways to organize according to what makes sense to you. If you only have a handful of products, that's okay! Find a spot for them and line them up in the order you apply them
Tip #3 - Categorize
If you are a product junkie and have a big stash (even AFTER purging the old bad stuff) you will hopefully continue to gain clarity on what's working from your menagerie and continue to pair down. To do this, another trick we like is organizing products by category. All cleansers in one place. All serums, etc. Consider using up the products you have least of first in each category, in order to evaluate them a little more consistently. Then you can decide what's worth replacing and what's not.
Tip #4: Clean your makeup brushes while you're at it
As a side note, while you're hauling all of your beauty goodies out, this is a great time to clean your makeup brushes. Regular brush cleaning is good practice for keeping harmful bacteria from forming in your products and spreading to your face.
To clean them, you can use a gentle dish soap or baby shampoo. We like to use Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castille Soap. It's best to use lukewarm water, wring out any excess water after careful blotting the bristles on a paper towel or soft cloth. Allow to dry flat and reshape the bristles once they dry.