I want to present one word to you that I think really underpins the whole of my philosophy to skincare. If I had to sum it all up in one word, that word would be…. consistency.
Now, why have I chosen consistency?
Consistency is the cornerstone of how I constructed the Routine Finder for The Dr Sam System. And the Routine Finder was based on the fundamentals of how I practice in my clinic, allowing you to access the principles I use when I'm putting together a personalised skincare routine for my patients.
So why is consistency the most important thing in skincare?
Well, let me tell you. Well, first things first - lack of consistency is probably the commonest reason why I see a skincare routine failing.
And by failing, what I mean is not delivering on the promises that using a well-constructed actives-based routine should. It’s when, despite putting in a lot of effort and investing hard-earned money, you’ve ended up with dry, irritable, burning skin… and really the opposite of results: treatment failure.
SHOULD YOU CHANGE UP YOUR SKINCARE ROUTINE OFTEN?
So bringing it back to our them, let's look first at consistency of product. Do your research, clarify your goals, and decide on one or two products containing relevant active ingredients that you plan to introduce and use them consistently. Start with one product. Be monogamous. Don’t flirt with others. Commit to it single-mindedly and use that product until you’ve built up to daily use and used it for long enough to determine whether it's making a significant difference to the concern that you were trying to address. Only then do you bring in product number two and start to build on the routine.
The next consideration is consistency with your dosing - because every product has a desirable dose. So whether it's sunscreen, where you need to get a coating of two milligrams per centimeter squared of sunscreen on your skin in order to deliver the level of protection on the pack; whether it's with cleansing, when you use less in the morning and more at night. Or with actives, where you want to be careful that you're dosing it like medicine because that's the way to be sure that you're using the right amount over a period of time.
The next consideration is consistency of use. So I want you to get into the habit of having a really considered approach to the way you apply your skincare.
So often I see someone who's using all the right products, but perhaps they're treating acne and using it just on the spots, and so they're missing out on all those skin-enhancing benefits that go alongside using an ingredient like a retinoid or azelaic acid. I’d see this so often in my patients, so I developed the 13 Dot Technique to treat the full face; and the Modified Dot Technique for blemish-prone skin where it's more localized - for example, the U of the face in adult female acne.
The 13 Dot Technique is a great way of applying a product that needs to be applied all over the skin. Three dots on the forehead, three dots on the cheek, same again on the other cheek, two dots on the nose, two on the chin - this means you get a more even distribution. You don't miss bits out. So it's methodical, and it's systematic.
The final consideration is consistency of duration. That means using the products for long enough that they can actually have an influence on your skin health or the problem you're trying to solve. Now, there is a good reason why most of my patients are on three monthly follow-up. Three months is two skin cycles. I talk about this a lot because it's so important. You will not know where you are with a product until three months has gone by. You will have a sense at four to six weeks, but you won't really see it declare itself FULLY until three months have gone.
And that's when using prescription skincare; so over-the-counter might even take a little longer to have an impact. So be patient. Use your phone. Set up reminders so that you know when you started a routine. And by all means, take pictures to help you track the course of your skin as you go. But above all else, be consistent for a sensible period of time before making judgements on the product's performance.
When you think about it, achieving a good skincare routine is really not that different to working out and getting into great shape with the help of a personal trainer. It's all about single-minded focus, determining your goals and not getting distracted!
But above all else, it's about consistency.