I had never been much into facials and was guilty of neglecting my skin in terms of a regimen. Sure, I have filled my vanity with creams, toners and scrubs. But I never stopped to “listen” to what my skin may or may not be telling me.

I have always been quick to answer “normal” at the make-up counter when asked the skin type question. However, with age (and kids), like many I found myself desperate for a “glow”, a quick fix that would disguise the exhaustion and lack of attention I had given my skin over the years. I made an appointment for a facial after a friend recommended Caci Thompson DiRusso, skin specialist and owner of Toccare Day Spa.

The spa specializes in organic skin care and facials. It had me at organic and I couldn’t wait to revamp my spectrum of products. I quickly learned during my first visit that an appointment at Toccare is a unique experience; an experience that transformed the way I looked at my skin. It was a beginner’s course for understanding my skin and what I could do to support and nourish it. I left empty handed in terms of new products, but was now equipped with a new perspective (and a few samples).

Caci says it is important to focus on the skin we have now, not the skin we used to have or the skin we want. This is a pitfall for many of the new clients she sees in terms of their skin regimen and the products they are looking to purchase. If you had acne in your early 20s it does not mean you have acne now. Caci highlights the importance of nourishing the skin versus stripping it down (removing the skin’s natural oils) or falling victim to routines plagued with over exfoliation. “Oily skin ages better” she tells me. In a culture where more is more (or chronically over treated in skin care), she reminds me that less is more. Especially when it comes to taking care of your skin.

I ask Caci to walk me through her non-negotiables for healthy skin.

Drink water. Lots of it. Your skin is a sponge. And yes you have heard it before, but it is the truth. She sees plenty of clients who think they are getting enough water but she can quickly tell from looking at their skin that they are not. Dehydration, the reoccurring issue she sees most often, is going to greatly affect the health of your skin.

Support and nourish. Gain a better understanding of what type of skin you currently have and find great products that will nourish and support it. She suggests switching your routine according to the season, for example during the fall and winter she is big on weekly masquing.

Pay attention. Be aware of the ingredients in the products you are buying. Steer clear of mineral oil, which contains large molecules and will cause congestion. During our chat, Caci grabs a well-loved book from her office, A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients. She is well versed in the subject, not only apparent by the wear on the book, but reflective in the products that line her shop’s shelves. Her product selection has a lot of integrity. You will find small boutique lines, some regional, and all vetted against what she has learned in her 15+ years in the business for what is best for our skin.

Get routine facials. Caci recommends a “seasonal” facial. As the seasons change, so does your skin. Help your skin reset and get ready for the next season. She says the transition from summer to fall is the most critical. Read: if you are only going to get one facial a year do it then. Your skin has been over-processed with sunscreen (hopefully you are using daily) and exposed to the harsh summer elements.

I am interested to know what products Caci uses to support and nourish her own skin. She keeps it simple with a good cleanser, a vitamin C serum and a face oil or moisturizer (all free of harsh ingredients and chemicals) and reminds me you want to pick a regimen that works for you. Caci recently introduced me to a multi-purpose face balm that doesn’t require water, a washcloth or time. Sold. She speaks highly of a good face oil, which is in line with what you are likely seeing in the market. But again she reiterates the importance of the quality of the product, and for an oil, its appropriate weight for your skin type. Drunk Elephant (a line she carries) offers a virgin Marula oil that hydrates, protects, heals and rejuvenates the skin. It is high in antioxidants too.

Surprisingly just a few simple tips can help me (you) get that “glow”, shed the excess product spending and motivate me to embrace the skin I have today.

Caci Thompson DiRusso is the owner of Toccare Day Spa. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband and their rescue dog Argo. She enjoys traveling abroad, great food and hosting dinner parties.

Images by Candice Lanning, www.thebeautifulmess.com.