The "Key 3" & Why You Need Them
If you’ve followed me for any time, chances are you’ve heard me refer to the “Key 3”. For those who are new here, let me explain.
With so many products on the market, how do you know where to even begin? Between moisturizers, serums, toners, vitamins, cleansers, and masks - what products are the truly most important for anti-aging? The answer is simple. The Key 3.
Before you invest in anything else, make sure you have these three products first: sunscreen, vitamin C, and retinol.
This one is the most important. I’m sure you’ve been told your whole life to wear sunscreen because it prevents sunburn and protects you from developing skin cancer. But did you know it also prevents collagen breakdown (read: AGING!)? Approximately 80% of facial aging is directly attributed to sun exposure. In other words, if you get lasers/injectables/microneedling/all the things and you aren’t wearing sunscreen every.single.day, you’re wasting your money. Again for the people in the back - Wasting. Your. Money. Protect your investment. Wear your sunscreen people.
When to use: last step in the morning before makeup.
There are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of different vitamin C’s on the market. Why? Because everyone needs one. I certainly have my favorites (which I’ll discuss more in a bit), but let’s first discuss what it does. In a nutshell, vitamin C stops the formation of free radicals that cause collagen and elastin breakdown (again, AGING!). If this isn’t motivation enough, vitamin C also brightens the skin, helps prevent and diminish hyperpigmentation, promotes new collagen production, and hydrates the skin. This is a product that you will quickly notice a difference in your skin once starting.
When to use: every morning after cleansing.
Retinol, also known as vitamin A, is what I call the work horse. Bottom line: the earlier you start it, the slower you’ll age. Retinol works by increasing cellular turnover to repair skin damage and prevent future damage. What does it treat? Pretty much all skin concerns. Clogged pores? Retinol. Hyperpigmentation? Retinol. Acne? Retinol. Improve elasticity, tone, and texture? Retinol. Fine lines and wrinkles? Retinol. Reduce pore size? Retinol. I could keep going, but I think y’all get the point.
When to use: at night after cleansing.
So now that you know the three products you need, which ones are best for your skin type? Here are my favorites:
My hands down, all time favorite sunscreen is Intellishade Original - if I were stuck on a desert island and could only choose one product to have with me, 10/10 it would be this. It is a 5-in-1 product that includes sunscreen (45 SPF), foundation (intelligent technology that matches all skin types - hence the name intelli-shade!), moisturizer, antioxidants, and peptides.
It also comes in a few different variations based on preference. If you prefer more of a dewy finish to your skin, I recommend the Intellishade Original (my favorite). If you prefer more of a matte finish, or if you have oily skin, I recommend the Intellishade Matte. If you prefer a physical sunscreen, I recommend the Intellishade TruPhysical. And lastly, if you prefer a non-tinted sunscreen (most men prefer this one), then I recommend the Multi-Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 50.
VITAMIN C FAVORITES
As I previously mentioned, there are so many vitamin C products on the market that it can get confusing/overwhelming. This is a product that’s not “one size fits all”, so I want to mention my favorite for each skin type:
C+ Correcting Complex is ideal for sensitive skin, rosacea, melasma/hyperpigmentation, and acne prone skin. Since I personally struggle with melasma, this is my go-to vitamin C. This cream contains new technology that suppresses melanin more-so than other vitamin C’s which is why it is ideal for hyperpigmentation. Also, since it contains THD Ascorbate and not L-ascorbic acid, it is great for sensitive skin and those suffering with rosacea.
My Skin By Blair Vitamin C 20% Serum is great for those who prefer a serum over a cream and also for those wanting an L-asboric acid based vitamin C. It is great for all skin types besides very sensitive and/or reactive skin. The most common feedback I hear regarding this product is that they love the glow that it gives their skin.
Retinol can be intimidating. If you’ve used it before, chances are you’ve experienced some sort of skin irritation or dryness from it. Maybe you’ve even given up on it altogether. Well within the past year, I finally found the best retinol for beginners - Retivance Skin Rejuvenating Complex. It you want to get technical, it’s not actually a retinol but a retinaldehyde - a more potent form of vitamin A. The great thing about this product is that it causes virtually zero side effects - no irritation, no dryness, no peeling. It’s the strongest non-prescription retinoid on the market AND has the least amount of side effects. Bottom line: nothing compares.
One step above Retivance Skin Rejuvenating Complex is prescription tretinoin - commonly known by its brand name “Retin-A”. Unless you have oily skin, I do not recommend starting at this strength as it will likely cause moderate skin irritation. Since tretinoin is a prescription, it must be prescribed by your medical provider (PA, NP, MD), so you will not find this product online. So if you’re looking for somewhere to start until you’re able to get your hands on the prescription, I definitely recommend the Retivance.
I hope y’all found this breakdown of my “Key 3” helpful! If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments, and I’ll get right back to you!