Your skin is your first impression. While we carefully curate how our clothes, shoes, accessories, hair, and makeup look, we often forget the importance of skin care as the actual investment that keeps us looking healthy and fresh. Building a skincare routine may seem intimidating, but here is a step-by-step guide to taking a practical and potent approach to your best skin yet!
1. Understand Your Skin Type
The first step to building a sustainable skincare routine, or any skin-care routine, really, is to understand what kind of skin you’re working with. There are five main categories of skin types –
1. Dry Skin
Skin that tends to get flaky or feel scaly easily. If you find your skin feels textured and dry after you wash it, chances are you have dry skin. And when you don’t apply product to your face, if it feels tight or dehydrated, chances are you have dry skin.
2. Oily skin
Skin that feels shiny or greasy with no effort. If you find your skin feels slippery or tacky to the touch, you probably have oily skin. This skin type is also more prone to clogged pores and breakouts.
3. Combination Skin
For some people, the feel of their skin can sit on extremities or a combination of the two. This skin type is more common than you might think. It is categorized by oiliness on the T-Zone, or the skin on the forehead and around the nose with dry cheeks.
4. Normal Skin
Normal skin is the least problematic skin type and is categorized by minimal dry spots, comfortable-feeling skin all year round, and skin that doesn’t feel easily irritable. If you are able to wash your face and your skin feels soft and moisturized without the need for a moisturizer, you likely have normal skin. Count yourself lucky if your skin type is normal.
5. Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin is categorized by its ability to get easily inflamed and/ or irritated. Sensitive skin does not enjoy complex chemicals or changes to the environment and is quick to showcase signs like redness and itchiness. For those with sensitive skin, what works best are sustainable skincare formulas that lean towards more organic or gentle, simple chemical compounds to strengthen the skin barrier.
Figuring out your skin type will help you address the core needs of your skin. Skincare is not a one size fits all formula. It is highly recommended to understand your skin’s needs and what you would like to improve on before making any purchases.
2. Know Your Skin Goals
After identifying your skin type, you now have to take a deeper look at what you intend on achieving with a skin-care routine. When you look at your skin, what are the things you would like to improve –
- Balanced skin that is less oily?
- Hydrated skin that feels less flaky?
- Minimizing fine lines, wrinkles, and premature signs of aging?
- Soothing inflamed skin and breakouts?
- Evening out the complexion and getting rid of dark spots?
- Creating smoother skin texture?
These are just some of the concerns you may have with your skin. Most of these concerns can be treated with over-the-counter products that are easily available to you. The key to skincare is consistency; you need to find a skin-care routine that helps you build the skin you feel more comfortable in.
1. Create A Budget – With Both Time and Finances
A skincare tip for anyone looking to build a beginner skin-care routine is to not get sucked into price equals quality. There are a number of cost-effective formulas on the market for sustainable skincare users that are jam-packed with amazing active ingredients and form formulas gentle enough to use every day.
Also, be realistic about the time you have to spend on your skincare routine. Ideally, you would have two separate skincare routines; a daytime routine and a nighttime routine . If you find during the week, for example, you have fifteen minutes to get ready and head to work but an hour towards the evening, a factor that into your routine. Because of this reason, you might not get time to tear through a ten-step Korean skin-care routine in 15 minutes; instead, simplify.
With your skincare, especially when you’re just starting out, start simple and start diversifying after you feel more confident.
2. The Basic CTM For Your Skincare Routine
The foundation of any skincare routine, beginner or otherwise, must consist of three core steps; cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. For individuals that feel like toner is an extra step, feel free to just cleanse and moisturize till you find a formula you may like to try.
If you wear makeup on a regular basis, your cleansing routine must consist of two types of cleansers;
- An Oil Cleanser: Oil-based cleansers are often sold in a pump bottle or solid balm formula. Oil cleansers break down the oil and emollients on the skin’s surface, taking with it makeup and environmental impurities. Oil cleansers are massaged into the skin to break down the film on top of the skin, activated by mixing in a few drops of water with further massage and rinsing off.
- A Water-Based Cleanser: Water-based cleansers are more commonly used. These are your generic face wash formulas that often foam when used. After your oil cleanser, going in with a water-based cleanser acts as a confirming cleanse to make sure all dirt and debris are washed away to create a clean canvas for any skincare products.
Double cleansing ensures you are not trapping any dirt under your products and are applying them to fresh skin for maximum absorption and effectiveness.
Other CTM skincare tips
If you’d like to skip the toner and go straight to moisturizer, you absolutely can. Moisturizers and creams contain hydrating ingredients that help fortify the skin barrier. There are some formulas that work well with all skin types and skin concerns. Here’s a quick skincare tip;
- Individuals with oily skin should look for a gel-based moisturizer that absorbs into the skin without clogging pores.
- Those individuals with dry skin should look for a rich, creamy moisturizer that offers a thick layer of hydration to keep the skin feeling supple.
- While those Individuals with combination skin can use a mixture of the two, targeting areas of concern with the right product, i.e., use gel-based moisturizers on oily regions and creamier moisturizers on dry areas
- Normal skin can use whatever they feel comfortable with. Do not use normal skin as an excuse to skip the moisturizer. This is a great opportunity to maintain the skin you have.
- Individuals with sensitive skin should look at the ingredients list carefully and cautiously. Look for ceramides and ingredients that strengthen the skin barrier without upsetting it. Soothing and cooling ingredients like Centella Asiatica, vitamin e, aloe vera, and green tea are all great options.
- Moisturize your eye area, too, with a moisturizing eye cream.
Try using a more lightweight moisturizer during the day for light hydration; working with richer formulas towards the evening, and fortifying the skin barrier before you sleep works with your overnight repair system to leave your skin feeling soft and taken care of when you wake up.
If you’re curious about toners, they can be a wonderful addition to basic skin-care routines to slowly introduce active ingredients and help maximize hydration. Western skincare was previously flooded with astringent, alcohol-based toner formulas that dried out the skin. Today’s skincare market has taken a cue from the East Asian beauty industry to develop toners that nourish the skin and help with brightening and boosting bounce.
3. Sunscreen Is Non-Negotiable
The sun is the number one cause of UV damage and premature aging. Sunscreen must be a skincare staple for individuals of any age and living anywhere across the globe. If you aren’t sure where to start with sunscreen, there are two broad categories;
- Chemical Sunscreen: Absorb into the skin within the deeper layers and absorb UV rays. Chemical sunscreens do not protect against all UV rays but are less likely to leave a white cast and are more easily available.
- Physical Sunscreen: Create a physical barrier on the top of the skin and deflect UVA and UVB rays. This formula will need to be constantly reapplied to maintain its potency and often leaves the skin looking slightly gray.
Sunscreen works by minimizing the impact of UVA rays (cause of premature aging, sunspots, and wrinkles) and UVB rays (sunburn). As we are exposed to UV rays, even through cloud cover, as long as the sun is out, it is imperative to protect the skin.
Depending on the formula you feel more comfortable using, invest in a sunscreen with an SPF of not less than 30 and not more than 50. A minimum SPF of 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays. It is important to apply sunscreen to any part of the body exposed to the sun and ensure reapplication is consistent to reap the benefits.
Individuals with sensitive skin will likely find physical sunscreens to be a better-suited option, as the titanium dioxide and zinc oxide work to protect the skin without stinging or burning the eyes.
With the number of different formats, sunscreen is available nowadays, i.e., gel, lotion, stick, and spray, finding a formula that works with your skin type and within your budget is a simple solution. Make sure to coat the face evenly and expose the skin. It is recommended to use at least a coin-sized amount of sunscreen and reapply every two hours.
4. Introduce Active Ingredients For Your Skincare Routine
Once you’ve established a strong foundation routine, it’s time to add the fix-ins. Introduce serums, essences, and skincare products that address skincare concerns with the understanding that there is definitely something on the market for everyone.
We highly recommend experimenting with the user-friendly, 100% vegan brand The Ordinary for potent yet cost-effective formulas. Here are some popular and widely used formulations on the market that help you cultivate your best skin yet;
– Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a popular serum option to promote youthful skin. The antioxidant protects the skin from damage caused by free radicals while firming the complexion, minimizing the appearance of fine lines, and thickening the skin barrier. Vitamin C is also a great option to minimize the appearance of dark spots and discoloration.
Building a “The Ordinary” skincare routine for beginners with Vitamin C could include their formula that couples Hyaluronic acid with a 23% Vitamin C suspension. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally found chemical compound in the skin that helps retain moisture. The mix of the two works well to promote better skin and hydration.
If you’re looking to address uneven skin tones and texture, introducing an acid or chemical exfoliant into your routine may be the answer. There are a number of chemical exfoliants on the market our favorites are;
- AHAs: Alpha Hydroxy Acids that work on a surface level to remove dead skin cells and encourage skin cell generation. These include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and malic acid.
- BHAs: Beta Hydroxy Acids target the deeper within the skin, perfect for addressing blackheads and excessive oil production. BHA’s help reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. These include salicylic acid, trethocanic acid, and beta-hydroxybutyric acid. BHA’s are better for sensitive skin prone to rosacea or redness.
For women looking to build a sustainable skincare routine, there are definitely products to help minimize the signs of aging. Retinol is one of them. Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative that helps increase collagen production and skin cell turnover to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The Ordinary has a variety of retinol and retinol derivative-based options at various potencies. It is recommended to start on a lower potency and work your way up a few times a week. Retinol is best used at night and sandwiched between two layers of moisturizer.
For sustainable skincare enthusiasts, a natural retinol alternative called Bakuchiol is now making its way into mainstream skincare. Sustainable skincare brand Herbivore offers a potent and aesthetically pleasing formula but is on the pricey side.
This skincare guide for beginners is a guideline to help you experiment with different formulas and skincare companies. The objective is to build a healthy routine that fits in well with your lifestyle and helps your skin become healthy and balanced. There is nothing more beautiful than skin at its best, and the best definitely varies from person to person. Embrace the differences, and don’t be afraid to aggressively search for what’s best for you.
If skincare issues persist, there is no substitute for advice from a dermatologist.