As Zein Obagi MD says:
Q: I used to get by with only 3 steps (cleanse, tone, moisturize), but have been advised to start using products for hyper-pigmentation. While I have seen some results, it is a lot of steps, and I wonder if all this layering is actually good for my skin. Can you recommend a line with fewer steps?
KD, Waller, TX
A: Oops. You want us to recommend FEWER steps, and we’re going to recommend MORE steps! Unfortunately, doing as you ask would not necessarily be doing you (or your skin) any favors.
Some day there may be one product that cleanses, tones, activates, stimulates, moisturizes, and protects. But not soon. Just look how long it has taken companies like Revlon and P&G to develop a single product that both shampoos and conditions—even though a shampoo/conditioner has been on the market for 20+ years, it has never caught on in the US, partially because of the difficulty of combining the raw materials and active ingredients, partially because it’s not as efficient at either cleansing or conditioning.
The same is true with skincare products. If we combined too many active ingredients, one would invariably de-activate or de-stabilize another. Plus there can’t be one generic skincare product, because there isn’t one generic skin type. People’s needs are different.
There are several things wrong with the regimen you mention.
- You’re missing what dermatologists consider to be the most important step—sunscreen. It’s critical for both younger-looking as well as healthier skin.
- To avoid pigmentation issues, elasticity problems, lines, and wrinkles, you need to stimulate the skin cells. For this you need active Vitamin A (like retinol), and peptides, growth factors, and anti-oxidants (like C&E).
- Using a moisturizer, while excluding some of these other ingredients, will make your skin cells lazy and function improperly. Don’t make that mistake!
Not to worry about too much layering—your skin will appreciate the attention that it gets. Just make sure to apply the products in the right order, from lightest to heaviest, so that they can be absorbed properly.