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I wish I could tell you that there was a one-size-fits-all solution to skincare. How easy would that be?

Or how about if the home remedies passed on from generations, and the TikTok hacks shared amongst online friends fit into a neat box that solved all our queries? While that isn’t a reality, what is possible is developing a routine that with a level of consistency, research and a wee bit of spending will get your skin as happy as a clam.

So… where to start? Some (a lot?) of us don’t even know what an astringent is, or if a cleanser is the same as an exfoliator. We get it, it’s a lot! In this article, we’ll break down what it is you need to know because the old adage is true here folks: knowledge really is power, and that saying is especially true when it comes to implementing a routine for your skin. 

Disclaimer: you do NOT need to follow, purchase or use all of the below. As a worse comes to the worst scenario, cleanse and moisturize in the morning, and remove your makeup in the evening. But let’s just say, for the sake of aspiration that you followed all the steps you were supposed to, this is what your routine could look like…

It’s likely you know your skin type, or at the very least if your skin produces oil, is dry or flaky, or if you break out easily. So let’s start with this: it should be obvious, (even though we know it’s not!) but what you do in the morning to your skin should ideally differ from what you do at night. You don’t drink a nighttime coffee, do you? The same way you don’t drink a morning glass of wine… during the week. Thus, here are the essentials:

Day

Cleanser

A facial cleanser is used to remove make-up, dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and other types of pollutants from the skin, helping to keep pores clear. Cleansing your skin daily can prevent acne and bacterial build-up.

My pick: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser

Toner

Right after cleansing, it’s time to tone. ​​Toner is a fast-penetrating liquid that provides hydration and helps remove some dead cells off the surface of the skin. *BuT iSn’T tHaT wHaT cLeAnSiNg DoEs?* you ask. Well yes, but there may be residue or film that remains on the dermis, plus, toner can also add good acids, glycerin, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories that can help bring your skin back to its natural state, and help absorb skincare products better. 

Serums 101

Serums are worth the hype and so much more, but not every serum is for everyone. Only use one that benefits your skin type. For example, if you don’t suffer from dark spots or hyperpigmentation, you’re likely to want to steer clear of Vitamin C, but if you have Rosacea, you might want to use CoQ10 instead. So serums are texturally thin topical products that have special ingredients that will give your particular skin type that extra boost it requires, that a moisturizer won’t give. *BuT cAn YoU uSe A sErUm As A mOiStUrIzEr?* you ask. Well, no. They’re meant to be used in conjunction, and moisturizer is meant to be used to seal serum and maximize its benefits.

Eye Creams 101

The skin under our eyes is suuuper thin, and because our faces are usually the most exposed part of our bodies, the area around the eyes gets drier, puffier, droopier, and less happy faster than any other part. In a similar way to serums, eye creams offer that additional layer of protection that a moisturizer isn’t ordinarily equipped to provide. 

My pick: Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream

Spot Treatment

Adult acne sucks! It happens for a number of reasons, related to anything from hormonal imbalance and stress, to the fabric softener you use, and the bad habit of not washing your face after a long day. Spot treatments work to give our faces acne-fighting ingredients directly a blemish, and this can help reduce redness, swelling, and pain quicker than it would be if you didn’t use one.

My pick: Faded Serum for Dark Spots & Discoloration

Moisturizer

Dry, oily, acne-prone, t-zone, or combination. It’s so important to find a moisturizer that will fit your skin needs, too much or too little of a good thing could have an adverse effect on the goal you’re trying to achieve. Like the great Zoolander once said, Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty, and without being trite, this is the basis of why moisturizer is important. Moisturizer locks in the juicy parts of a robust skincare routine, and is the key to bringing it all together.

Face Oil

In a similar way that no moisturizer is created equal, the same goes for face oil, but especially as it refers to its compatibility with varying skin types. Face oils are NOT for everyone but offer such stunning and rich hydration, especially on these cold winter days.

My pick: 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Oil, Deciem 

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is essential – and I repeat ESSENTIAL to a sound and successful skincare routine. No matter if your skin is as white as snow, or as dark as the midnight sky, sunscreen is a sure way to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, keep your skin healthy, and prevent early signs of melanoma. Don’t take this step for granted in your skin routine, and I pinky promise you’ll thank me.

My pick: Unseen Sunscreen, Supergoop

Night

Makeup Remover

Lifehack: coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil work like absolute wonders at removing excess oil and makeup. PLUS they are an awesome base for double-cleansing. You likely have some in your house already, so save your pennies and get to washing the day away from your face. No matter how exhausted, lazy or simple your nighttime routine is, this is the step I recommend most above all else. 

Cleanser

We’ve gone through this before, but in an ideal situation, your nighttime cleanser will look a little more concentrated and have healing agents that your daytime cleanser may not have. The idea here is to get all those toxins and impurities out of your pores as best as you can. 

Exfoliator

Your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells to make room for new cells every 30 days or so, but what happens is that sometimes those dead cells don’t shed completely. Enter: exfoliator. Their main objective is to remove that excess skin. Exfoliator traditionally is a granulated dry powder, soap, or gel, but can also come in a liquid (similar to a toner). 

But that’s not all! With what do you wash your face with? How about those days when you want a little something extra? I’ve got you covered…

Masks 

In a similar way that serums serve a specific purpose, and are counterproductive without the rest of your routine, masks are similar. They’re the little extra nourishment that we do once a week – sometimes once a month – that our skin loves us for but doesn’t require every day. There are many types of masks, and they are all so different. I like to think of a mask as that special trip to Prada when most days are just to H&M. Feel me?

My pick: Ceramidin Facial Barrier Mask, Dr. Jart

Tools 

Listen, good ol’ lukewarm water and clean hands will always always always do the trick when it comes to doing what needs to be done, but there are amazing tools that can take you from being a skincare novice to an expert in one “Add to Cart” on your next Amazon order. 

And last but certainly not least…

Drink water.

It’s the simplest and kindest thing you can do for your skin and the rest of your body. 

You’re welcome.

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