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The Ideal Skin Care Routine in Detail

Introduction to the Ideal Skin Care Routine Series

Fireworks Kick Off

It’s finally here.

After months (okay, years) of delays and setbacks, the Ideal Skin Care Routine Series has arrived. Well, at least the first few parts. Over the next several months (possibly a year or longer), you will witness the publication of perhaps the most accessible and centralized compilation of basic skin care information available on the World Wide Web thus far. With the help of numerous textbooks and hundreds of scientific and medical articles, this series will attempt to logically examine and answer the question of, “What constitutes the ideal skin care routine?”

We will first establish a baseline of knowledge by analyzing the components of cleansers and moisturizers–two broad categories that encompass virtually every product on the market today. This will be accomplished by placing an emphasis on the function rather than the semantics of a product. After that, we will explore the “best” (see: most researched and documented) non-vehicular beneficial ingredients that should be included in a well-balanced routine. Finally, templates for the ideal skin care routines in respect to a particular skin condition, such as acne or rosacea, will be presented.

Updated Publishing Schedule

The publishing schedule has once again been updated. Instead of the one depicted in the last post, I will publish subsequent parts as I finish them. Therefore, there will not be a “defined” schedule, as I’m just slowly getting back into things. The topics discussed will be presented in the following order:

  1. Ideal Routine Introduction and Giveaways
  2. Cleansers
  3. Toners
  4. Moisturizers
  5. Chemical Exfoliants and Product Recommendations
  6. Important Ingredients in Skin Care: Retinoids and Product Recommendations
  7. Important Ingredients in Skin Care: Vitamin-Based Antioxidants and Product Recommendations
  8. Important Ingredients in Skin Care: Polyphenolic Antioxidants and Product Recommendations
  9. Important Ingredients in Skin Care: Other Antioxidants and Product Recommendations
  10. Important Ingredients in Skin Care: Niacinamide and Product Recommendations
  11. The Ideal Skin Care Routine: In Practice-Generic Routine
  12. The Ideal Skin Care Routine: In Practice-Acne Routine and Product Recommendations
  13. The Ideal Skin Care Routine: In Practice-Hyperpigmentation Routine and Product Recommendations
  14. The Ideal Skin Care Routine: In Practice-Rosacea Routine and Product Recommendations
  15. The Ideal Skin Care Routine: In Practice-Very Sensitive Skin Routine and Product Recommendations
  16. Common Negative Interactions Among Ingredients
  17. Body and Lip Care
  18. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Closing Remarks

It is my hope that this series will bring order and clarity to the chaotic and ever-changing tendencies of the cosmetics industry. May it serve as an enduring paradigm that gives every person the tools necessary to design a truly effective and rewarding skin care routine. 

*Note that every article in this series can be accessed via the interactive “Ideal Routine” menu on the top of every page. Here is the “Overview” page

**Also, note that sunscreens or moisturizers with SPF, will not be discussed in this series; instead a separate dedicated series will be published at a future date. 

About John

The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


22 thoughts on “Introduction to the Ideal Skin Care Routine Series

  1. Yay, it’s good to have you back!! I would love to know which moisturizer with spf you’re using at the moment? Looking forward to all the new posts!

    Posted by Anne Marie | May 24, 2014, 3:11 am
    • It’s nice to see you, too! Well, I actually don’t wear an “intensive” moisturizer with SPF on a daily basis. This is simply because my jobs are pretty much completely indoors, and I have to look more “presentable.” But on those rare days that I need protection for a long period of time, say greater than an hour of cumulative sun exposure (direct or indirect–like behind a window), I mix a combination of three products, which I would not recommend that most people to do. It’s just impractical. How are you liking the cleanser series so far?

      Posted by John | May 26, 2014, 3:05 pm
      • Ah, I know what you mean… Even though it’s impractical I mix two sunscreens when exposed to a lot of sun. On a daily basis I wear Paula’s Choice skin recovery spf 30, even though I know the spf is not as high as stated… Fortunately I live in the north, so I’m not really that exposed to a lot sun, but I’m just always on the look for a great, cosmetically elegant sunscreen.

        I like the cleanser series a lot. It’s very informative! It’s so hard to find understandable scientific articles online about skin care, so I really appreciate the work you’re doing.

        I’m also looking forward the acne-routine recommendations. An idea of what to cover could be a more detailed description of benzoyl peroxide. I’ve seen several sites online stating that it creates free radicals in the skin but Paula’s Choice claims that only hydrogen peroxide does that and not benzoyl peroxide… (https://www.facebook.com/PaulasChoice.Inc/posts/10150709577929004)

        Hm… Kind of confusing, but just an idea 🙂 Thanks for all the good work!!

        Posted by Anne Marie | May 26, 2014, 9:33 pm
        • Yay! Glad you’re liking the series so far!

          And I will definitely be talking about how benzoyl peroxide (BP) actually works in the series, with chemical formulas (though you can certainly Google it now) and perhaps some pictures/animations. But the gist of it is that PC’s claim is not technically true.

          Because for sure, BP DOES generate free radicals, more specifically reactive oxygen species (ROS). See the word “oxygen” in there? It is this oxygen that actually kills the anaerobic bacteria P. Acnes in the skin. If no ROS are generated, where would the oxygen come from? Furthermore, it is this ROS that prevents BP from being used with antioxidants and most retinoids. However, the specific ROS that comes from BP, have an affinity or tendency to attach to each other, thereby neutralizing the lone valence electrons of the outer shells. Those generated by hydrogen peroxide on the other hand, like to attack other compounds such as the proteins and lipids of the skin–something that it significant depending on how and where it is used. That being said however, BP still does generate some ROS that end up attacking its environment, rather than harmless re-attaching to itself. The amount generated by hydrogen peroxide, is simply greater, which is likely why comparatively, PC made the claim that BP does not generate ROS.

          Does that make sense?

          Posted by John | May 29, 2014, 10:18 am
          • That makes perfect sense… Thanks a lot for clearing that up! The question is then of course exactly how damaging the BP is to the skin – if it should be avoided all together even though it works. But I guess that pretty hard to answer out of the blue if no research have been done specifically on that subject (and who would make that research – not companies producing BP 🙂 ).

            Posted by Anne Marie | May 30, 2014, 6:02 am
            • On the contrary, it’s quite easy to answer. 😉 Despite its ability to produce some free radicals, BP’s positive effect far outweighs any negative side effects. Remember, the acne condition itself can lead to way more negative side effects like inflammation, physical scarring, low-self esteem, etc… Plus, antioxidants should be used anyways, which would help counteract the effects of the generated ROS.

              However, BP needs to be used properly. This is why for most people, I recommend using a chemical exfoliant all over the face as the first-line of defense. Then, if more results are needed, to spot treat with BP. Retinoids are also another option, among many such as applying BP all over the face or using a BP face wash. There isn’t an exact sequence of ingredients to use because it will vary from person to person. There’s just too much to explain, which is why there’s a section that’s to be dedicated to just acne treatment.

              But going back to your question again, there is clear and definite research demonstrating that the use of BP can be very effective. And due to its accessibility and affordability, it is quite a compelling option.

              Posted by John | May 30, 2014, 12:08 pm
    • Okay, great… you are back. Now we all are waiting for the first post form these series! 🙂

      Posted by skincareinspirations | June 16, 2014, 4:18 am
  2. John, no one is happier than me to be reading you again. Your dedication to the subject and your willingness to be available to us is testament to the quality of your work and your character.

    One question here – I don’t know if I’m missing something in the ideal routine post lineup or if this information is disseminated throughout the posts, perhaps it belongs to another area of I formation though it must surely have a part to play in your ‘recommendations’, – how can we choose products based on the most effective ‘transporter excipients’. Also in my general mental muddle around this subject are questions about fractals and components of that ilk in product formulation.
    Could you also tell me what you think of Micellar cleansers specifically, how they compare to regular surfactant cleansers. Are their chemical properties uniquely beneficial for certain skins – anything you can tell me please. If you have covered this elsewhere, please direct me to the link.

    A thousand Thankyou’s
    Soi Dog

    Posted by Robyn Hurren | May 19, 2014, 2:20 am
    • I appreciate your support! Truly wonderful. 🙂

      As for your question, well, there’s not much in my planned Ideal Routine series in terms of the discussion of transport excipients, except for water vs non-aqueous formulations, just because there’s no real way for the average consumer to determine such things since companies do not perform such experiments and/or release such data. Furthermore, the consideration of vehicular efficacy is more effective on a one-vs-one comparisons–something that would be very difficult if not impossible to do for every product that I plan to recommend. I do however, plan to make a sort of my top-5 recommendations for each type of product. But that has more to do with the ingredients they contain, rather than how their delivery systems are designed (as almost all of them will be water-based). Does that make sense?

      As for your question about micellar cleansers, that topic will actually be addressed in tonight’s post. So stay tuned! Take care!

      Oh and no, there are no chemical properties uniquely beneficial for certain skin types/conditions when it comes to cleansers. Unless of course, we’re talking about “specialized” ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, etc… Surfactants are all the same. They just vary in terms of potency.

      Posted by John | May 19, 2014, 8:11 pm
  3. So glad you are back posting! I can’t wait to read all of them.

    Posted by Bea | May 18, 2014, 3:02 pm
  4. John, I think I love you ❤

    Posted by everybodys skin | May 18, 2014, 10:59 am
  5. I am SO EXCITED for this and so happy you’ll be posting again! You are hands down my favorite skincare blogger (the other option being makeup). Your posts are always so informative yet easy to read, even if I am not familiar with the topic. Woohoo!

    Posted by Janessa | May 18, 2014, 9:59 am
  6. I am so excited 😀 The list of topics to cover looks awesome; I’m looking forward to each and every one 🙂

    Posted by Cynthia | May 18, 2014, 4:37 am
  7. Yay! Finally.

    Posted by Cathi | May 17, 2014, 10:39 pm

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