Skincare Routine[Affiliate Links]
Beautiful glowing skin and a perfected makeup base come from having a good solid skincare routine. In an oversaturated beauty market, it can often be a little overwhelming to know where to start and with a myriad of skincare products difficult to know which is best for you. So in this post, we’re talking about building a basic skincare routine and guiding you through the best way to do this.
I’ve provided examples of recommended products for convenience.
*This post contains affiliate links which help cover the running costs of the website at no cost to yourself. If you’d like to learn more about this please see my ‘Disclaimer’ page. Posts are not affiliate driven.
Getting to know our skin type
Understanding our skin type helps us select products that will best suit our skin. We tend to sit within 4 main categories, although it’s not unusual to sit in between, so don’t worry if you don’t recognise yourself as an exact match for one of the following.
Dry | Normal | Combination (Normal – Oily) | Oily
This is the most recognisable skin type categories talked about and if you go to a department store counter and ask for advice you will usually be asked questions to point the adviser in the direction of which category you sit in, or indeed they may ask you if you know which skin type you identify with themselves.
Let’s go through each category:
Dry skin types tend to feel as though their skin is never fully hydrated enough. They can suffer rough, dry patches of skin and find the winter months harsher to their dehydrated skin.
Those who sit in the normal skin type category are the luckiest of us all! The most balanced of skin types, normal is not too dry and not too oily. This skin doesn’t particularly suffer from dryness nor does it find it gets oily as the day goes on.
This skin type tends to be a mix of a little bit of dryness/normal skin with an oily T-zone (the area from your forehead down your nose). There can be small dry patches mixed with oily areas around the nose or chin.
Those with an oily skin type will notice a build up of oil on the skin as the day goes on. Oily skin tends to produce more sebum (oil) and this shows as shine and/or grease during the day. Oily skin can be more prone to black heads because of this.
Those with very oily skin can wake up with a build-up of oil when they first wake up.
A more in-depth view:
Very dry | Dry | Combination (Dry-Normal) | Normal | Combination (Normal-Oily) | Oily | Very Oily
As I said you may not fit in the basic 4 categories, but fear not. If this is the case, try and identify where your skin sits and then it’s a case of choosing products that best support your skin.
An example being: Someone with ‘Combination Dry-normal’ skin will still need products that are more suited for drier skin type but perhaps not as thick and rich as someone in the ‘very dry’ category. (More on product types below.)
It is also worth noting that ALL skin types can be dehydrated. From the driest skin that yearns for the richest of creams to the oilest that wishes for the lightest of lotions, everyone can suffer dehydration; often without realising this can be a causing a worsening of skin issues but thankfully, in most cases, it can be easily fixed.
First things first, Cleansing
One of the most important parts of a skincare routine is cleaning the skin. This may seem strange but ensuring your face is free of the days’ oil, dirt and makeup is essential in preventing congestion, dull skin and blocked pores.
Choosing the right cleanser for you will depend on your skin type and your cleansing needs i.e if you’re an avid long-wear makeup fan or a barely-there makeup lover.
I tend to enjoy a gel/wash off cleanser in the morning and a double cleanse with a balm cleanser followed by a gel face wash in the evening, using a separate eye makeup remover to gently take away the days eye makeup.
However, you don’t need to buy 3 products (this is purely my product preference), a balm cleanser can do all of the above, if suitable.
Why do you use 3 cleansing products? Does that mean I have to?
No! If it helps, the reason I use the above is: Gel cleanser’s suit my oily skin type. I prefer a wash off cleanser then a non-wash off one. In the morning I find this sufficient (some may find a micellar water perfect-again it’s down to skin type and personal preference.) I like to double cleanse at night because I wear a heavy duty SPF daily, plus makeup and find a balm cleanser the best to efficiently remove these. Followed by a second cleanse with the same gel cleanser from my morning routine to ensure no product is left over and my skin is gently cleansed. I like to use a separate eye makeup remover because the skin around the eye is more delicate than elsewhere, therefore I don’t want to tug this area unnecessarily.
This does not mean you have to follow the same routine. Of course, you can should you wish, however, your routine is personal to you. I have a cleansing guide which covers it in full detail which you can read here! Find the right cleanser for your needs and for your skin type.
Skincare faux pas
One of the biggest things I see is skin that is dehydrated or stripped from cleansers or products that are too harsh. Happy skin is balanced skin. The harsher the product the more the skin works to counteract any damage caused. Now I’m not talking about active (retinols etc) products here, that’s for a later date, for a more enhanced skincare routine. It’s important to ensure the products you are using are being kind to your skin and not stripping it of its natural oils. Read about that here!
As an oily skinned girl, I’m talking from teenage experience. Back in the day, I was told to use products that stripped away the oil and were drying. They felt good at first, however soon enough my face became an oil slick as my skin began to produce more oil to compensate for the dehydration!
Is it necessary in a skincare routine and what is it?
In its most basic form, it is a hydrating or clarifying liquid which you apply to the face after cleansing. For many years it was simply applied by using a cotton pad dampened in the solution to do so, now there are also mists available.
What do they do?
Ok. There is a massive beauty myth that your pores open and close, often toners have been sold as a way of ‘closing’ pores after cleansing but this simply isn’t how our skin works.
The second myth is that they can help shrink pores- this phrase can often come in many skincare products descriptions as selling points. Pores cannot be decreased in size, so be weary of a product claiming to do so. There are two things you can do to aid with the appearance of larger pores.
1) Use a product which will help unclog pores. An uncontested pore will always look smaller than one that is full of debris, skin and oil.
2) Use a smoothing primer. These primers tend to use silicone and polymers to smooth texture, leading to the appearance of smaller pores.
Types of toners
Typically there are two types of toners:
Ones that clarify and hydrate skin and those that contain Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) or Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) and help in cell turnover and congestion.
Who needs a toner?
In all honesty, it’s not my ‘must have’ on a basic skincare routine (they can be added in or taken away at any time). Unless, you use a cream-lotion style cleanser (that you don’t rinse), in this case, the toner removes any cleanser residue.
What about a spritz toner?
They’re lovely, hydrating, a treat- a necessary? No. Where these can come in handy is for adding an extra layer of hydration alongside a hyaluronic acid serum to help treat dehydrated skin but that’s for another post.
These are the toners I mentioned above that contain AHA’s/BHA’s which gently exfoliate your skin and provide a radiant finish. These can be a welcome addition to a skincare routine once you have the basic’s secure, at that point you can begin to add products which begin to treat certain problem areas or enhance or skin overall. However, in order to do that it’s important to have a solid basic skincare routine in place.
Ok so you’ve got your cleansing down, your skin is prepped and ready for all the goodies you’ve got waiting for it.
What is a serum? A serum is a lightweight liquid designed to be applied after cleansing and before moisturiser. They are essentially the powerhouse of a skincare routine with a high concentrate of active ingredients. A thinner texture and lighter molecular structure allow the formula to absorb well into the top layers of the skin, delivering effective actives with a multitude of benefits.
Is a serum the same as a moisturiser?
Yes and no. Serums can be hydrating and therefore boost the moisturising properties of your cream. They are completely different in texture and weight, however. Those with dryer skins would not feel sufficiently hydrated with just a serum alone, whereas someone with an oily skin type may.
What does a serum do?
Serums come in many different categories to suit many needs and to treat different issues. Whether you wish to explore these at first is completely up to you. They can be added in at any time, however, it’s good to have a basic understanding of what’s out there.
Suitable for all skin types. Most contain hyaluronic acid, a molecule already present within the skin. When applied topically it aids in hydrating, retaining moisture and plumps skin. An all-round winner.
One of the first serums to come to the market (It was the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum, for any skincare geeks out there!). These serums contain a mix of ingredients from peptides to retain skin tone, to hyaluronic acid to help plump fine lines.
Aimed at those who suffer from spots and/or acne. An anti-blemish serum will usually contain as a Beta-Hydroxy Acid (BHA) such as salicylic acid. It is oil soluble and dissolves skin debris which can clog pores while acting as an anti-inflammatory at the same time.
Redness correcting/calming serums
More suited to those with redness and/or Roseca, a redness correcting serum helps to soothe irritated skin. Usually containing ingredients such as aloe vera, zinc and vitamin E.
Containing either an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) or Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), exfoliating serums help remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, leaving fresh glowing skin. SPF should be worn daily when using serums containing AHA/BHA/s as they can make the skin a little more photosensitive. We don’t want to undo all this good work we’re doing now do we?
Glowing Skin / Treatment of pigmentation
A more targeted serum is one containing Vitamin C. A real powerhouse in helping protect the skin from sun damage (although making it more photosensitive at the same time-therefore wearing an SPF is a must) which causes pigmentation. These serums also leave your skin very glowy and radiant.
So how do I choose a serum?
This is a very basic overview and you certainly don’t need all of these for a basic skincare routine. Choosing a serum is dependant on two things: One, your skin type. Two, what you want to gain from it.
All skin types: hydrating serums
All skin types: Anti-ageing serums
To treat certain concerns:
Dry skin/dullness/lacklustre skin: Exfoliating serum
Pigmentation/Age spots: Vitamin C serum
Irritated skin: Calming serums
Oily Skin type: Anti Blemish Serums
For a beginners skincare routine, I’d start with a serum that acts to support your moisturiser by adding hydration or one to boost allover skin function, such as an anti-ageing serum as adding one with actives which target specific concerns (vitamin C, exfoliating acids etc) can take a little getting used to and while fantastic, the rule of thumb is to add one of these types at a time so you can judge how your skin reacts.
Look out for a post coming soon exploring serums in depth!
A moisturiser is a cream or liquid of a thicker consistency than a serum which contains hydrating ingredients such as emollients and humectants. As with all products they come in different formulas and textures to suit everyone’s individual skin type.
While not specifically a ‘cream’ an oil is used as a moisturiser so I’m popping it in this category. Most suited for dry to very dry skins, oils are very hydrating and soothing to skins that are dehydrated and long for comfort.
Rich, thick creams
Think rich, balmy creams designed to lock in moisture. Dry skins will adore these, oilier skins will feel suffocated under them. These might be a nice top up for a normal skin in the winter months when the cold weather is dring out skin a little more.
Bang in the middle. A regular cream has a texture that’s not too thick and not too light. Perfect for normal skin. A dryer skin may enjoy this texture during summer months when the warmth leads to more natural oil production.
Favoured by those with combination to oily skin types. A lotion is thinner is consistency again. It absorbs quickly into the skin and leaves barely any residue.
Hydrating but quickly absorbing, it is exactly what is says; a gel. Preferred by combination to oily skins.
What you may notice is that the texture of product gets thinner in consistency as we move from products more suited to dry skin and those best suited for oily skin. This is because dry skin folks lack the amount of natural oils normal skin produce and oily skins overproduce it. Every skin type still needs to hydrate but the way in which you do so is different and the products you find most comfortable on your skin will be those most suited to your skin type and personal to you and your preference.
There are two camps for eye cream. The ‘I believe in eye cream’ and the ‘I don’t think it makes a difference’ one. I’m a bit of a sucker for trying anyway.
The main difference between an eye cream and a face cream can often be found in the thickness of the product. Eye creams tend to be thinner in consistency as the skin around the eye is thinner.
I do believe that the goodness that’s in your serum (so long as suitable for the eye area) is going to give you more results than a lot of specific eye creams.
If you wish to invest in an eye cream then give it ago but like toners I don’t believe they are essential at this stage.
Applying your hyaluronic acid with your moisturiser + SPF on top can do wonders. Here, you are hydrating and protecting again further damage at the same time.
I will say that having your eye area hydrated really does make a difference to how your makeup applies and to the look of any fine lines and/dehydrated skin; hence giving a more youthful glow.
If you can achieve this with the products you already have, excellent! If you want a little extra than perhaps a hydrating eye cream is the way to go.
We should all be wearing a daily SPF. We are now aware of the dangers to our health not doing so and second to that, wearing sunscreen is one of only two of the treatments rated ‘anti-ageing’ by the FDA. Damage from UVA causes both ageing and pigmentation and if we can do something to try and prevent that, why not eh?
Can I just wear a moisturiser with SPF?
Yes and no. I’m never going to discourage anyone from wearing a moisturiser with SPF and if you are wearing this it is better than nothing (please don’t go unprotected 😉 ).
The reason I say no is simply because the SPF concentration in a moisturiser + added SPF is simply not high enough, the same goes for SPF in makeup. You would have to apply a tablespoon of foundation + SPF to achieve the protection on the bottle, let’s face it not many of us are applying that much of anything. But, as I say, anything is better than nothing.
If however, you are serious about looking after the health of your skin and yourself, then I recommend wearing a facial suncreen daily. Drier skin types may prefer to wear both a moisturiser and a full suncream whereas as oiler skin types may find a sunscreen provides enough hydration alone.
(I will do this for example. Wear a hydrating serum and a full sunscreen-I have oily skin.)
You will of course want a seperate non-SPF moisturiser for nighttime. Firstly, it would just be a waste of SPF and secondly some people find SPF’s can congest their skin (this is where thorough cleansing comes in) so why wear it at night when you could be wearing a lovely hydrating nighttime moisturiser that’s perfect for you?
But don’t sunscreens have a horrid texture?
They used to and some still aren’t great. However, SPF’s have come a very long way when it comes to texture.
Choose one that is specifically for the face, these tend to be lighter is consistency.
Again the choice is dependent on preference and skin type.
Oilier skins will most likely prefer sunscreens which mattify whereas dry skin will be thankful for a dewier texture. Normal skin types can pick and choose.
Order which to apply
A simple rule to follow when trying to work out and remember which order to apply products in a routine is to consider the texture and consistency of them. Lighter consistency products like serums should go on first, moving to the thicker formulas, your choice of moisturiser/oil, to SPF.
Let’s sum it all up
If it feels a little information overload fear not! In my opinion, your basic skincare routine is broken down into the basic 4: Cleanser, Serum, Moisturiser, SPF.
The basic 4 cleans your skin, boosts, hydrates and protects.
This is how I would begin a basic skincare routine and then when comfortable with this add a toner and/or eye cream in if necessary or if you just fancy giving them a try.
Chose products that will suit your skin, not one that your friend loves. Try new products one at a time, therefore if one doesn’t agree with you, you can easily rule it out. Take it slow, worry about correcting products later, the tortoise really does win the race when it comes to skincare. Most of all enjoy and have fun!
Look out for more in-depth guides on each subject! All skincare will be under ‘Skincare Guides‘.
Any questions? Feel free to ask below in the comments!
Do you have any products you can’t live without? Please let me know!