There's a secret to super hydrated skin: product layering and cycling.

There's a secret to super hydrated skin: product layering and cycling.

From Angela, founder of Cult of Reason and a principal esthetician of over 20 years:

As I sit down to write, here in the northern hemisphere, it’s cold and grey and my home heating system is pumping away to keep my toes from freezing off. And with that cozy heat comes the dehydrating of noses, eyes, and skin. Let me help you shield your skin from further dryness with this post on morning skin care.

The Cult of Reason skincare line was formulated with combination skin in mind, which is often times the trickiest of skin types to manage. Sometimes you’re too oily for heavy, occlusive moisture, but maybe you have a tenaciously dry area that needs that something extra. So challenging!

There’s a new trend in social media-influenced skincare that’s actually based on techniques estheticians have been teaching for years — product layering and cycling. And if you’re a combination skin type, this is the absolute best way to keep your skin feeling great all the time. It requires having a handful of skin products; but not too worry, you’re not using all the products all of the time.

There’s a little conversation happening with your skin in the morning and evenings when it’s time for the routine. How is my skin feeling and looking today? Well, today might be an extra dry day and for that I use X product. And if it’s looking a little congested or inflamed due to hormones, I use Y products. Or maybe I’m on a cycling routine where I address breakouts prophylactically in anticipation of my period.

Layering products means using hydrating serums, which are usually a gel or thin, watery lotion, and applying occlusives like oils or creams over the top for the sealing effect. This is much more effective than just washing and applying a cream because water content and oil need to be addressed in different stages for the most effective hydration (without clogging pores.)

Cycling products means that we’re paying attention to the feedback we get from feeling our skin or looking at the texture when it’s time to do daily rituals and choosing products according to those changes. It might also be a time-of-the-month schedule with a range of products if your body tends to operate like clockwork and you know what’s coming.

I’m formerly a teen acne sufferer who is now nearing 50 years old. I don’t produce as much oil these days and winters tend to highlight my dehydration (water content, not to be confused with oil). I have large pores genetically, and they tend to get congested and occasionally I’ll get actual blackheads and a pimple due to peri-menopause.

If I don’t wash twice a day it gets very congested. If I don’t exfoliate daily it gets very congested. But since it’s winter I also am more easily dehydrated when using products that target decongestion. What to do?

Let me break it down for you with my morning routine:

Mornings require washing, but this is a time for gentle cleansing because all we need to do is remove the oxidizing oil that’s accumulated over night. For this I choose a gentle cleansing gel or milk. No exfoliation here in the AM — save the Grit exfoliation for night routines. Now if I’m cycling for the once-a-month inflammation, I may choose a slightly more astringent approach by adding a toner with salicylic acid JUST WHERE I TEND TO BREAKOUT.  Toner is used after washing and before the following steps.

I towel pat my skin so it’s still slightly damp. This is crucial for the hydration step! Now I apply my Cult of Reason Quench hydrating serum all over, even my lips. Make sure to get all around the eye area, including above. That skin is just 1/50 of an inch thick and needs water content just like any other part of the face. Now we’ve got our water hydrant effect. Quench contains niacinamide for regulating oil production, polysaccharides for ultimate water binding, and licorice root for calming inflammation. Bonus: fermented radish root helps to fortify the skin’s microbiome. Using a humectant stage like this binds water to the skin like a sponge, but we’re not quite done yet. We need to seal this water in so it doesn’t dissipate and pull water out of the skin as it goes. (Transepidermal water loss, which is a post for another day.)

This brings me to the oil step for a different kind of moisture. I’m choosing Cult of Reason Shield for this step because it’s designed for combination skin like mine. This is a lightweight oil that won’t clog pores and sinks into the skin quickly with no heavy, sticky feeling. Shield is packed with Omega Acids and Vitamin C in multiple forms so you know you’re getting a stable, unoxidized vitamin treatment. I put a few drops onto my fingers and then press the oil first into the driest areas of my face, which tend to be my cheeks and jawline. I finish up by pressing what’s left on my fingers in the areas where I produce more oil, which is my T-zone. The occlusive nature of oil forms a nutrition-imparting seal over the water so it’s much slower to leave the skin. Oils like rosehip seed and sea buckthorn in Shield, are super healing for the skin, which I’ll address in an upcoming ingredient focused post.

Now if I were a drier skin type I might add an even more occlusive product over top of this or a heavy body sunscreen. Since I’m not I’ll stick with a thin SPF like the Suntegrity Serum SPF 50 or their powder SPF in the summertime. Cult of Reason doesn’t yet have a sun care product but we love Suntegrity’s products to the moon and back.

So there you have a good morning routine! Simple, effective, and does NOT contain seventeen steps but does include everything you need for healthy, radiant skin. I prefer a minimal approach, especially for mornings. Mornings are for protecting, evenings are for renewal, which will be the next newsletter. Yay, you’re already signed up! And feel free to pass this onto friends so they can sign up to learn more about simple skincare from an expert AND get 15% off their first Cult of Reason purchase.

TLDR: Angela, the founder of Cult of Reason and principal esthetician, says that skin needs both water and oil in varying amounts to remain healthy throughout all seasons. She uses Quench on damp skin after cleansing for the water content and then seals it in with Shield oil for protection, both by Cult of Reason. Keep It Simple, Sisters.

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