Do you ever feel overwhelmed when it comes to skincare? So many products, so many options, and so much information! It can be hard to figure out what routine will work best for your exact needs and skin type.
We’ll be the first to admit that the skincare industry is pretty confusing, and unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all for skincare routines, which is why understanding the basics is important; it will allow you can tailor your routine to your exact requirements without having to copy someone else’s.
So, here’s where your confusion ends! In this article, we will break down the basics of skincare routines and teach you how to create one that works for you, based on your specific needs. Let’s get started!
Firstly, determine your skin type
Do you have dry skin? Oily skin? Sensitive skin? Normal skin? Combination skin?
If you aren’t sure, then first check out our article on how to figure it out.
Knowing what skin type you have is important because it will affect the type of products you should use and how often you use them. Don’t try a build a skincare routine before you are armed with the knowledge of what should and shouldn’t be put on your skin!
For example, those with sensitive skin should limit the frequency they exfoliator. If you have oily skin, using oil-based products will only add to the problem and should be avoided. On the other hand, if you have dry skin, using products that are too harsh will strip your skin of its natural oils and make the problem worse.
Once you’ve established this, you can move on to planning out your skincare routine. Below, we’ve listed what each step of your skincare routine should be, and what product(s) you’ll need for that step:
Step 1: Cleanser
In any skincare routine, cleansing always comes first, meaning that the first step in creating your personalized skincare routine is picking a cleanser suitable for your skin type.
A cleanser is a skincare product that uses chemical exfoliant ingredients (such as AHA, BHA, etc.) to break down any accumulated dead skin cells, allowing them to be washed away.
They’re also designed to remove dirt, makeup, excess oil, and other impurities from the surface of your skin too. It comes in various forms, such as gels, creams, foams, or oils, and helps to form the foundation of any effective skincare routine.
It’s important to clean your skin every day, even if you haven’t worn makeup, as our skin naturally produces sebum (oil) which can lead to clogged pores, blemishes, poor texture, etc.
Step 2: Toner
The second step of any good skincare routine is applying toner. Many people skip over this step, but it’s crucial for maximizing your results.
A toner is a liquid product that helps balance your skin’s pH levels, removes any remaining impurities after cleansing, and prepares your skin to better absorb the following products in your routine. It’s essential to choose a toner that complements your skin type and addresses your specific concerns.
For oily or acne-prone skin, opt for a toner containing ingredients like witch hazel or tea tree oil, which can help control excess oil production and minimize the appearance of pores. If you have dry or sensitive skin, look for a hydrating and soothing toner with ingredients such as aloe vera, chamomile, or rosewater. Combination skin can benefit from a toner that balances both hydration and oil control, like one containing glycerin or hyaluronic acid.
To use a toner, apply it to your face after cleansing, either by gently patting it onto your skin with your hands or using a cotton pad, and allow the toner to absorb into your skin.
Step 3: Treatments Tailored To Your Skin Goals
The third step in your skincare routine involves selecting specific treatments that are designed to help achieve your skincare goals.
There are thousands of treatments on the market, all coming in various forms, such as serums, essences, and ampoules. They typically contain potent, targeted ingredients designed to address specific skin concerns.
Identifying your skin goals and selecting the appropriate treatments can significantly improve your skin’s overall health and appearance.
For example, those dealing with acne or blemishes, look for treatments containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or niacinamide, which can help unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and regulate oil production.
If your goal is to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, opt for products with retinol, peptides, or vitamin C, which can boost collagen production and improve skin elasticity.
For brightening and evening out skin tone, choose treatments with ingredients such as alpha-arbutin, kojic acid, or licorice root extract. If hydration is a priority, seek out products containing hyaluronic acid, ceramides, or glycerin, which can help retain moisture and strengthen your skin’s natural barrier.
The list goes on… We highly recommend that you shop around and find products that catch your eye.
When applying treatments, it’s essential to layer them in the correct order, which is typically from the thinnest to the thickest consistency. Allow each product to absorb fully into your skin before moving on to the next step, and remember to patch-test new treatments to ensure they won’t cause irritation or an adverse reaction.
Step 4: Facial Mist (Optional)
The fourth step of a skincare routine involves using a facial mist, though this step is completely optional.
Face mists aren’t that popular in western skincare routines, but are a staple in Japanese and Korean skincare routines, so if that’s something that interests you, then this needs to be your step 4!
Facial mists are liquid products that can be spritzed onto your skin to provide an instant boost of hydration, refreshment, and revitalization. They often contain nourishing and soothing ingredients and can be a pleasant addition to your routine, especially if your skin craves extra hydration.
To use a facial mist, hold the bottle about arm’s length away from your face and spritz it two to three times, allowing the mist to settle onto your skin. Allow enough time for the product to absorb before proceeding.
Step 5: lMoisturizer
The fifth step of a skincare routine is moisturizing.
Moisturizers are essential for maintaining your skin’s hydration levels, protecting its natural barrier, and locking in the benefits of your previous skincare steps. Choosing a moisturizer (sometimes referred to as “day cream” in the skincare industry) that suits your skin type and concerns is key to achieving a healthy, balanced complexion.
For oily or acne-prone skin, select a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer or gel that won’t clog your pores. Look for non-comedogenic formulas and ingredients like niacinamide, which can help regulate oil production. If you have dry or sensitive skin, opt for a richer, more hydrating moisturizer containing ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, or shea butter to replenish moisture and strengthen your skin’s barrier function.
Combination skin can benefit from a moisturizer that offers balanced hydration, such as a lotion or gel-cream formula. Key ingredients to look for include glycerin, squalane, or jojoba oil, which can help maintain the right balance of moisture without feeling too heavy or greasy.
To apply your moisturizer, gently massage a small amount into your face and neck using upward, circular motions, ensuring that it’s evenly distributed. Allow it to absorb fully before moving on to the final step.
Step 6: lSunscreen
And now we come to the sixth and final step of a skincare routine – sunscreen.
Not just for the beach, sunscreen is an essential component of any skincare regimen, as it protects your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, which can cause premature aging, hyperpigmentation, and other unpleasantries. There are two main types of sunscreens: chemical and physical (also known as mineral).
Each type has its advantages and drawbacks, but chemical sunscreens are often recommended for most people due to their lightweight nature.
Chemical sunscreens contain organic compounds that absorb UV radiation and convert it into heat, which is then released from the skin. These sunscreens are generally more comfortable to wear, as they have a thinner consistency and don’t leave a white cast on the skin. Common chemical sunscreen ingredients include avobenzone, oxybenzone, and octinoxate.
Physical (mineral) sunscreens, on the other hand, use natural minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to create a barrier on the skin’s surface, reflecting UV rays away from your skin. While they offer broad-spectrum protection and are often recommended for sensitive skin, they can sometimes feel heavier and leave a noticeable white cast.
When choosing a sunscreen, aim for a product with an SPF of at least 30, and look for broad-spectrum protection, which shields your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen generously to your face, neck, and any other exposed areas every day, regardless of the weather, and reapply every two hours when outdoors or immediately after swimming or sweating.
Consider Beauty Supplements
Diet and nutrient intake should be viewed as an extension of your skincare routine due to how big of a role it plays in keeping your skin healthy and functional.
While maintaining a consistent topical regimen is crucial for achieving healthy, radiant skin, supplements can offer additional support from within, addressing specific skin concerns and contributing to overall skin health.
When exploring beauty supplements, look for ingredients with scientific backing and proven benefits for skin health. Some of the most popular supplements include:
- Collagen: As the most abundant protein in your body, collagen is essential for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness. As you age, your collagen production naturally decreases, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. Taking collagen supplements may help boost your body’s collagen production and improve overall skin texture.
- Biotin: Often associated with hair and nail health, biotin is a B vitamin that also plays a role in skin health by supporting the production of keratin, a structural protein found in your skin. A biotin deficiency may lead to skin rashes or other skin issues, so supplementation could be beneficial for some individuals.
- Antioxidants: Vitamins C, E, and A, as well as other antioxidants like astaxanthin and resveratrol, can help protect your skin from free radical damage, which contributes to premature aging. By adding antioxidant supplements to your routine, you may further support your skin’s defense against environmental stressors.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fish oil and flaxseed oil supplements, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and can help support healthy skin by reducing inflammation and promoting skin barrier function.
But what about my nighttime routine?
You might be wondering about the specifics of a nighttime skincare routine and how it differs from your daytime regimen. While the core steps are similar, there are a few differences to take into consideration when it comes to your evening routine:
- Cleansing: Just like in the morning, start with a gentle cleanser to remove makeup, dirt, and excess oil that has accumulated throughout the day.
- Toning: Follow with a toner to balance your skin’s pH and prepare it for the absorption of treatments and moisturizers.
- Treatments: Apply your targeted treatments, like serums, essences, or ampoules, to address specific skin concerns. Keep in mind that some ingredients, like retinol, are better suited for nighttime use, as they can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
- Moisturizing: Use a moisturizer to lock in hydration and the benefits of your treatments. At this point, instead of using your “day cream”, you may wish to opt for a “night cream”, which is typically a richer and more heavy-weight cream with active ingredients that slowly absorb into your skin as you sleep.
- Optional Extras: You can also incorporate additional nighttime-specific products like eye creams, facial oils, or sleeping masks for extra nourishment and repair.
Obviously, sunscreen is not required at night, as your skin won’t be exposed to UV rays, so that’s left out, but otherwise, your nighttime routine will essentially use most, if not all, of the same products required for your daytime regimen. As mentioned earlier, the only thing you may need extra is a fully-dedicated night cream.
Navigating the world of skincare can be daunting, but understanding the fundamentals and tailoring a routine to your specific needs is the key to achieving healthy, radiant skin.
By determining your skin type, selecting appropriate products, and following a consistent regimen, you can create a personalized skincare routine that works for you. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so take the time to explore different products, ingredients, and routines that cater to your unique skin goals.
Incorporating the right combination of cleansing, toning, treatments, moisturizing, and sun protection, along with optional steps like facial mists and beauty supplements is essential for building a skincare routine that supports your skin’s health and appearance both day and night.
Now that you understand the basic concepts of creating a skincare routine, you can start shopping for all the different products you need. It doesn’t need to be an expensive endeavor either: if you’re on a budget, you can opt for the cheap drugstore products, but if you’re not, or you just want to pamper yourself, you can look into the more luxury/boutique skincare products!