Welcome to your skin check-in with Life & Style’s resident health and beauty expert, Dr. Will Kirby, a celebrity dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer of LaserAway. Every week, he’ll be spilling his candid thoughts and professional advice on all things skin, beauty and wellness as it relates to you — and your favorite stars.

One of the most common situations I encounter as a board-certified dermatologist is a new patient who comes to see me with a bag full of skincare lotions and potions. They unceremoniously dump the contents out on my desk, frustrated and confused as to what to use and in what order.

So, let’s take a huge step back here and try to organize and simplify our daily routines and understanding of skincare by implementing an effective, logical approach. It goes without saying that in any facet of life, including but not limited to skincare, you should put a premium emphasis on the least expensive and the most efficacious options available to you and avoid all the unnecessary items and distractions.

As such, our first step consists of you going to your medicine cabinet and/or bathroom sink area and drawers.  If you see products that you haven’t used in the past six months then just throw them out right now! I’m serious. Don’t bring that bag of stuff to me to sort through. After all, I don’t know why you bought it! Discard it and the emotions associated with it. Don’t hesitate. Do it right now!

See, let’s acknowledge that the billion-dollar business of skincare is rife with companies trying to get your money and it’s ultimately up to you as to how you want to traverse this skincare landscape, what products you want to use and how much money you want to spend.

To start your day, you need a fresh palate! Before we can apply products, let’s get our canvas ready. Each morning, gently wash your face with a non-foaming wash or use a gentle wipe to wake your skin up and prepare for your day. Harsh foaming washes, mechanical scrubs and scrub brushes should be avoided in the morning.

Not only is there less, if any, makeup to remove, but we also don’t want to irritate your face and inadvertently cause excess sebum (oil) production to contend with. Professional tip: Soak your face in a sink filled with ice water or rinse with cold water to help minimize morning puffiness! After wiping, you should let your face air dry or dry your face with a hairdryer set to cold.

If you need an exfoliator — and not everyone does — now is the time to use it. Choose an exfoliation product wisely! You want the smallest granules possible, and I only recommend that you exfoliate once or twice a week, at most. If you have sensitive skin, then you should skip exfoliation altogether. 

Do you love a daily serum? Well, once again, now is the time to use one. I recommend a serum containing vitamin C to wake your face up and brighten your complexion. The next part of our approach is easy: Wear a broad spectrum SPF product (preferably SPF 50+) every day.

What SPF product should you use? That’s up to you, obviously, but the best one is the one that you’re actually going to use. If you don’t like a product, then you won’t use the product! Simply choose an SPF that you find luxurious and flattering. They come in tinted, matte finishes these days so they go on great before makeup and there are many that are infused with moisturizers that you can select, if necessary. 

At the very top of our daily hierarchical approach to efficient skincare is barrier protection: i.e. hats, sunglasses and long sleeves. It’s common knowledge that sunlight causes premature aging of the skin and predisposes you to skin cancer later in life.

The most effective form of sun protection is a barrier. Purchase some fashionable hats with a minimum of a three-inch brim, get large UVA/UVB protecting sunglasses and wear long sleeves that are SPF-rated. I know, I know, this first topic is neither sexy nor fun, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t emphasize it because it is cheap, easy and most importantly, supremely effective long-term.

Once you have a thorough coat of sun protection on, then you are ready to apply makeup and start your day. That was easy, right?