Over the years I've been mesmerized by miracle skin products from antiaging creams and wrinkle-reducing formulas to glycolic peels and seaweed masks. But, according to Dallas-based aesthetician Renee Rouleau, "Serums, masks, eye cream ... are all bells and whistles. They don't count if you don't get the basics right." I sat down with Renee to talk about the essentials — what you really need to keep your skin healthy. Her advice? Three products — cleanser, toner, moisturizer — are the nuts and bolts you can't do without. Two more additions, a night cream and exfoliant, complete what she thinks should be in every woman's skincare regimen.
MC: What's the first step in scaling down your skincare routine?
MC: How do I choose a cleanser?
MC: What does toner do?
MC: Do I need a moisturizer with SPF?
MC: How often should I exfoliate?
MC: What ingredients should be avoided?
MC: What about products for all skin types?
MC: When should I use serums and oils?
MC: At what age should I start using an eye cream?
Notes from the field ...
What I kept:
Dior's HydrAction Deep Hydration Rich Crème (sephora.com; $54) doesn't have SPF, so it's not great for day, but I can slather it on at night to keep my skin hydrated.
In lieu of a scrub, I can apply Elemis's Papaya Enzyme Peel (beauty.com; $42), which uses enzymes to exfoliate.
Renee gives Ole Henriksen's Balancing Cucumber Face Tonic (olehenriksen.com; $21) the thumbs-up because it doesn't contain alcohol (even if it is unnaturally green).
Oil is a big trend and this works: Active oil (barneys.com; $59) is 100 percent natural.
Sundari's Apricot and Shea Hydrasoothing Mask (spalook.com; $40) is perfect for my sensitive skin.
What I threw out:
Caudalie's Eau de Beaute, a spray to make my complexion glow, contains alcohol, so it got the heave-ho.
The Umbrian Clay Face Treatment by Fresh is too drying for my already dry and sensitive skin. I can donate this one to a friend with oily skin.
Maria Galland's Success Moisture Cream smells like perfume, which means it probably contains synthetic fragrances.
The Crème Reconciliante Riche by Payot is too greasy for my skin and better suited for someone a bit older.
My Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream uses mineral oils, another no-no.
Get tips on how to Spring Clean Your Makeup Bag here.