A dermatologist on why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 4-step skincare routine is so good
More people should take the New York congresswoman’s approach to skincare, Miami-based dermatologist Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd told Insider.
In August, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared her morning skincare and makeup routine as part of Vogue’s Beauty Secrets YouTube series.
The congresswoman, who represents New York’s 14th district, has a straightforward four-step skincare regimen that includes toner, vitamin C serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
While she applied the products to her skin, she also touched on the importance of mental health, sleep, and human connection for wellness.
To learn if AOC’s routine lived up to the hype of the video, which now has more than 3.4 million views, Insider asked dermatologist Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, director of the University of Miami’s Skin of Color Division, to review it.
Overall, Woolery-Lloyd was a fan of the congresswoman’s pared-down routine, and especially enjoyed her focus on mind-and-body health.
AOC starts her routine with an antioxidant-infused toner
To start, Ocasio-Cortez patted Estee Lauder’s Micro Essence toner all over her skin with her hands.
She said she doesn’t gravitate towards a particular brand or type of toner, but just happened to be using this one.
Woolery-Lloyd said she’s often skeptical of toners that are alcohol-based because they can strip the skin of healthy oils.
But after seeing the ingredients in Ocasio-Cortez’s toner, she approved the choice because the thin, water-like product contains chamomile, a plant with soothing properties that ease inflammation in the skin.
“She’s using a ‘toner,’ but it actually has therapeutic benefits beyond just alcohol,” Woolery-Lloyd said.
Next, Ocasio-Cortez patted a vitamin C serum into her skin
After toner came vitamin C serum, a popular product due to its quick skin-tone-evening results, according to Woolery-Lloyd.
She said that vitamin C serums are a great daytime product because they enhance the protective effects of sunscreen (which AOC applies later in her routine) and, in doing so, help to prevent premature skin aging.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted she likes to use a drugstore favorite, CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Face Serum, which New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Howard Sobel told Insider is a “great drugstore option for Vitamin C.”
The serum also contains hyaluronic acid which helps the skin retain moisture throughout the day.
Woolery-Lloyd recommends choosing a serum in a dark glass bottle with a narrow opening. This type of packaging prevents light and oxygen from reacting with the vitamin C, which could make it less effective.
She uses a nighttime moisturizer during the day
For her penultimate step, Ocasio-Cortez said she adds more moisture with a cream.
She used a pea-sized amount of Acure’s Radically Rejuvenating Whipped Night Cream Facial Moisturizer all over her face.
The product is marketed as a nighttime moisturizer, because it contains rich, rejuvenating products that can make the skin more vulnerable to the sun’s rays.
Night creams often contain retinol, a pure and potent type of vitamin A that repairs damage of skin cells. It works well at night, but thins the skin in the process, causing its defenses against the sun’s rays to be weakened.
Ocasio-Cortez’s products didn’t contain any retinol, so that isn’t a concern for her. And even if her products did contain the ingredient, Woolery-Lloyd said that wouldn’t be a problem because AOC applies liberal amounts of sunscreen on top.
Woolery-Lloyd also liked that the congresswoman’s moisturizer contained glycolic acid, an anti-aging ingredient, and salicylic acid, which can clear clogged pores to prevent breakouts. They, too, are ingredients that should not be used in the daytime without sunscreen.
Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t skimp on the SPF
“If you’re at all a melanated woman, it’s really hard to find sunscreen,” because it often leaves a whitecast on the skin, Ocasio-Cortez said in the video.
Woolery-Lloyd agreed, and said people with darker complexions should choose a chemical sunscreen, which contains chemicals that absorb harmful UV light, because they dry clear.
Another option is a mineral sunscreen with microminerals. Mineral sunscreens physically block the sun with particles, and one with microminerals will prevent the discoloration effect many sunscreens leave on brown skin.
“I would also say look for formulas that have the words ‘sheer coverage’ because that means they created the product specifically to address this issue,” Woolery-Lloyd said, adding that another option is an SPF-containing tinted moisturizer in your skin color.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted she now likes to alternate between two drugstore mineral sunscreens with a tint to match her skin without leaving a white cast: CeraVe Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 30 and Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 Foundation.
According to Sobel, both use microminerals like zinc and titanium to block out the sun, however, he would recommend AOC use a sunscreen under the Ilia Super Serum Tint to add extra protection.
Woolery-Llloyd said the congresswoman set an example with her skin protection, since everyone should wear sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30, and apply it as the final step before makeup.
She also liked that Ocasio-Cortez used plenty of product, since she finds people typically use too little sunscreen.
Mental and physical health can affect your skin
The congresswoman also touched on how lack of sleep affected her skin, pointing to bags under her eyes.
“If I had to give one piece of advice, the key to beauty in an inside job,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
She said everyone should strive to love themselves for who they are outside of their appearance, and foster healthy relationships with the people they love.
For those struggling with self-love, Ocasio-Cortez has a simple tip: “If you’re feeling particularly challenged that day, look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the bomb and I will make the world a better place in my own little pocket, because that’s what I’m here to do.’”