My skin is healthy and popping

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If you’re still using a plain, old bar of soap and a washcloth to wash your face once a day in the morning, what is you doing, baby? While it may be true that Black don’t crack, it can still become dry, dull, and in dire need of some serious TLC — which is why it’s time for you to get into the habit of taking your skincare a little more seriously.

We hit up Nayamka Roberts-Smith, licensed esthetician and owner of LA Beautyologist, who specializes in facial skin care for people of color and offers virtual consultations online as well as in-person at her office in Beverly Hills, CA. Her personal philosophy on skincare is uncomplicated and straightforward: just keep it simple. She’s results-oriented and believes in tackling skincare issues one-by-one with just a few key products.

So, while it won’t really be necessary to adopt your girl’s 10-step Korean skincare routine, you will need to start doing some of the basics if you want to keep yourself looking fly past your prime. This four-part routine is an easy, painless way to keep that melanin popping.

1 Cleanse

Washing your face is really the foundation for good-looking skin. As a general rule, you want to make sure that you are doing this once in the morning and again in the evening for the best results. You can throw in an extra wash after a sweaty workout, but otherwise, twice a day is ideal. Roberts-Smith suggests using her “60 second rule,” which is washing your face with your fingers for one full minute. It’s as easy as it sounds and will help your breakouts heal faster, make your skin silky, and also reduce hyperpigmentation.

Note: you’ll need to find a cleanser that works with your skin type. She adds that most men have one of two issues — either their skin is really dry or it’s very oily. The oiliness comes with having more testosterone and can become worse if you have a lot of facial hair. If you’re in this boat, find a foaming or gel cleanser to combat the problem. For issues with dry skin, look for a thick cream cleanser to prevent stripping more of your face’s natural oils. No matter what your skin type is, stay away from anything with a lot sulfates or irritants like fragrances, perfumes, and products with high alcohol content.

2 Exfoliate

While you really only need to exfoliate two to three times a week, it’s definitely an important part of a skincare routine that you shouldn’t skip. When you don’t exfoliate, dead cells build up residue on the surface of the epidermis and begin to clog your pores, which can lead to blackheads and breakouts. This not only affects the appearance of your skin, but it affects the texture and brightness.

“Men generally have thicker skin than women, so when they don’t exfoliate, it’s a lot more obvious that they have built up dead skin on their faces. It makes their skin look dull and can even result in flakiness,” Robert-Smith warns. “Proper exfoliation helps to smooth blemishes and even out the complexion.”

It’s up to you whether you want to use a gentle scrub or facial brush, but just be careful not to overdo it. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, exfoliating too hard or too often can lead to irritation, inflammation, puffiness, and can cause skin damage. Use small, circular motions to gently exfoliate your face, making sure not to apply too much pressure. Remember to get along the hairline, under your ears, and the front and back of your neck.

Proper exfoliation helps to smooth blemishes and even out the complexion.

3 Tone

Though it may seem like just another thing to do, toning is an important step that you should never skip. Some people may think it’s optional, but Robert-Smith says it’s just as important as the other steps. She suggests using a hydrating toner (rather than one with a lot of active ingredients) to soothe the skin by acting as a humectant that helps bind water to your face and keep it from drying out.

“What toning does is it helps any product that you apply to the skin afterwards deliver better. That means it’s absorbed into the skin more efficiently after cleansing,” she explains. “It helps to rebalance your skin to its natural pH, which makes a big difference in the appearance of your skin.”

You can apply a toner by spraying it directly onto your skin and patting it in with your fingers until it’s absorbed or using a cotton pad to distribute it on your face. This step will help remove any excess cleanser and dirt, and preps the face for a moisturizer.

4 Moisturize

Regardless of your skin type, it will always need moisture. When your skin is hydrated, it functions better. Keeping your skin hydrated is one of the best ways to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines that can start to show up as you age. Plus, you’re less likely to have breakouts, your skin won’t be inflamed, and it will help reduce hyperpigmentation.

“Melanin protects the underlying skin structures like blood vessels, collagen and elastin. Hyperpigmentation is your skin’s attempt at protecting itself, “ Robert-Smith says. “It darkens to prevent what it thinks is damage whether that’s overexposure to the sun or a pimple. Making sure your skin is hydrated is extremely valuable and can help with what has become a major concern among people color when it comes to skincare.”

If you have oily skin, find an oil-free or mattifying moisturizer that won’t clog your pores and make you look even shinier. If you have dry skin, look for something creamy with no alcohol in it. In addition to moisturizing twice a day, consider increasing your water intake to boost your skin’s hydration.

Also, don’t play yourself, you still need to use moisturizer with SPF in it.

Bonus: if you’re really feeling like you want to take your routine to the next level, then you’ll throw in a face mask once or twice a week, but it’s not necessary.