Lessons from the lab

How to curate a skin care regimen


Nature moves in cycles. Pulses. Patterns.

There is wisdom to following the steps of this dance—to learning the rhythms of natural processes. Noting how they occur, and allowing them their pace, without rush or force.

And there is pleasure in synching with nature’s beat, too. The pleasure of paying attention. Of playing a support role to ancient systems. Of partaking in ritual.

Curating a skin care regimen that respects the skin’s approximate twenty-eight-day renewal process is one way to do just that. Enacting this kind of gentle, thoughtful plan for our skin—one that draws us into a more meaningful relationship with its rhythm—is an endeavour that will reward both our faces, and our days.

A daily practice

The word ‘routine’ is defined both as a habitual, mechanical procedure, and a fixed, ordinary way of doing things. A ‘regimen’, on the other hand, is a systematic plan, designed to support and maintain health.

The difference in meaning between these words encompasses the difference in ways we can think about caring for our skin. A mechanical, commonplace, repetitious or ordinary way of relating to it—a ‘skin care routine’—will hardly inspire a feeling of empowerment. But a regimen centred on supporting our skin shifts the paradigm from ‘going through the motions’ to being in the moment.

A well-considered, attentive skin care regimen takes time—a resource that is as finite and precious as our skin. But be assured: time spent caring for the self is always time well spent. Beyond the implicit practical benefits of daily cleansing, toning, and hydrating—and treating our skin to supplementary exfoliation and masques—dedicating deliberate time to a skin care regimen presents us with an opportunity to savour every step of the experience, no matter how simple or elaborate.

Each Aesop formulation is created with scientifically validated ingredients—plant-based and laboratory-made—to be exceptional in its efficacy and practical function, with sensorial benefits as well. Determining the combination of products that will serve you best from season to season is a deeply satisfying process—one made even more pleasing with the aid of this useful online tool.

Face, neck, chest

A thorough and effective regimen expands the definition of ‘face’ to include the neck and the top of the chest—high-profile zones that are often subjected to the same exposures and demands of the face itself.

Cleanse: daily

Cleansing our skin both morning and night is an act that will help it to perform at its best.

The value of selecting a facial cleanser suited to your skin type and environment cannot be overstated. While removing sunscreen, makeup, excess sebum and any deposits collected on the face during the day, cleansing achieves the additional task of leaving the skin prepared for toning, hydration and any supplementary treatments you may wish to use.

How to cleanse

Generously dispense and spread your chosen cleanser into open palms, taking a moment to enjoy its texture, colour and aroma. Bring your hands to your face, and take a slow, deep breath as you lather. Massage the cleanser over your cheeks, forehead, temples, nose, chin, neck and upper chest. Rinse thoroughly with warm water, avoiding the use of hot water which may lead to dryness or heightened skin sensitivity.

How to cleanse the skin is a thorough and comprehensive guide that illuminates this process in further detail.

Exfoliate: twice weekly

Every skin type benefits from regular exfoliation. A practice that need only be incorporated into your skin care regimen twice a week, exfoliation aids the skin’s renewal cycle by sloughing away dead skin cells and assisting in effective cell turnover.

To exfoliate, dispense the product into your palms and massage gently over face and neck, applying minimal pressure and avoiding the eye area, before rinsing thoroughly with warm water.

Though it can be tempting to exfoliate more often, caution and restraint is needed. Exfoliating too frequently may impair the skin’s natural protective barrier. Exfoliating with care twice a week, with days in between, is ideal.

Tone: daily

Often misunderstood and under appreciated, toning is a common omission from the average routine. But daily facial toning is a beneficial step in a truly efficacious skin care practice.

After cleansing, before hydrating

Toning can be thought of as the bridge between cleansing and hydrating and an opportunity to impart an additional layer of hydration, or confer other skin-supportive benefits. Depending on the toner selected and mode of use, toning can help to complete the cleansing process. Toning can also balance and refresh the skin, even its appearance, and ready it for hydration to follow. Just as it is important to select the right cleanser for your skin type, so it is invaluable to choose the right toner.

How to tone

Using toner is a practise that takes but a moment.

After cleansing, apply your toner to a cotton pad and swipe across your face, neck and upper chest. Alternatively, shake a small pool of it into clean hands and pat onto the skin. Revel in the refreshing sensation. Your skin is now perfectly primed for hydration.

Hydrate: daily

Applying a hydrator to your skin—twice every day—can help to maintain or boost its moisture.

It is ideal to identify the right hydrator for your skin type, and reassess it regularly. This will reduce the impact of ever-changing environmental factors such as climate and air quality, and ensure your skin enjoys optimal hydration through each season. It is also important to take your own preferences for texture and skin-feel into account when selecting a hydrating product.

How to hydrate

Depending on the particular qualities of your chosen hydrator, the recommended method of application may vary. Follow the directions on the label to use the product to optimal effect, and revel in its texture and aroma.

Sun care

The daily application of a sunscreen is pivotal for protecting the skin from UVA and UVB rays, and sustaining healthy, supple skin. Aesop hydrating products containing UV filters have the double benefit of protecting the skin from the adverse effects of sun exposure while delivering hydration and skin-softening nourishment.

A good approach to ensuring adequate protection is to apply your favoured sun-protective formulation in the morning, twenty minutes prior to sun exposure. To sustain adequate protection throughout the day, continue to reapply while you are in the sun.

Treat and masque: twice weekly, or as required

If anything in this world is deserving of a reward for hard work, it is our skin. Adding supplementary formulations to your daily skin care regimen—and using them twice weekly, or as required—is just such a reward.

Enjoy a deep-cleansing or hydrating masque, or a nourishing facial oil at the intervals recommended on each label, and your skin will be endowed with additional benefits.

How to apply a facial oil

Apply three-to-five drops of a facial oil to freshly cleansed and toned skin, or layer with any hydrator for intense nourishment when required.

How to apply a masque

Aesop has a variety of cleansing and hydrating masques for both day and night skin care regimens, available to suit the nuanced needs of different skin types. Each formulation has a different usage instruction based on its particular properties, that will confer its optimal results when followed faithfully.

Conducted while following those specific directives, one broad instruction can be given for all Aesop masques: apply your chosen masque in a generous layer across the cleansed skin of the whole face, or to any areas of particular concern, avoiding the eyes and the lips. Leave for the time outlined on the label before removing.

If the requisite time for your preferred masque seems like too long to wait, an efficient approach could be to let the masque set while attending to another task, like eating breakfast, answering emails, reading a chapter of a book, or penning a romantic missive.

A conscious moment in your own company

Whether you are an expedient minimalist who is pressed for time, or an unhurried ritualist who is dedicated to a more extensive sequence of steps, the right skin care regimen awaits you. Simply curate its elements according to your needs, and relish a conscious, enriching moment in your own company.