Skincare Skills

by Lydia

Skincare blogger

May 28, 2021

crop ethnic woman applying cream on face against mirror

So, you want to start on a skincare routine, but you're probably wondering: How many products to use? Which ones are the best for your skin type? In what order should you apply? And what exactly do the products even do? Getting the most benefit out of your skincare regimen means simply getting the best skincare routine for your skin type and what condition you're trying to work on.

What's Your Skin Type?

Before picking skin products, you need to know what skin type you have. The type is generally going to direct what product ingredients you should always look out for and what you should stay clear off from. Basically, there are 5 skin types:

  • Normal
  • Oily
  • Dry
  • Combination
  • Sensitive

Skin Types

A). Normal Skin

Normal skin has a balanced sebum production and blood circulation that makes it not too oily and not too dry.

B). Oily Skin

Oily skin has a greasy appearance, large pores, and is prone to breakouts from excess sebum production.

C). Dry Skin

Dry skin has a flaky, rough texture that can at times feel tight and experience irritation.

D). Combination Skin

Combination skin is a combo of dry skin and oily skin. Usually, the T-zone is oily while the cheeks are dry.

E). Sensitive Skin

If your skin reacts to new products and flushes when you have spicy food, then you may have sensitive skin.

Still Not Sure?

Wash your face clean, wait for around 20-30 minutes, take a blotting paper sheet, gently pat it first on your forehead and use the other one and pat it on your cheek area. If both sheets have little to no oil, then you may have dry skin.

If the sheet you used on either your cheek or forehead picked up some oil while the other has little to no oil, then you may have combination skin. If the blotting paper picked some oil on both, then you may have oily skin.

Sequence for The Best Skin Care Routine

Generally, dermatologists recommend following 4 easy steps for the best skincare routine. These steps will vary depending on whether it's during the day or night.

The day skin regimen include: 

  • Cleanse
  • Tone
  • Moisturise
  • Sunscreen

The night skin routine involves:

  • Cleanse
  • Tone
  • Treatment
  • Moisturise

Of course, since everyone's skin is different, adjust your skin routine based on your age, skin type, and skin condition.

Layering Skin Products

The order in which you apply is incredibly important. The skin’s main job is to keep things out, and since only very small amounts of the ingredients we want to penetrate can pass, how you layer matters. Additionally, different skin products have different particle sizes in their make-up.

For best results, you want the one with smaller particles to go first, then the larger-sized one which will sip in slowly. The easy rule of thumb is to apply the products with the thinnest consistency (antioxidant serum) first, and the thickest (emollients and humectants in moisturizers) last.

Daytime Routine

Morning skin routine is more about sun protection and the elements that cause breakouts. So during the day, leave out your treatment and exfoliation products such as retinol. Sunscreen is a major step here.

Nighttime Routine

During the night, you want to rejuvenate and treat your skin and give it ample time to absorb all the key ingredients as you sleep. This is where you use treatment serums like Vitamin C serum, Retinol, Niacinamide, etc.

1. Cleanse

Cleansing is the first step in any good skin routine. As you guessed, the type of cleanser largely depends on the skin type. Generally, a gentle cleanser is the way to go for all skin types, especially if you're going to use more active ingredients later on.

Cleansing too much, too often, or using a harsh cleanser will do more harm than good; it will break down your skin barrier. Always start by washing your hands, both in the morning and night; dirty hands are one of the reasons for breakouts. Then secondly, use a gentle facial cleanser that is specifically designed for your skin type.

If it's at night, start, first clean out all your makeup, using a makeup remover and cotton pad or double cleanse. The right facial cleanser formula should cleanse your skin without stripping it off essential, healthy oils.

Also, go slow on exfoliation to a minimum of 2-3 times a week. Avoid exfoliating products that have abrasive ingredients.

a). Gel Cleansers

Suitable for: Oily and combination skin

Gel cleansers are generally designed to deep cleanse, effectively decongest clogged pores to remove excess oil and kill acne-causing bacteria, thanks to the exfoliating and antiseptic properties.

b). Cream cleansers

Suitable for: Dry and sensitive skin

Cream cleansers contain moisturizing ingredients like botanical oils that gently cleanse your skin without stripping its natural oils.

c). Foam Cleansers

Suitable for: Oily and combination skin

Foam cleansers are lightweight and flow out as cream or gel, then burst into a rich foam lather that removes excess oil comparably as effective as gel cleansers.

d). Oil Cleansers

Suitable for: Most skin types

Cleaning your skin with oil, especially for oily skin, may sound like a recipe for full-blown breakouts; however, oil cleansing is a gentle way to remove pore-clogging dirt, including that waterproof makeup, without drying your skin. An oil cleanser is commonly used in double-cleansing.

2. Tone

Toners are used after cleansing and right before applying anything else. Using the toner is an optional step; however, the best skin routine includes the use of a toner as a great way to balance your skin pH, remove that underlying stubborn dirt and prepare your skin to absorb all the great ingredients in the products you're going to use right after.

Toners act as a carriage system for vitamin-B derivatives, antioxidants, and toning acids. Think of toners as supplements that deliver an extra shot of nutrients, help the serum and other skin products to absorb better while balancing your skin tone and complexion. Additionally, different toners are intended for different skin issues; some are specifically used to help treat breakouts while others with a lower potency are simply used to soothe.

However, if you have never used a toner and your skin is healthy, then there's really no need to start now. Your toner is best applied with clean hands. Pat it gently onto your face and let it sit for 2-5 minutes for maximum efficiency. Most experts recommend picking a toner with ingredients like: 

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids(AHA), Beta Hydroxy Acids(BHA), and Poly Hydroxy Acids(PHA)- despite the scary terms, these three hydroxy acids are gentle, friendly acids derived from nature that are gentle exfoliators that remove and dissolve dead skin cells that usually clog pores. The skin needs exfoliation for improved cell turnover to reduce dark spots hyperpigmentation, fading of scars, improving sun-damaged skin, and minimizing dullness for an even skin tone
  • Hyaluronic acid - is mainly used to boost hydration, seal in the moisture for a dewy and plump skin look which also helps reduce fine lines
  • Rosewater -is well known for its strong anti-inflammatory properties that may help soothe eczema or rosacea, reduce redness and puffiness and reduce wrinkles
  • Green tea -  the antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of green tea make it a great and effective treatment for breakouts especially for oily skin
  • Vitamin E and C - is a powerful combination that gives your skin double the antioxidant ammo to protect your skin from free radicals and UV rays
  • Zinc Oxide -is a great way to clean out and reduce sebum production in your pores. It helps by shrink large pores and tightens the skin to help revive that skin glow

If you have acne-prone skin, consider a toner with extra ingredients such as salicylic acid and niacinamide, and basically anything that will reduce the size of the pimple and calm breakouts. However, poeple with sensitive or dry skin, should go for a hydrating toner that soothes. Most toners can be used both in the morning and during the night, but consider use those with a higher percentage of exfoliating acids only at night or every other day, depending on the potency.  

3. Treatment: Serums

Serums are packed full of the skin must-haves such as Vitamin C, Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), Beta hydroxy acid (BHA), retinol, and more. A treatment serum is a powerful skin ally filled with concentrated amounts of active ingredients. Other than acne treatment, these elixirs can help prevent and treat a number of skin issues such as dark circles, acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles. An antioxidant serum in the morning will help protect your skin from daily aggressors. Look out for these in your products that can be safely used by all skin types: 

a). Hyaluronic acid 

b). Vitamin C+E - Vitamin C serum combined with Vitamin E is an anti-aging, antioxidant, and brightening powerhouse

c). Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid -Ferulic acid helps stabilize Vitamin C for maximum efficiency of each

d). Niacinamide - is a form of vitamin B3 that is used to calm irritation and redness by decreasing inflammation and reducing breakouts with its antimicrobial effects

e). AHA, BHA, and PHA -common forms include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid

f). Retinol and peptides are well known to stimulate the production of elastin (proteins that help prevent fine lines, wrinkles, and skin sagging) and collagen. Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that helps stimulate cell turnover of skin cells and is best applied in serum at night for people above the age of 25. Topically applied retinol changes to retinoic acid, which helps accelerate skin turnover and enhance collagen production for a youthful even skin

Note that you should use retinol in the recommended prescription strength by your dermatologist; otherwise, it'll do more harm than good.

A retinol serum has the following benefits:

  1. Regulate sebum production in oily skin and minimize breakouts
  2. Brighten dull-looking skin by exfoliation for a brighter and smoother skin
  3. It has powerful anti-aging properties that prevent wrinkles and reduces fine lines for an anti-aging effect
  4. It helps fade dark circles, dark spots, sun spots, acne scars, and hyperpigmentation for an even complexion

 4. Moisturizer

The best skin care routine will need you to moisturize after treatment. Moisturizers help keep your skin hydrated, which in turn helps strengthen your skin's barrier. In the morning, you can go for a lighter moisturizer that will easily soak in. You can go a little extra n the hydration at night.

Everyone needs to use a moisturizer, and that applies even to oily skin. Most dermatologists and skin experts recommend applying a moisturizer while your skin is still damp both in the morning and at night. So the sooner you can apply your serum treatment, the sooner you can lock in as much hydration using your moisturizer.

People using an acne spot treatment may want to skip those specific areas when applying the moisturizer so the ingredients won’t interfere with the active ingredients in your spot treatment. Like the face wash, toner and serum, the moisturizer should be carefully selected according to skin type.

a). Normal Skin

 Choose a simple moisturizer with as minimum ingredients as possible. A moisturizer that is lightweight yet thoroughly hydrates. Look out for ingredients like sodium hyaluronate

b). Dry Skin

Dry skin often lacks natural oils and lubricants, which then results in an itchy or tight feeling. Thicker cream moisturizers are mostly oil-based, which makes them the best option for dry skin as opposed to water-based gel or lotion moisturizers. Cream moisturizers are highly emollient and rich.

Cream moisturizers work to nourish dry skin from within and improve your skin’s barrier. Consider cream moisturizers such as shea butter, peptides, and natural face oils. These make excellent, and night cream moisturizers are the optimal choice for dry skin especially in dry and cold weather climates.

c). Oily Skin

People with oily skin need to become acquainted with the word non-comedogenic, especially when looking at the moisturizer’s label. Non-comedogenic ingredients won’t clog your pores which is the most common cause for breakouts. Go for a lightweight, water-based hydrating moisturizing formula. Hyaluronic acid is a good place to start.

d). Sensitive Skin

People with sensitive skin have various triggers, such as certain ingredients or environmental aggressors like smog or pollution, so choosing the right moisturizer will help create an excellent barrier against these irritants. However, those with extreme sensitivity should visit the dermatologist for a patch test. This will help determine what ingredients to avoid.

e). Combination Skin

This is where different parts of your face have contrasting needs, like having a T-zone that needs more oil control and cheeks that require hydration. Go for a moisturizer that will work for all areas, limit the use of many products and instead go for a moisturizer that will thoroughly hydrate your skin and not leave a greasy residue.

5. Eye Creams

Using the eye cream step is optional. This is recommended for people trying to minimize dark spots and sagging skin around the eyes. Right after cleansing, using your toner, applying your serum, moisturizing, use your eye cream right before your SPF.

If you're considering an eye cream, go for an eye cream with niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, or Aloe vera. These ingredients help your eye cream brighten and tighten the skin around your eyes.

6. Sunscreen

This is the last but also the most important step in your morning skin care routine. Sunscreen can either be physical or mineral sunscreen. The sun's UV rays are the leading reason why skin ages prematurely and develops hyperpigmentation.

Daily and consistent use of sunscreen in the morning helps prevent the development of wrinkles and fine lines, hyperpigmentation, enlargement of pores, and, more importantly, prevention of certain skin cancers. Generally, a dermatologist would recommend daily use of a sunscreen with Zinc oxide and at least a broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen. The higher the broad spectrum SPF, the better, since it basically means it offers you protection for longer.

Frequently Asked Questions on The Best Skin Care Routine

1. How long does it take for products to works?

The science behind skin-care products has made great strides, but there’s still no instant fix. It will take time and consistency to reap the benefits. Dermatologies recommend at least using the products consistently over at least six weeks, either once or twice a day, for you to notice the difference. 

2. What does non-comedogenic mean?

This term describes a product that shouldn’t clog your pores or trigger acne breakouts either by blocking glands, occluding the skin, or irritating the hair follicle. Some commonly known comedogenic ingredients include coconut oil and cocoa butter. Generally, the fewer ingredients a skin product has, the easier it is to determine whether it will cause any reactions or breakouts.  

About the author 

Lydia

My name is Lydia Adams and I have been a skincare blogger in one way or another for many, many years.

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