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Rehab Your Skin: Build a Repairing Skincare Routine

In our Rehab Your Skin series, we’re taking things back to basics to help you reset your skincare regimen in the new year and reclaim positive skincare habits.

There’s a simple enough rule at the heart of any repairing skincare routine: nothing succeeds like excess. Whether you’re addressing texture, scars or pigmentation, instead of gentle trickles of product, it’s usually a standard operating procedure to start flushing your skin with powerful antioxidants and nutrients to let your skin absorb these goodies for use. Of course, even golden rules need to be taken with a pinch of salt, and the pinch here is that you don’t oversupply nutrients just for the sake of excess — the point is to generously apply what works, take note of what doesn’t, and to keep being generous in the right places until your skin rebuilds to where you’d like it. Here are some superstar products that usually fit in well in any kind of restorative routine.

A repairing skincare regimen usually involves regular exfoliation that would help healthy skin surface from under old cells, but scrubs and peels often seem too harsh for any making a distinct effort to repair. In these cases, a mild exfoliating cleanser is the way to go, and Pixi’s Glow Mud Cleanser ($24) contains glycolic acid for both gentle and regular exfoliation that keeps pores and texture in check.

Damaged or compromised skin needs comfort and nourishment and this is where a repairing toner comes in. Calming toners are usually full of anti-inflammatories like rosewater or aloe, but Lancôme’s Tonique Confort Re-Hydrating Comforting Toner with Acacia Honey ($39) doubles down on the skin-soothers with both sweet almond extract and honey to deeply condition and hydrate the skin even while cleaning it of leftover makeup and cleanser bits.

A good deep-reaching treatment for a repairing routine depends on your particular needs — a hydrating serum, a rejuvenating mask or a collagen-rich cream are all excellent targeted treatment steps, but most people might prefer a fast-absorbing nutrient mix that can punch well above its weight. The Ordinary’s resveratrol 3% + ferulic acid 3% ($7.90) is an amazing find, especially for the price: resveratrol and ferulic acid are both dermatologist-strength antioxidants that are incredibly effective in fighting free radical damage.

If the repairing routine is focused on the provision of the extra-good stuff, then no step is more important here than that of hydration, because this is usually where you can apply the heaviest layer of actives. Whether you go with an oil, lotion or cream, make sure to pick one uniquely suited to your particular needs: texture, skin tone and extreme dryness is directly addressed by the cocktail of omega acids in Fresh’s Seaberry Moisturizing Face Oil ($68), while scarring, tightness and angry blotches are mercifully reduced by the propolis and rich but calming royal jelly in Farmacy’s Honey Savior All-In-One Skin Repair Salve ($44).

All the antioxidants in the world won’t protect against carelessness in SPF application, so the final step in this routine — as with any — is a quality sunscreen. Any sunscreen that you prefer would probably work in this step, but it’s usually helpful to seal in the lower layers of nutrient-rich products with an upper layer of protection. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 ($47), uses squalane to create a barrier against the outside world so you get an extra layer of added skin-loving hydration.

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