Dr. Sandra Lee's (Surprisingly Simple) Skincare Philosophy

Five steps, twenty steps, zero steps...We’re all in favour of a successful skincare routine — but what’s the ideal regimen? With all of the competing theories out there — from “water only” to dozens of products — claiming to deliver your best skin, it’s no surprise many of us are confused.

In search of the elusive skincare sweet spot, we talked to dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper). For someone with the world of dermatology at her disposal, her philosophy is surprisingly simple.

A woman using a face mask treatment which can be a part of a Cleanse, Treat, Moisturize routine

4 minute read

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What’s the best skincare routine?

Although everyone’s skin is unique, there are a few steps that work pretty universally, says Dr. Lee. Sticking to these 3 simple steps can help keep your skin healthy.

STEP 1: Cleanse

Everyone knows that washing your face removes dirt and oil. But why is that important? Getting off the gunk (it’s a mixture of environmental pollutants, sebum, dead skin and microbes, btw) has quite a few benefits:

  • Allows skin to “breathe” freely
  • Helps prevent blemishes by keeping pores clear
  • Removes environmental toxins that can cause damage
  • Promotes a healthy glow by removing the filmy layer

Dr. Lee’s favourite cleanser ingredient is beta hydroxy acid, because it’s great for exfoliating, yet gentle enough for all skin types (even sensitive). Try SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser, which removes dirt, oil and impurities to get pores deep-down clean, while also combating dullness.

We hear you, skin care junkies: what about double cleansing? It’s true, some complexions can benefit from this extra step, based on ancient Korean skincare rituals. Try using an oil soluble cleanser first, followed by a water soluble one.

STEP 2: Treat

Once skin is properly cleansed, it’s prepped to absorb any remedy or treatment. It’s this second step where we delve into our skin’s unique differences, and how to address them, Dr. Lee explains. Treatments, she says, are designed to tackle any number of skincare concerns, from dryness to oiliness and blemishes to ageing — and everything in between. Here are a few of her favourite treatment ingredients:

  • Retinol: this vitamin A derivative speeds up cell turnover, which benefits those with blemishes, as well as concerns about visible ageing. SLMD Retinol Serum uses a time-release formula combined with nourishing ingredients to work overnight toward renewed skin.
  • Vitamin C: the most well-researched antioxidant, this powerhouse helps prevent hyperpigmentation, dullness, fine lines and sun damage. Find it in SLMD Retinol Serum and Facial Moisturizer.
  • Sulfur: this all-natural mineral that’s safe for sensitive skin is great for controlling oil production, with anti-bacterial and exfoliating properties to boot. SLMD Sulfur Lotion is formulated for skin that's prone to inflammatory blemishes.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: a dermatologist favourite, this extremely hydrating ingredient is very well tolerated by all skin types, since it’s naturally found in skin. SLMD Skin Drink also contains squalane, so it can double as an intensive moisturiser.

STEP 3: Moisturise

No matter your skin type — normal, dry, combination, sensitive, even oily — it’s absolutely necessary to moisturise, says Dr. Lee. It’s essential to keep skin balanced, especially when using powerful anti-blemish ingredients that can be drying or irritating.

Remember: hydrating and moisturising aren’t the same. When skin is properly hydrated, it means the water content is optimal for cell health (don’t forget, we’re mostly made of water).

Skin that’s moisturised, on the other hand, has an adequate amount of lubricating oils that keep skin supple and help regulate water loss and gain. When choosing a moisturiser, look for ones labeled non comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog pores. Try SLMD Facial Moisturizer, formulated for all skin types. Dr. Lee notes that everyone should wear sunscreen daily (even if you’re indoors in wintertime) to protect against damaging UV rays.

Salicylic Acid Cleanser, Sulfur Lotion, Retinol Serum, Facial Moisturizer Blemish-Prone Skin System by SLMD

Dr. Lee’s last word

I created SLMD Skincare with my simple, 3-step Cleanse, Treat, Moisturise philosophy in mind. Skincare isn’t magic, and it doesn’t need to be complicated. Using potent dermatological ingredients in certain combinations — and using them consistently — goes a long way toward maintaining healthy skin function. If you stick to the steps, and follow a healthy lifestyle that includes adequate sleep and daily sunscreen, your skin will definitely reward you.

—Dr. Sandra Lee

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