How to build your perfect skincare routine


You might have heard that the old 3-step cleanse-tone-moisturise routine, which everyone used to swear by only a few years back, has lost its appeal. Invaded by rituals from all over the world (10-step Korean skincare, anyone?) and skin concerns that we didn’t even know existed 10 years ago (free radical attacks, inflammaging etc.), it’s becoming more and more difficult to decide what/how many products to put on your face.

Begin by working out your skin type and main concerns

Dry, oily, combination and normal are no longer the only options available. The beauty industry does not believe in categorising skin types into these oversimplified, generally ineffective boxes. You might have oily skin, yet suffer from dehydration and redness, or battle both wrinkles and acne breakouts in your 30s. The products that you choose need to respect your sensitivities, while addressing your concerns, so feel free to combine a variety of active substances and complementary products that support each other’s effects.

Make a list of all the actives that you want to incorporate in your routine

And since we’re all busy people, I’ve already done some research for you:

  • Salicylic acid helps with acne, blemishes and pore congestion
  • Glycolic acid helps with acne, but also with wrinkles and ageing
  • Azelaic acid is good for acne and rosacea-prone skins
  • Lactic acid is a mild exfoliant, and a more suitable option for reactive skins
  • Retinol (vitamin A) is not only anti-ageing, but also anti-acne and anti-pigmentation
  • Niacinamide & zinc help with acne spots
  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps even skin tone and brighten
  • Hyaluronic acid is one of the most potent moisturisers
  • Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant good for signs of ageing
  • Peptides are great anti-agers
  • Rosehip seed oil is antioxidant, anti-ageing and hydrating

A basic routine should involve cleansing, exfoliating/acid lotion, serum, moisturiser and SPF (for day)

A complete routine could comprise double cleansing, exfoliating/acid lotion, toner/mist, serum, oil, moisturiser and SPF (for day)

  • A simple cleanse in the morning will do, while in the evening you should get used to double cleansing (oil/balm cleanser followed by milk/gel, removed with a clean & wet washcloth).
  • If you are using a rinse-off mask, apply it straight after the cleansing step.
  • The acid-based exfoliating lotion comes in next to lower the pH and prepare the skin for the treatment phase. Invest in a few acid products that you can alternate – a milder one in the morning and a more active form in the evening.
  • Optionally, you can introduce a hydrating toner mist to kickstart the moisture process.
  • This is followed by the serum, which is the most important step, meant to address those concerns that your skin is battling, be it ageing, acne, redness etc. You can use multiple serums, making sure to use the water-based ones first, followed by oil-based solutions to ensure absorption.
  • As as general rule, retinol should be used in the evening (it causes sensitivity to sun exposure and potential damage).
  • If you are using an eye cream, it should come just before the last step, that of the moisturiser.
  • The final product is the moisturising cream and/or facial oil. This is meant to seal in the benefits of the routine under a protective moisture coat. Oils can replace moisturising creams and you can use them for a spa-like relaxing massage. Alternatively, they can be mixed with the moisturiser for a richer texture.
  • For daytime, always follow with SPF (15 or higher, depending on the season and UV exposure).
  • If you are using an overnight mask, it can replace the moisturising cream or follow after.

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