I’m giving a quick(ish) rundown of how I build my skincare routine. Instead of doing the usual thing and recommending a bunch of products to buy, I wanted to instead focus my attention on the actual process itself. Really breaking down each step and revealing the purpose behind it. Hopefully with this information you can tailor a skincare routine that’s perfect for your skin type.
This is arguably one of the most important parts in your skincare routine and it’s usually done incorrectly. Oil-based impurities like makeup, sebum, and sunscreen require an oil-based substance to be properly removed. On other the hand, water-based impurities such as sweat and dirt need their water-based counterpart for proper removal. This is why it is absolutely essential that you include BOTH an oil cleanser and a water-based cleanser in your skincare regime. Because oil and water do not mix well, these products can not be used in one single step and must be used separately in two different steps. Be extremely weary of products claiming to remove all impurities from the skin as this is biologically impossible.
1.Oil Cleanser: I’ve seen so many women use plant oils like coconut oil to remove their makeup instead of using an actual cleansing balm. Please, do not do this. For one thing, plant oils can be highly comedogenic which means they can actually clog your pores further. Even if you do follow up with a water based cleanser, it will not effectively remove all the extra oil you added. I’m all about DIY but in this case I would just stick to a professional cleansing balm which is specifically formulated to wash off easily.
2.Water-based Cleanser: Use a foaming cleanser if you have oily skin. Otherwise, stick to a cleanser with a gel or milk like consistency for dry or sensitive skin.
Although makeup wipes are extremely popular because of their convenience, I definitely do not recommend them for several reasons. First off, they leave behind a significant amount of make-up and sebum residue which can further clog pores and increase inflammation. Even if you do use a foaming cleanser afterwards it can not effectively remove the leftover oil-based impurities. Plus, they’re making you look older. Constantly tugging at your skin, especially around your delicate eye area, is giving you premature wrinkles and saggy skin. So please, no more makeup wipes! Plus the planet will thank you as well.
Exfoliation helps remove dead skin cells using chemical and/or physical means. Including an exfoliating product in your skincare regime helps improve skin texture and de-gunk (not a word, I know) clogged pores. If you have blackheads, acne, or milia (and honestly who doesn’t have at least one of these issues?) then exfoliation is imperative. Opt for chemical exfoliation over physical because it’s much gentler on skin. Physical exfoliants like seeds and micro-beads can cause small tears on the surface of the skin which can lead to premature wrinkling. Although the word “chemical” may sound a little intense, these products use acids naturally occurring in our bodies and in food. These include BHA (salistic acid), AHA, and gylcolic acid (my personal favorite).
3.Chemical Exfoliator: Only use these products 2-3 times a week and only ever at night. Over exfoliation can lead to skin sensitivities and increased inflammation. Please use a lower percentage to start with and work your way up to a stronger solution.
Healthy skin naturally has a pH between 4-6. However, cleansing our skin can push this pH into an alkaline state creating the perfect breeding ground for acne causing bacteria. Toners are used to re-balance the skin and prepare it for further products.
4. Toner: Avoid toners that contain alcohols as they can be overly drying. Apply this product on a cotton pad and gently swipe it over your face. Do not tug at your skin like a makeup wipe. Some face cleansers are already pH balanced so using a toner may be a bit unnecessary.
This step in your skincare regime should focus on re-hydrating your skin. Cleansing, exfoliation and using a toner can be overly drying so it is essential that you add water back onto your skin. Essences usually contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which act as humectants pulling water back into the skin. This is what gives your skin that plumped up look whenever you apply HA’s. Think of a dried sponge that gets soaked in water and how quickly it expands. That’s basically what happens when you apply an essence on top of dried skin. This extra hydration also helps subsequent products absorb better. So basically, you get more out of your serums and boosters.
5. Essence: Add a few drops onto your hand and then tap it onto your face. You can repeat this step multiple times if you feel you need extra hydration. In Korea it’s popular to repeat this step 7 times (called the seven skin method)!
This is the targeted treatment section of your regime which usually consists of one active ingredient. If your skin concerns are dull and congested pores, a potent niacinamide booster would be used here. There is significant scientific evidence proving the efficacy of using highly concentrated targeted actives on skin. Other high concentration boosters include vitamin A (retinol), C, E, ALA, Alpha Arbutin, and various peptides. A future post will go more in depth with each active to help determine which one is right for you.
6. Booster: choose a targeted booster according to your skins needs. Use them as per product instructions. Generally, they are applied after water-based serums but before oil-based serums.
Serums contain a combination of concentrated ingredients which penetrate the skin more readily than moisturizers. Although they don’t reach the high concentrations of boosters, they tend deliver more molecular variety than a booster. This is why I advise using both a booster and a serum in your nightly routine to get maximum results. If your going to spend your money anywhere then I highly recommend investing in a good quality serum since the skin actually absorbs these ingredients.
7. Serum: they can come in either oil or water-based solutions. You should choose one according to your skins needs. Apply oil-based serums last, right before you moisturize. Also be mindful of ingredients in your serum which can interfere with ingredients from other products. For example, vitamin A and C should never be applied in the same routine.
A moisturizer is a semi-occlusive product that helps lock in hydration and other beneficial ingredients added in your previous steps. If you skip hydrating steps like essences or HA’s and go directly to using a moisturizer after cleansing, then you aren’t providing your skin with sufficient hydration. The water content of most moisturizers is usually too low to properly hydrate your skin. A layer of oil will sit on top of your skin preventing water from entering the skin. Susan Yara does an excellent job illustrating this point (skip to 6 min 12 sec) . So basically, use some kind of humectant beforehand. It’s worth it.
8. Moisturizer: Honestly, don’t waste your money on an expensive moisturizer. The majority of the ingredients sit on the surface of the skin anyway (unlike a serum or a treatment). Focus on soothing ingredients which act as a semi-occlusive layer to lock hydration in. Ingredients which help repair the skin barrier include ceramides, linoleic acid (omega 6), and anti-oxidants.
I know I said cleansing was the most important step in your routine but I think I might have to take that back. A good sun screen is one of your greatest defenses against aging and skin diseases. UVA and UVB rays can penetrate the skin causing premature wrinkles, sun spots, discoloration and even skin cancer. Sun damage can occur in as little as 5 minutes so please do not skimp on this step! You should be wearing sunscreen everyday, rain or shine, snow or sun. If you’re stepping outside, it should go on.
9. Sunscreen: I prefer to use a mineral non-nano based sunscreen for the healthiest protection. Apply only in the AM.
Did you find this information helpful? Will you try anything new now?
Let me know in the comments below.
And as always, happy home making.