With so many products on the market and such elaborate routines, skincare can be understandably overwhelming. I want to help you formulate a regime that suits you.
Try to think of a skincare as a menu, you can have as many or as few courses as you wish. Generally, less is more and the simpler the routine, the more likely I am to stick to it.
I’ve categorised products into must haves (essential items for everyone), good to have (beneficial to everyone), nice to have (not particularly skin changing but you may enjoy using them). I’ve then put them in a sequence so you know where in your routine to use them.
There are lots of potential products and steps and I am NOT saying you need them all, the must haves are pretty essential however, and if you’re in your 20s or have problem skin the good to haves may be of benefit too. The nice to have products are for skincare junkies like myself.
SKIN CARE MENU
Non Foaming cleanser/Make up remover used with flannel/hot cloth/facial brush
Must have products are about protecting your skin from the potentially damaging things that it is subject to eg. Makeup, sun, wind, dirt, in my case oiliness.
Cleansing and removing make up routinely will have a huge impact on your skin by protecting you from all the above. Oil/milk/balm based cleansers work best as they are less likely to strip you of your skin’s naturally acidic pH. Always double cleanse when wearing SPF or make up. This can be done with the same cleanser if it works well to remove make up, or use separate make up remover to get rid of as much make up as possible before cleansing.
SPF can be part of a moisturiser/BB cream/foundation or used separately, I tend to mix my SPF with whichever moisturiser I’m using that day as I don’t like to use SPF on days that I’m not out and about. I find mixing it, instead of applying it on top of a moisturiser helps it apply better and stops it streaking everywhere. Use a product with UVA + UVB to protect against ageing as well as cancers.
Face oil/ moisturiser is the final protecting layer of skincare, like a coat. Tailor it to your skin type. It should absorb well and leave your skin feeling comfortable. Drier skins may enjoy an oil followed by a moisturiser, personally this is too much for my oily skin and I stay away from most oils as they tend to break me out but if they work for you, they can be used alone or with a moisturiser.
GOOD TO HAVE:
Good to have products go a step further than just protecting the skin but will also start to treat any problems you wish to address. Different problems can be targeted using a range of products.
Serums these days do anything from being brightening, anti ageing, hydrating, evening skin tone…the list goes on. Choose one that fits your budget and tackles your biggest problem.
Exfoliators/acid toners are beneficial to most skin types and come in varying strengths, there is bound to be one to suit you. They help remove any dead skin cells and unclog any pores and by doing so will help any other treatment type work more effectively. Chemical acid exfoliators work the best in my opinion as opposed to physical exfoliants. Follow up with a sunscreen to protect your fresh bright newly exposed skin.
Targeted treatments are designed to be used for specific conditions/ areas of skin, these can be prescribed medications or over the counter targeted treatments for things like acne, rosacea or ageing. These can be used wherever they work best for you in your routine. I sometimes use acne gels or retinoid creams in place of a serum under a moisturiser. I would use them in a variety of ways to see how they work best for you.
NICE TO HAVE:
Toners for hydration
Nice to have products are those added extras which either don’t have much evidence behind them or are occasional pamper products.
Eye creams/serums are not essential if you can tolerate your facial products around your eye area. More sensitive skins may benefit form separate products if facial products cause stinging/redness. The evidence of actual benefit to dark circles, fine lines and puffiness from eye creams is very limited. I have yet to find one that does anything but moisturise the area.
Face masks are my absolute favourite but whilst I love them, they don’t add much to skin unless the other more essential things in a routine are established first. There is no skin problem I know that will be cured with just a facemask, but masks can work together with an established skin care routine to target problems such as oiliness, dehydration and are lots of fun to use.
Hydrating toners are the spritzy sprays for your face, they tend to consist almost entirely of water. In the past they were marketed as helping close pores, these days they are recognised for what they really are – a water spray. In my opinion these can feel lovely to use if you have the time and patience for them to sink in before the rest of your skin care but apart from adding a bit of temporary hydration there’s not a whole deal they can achieve.
Product order of use
- non foaming cleanser
- acid tone
- hydrating toner
- eye serum/cream
- face serum
- facial oil/ moisturiser (if using both oil first)
- SPF/BB cream
A day time routine should protect your skin and incorporate any treatment in your serum that you would like during the day, i.e balancing oils, targeting acne.
If it’s a sunny day you could use a product which already incorporates an SPF either in your moisturiser/make up base – so it’s one less step and less product on your face – sometimes too much layering can cause products that don’t sit well together to ball up, especially when using makeup. I like to use SPF separately if I’m not wearing make up and a combined product when I am.
- make up remover
- non foaming cleanser (double cleanse if using SPF)
- acid toner
- hydrating toner
- eye serum/cream
- face serum/treatment
- facial oil/moisturiser (if using both oil first)
- certain focal treatments for acne
A night time routine is the time for any treatments that you can’t use during the day, for example retinoids for ageing/acne, oils/richer creams that you wouldn’t want to use under makeup/during the day.
For this reason I use different night serums and moisturisers at tackle my skin issues, it’s also when I feel less self conscious about using focal spot treatments and gels which can look obvious in the day time.
Occasional use products
Face masks usually come with directions on how often to use them. I tend to slot masks in depending on their main effect, for example an oil controlling or hydrating mask is better for me in the morning as it will keep my skin looking good under make up or just generally healthier during the day. An acid peeling mask is best done at night time to make less skin less vulnerable to the sun. I tend to use a mask 2-3 times a week and I’ll use whichever suits my need.
Acid toners come in varying strengths and directions. Some can be tolerated twice daily, others are to be used just at night or a few times a week. It really depends on what the directions are and how well you can tolerate them. Use sunscreen following use.
Exfoliators which act through physical means, i.e little beads/scrubs should ideally be replaced with chemical exfoliants as they are less scratchy on the skin and produce better opinions
I hope that has been helpful & you all get as much joy as I do out of developing a skin routine with products you love! Please leave any comments or details of products you use in your routine! What are your must haves? I’d love to know!