Lab Notes - The Regimen Lab Skincare Blog ?

Prioritization

reading time: 4 minutes
level: beginner

Skincare is a Journey 

Knowing what skincare to apply and when can be overwhelming. We’re here to help you figure out which direction to go in, what you should be doing and what you should be avoiding along the way.  So, where to start? It depends on your skincare concerns. We’ve grouped skincare problems into four categories, loosely based on Dr. Leslie Baumann’s Skin Type Index:

  1. Barrier and Hydration (usually the root of the problems below)
    signs: 
    skin is red, tight, dry, flaky, scaly 
  2. Inflammation  (includes acne, rosacea)
    signs: skin has swelling, irritation stinging, acne formation, sensitivity, redness
  3. Pigmentation 
    signs: skin has acne marks, melasma, sun spots, age spots
  4. Texture 
    signs: skin has rough patches, scars, wrinkles

These are listed in priority order, meaning if you’re dealing with categories 2 through 4, you still need to start with barrier repair. Take a look at this "map":

 

If you have acne and dry skin, your skincare journey should start with healing the skin barrier. If you have pigmented skin and it's not dry and sensitive, then start your skincare journey with pigmentation. The journey isn't necessarily linear - there will be ups and downs and twists and turns. You can tackle some of the other problems simultaneously.  Here's how to figure out your skincare priorities:

Yes it’s a journey, but it’s not necessarily linear. You can deal with some of the other problems simultaneously. 

Game time!

Think of skincare as having 10 points in total to spend.

barrier repair

7 points

dryness 3 points
barrier and hydration maintenance 2 points
acne 8 points
inflammation 7 points
inflammation prevention 2 points
pigmentation 6 points
pigmentation prevention 2 points
rough texture 6 points
wrinkle prevention 2 points


The maintenance / prevention stage can only be unlocked right after completing a whole repair / treat stage. If you try using more than 10 points, you have to go back to the beginning and you’ll lose access to the maintenance/ prevention privileges. You get the idea. 

Here’s why:

Acne is one of the most common skin problems. There are a lot of effective acne treatments out there, but many of them can be irritating. To add to that, acne can also be a symptom of an impaired barrier, so treating it with barrier damaging actives just perpetuates a cycle of inflammation. 

If bumpy, rough skin is a concern,  the usual rounds of treatment involve acids, tretinoin, resurfacing etc. However, if your barrier is damaged, these tools would cause more harm than good, even if the acne spots would go away temporarily. Even worse, they can cause rebound pigmentation after the inflammation subsides. You end up creating more problems than what you started with. 

The better solution is to take it slow and start with the barrier. You can strengthen your barrier by using barrier repair ingredients like ceramides. Once you are quite sure that your barrier is repaired, you can then take the next steps to deal with the problems down the line.

As you move down the list, the actives that are used to treat the concerns get stronger, and their potential for irritation is increased. The best solution here is to prioritize the barrier damage and strengthen the barrier before even commencing acne/ inflammation treatment. Barrier Above Everything, got it bae?...

Stick to your Plan

As the desire to understand skincare has become more common, there’s a constant stream of new fads and information from beauty brands and skinfluencers. Always try to keep your goal and skincare priority top of mind and don’t stray too far from that path. 

But what if… 

Say a new ingredient emerges on the market, but it needs to be a pH of 7 for it to be 100% active. If you lower the pH to 5, its activity lowers to 60%. Naturally, we want the 100% effect of an ingredient. However, anything that you add to your routine must always agree with your number 1 priority. Let’s say barrier repair is your priority, pH 7 is actually not great for the moisture barrier. You’ll need to settle for the lower activity even though it breaks some rules for that active. You should always come back to your main priority even if it violates some rules. It’s okay to be a rebel sometimes. 

Eyes on the Road 

Certain ingredients like Tranexamic Acid are hard to penetrate into the skin. Penetration enhancers and acids are often required to get it through the skin. However, if your priority is barrier repair, you should avoid loosening the barrier too much. It’s counterproductive. You won’t get the best penetration of Tranexamic acid, but at least your barrier will be healthy.

In this series, we’ll tackle all the factors that affect application, layering and skin penetration. We’ll mention a lot of different rules and things to look out for, but you always need to come back to your priority even if it contradicts some of the rules we’ll mention. *Insert inspirational quote about sticking to your path*. 

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Lab Notes is how we shine light on the science behind skincare. Got a question or a topic you want us to dive deep on? Get in touch!