Getting into skincare can be pretty daunting; there are so many products available, so many videos, tips, tools, ingredients, the list goes on. Forming routines is also hard, you can easily fall out of them if they get too hard or you feel a little lazy. So, I wanted to explain each step you’ll need in a good skincare routine so you can form an effective ritual for your skin and schedule.
The important thing is to start slowly, gradually introducing yourself to this new routine and new products step by step. You could start with a simple face wash, moisturiser and sun protection, then start to incorporate serums, masks, toners, etc. Not only will this help you to get used to your skincare routine, but it’ll help make sure your skin doesn’t get irritated from the sudden change.
The first thing you’ll need in your skincare routine is a cleanser. Cleansing is the most important part of your skincare routine as it removes dirt, oil and products from your face which, if not cleaned off properly, can cause acne, irritation, texture, and more. Everyone of all skin types should be cleansing their face.
There are two main types of cleansers: water-based (regular) cleansers and oil-based cleansers. Regular cleansers wash off all kinds of dirt and oil from your face to leave your skin fresh and rejuvenated. There are many cleansers to choose from, but packaging and labelling are very helpful. They usually tell you on the front what the products are best suited for, like gentle cleansers for sensitive skin, hydrating cleansers for dry skin, smoothing cleansers for texture etc. Choose a cleanser for your skin type and needs.
Oil-based cleansers are a great way to remove makeup, oil, and pollutants but are not an alternative to water-based cleansers, you must use a regular cleanser, but you can use both in the evening (oil first then regular) to make sure your face is squeaky clean.
Many skincare nerds consider toners to not be an important part of a skincare routine, but I disagree. With all the things you’re putting on your face, it is essential that your skin remains at a reasonable pH level in order to prevent serious irritation and dryness. That’s where toners come in. The main purpose of a toner is to balance out the skin pH to help it support the other products.
Toners can be extremely basic or have great active ingredients and they usually lean to the more acidic side of the pH scale as many skincare products can be more neutral (pH 7), and the natural skin pH is around 5.5 (slightly acidic). When choosing a toner, consider how sensitive your skin is. Go for a simpler toner if you have sensitive skin and if you have oily acne-prone skin, using a stronger toner that doubles as an exfoliator is a great option (glycolic acid is often used as a toner). A toner can become the most important part of your skincare routine if you make it so.
Serums have become a lot more popular recently as people discover how to use skincare ingredients effectively. Serums are concentrated formulas packed with active ingredients to help treat your skin issues. They aren’t needed, but I would highly recommend using one or two.
There are many active ingredients you can choose from when picking a serum to use, and many serums will have multiple active ingredients in them. Here are some of the popular active ingredients used in serums.
- Vitamin B/Niacinamide (a great one to try first as it has many benefits and is quite non-irritant)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A/Retinol
- Salicylic acid
- Hyaluronic acid
Alongside cleansers, moisturisers and sun protection are an essential part of a skincare routine.
Moisturisers help lock in moisture to keep your skin supple and healthy. Just like cleansers, products will often tell you what skin type they are best suited for: dry skin, sensitive, oily etc. Many moisturisers can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and help treat patches of irritation like rashes and eczema.
Sun protection, SPF or sunscreen is also extremely important as it helps protect the skin from UVA and UVB light which can cause burning, irritation, skin cell damage and cancer. Clothes are the best protection against the sun, but your face is exposed almost all the time no matter the season, so it’s important to give your face the protection the rest of your body has by applying SPF protection. There’s SPF protection in many products, from creams to balms, makeup, etc. But I would always recommend incorporating a sunscreen/cream either through having a moisturiser with SPF in it or using a separate sunscreen after your moisturiser.
Everyone, no matter what skin tone you have, should use SPF. For lighter skin tones it’s obviously necessary as UV rays can cause burning and irritation, but in darker skin tones UV rays can significantly contribute to the worsening of hyperpigmentation. The sun is also the main factor that can accelerate skin ageing, so the best way to prevent wrinkles is to wear sunscreen.
Masks and additional treatments are definitely an optional but fun part of a skincare routine. If you find that your skincare routine is too cluttered with products, it’s good to save some treatments for a weekly mask instead. There are many different types of masks to choose from, and whatever results or ease you want will determine which you pick. Clay is effective and cheap but can be messy, whilst sheet masks are fun and easier to clean up but can be wasteful.
- Clay masks
- Sheet masks
- Peeling masks
- Cream masks
- Overnight masks
Keep in mind that when forming a skincare routine, you’ll have different routines for the day and night. Some products are not necessary at night (SPF) or cannot be used during the day due to sunlight. Your day and night skincare routines can be as similar or as different as you want them to be so feel free to customise.
Now that you know the basics steps of forming a skincare routine, go and experiment but be careful and keep an eye out for signs of irritation, as you may need to stop using a product or simplify your routine.