So, you know that you want to change your skin, have seen the results from ZO before and after photos and are ready to make the commitment. Congratulations! You are one step closer to achieving your personal skin goals! Now what?! In my practice, many patients tell me “I pulled up the ZO website and stared blankly asking myself, “Where do I begin? How do I know, truly, what my skin type is? What should my personal daily regimen entail?” All very good questions, and all can be answered using ZO Skin Health!

The skin is your largest organ and needs to be assessed by a medical skincare specialist. As a skincare specialist, I am going to jump start your education on the three most crucial steps of all daily skincare regimens. To achieve beautiful, healthy, smooth, firm, even toned, hydrated, tolerant and free from disease skin (Dr. Obagi’s definition of healthy skin), you need to cleanse, exfoliate, tone everyday. These first three steps in your protocol can make or break the success of your overall treatment. The purpose of these in your daily skincare regimen is to normalize your skin’s surface and prepare it for the steps to follow ie: the corrective products that will address and tackle acne, pigment, rosacea etc. In other words, cleansing, exfoliating and toning the skin, “gets the skin ready” (hence the name, GSR, getting skin ready, to describe the three steps) for your other products to be absorbed and penetrate below the skin’s surface where all of the action and change happens!


Gentle cleanser, exfoliating polish, and complexion renewal pads for normal skin types.
Gentle cleanser, exfoliating polish, and complexion renewal pads for normal skin types.

So, let’s get started! Choosing your cleanser. There are three cleansers available in the ZO line. Hydrating, Exfoliating and Gentle.  I have two favorites here. If you are battling acne and/or excessively oily skin, I would recommend the Exfoliating Cleanser. This product will exfoliate and decongest the skin, while helping to reduce inflammation (the response generated when oil is present on the skin). My other favorite is the Gentle cleanser. I like the Gentle Cleanser over the hydrating because it can be used for all skin types and has the added benefit of antioxidants and an anti-irritant agent.   

Emily’s Tip: Prepare warm water and apply to your face either by a wash cloth or just resting your face for a few seconds in warm water cupped in your hands. This will allow the pores to open and prepare your skin to receive the cleanser (also a great way to begin your day or relax and exhale at the end of a long day). Place a dime sized amount of product in your hand and equal amount of water. Once lathered, press your hands against your skin, placing product from your jaw line to the forehead. Then, return to the jaw area. Begin to work with the product in a circular motion, across the face, working upwards from the jaw to the forehead area, picking up dispensed product as you go. Remember to cleanse your neck as well! Keep the lather to a minimum, only adding water to glide the product not diminish its effects. This should take a minute or more, don’t rush and enjoy the ritual. Give the cleanser time to pull out dirt and gently lift off dead skin cells. Your skin is now ready for the next step.


Your second step is going to involve a DAILY exfoliant. This is where I receive the most questions from my patients like…. “I have always heard that exfoliating everyday is too harsh for the skin?” My reply, ” Maybe with some skincare lines, but not ZO.”  “Am I stripping my skin dry by using the exfoliant and pads”?  My reply, “Not at all! Yes, they both exfoliate, but all of the ZO products have hydrating and anti-inflammatory ingredients.” “My skin is too sensitive to exfoliate everyday.” My reply, “Your skin is not “sensitive” your skin barrier is damaged and needs to be repaired.”  And lastly, “Won’t exfoliating daily make me peel?” My reply, “Yes, Yes, Yes! Initially, this is what you want in order to correct and achieve glowing results and proper skin function!” 

There are two options offered for this step: Exfoliating Polish and Dual Action Scrub. Choosing which one is simple. If you are struggling with clogged, inflamed, acne prone skin, chose Dual Action Scrub. This product is the one that will destroy acne-causing bacteria, reduce inflammation and neutralize free radicals. The Exfoliating Polish is for all other skin types. The Exfoliating Polish removes dulling, clogging skin cells, replenishes hydration and healthy lipids, which will brighten the skin.

Emily’s Tip: After cleansing, mix a quarter size amount of your exfoliator with water and scrub over the whole face for a minute(even treat the neck and chest). You will notice redness in the skin from the mechanical stimulation and exfoliation. This is great! Notice the amazing glow your skin has to it when the dead cells are removed!


Exfoliating cleanser, dual action scrub, and oil control pads for oily skin types.
Exfoliating cleanser, dual action scrub, and oil control pads for oily skin types.

On to your third and final step! This is your toner.  Your options are Complexion Renewal Pads, Oil Control Pads and Calming Toner.  Ok readers, if you have been following me on instagram you will know the answer to the following question.  “If you have acne prone skin, which product, out of the three offered, would you choose?”  Answer: Oil Control Pads!!! Why?  Excess Oil (Sebum) is your enemy!!!  It causes inflammation in the skin and breaks down your barrier function.  It does not hydrate your skin, reduce wrinkles or assist in the aging process of your skin  (more to follow on this).  

So, we have taken care of the acne prone patient, which leaves the Complexion Renewal Pads or Calming Toner. If you are normal (to oily),  I am recommending the Complexion Renewal Pads.  This product will minimize surface oil, replenish hydration and provide an antioxidant with its botanical blend. If you want to consider the Calming Toner, this product has hamamelis virginiana leaf extract that balances PH and will help minimize pore size. I use this on patients with dry skin to help provide hydration.     

Emily’s Tip: When you are using your Oil Control or Complexion Renewal Pads, make sure to use the entire front and back until they are dry! The pads come saturated – this is on purpose – they are dosed this way to provide you with ultimate oil control and, therefore, success!

To sum it all up – When it comes to building your skincare regimen and compiling these steps, my recommendation is as follows:  

Normal Skin start with Gentle Cleanser, Exfoliating Polish and Complexion Renewal Pads.  

Dry Skin start with Hydrating Cleanser, Exfoliating Polish, and Calming Toner. 

Oily Skin start with Exfoliating Cleanser, Dual Action Scrub, and Oil Control Pads. 

Remember it takes the skin 6 weeks to adjust to a new regimen so take it slow with these three steps and allow your skin to adapt. 

There you have it! By choosing one product in each step you are Getting your skin ready for the day or a restful night’s sleep. Click on this link to shop for your skin type!

You might be saying to yourself, “Wait Emily! You haven’t talked about my moisturizer?!” Where is my moisturizer?!”  My reply, “Stay tuned!”

We will be talking about this soon! 

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