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By: Grace Gavilanes

Walking down a store’s beauty aisle is no easy task when you’re expected to make a choice on which face wash or sunscreen to purchase. There are just too many options! That’s why we enlisted the help of a skincare expert to help us narrow down our final picks.

Holly Sheppard, a licensed esthetician and cosmetic laser technician at Dr. Shaun Parson Plastic Surgery & Skin Center, shared which products she always recommends to her clients. And the ones she really wants them to part with. Sheppard revealed her product picks with Lively. Spoiler: some of them may surprise you.

The Skincare Products You Need

Scrub

A gentle scrub – not one that contains “jagged” beads which may create micro lacerations – is the key to smoother skin. Exfoliating, as we’ve learned before, is essential for all complexion types. “Exfoliating will allow our products to work more effectively since they no longer have to try to penetrate through those layers of dead skin,” she says.

Foaming Cleanser

“A good foaming cleanser will remove dirt, oil and makeup without making the skin feel tight or dry,” says Sheppard, adding that we should steer clear of using bar soaps since they “will leave the skin vulnerable to bacteria … and more prone to breakouts.”

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Moisturizer

For Sheppard, applying moisturizer really depends on the person. Why? Because, she says, there are other products, like hyaluronic acid, that also promote hydration and may work better on certain people. “There are a lot of estheticians out there in the medical world that have been trained to have their patients not use a moisturizer and instead recommend a product like hyaluronic acid that repairs and creates the body’s own moisture levels,” says Sheppard. “I do agree; not everyone needs to be using a moisturizer. But if you love the way it feels, keep doing it!”

skincare products you need

Sunscreen

Foregoing sunscreen has damaging effects on health and may lead to hyper-pigmentation of the skin. “The recommended protection factor is SPF 30 and must be reapplied every two hours,” Sheppard tells Lively, adding that makeup containing SPF will not suffice. “Luckily, reapplying your SPF has become easier than ever. There are brush-on sunblocks that are now available.”

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Retinol

Over the age of 25? Then you’re the ideal candidate to start using retinol, according to Sheppard. This ingredient helps reduce hyper-pigmentation and blemishes. “I recommend applying a pea-sized amount twice a week to begin with, and slowly build up to 3-4 times a week over the course of a couple months,” she says.

The Skincare Products You Can Ditch

Toners

“The purpose of a toner is to bring your pH of the skin back to a normal range,” begins Sheppard, who says this “refreshing” product is unnecessary. “If you are using a quality cleanser it will keep your pH in the correct state. If you have an oily complexion and are acne-prone, then I would suggest toning pads that contain salicylic acid or glycolic acid.”

Makeup Wipes

If cleansing your face solely consists of removing your makeup off with a wipe, then you should consider throwing away your pack of makeup wipes for good. “Makeup wipes are not sufficient in cleansing the skin and should never be used as a replacement or alternative for cleansing,” says Sheppard. “All they do is tug at the delicate skin around the eyes, smear around the dirt, oil and makeup on the face. Really, double cleansing is a better alternative if you are needing to remove makeup.”

Neck Cream

Sheppard feels the same way about eye creams as she does about neck creams. While giving those areas adequate attention is necessary, she says there’s no point in buying a separate product to do so. “Really you should be carrying all of your facial products down to your décolletage,” she says.