When I started getting into skin care, I had no idea what my routine should look like. I pretty much just bought any product I could recognize from ads, unaware of what my skin really needed. The truth is, skin care is so incredibly personal to each individual person. While I write about a ton of different skin care products on this blog, what works for me may not work for you, and what’s disastrous for me might be your new holy grail. Let’s go over how to create a skin care routine, the basic products you need to get started, and which ones will work for your skin type.
The first step to curating the perfect skin care routine for you is identifying your skin type.
Normal: Having “normal” skin means, for the most part, your skin looks and feels balanced. You might feel some oil on your face, but not enough to disturb your makeup. You don’t deal with dry or flaky areas.
Oily: Oily skin tends to look shiny or feel greasy throughout the day.
Dry: If your skin often feels flaky and tight, or looks dull without a natural glow, you probably have dry skin.
Combination: Combination (or “combo”) skin is a mix of normal, oily and/or dry spots on the face. Most commonly, oilier areas include the T-Zone (forehead, nose, chin) while cheeks and under-eyes feel normal or dry.
Any of these skin types can also be considered sensitive, which means that your skin may react easily with rashes, itchiness, or redness to certain products. Or, you may have acne-prone skin, and you experience breakouts somewhat regularly.
Luckily, many brands have made it easy in labelling their skin care products for the type of skin they’re meant for. Depending on your skin type and concerns, some people may need more steps in their routine than others, but you’ll want to start out with the basic steps. According to estheticians, adding too many steps to a routine too soon can spell disaster in the form of excessive breakouts or purging because it’s a shock to your skin. Let’s start simple.
Basic Skin Care Routine:
- Cleanser: Use both morning and night to remove dirt, oil, and product residue.
- Toner: This product helps rebalance skin after cleansing. Many offer extra skin benefits like exfoliation or a hydration boost.
- Sunscreen and/or Moisturizer: Always wear an SPF moisturizer during the day to protect your skin from the sun. At night, opt for a nourishing cream to help replenish your skin.
If you have skin concerns such as acne, dark spots, excessive oil, or wrinkles, you may consider adding a serum to your routine. Serums target specific skin care needs with concentrated ingredients, and are applied after toner and before moisturizer. For example, benefits of Vitamin C serum include a smoother texture, brightening the skin, and fading dark spots. Another personal favorite is Glycolic Acid, which works as an exfoliant to remove dead skin cells, minimizes and unclogs pores, and reduces the appearance of fine lines.
Don’t forget makeup remover, which should start off your routine before your cleanser. Using both makeup remover and cleanser is called double cleansing, and ensures your face is free of any product and residue. While makeup wipes are popular and convenient, a cleansing balm is usually more effective at dissolving heavier makeup products.
Here are a few highly rated skin care products for all skin types to get you started on creating your skin care routine from scratch.
Look for gentle face washes, nourishing toners, and a moisturizer that doesn’t feel too heavy.
Balancing toners and lightweight moisturizers will be the backbone of your routine.
Hydrating cleansers, calming toners and rich moisturizers will keep your skin feeling more comfortable and bring back a glow.
Finding your goldilocks moisturizer will be the most challenging part of your routine, and may change with the season. Use gentle cleansers and balancing toners to achieve more even skin.
Acne Prone Skin:
Exfoliating toners, and those with active ingredients that target acne, will help with clogged pores and clear blemishes. Look for fragrance-free options when possible. Optional: consider using serums for acne-prone skin.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything and you’re still not happy with your skin, it’s always a good idea to seek input from a dermatologist. I used Curology from 2014-2019, which gave me access to dermatologist consultations and prescription acne treatment without insurance. It was super helpful, but now I’m finally at a point where I can manage my skin on my own with a solid routine. It’s been a lot of trial and error, but it feels so good when you get it right!