A Beginner’s Guide to Building a Basic Skincare Routine
Your skincare routine is just as unique as you are, and building a skincare routine should start with the question: What should my skincare be?
Whether you’re new to the skincare game or just want to switch up your routine to take care of specific issues, we want to start off by praising you! Any step towards bettering your health is a good one, but with an industry worth more than $100 billion globally, its easy to become overwhelmed with hundreds of different product options.
When looking at how to start your skincare routine, it’s crucial to first put a few skincare product myths to rest:
- Price is better: Some of the best skincare products can be found in your local drug store. Don’t assume that a hefty price tag means a better product every time.
- It works for my best friend/sister/co-worker/favorite influencer, it’ll work for me: Recommendations are always nice, but everyone has a different skin type. So a lot of skincare routine building is going to involve trial and error.
- The more, the merrier: You don’t need a shelf full of products or a 20-step skincare routine because you saw an influencer do it on Instagram. Again, each skincare routine is different. It also depends on what specific factors you’re looking to have in your skincare routine.
- Buzzwords like “natural” and “clean” mean fully green: Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Brands take some liberty in what natural skincare can entail but not all products are fully reviewed or federally tested. This goes for other buzzwords like “anti-aging” or popular ingredients like Moroccan oil or Hyaluronic acid. Always – we repeat – always read the labels and ingredient list, especially if it’s a product you haven’t used before.
Determining Your Skin Type
Now that we got those myths out of the way, let’s get into how to build a skincare routine. The first step to this is determining your skin type. So the question you need to ask yourself is: What is my skin like after a shower with no product or makeup on?
If you have pre-existing skin issues such as rosacea, acne, or eczema you most likely have more sensitive skin. If you notice shine, or your skin gets a little greasy after a shower with no product, you have oily skin. If your skin gets dry or flaky quickly, you have dry skin. If your T-Zone (forehead and nose) gets shiny or greasy but not anywhere else, you may have combination skin. Remember that you can have skin conditions and have dry, oily, or combination skin. If you’re one of the lucky ones without any of the above, congrats! You have normal skin.
Knowing your skin type is just like knowing your hair type. When you can identify what your skin needs most, you can save a lot of time and money in the long run. You don’t need to go to a dermatologist to determine your skin type, but if you have existing skin conditions, sensitivity, or are using a prescription topical for your skin, it doesn’t hurt to make an appointment to be safe.
Basic Skincare Routine Essentials
The nice thing about a skincare routine is there are staple must-haves and several options. The several options part is where people get the most intimidated or confused. But if you want to skip through all the fluff, ensure you have these three essential steps:
If you have a skin condition that requires prescription topical treatment, add that into your routine after you cleanse and before you moisturize.
STEP 1: Cleanse
Cleansing your face should be done once or twice daily in the morning and before bed. Double cleansing is recommended for those who wear a lot of makeup or use more sunscreen during the day and really want to get every bit of product off. Double cleansing usually requires an oil-based cleanser first to remove as much makeup and dirt as possible, followed by a water-based cleanser or micellar cleanser to remove the excess dirt and product. Remember, double cleansing is an optional step.
How to choose the right cleanser for your type:
If you have oily skin, gels and gentle foaming cleansers will work best to help balance your body’s natural oils. Look for products that are free of sulfates because you don’t want to strip too much of your natural oils. That could lead to your body overproducing oil to make up for it.
For those with dry or sensitive skin, creamier cleaners are the best option. There are also numerous cleansers that feature crystals or beads that offer some exfoliation. Those types of cleansers work for multiple skin types but depend on what you want to achieve for your skin. However, if your skin is sensitive, the physical exfoliation may be too harsh on your skin, so always check the ingredients and what problems they target.
STEP 2: Moisture
Moisturizing should be done every. single. day.
Moisturizing boosts your skins hydration and ensures that the outer layer of your skin is working properly. With the outer layer of your skin is hydrated, it protects the other layers of the skin from irritation and inflammation, thus helping the deeper layers of your skin stay hydrated as well.
How to find the right moisturizer for your skin type:
No matter your skin type (yes, this includes the oily skin gals) moisturizing is a step in your routine you shouldn’t skip. If your skin is not well moisturized, it can lead to irritation, breakouts and even acne. This tip also goes for those with dry scalp too. The key is to find a moisturizer with the ingredients that work with your skin type.
Almost all moisturizers contain humectant ingredients and occlusives. Humectants soak up and retain water from the air and occlusives hold the water in. If you have dry skin, you want to get moisturizers with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, which is a strong humectant. Thicker moisturizers or creams also work best for those with dry skin.
For oily or acne-prone skin, you want to look for oil-free moisturizers and lotion formulas that are lighter. Gel moisturizers also work well with oily skin.
How to apply moisturizer:
Since moisturizer is the key step to your skincare routine, it is important that you know how and when to apply it. After you rinse off your cleanser, apply your moisturizer while the skin is still damp. Those humectant ingredients absorb better while the skin is still a little wet and this will actually help absorb the product faster, sinking deep into your skin.
If you’re just starting to build your skincare routine or are trying out new products, make sure to test it out first. You can easily do these two different ways; the first, test a small amount on the inside of your arm. That area of the body has a thin layer of skin and is very similar to the face. You then want to watch for any irritation or reaction. The second way is to test a small amount of the product on the base of your jawline, an area that is mostly discreet in case an irritation occurs. We recommend doing this for a week to see if any irritations or reactions occur.
STEP 3: Protection
Finally, protection. This means an SPF product to protect your skin from UV rays which is crucial in warmer, summer months, but also is essential in fall and winter. (P.S. its also super important to protect your hair from UV rays too!!!). There are many moisturizers now a days that contain SPF, but make sure it’s enough to really protect your skin. Dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30 for your face. Sunscreen not only protects from the obvious problems such as sunburn but goes back to strengthening the first layer of skin. Protecting your face from UV rays will help prevent further problems such as dryness, irritation, hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles.
Optional Add-Ons to Your Skincare Routine
While the three essentials are recommended, they may not be enough for what your skin needs. So here are a few popular optional products or steps to consider when figuring out what your skincare routine should be.
- Eye Treatments
Whether it’s a serum, cream, mask or roll-on, eye treatments can end up being a whole other skin routine in itself. This is at the top of our optional skincare routine list because let’s face it, the eyes give away so much. The most common concerns people have with their eyes include dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines. Most eye treatments are multi-functional, tackling one or two (sometimes all) in one product. The skin around the eyes is more sensitive, so its essential to read the ingredients and do the jawline patch test first.
For dark circles and fine lines, masks and serums work the best. Be sure to read the instructions carefully, as many eye treatments have different usage recommendations based on their ingredients (once a day, twice a week, etc.).
Roll-ons and masks, especially ones with cooling features or ingredients are great for reducing puffiness and smoothing out lines. Not to mention they have a soothing and relaxing sensation to it.
Apply your eye cream or serum after moisturizing and before sunscreen. Be sure to let the products breathe in between applications, meaning don’t apply each product right after one another. Give it a few minutes between each application.
Toner has seemed to become very popular in the skincare routine game over recent years. In the past, it was mostly used for oily or acne-prone skin, with ingredients containing alcohol to really clean out clogged pores. Now, however, most toners do not contain alcohol and are made to address the same type of skin concerns as cleansers and moisturizers.
With that being said, toner is not essential when you are looking at how to start a skincare routine. Toner is almost like using makeup primer because it gives your skin a quick hit of hydration while removing dead skin cells. Essentially, toner preps the skin for the hydration boost your moisturizer will apply.
Its most beneficial to apply your toner soon after cleansing. You can apply your toner by patting the product into the skin with your fingers, or you can apply it on a cotton pad and dab it onto your face.
Toner can be applied both in the morning and nightly, especially after taking off all that makeup and dirt at the end of the day.
- Face Spray or Mist
All the makeup lovers out there know the benefits of a good setting spray, but thanks to the advancement in skincare products, these sprays have evolved. Using a face spray or mist isn’t just for keeping your makeup intact, there are several options now a days that also hydrate and tone your skin throughout the day. Very similar to a toner, a face spray can give your skin an extra boost in hydration, reduce shine, and enhance your complexion. Some sprays even have the ability to cool you down! The nice thing about having a face spray is the ability to bring it with you on the go for whenever you need it to give your skin a little love during the day.
- Face Masks
There are a ton of options when it comes to face masks; sheets, peals, creams – the list goes on. Face masks are best used once or twice a week depending on your skin type and the type of mask you’re using. Its hard to rank the different types of face masks, since they all achieve different things, and our skin needs different treatments throughout the year. Face masks, just like hair masks, typically offer extra exfoliation, moisturizing or targeted treatments. We suggest picking a face mask the same way you pick your moisturizer, based on your biggest concerns and experiment. Sheet masks in particular come in a range of prices for any budget. This is a good way to try out a few different ones to see which works best for you and your skin.
- Facial Tools
Facial tools are nice to have and range from drug store prices to luxurious spa-level prices. Tools such as jade rollers, gua sha, microcurrent wands, etc. help to work in your products, especially serums and oils. They also add some TLC to your skincare routine when you have a little more time.
For micro needling or microcurrent devices, do your research. These kinds of tools are more expensive and target fine lines, discoloration and other issues that may not be necessary for skincare beginners. We recommend starting with a facial roller to help work your products in. We also recommend using the internet to find tutorials that will demonstrate how to increase circulation and blood flow that will reduce inflammation and puffiness around the eyes, neck, and face.
Building a skincare routine shouldn’t be something you’re scared to do. It comes down to what your skin really needs, and not just which products look or smell the best. Always remember that your skin is unique from anyone else’s, and you may not find all the best products for your skin right away. It is a trial-and-error process. What’s your biggest skin problem today? Choose your essentials based on that question and you’ll go from skincare beginner to expert in no time!