I remember my first skincare routine. As a teenager with oily acne-prone skin, I had already tried a slew of harsh acne-fighting products by the time I was thirteen. For my fourteenth birthday, my mother, my two aunts, and my grandmother and I all went on a trip together to New York City.
We stayed at a gorgeous hotel, saw the Rockettes, took a horse-drawn carriage to Radio City Music Hall, the works.
But one of the most memorable things we did was book me a small facial and a makeover at Neiman Marcus. It was an incredibly luxurious process, and I loved every minute of it.
I remember taking in everything the facial specialist told me about my skin and how to care for it. At the end of the day, I left with an entire set of skincare products and a new routine. Oh, and the cutest little glittery preteen make-up set to go off and live my best preteen life.
The skincare routine had an oil cleanser, a toner, a serum, a spot treater, and a moisturizer, and this was 1999 y’all. This little routine saved my little teenage skin and instilled healthy face cleansing habits in me.
Fast forward to 2020, and I’m in my early 30’s. Hormonal acne is pretty much a distant memory, besides the occasional bump every now and then. And a whole new set of skin issues, like tired, rough feet, dry elbows, and my once oily t-zone is now plagued with red, scratchy dry skin, and of course, the fears of aging are looming in my near future.
Skincare, however, has come a very long way since 1999. With YouTubers dispelling myths and reviewing countless products on the market, our knowledge and quest for the ultimate skincare routine aren’t over. Everyone is finding their way with their skin.
So how can we separate the wheat from the chaff? What is the best skincare routine, and how do we implement it?
Everyone’s skin is different.
Our skin is what makes us all unique and beautiful. So naturally, the products we use in our routines will be different, but one thing remains true — the order of the routine matters.
Taking inspiration from the famous 10 Step Korean Skincare Routine, today, I’ll be taking you step-by-step through the process of a well laid out skincare routine. I’ll be doing my darndest to make sense of the wide world of skincare so that you can come out on the other side with a practice you can feel confident in following, and incredibly healthy and happy skin that you love!
Here is your best guide to a skin care routine, in step-by-step order!
Step 1: Oil Cleanser
This step can also be called the make-up remover step. An oil cleanser penetrates deep where other cleansers can not. An oil cleanser removes impurities without damaging the natural oils on our skin and can cut through make-up, built-up grease and sebum, and even pollutants from the air.
An oil cleanser is gentle and relaxing. Most are made for the face but can be used on other oil-prone regions of the body like the neck, shoulders, and back.
Step 2: Water-Based Cleanser
The second cleansing is done with a water-based cleanser. Why should you wash your face a second time? A water-based cleanser will remove any water-based build-up from your skin like dirt and sweat that the oil cleanser could not.
Water-based cleansers are incredibly hydrating and can be used on the body as well. Gently massage into your neck down to your chest. Use circular movements to massage into your shoulders and upper back.
You may have an exfoliation tool such as a body wash infused buffer that would provide an excellent assist at cleansing, exfoliating, and hydrating these problem areas as well.
Step 3: Exfoliation
Though this step is not performed every day of the week, it is a weekly staple in a good skincare routine. This can be a gentle exfoliating scrub or a chemical exfoliant for the face. Chemical exfoliants are made of enzymes and acids that help dissolve dead skin cells and build-up without irritation.
While you can use a chemical exfoliant on your body, there are many products out there that can make exfoliating from head to toe as easy as pie.
Want to deep dive into all we know about exfoliation? We might be obsessed, and it shows.
Try this Coconut Verbena boxed flower. Infused with a glycerin-based body wash, this buffer is hydrating as well as a mechanical exfoliator that will cleanse the skin while removing dead skin cell build-up.
Step 4: Toner
A toner is like a tall glass of water for your skin. It is the first step in the post-exfoliation hydration process and the final step in the cleansing process. Exfoliation warms up your skin and readies it for receiving as much hydration as possible. Toners swoop in and clean up any remaining residue as well as tighten and tone the skin, hence the name.
Invest in a toner that is made for your body to further care for problem areas. Find one in a spray that is easier to apply to the neck, chest, shoulders, and upper back. Allow the toner to thoroughly dry before moving onto the next step in the routine.
Step 5: Essence
This may be a new word, but it is definitely not a new trick. Essence is simply a serum. It is lightweight, deep penetrating, and hydrating, and works best when used after cleansing and exfoliation so it can really get in there and moisturize those new skin cells that are getting ready to come to the surface.
Step 6: Treatments
This is where you treat your skin on a micro-level for a wide range of skin conditions—spot treatments for blemishes, hyaluronic serums for fine lines, and moisturizing a dry t-zone.
Step 7: Mask
There are hundreds of face masks on the market. You could choose a different mask for a different skincare effect for every day of the week. We suggest a moisturizing and anti-aging mask.
Don’t leave your body out during this step. There are tons of moisturizing “masks” for the body in the form of deeply hydrating creams.
Step 8: Eye Cream
Our eyes are surrounded by the most delicate skin on our bodies. Eye creams help stave off puffiness and dark circles, and though you do not have to use an eye cream every day, a weekly application can do wonders for fine lines.
Step 9: Moisturizer
You may be saying to yourself, but haven’t we been moisturizing during every step of this process? And the answer is yes.
You should be moisturizing with every single product and process you perform on your skin to keep it healthy. Moisture is the key to beautiful skin. Everything we do during the day draws the moisture out of our skin, so it makes sense that we need to moisturize on every level to keep it healthy.
A good body lotion is packed with humectants and emollients that penetrate the top layer of skin and work together to moisturize those fresh new skin cells.
Step 10: Sunscreen
Most people scoff at this step. We have spent our entire lives only applying sunscreen during physical and vacation activities like going to the beach or a day at the pool, when in reality, we put our skin at risk of sun exposure every day.
Sunscreen is, hands down, the easiest way to prevent premature skin aging. And is not just a tool for protection in the summer. You should wear sunscreen in the winter as well.
You’ll find many of your favorite face lotions already have sunscreen blended into the formula.
Even if you work inside, you subject your skin to harsh UV rays hundreds of times throughout the day. Sunscreen is the final step in the skincare process because it is most effective when placed over products and not under.
You're all set!
As you can see, it’s really important to find a good skin care regimen and stick to it. By following these steps, you can ensure your skin gets the cleansing and moisturizing that it needs to stay healthy.
Your skin will appreciate it!
Whether you are a skincare vixen or a novice, the best skin care comes from constant routine and repetition. Find products you love and brands you trust along the way as you build your routine up step-by-step for that gorgeous, youthful skin you’ve been dreaming about!