We’ll start with that first rule-of-thumb: You don’t necessarily have to toss your high-tech steamer, as long as you use it correctly. Choose a quality product (find our recommendations here), and limit your use to about once a week as tolerated.
Next, make sure your cleansers aren’t stripping your skin till it’s parched. “You can buy pH strips to test your skin care products,” says Bowe. You can typically find these little pH strips online (here’s a pack of 320 strips), saturate it with the cleanser, and watch it transform. Depending on the hue (the box should include a helpful color chart), you can determine the pH of your product.
Finally, Bowe suggests simply giving your skin a rest. She’s a fan of the occasional exfoliation, but make sure you’re building in nights for recovery. “It’s like when you go to the gym, you need days to recover. The same thing holds true for the skin barrier and the microbiome,” she says. “You want to use a retinol? Go for it. You want to use an AHA, like glycolic acid? Go for it, but give yourself two nights off where you’re just using nourishing, hydrating ingredients.” She lists prebiotics, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and aloe to replenish the skin barrier.