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The 5 | Five Essential Products For Good Skin Care with Jenna Clifford

Two women applying skin care products in front of mirror.

Heeey frands, welcome to the first post in my new monthly collaborative series I'm calling The 5. Each month I'll be partnering with an Asheville local I think is doing amazing things in their field of expertise. (And I'd like to think they're pretty great people, too.)

First up is Jenna Clifford (@santarosaskin), an esthetician and self-described skin and wellness junkie. Jenna works out of Gaze Lash Bar on Haywood Road in west Asheville, offering a wide variety of skin care services (think facials, dermaplaning) as well as lash extensions. I'm a personal client of Jenna's and can't say enough about the quality of her work. She's taught me so much about skin care, the right products to use, when and how to apply them, and how often!

For all of her clients, Jenna's recommendation for improving your skin is always the same: consistency. The best way to care for your skin is to consistently take care of it by committing to a daily, five-step routine. Lucky for us, Jenna is sharing the five steps and products you should be using for proper skin care, and in what order to get the best results!

The skinny: you need one cleanser, one toner, one moisturizer, one SPF, and one makeup remover. You need a Vitamin C serum for the morning, and hyaluronic acid or retinol serum at night. Time-wise, your routine, day or night, should only take 3-5 minutes. Commit to two months of this routine and you WILL see results! (Then you'll never want to stop, right?!)

Keep scrolling to read Jenna's scoop on each skin care step and product!

Detail shot of skin care proudcts including DermAware cleanser and retinol.

1 | Cleanser

When to use: AM and PM

Cleanser is the first step in both your AM and PM routines. You want to use a cleanser that is suitable for your skin type. If you’re oily think gel cleanser; if your skin is dry choose a creamy cleanser. I don’t spend more than $20 on cleanser. Glossier makes a great $18 cleanser that's an Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner.

At night I like to do a double cleanse. I start with makeup remover or micellar water (easy to find at Target) and then water cleanse with a gel cleanser. I tend to stay away from drugstore cleansers. Important note: bar soap is NOT a cleanser!


2 | Toner

When to use: AM and PM, after cleansing

You always tone after cleansing. It’s basically the finishing step to cleansing. It also preps the skin for serums or moisturizers. I tone with rose water but you can also use exfoliating toners. Be careful you aren’t using exfoliating toners with exfoliating serums.

I tend to stick to the less expensive options for my toner. I spend about $8 on my rose water. I also recommend Thayer's Witch Hazel toner for under $10 at Target. If you are going the exfoliating toner route you’ll probably be spending closer to $40.

Jenna Clifford dabs finger in skin care serums at Gaze Lash and Brow Bar.

3 | Serum(s)

When to use: AM and PM (different serums for morning and night), after toning

How to use: Thinnest to thickest

Serum has a thin consistency so you’ll apply it directly after toner. They're also the products that address your specific concerns, like dryness, fine lines, sun damage, and so forth. In the morning I use a Vitamin C serum. The antioxidants will help fight environmental stressors throughout the day. Vitamin C is also great for healing sun damage and acne scars.

At night I rotate between a retinol and hyaluronic acid serum. I use the retinol to help with fine lines three days per week. On the other days I restore moisture with a hyaluronic acid serum. You do not want to use them both on the same night. Tip: choose one for a M/W/F hard schedule so you don't lose track of your days, then alternate with the other product.

This is where I spend all my hard-earned money. You don’t want to go cheap on serum. I recommend sourcing your serums from either an esthetician or dermatologist. I spend anywhere between $50 and $120 for a 4-5 month supply.

Jenna Clifford uses dropper to apply serum to her face.

4 | Moisturizer

When to use: AM and PM after serum(s)

After serum you can apply moisturizer. If you’re oily and you think you can skip moisturizer, you are wrong! All skin types need moisturizer. I like to use a water-based moisturizer. If you are very dry, try something that has hyaluronic acid. I’m not tied to any one moisturizer so I like to use my Sephora points to test out new ones. However you can find great options at a variety of places ranging from Sephora and Ulta to Whole Foods. I rarely spend more than $15-30 on a moisturizer.


5 | SPF

When to use: AM only

YOU NEED SUNSCREEN. I can’t stress this enough. No matter what, you need to be applying sunscreen. I don’t care if it’s raining and you are only driving to and from your kid’s school that day, apply sunscreen. UV exposure is responsible for 80% of visible aging in your face.

Sunscreen is your last step before makeup in the morning. Your moisturizer and/or foundation with SPF isn’t enough. Supergoop! makes a great SPF. Good SPFs come in sprays, mousse, and lotions that shouldn’t run you more than $20-30.

Woman dabs finger in creamy moisturizer before applying to face.
Jenna Clifford applies moisturizer to face while looking in mirror.
Detail shot of skin care products including Glossier  super bounce and Dr Andrew Weil Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief.


What kinds of questions do you have about skin care and skin care products? Do you feel like your skin care routine is working for you? Are you unsure about which products to use for your skin type? Sometimes we don't know what's best because we're missing crucial foundational information like what type of skin we have! Or we bought a product that got rave reviews and we don't even know if it's right for us or not.

That's why I started working with Jenna, so I could finally get answers customized to my skin, genetics, and lifestyle. That is THE best thing to do IMO and it's working wonders!

If you're looking for more answers regarding your skin care routine, you can find Jenna Clifford on Instagram at @santarosaskin or contact her at Gaze Lash and Brow Bar. (Don't let the name fool you, they offer tons of skin-based services aside from lashes and brows!)

Thanks for popping by The Tony Townie today! Your sharing and support means so, SO much!


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