Call me boring, but I love routines.
It’s the Virgo in me. We’re the organizers of the Zodiac. Spontaneity is all well and good, but when I have to get stuff done, it pays to have a system in place.
That’s why I have systems, or routines, for everything. For getting ready in the morning. For blogging. For skincare.
That last one was tricky. Once upon a time, there was only cleansing, toning (which I happily skipped) and moisturizing. Now we have serums, exfoliants, sheet masks, clay masks, essences…
How the heck are you supposed to make sense of it all and create a skincare routine that works for you?
Well, the first step is figuring out what your skin is dealing with. Then, it’s just a matter of finding out the right products to take care of them (and nope, you don’t need 100 of them):
Step 1: Know your skin type
You can’t go skincare shopping if you don’t know what your skin type is. How will you even know what to look for?
Sure, there are products that work for all skin types, like a lightweight antioxidant serum. But if you’re after a moisturizer? A lightweight one won’t do for dry skin. And a rich one will cover oily skin in pimples (like that didn’t happen enough on its own already).
Different skin types have different needs and you’d better get familiar with them before handing out your hard earned cash to the cashier at Sephora. You don’t wanna go home with something that’ll do some harm to your skin.
There are 5 basic skin types:
- Combination: dry cheeks and oily t-zone
- Dry: tight and flaky
- Normal: flawless
- Oily: shiny and prone to breakouts
- Sensitive: easily irritated
This is just a brief overview. I don’t want to write a poem here (this post is long enough already), so if you don’t know what your skin type here, check out my quick guide on how to identify it.
Related: How To Identify Your Skin Type
Ready to hit the stores? Let’s go shopping, baby!
Step 2: Basic skincare routine
1. Cleanser: if you don’t cleanse your skin, there’s no point doing anything else. All those impurities on its surface will just make it harder for skincare products to get through. Pick one that does the job well but gently, like Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. If it leaves your skin feeling tight, it’s too harsh for you.
2. Sunscreen: this is the best anti-aging product you can use, bar none. UV rays are to blame for 90% of premature wrinkles and dark spots, so pile on that sunscreen every day. Yes, in winter, too. UV rays are nasty little buggers that can penetrate through clouds and get reflected on snow. I love mineral sunscreens like Sunumbra Sunkids SPF 40 because they work instantly. No need to wait 20 minutes before you can head out the door.
3. Exfoliant: want brighter skin? Get rid of those dead cells that are comfortably sitting on the surface of the skin. That’ll make your skin smoother. And help prevent blemishes too. If you have oily skin, get a bottle of a salicylic acid based exfoliant. It can get into the pores and unclog them from within. Dry skin? Glycolic acid works better for you. It’s hydrating and plumps up your skin to boot. My favourite exfoliants are from Paula’s Choice. P.S. Don’t use them daily. Two or three times a week (once if you have sensitive skin) is enough.
4. Moisturizer: hydrated skin is healthy skin, so let’s seal that moisture in with a good moisturizer. If you have dry skin, you’ll love rich and oil-based moisturizers. They nourish skin and get rid of flaky patches. Oily skin? An oil-free formula will work much better for you. It hydrates your skin without adding even more oil to it.
The nighttime routine’s the same. Apart from sunscreen, of course. You don’t need that at night, obvs.
Advanced skincare routine
When you’re young, you don’t really have to do much to keep your skin beautiful and glowy.
But, as you get older, your skin changes. It gets drier. It develops wrinkles. Dark spots may start to show up too. And then there’s acne. You can get that at any age.
If your skin has special needs, it needs some extra tender loving care:
Acne treatment: Benzoyl Peroxide is the gold standard for treating acne. It can kill the bacteria that cause it and soothes the redness to boot. But, it’s quite harsh, so use it carefully. P.S. If it doesn’t work, go to a doctor. You need something stronger that only she can prescribe.
Anti-aging treatment: Your mid 20s are a great time to introduce retinol into your skincare routine. It’s a form of vitamin A that boosts collagen production, so it can prevent sagging and treat wrinkles. Antioxidants are awesome at preventing wrinkles, too. And you can use them at any age. My fave combo? Vitamins C and E + ferulic acid. It boosts sun protection too!
Skin lightening treatment: These work by inhibiting the production of melanin. There are plenty of different ways to lighten dark spots and melasma and a lot of them can bust wrinkles, too!
Related: 7 Ways To Treat Hyperpigmentation
You know how everyone tells you you HAVE TO use a toner or eye cream? You totally DON’T. Lots of skincare products aren’t really that necessary. Sure, you can use them, but make sure you’re getting your money’s worth before splurging on them:
Toner: I don’t really see the point of using a toner. To remove the impurities your cleanser leaves behind? Get a better cleanser. To rebalance skin’s ph? Skin does that on its own within minutes. Seriously, using a toner makes sense only when it’s loaded with hydrating and antioxidant goodies. And even then, only when you’re not getting enough from your other must-have skincare products. Example? If you have oily skin, your oil-free moisturizer will give you all the hydration it needs. Dry skin? Your moisturizer may need a hydrating toner’s helping hand.
Eye cream: Did you know that the ingredients in your moisturizer and eye cream are the same? Yep, really. So, why are you paying more for a smaller jar? The exception? When your face is oily and your undereye area is dry or vice versa. Different skin types have different needs, so it makes sense to use separate products. Otherwise, stick to your fave facial moisturizer. Just make sure it’s fragrance-free.
Scrubs: Still sticking to scrubs? Switch to an AHA or BHA exfoliant ASAP. They’re gentler on the skin, exfoliate it better and have plenty of other benefits to boot. Really, there is no reason to still use a scrub. None.
Masks: Sheet masks, hydrating masks, clay masks, sleeping masks… There are all kinds of masks available today. These are great for a quick pick-me-up, but there’s no need to use them regularly. I use a sheet mask every week cos I enjoy it, but other masks only when my skin needs the extra help.
What’s your skincare routine like?