With complicated sounding things such as the 10-step Korean skincare routine and the 7 skins method floating around, it has now become more important than ever to understand what the basics of a skin care routine really are. What products form the core of a skin care routine, and which ones are supplementary? These questions are especially important if you’re new to skin care, don’t have time, or a mega budget, which by the way, you don't need.
As a long-time acne sufferer, who has, over the years, tried multiple skin care products and medications, I cannot stress enough, the importance of having a solid skin care routine in place and the difference that it can make in your skin - in everything from getting rid of acne completely, to even reversing the signs of ageing. Yes, you heard that right. But this post isn’t about the million things out there that you can put on your skin and on how you can build a 10-step skin care routine. It’s actually quite the opposite. This is about going back to the basics, basics that you would think that people would know about. But with the abundance of information out there, most of it based more on opinions than on science, for the layman not well versed in skin care out there, the reality is quite the opposite.
While the exact number of skin care products that you need will vary a little by age and skin concern, the only products, that are essential to any routine, are 3. Yes, you read that right - 3 and not 23 or 203. Any skin care routine can be broken down into two main parts: the foundation and the add-ons. The foundation is simple and if you’re young and have healthy skin, that’s all you really need to keep your skin that way.
Add-ons, on the other hand, are products that you can include in your routine to target specific concerns, and while they can make for fantastic additions, keep in mind that it’s a good idea to limit the number of add-ons you have to a maximum of 3 - as a general rule of thumb. Getting overzealous and doing too much can actually be counterproductive.
Let’s now take a step back and take a closer look at what foundational products and add-ons, actually entail:
This consists of a cleanser, a moisturiser and SPF (30 or above). And that’s it. Most people underestimate the power that these simple products can have on your skin and focus most of their energy on the add-ons. But the reality is, that if your foundation isn’t solid, it doesn’t matter how great a house you try to build on top of it, because it likely won’t hold out for long.
A cleanser is simply what you wash your face with and helps get rid of the dirt, grime, sweat, excessive sebum, and dead skin, that build up on the skin’s surface. Aim for something gentle, and keep in mind that suds, i.e. tons of foam, are not an indication that you’ve washed your face well. Foaming cleansers can in fact, be overly drying, which is not good for your skin. Look instead for something gentle, that respects your skin, and does not leave it feeling dry, stripped or tight after you’ve used it. That “squeaky clean” feel you get after using some products is not what you should be aiming for and is an indication that the product you’ve been using is one that you need to discard.
My personal preference lies with gentle, cream cleansers that respect the integrity of your skin’s barrier.
A moisturiser after you’ve cleansed is essential to lock in moisture and keep your skin hydrated. Hydrated skin is healthy skin, and yes, a moisturiser is necessary even if your skin is oily and acne prone. Keeping your skin hydrated also helps keep excessive oil production in check.
Last, but definitely not the least: sunscreen. I’ve done some posts on cleansers and moisturisers before, but this is also definitely a topic that deserves a full post of its own. To cut a long story short though, the sun is the single biggest cause of skin ageing and can cause pigmentation and loose-saggy skin. It can also aggravate acne, and the marks that are left behind after it - which, as it is, are a huge problem for Asian skin types even without it. Luckily, skin cancer is not much of a concern in this part of the world, but for anyone looking to preserve their skin for the long-haul, sunblock is non-negotiable.
My favourite cleanser and moisturiser duo, that tend to work fantastically well for most skin types, are that of the AccuFix Salicylic Acid Cleanser and the AccuFix Carbamide Intensive Hydration Cream.
Once you have your foundations in place, you’re ready to start building on top of them - if you need to. The list of add-ons includes toners, essences, serums, mists and anything else that doesn’t qualify as a cleanser, moisturiser, or sunscreen.
When choosing your add-ons, don’t start piling things up randomly and as I said before, try to limit the number you use to 3 - at max. And if you’re using actives, try to not mix too many together. Keep your skin goals and concerns in mind when choosing add-ons to avoid wasting your money. For instance, if you have acne, you might want to go for something with salicylic acid and if you’re looking for something to keep the signs of ageing at bay, something with retinol. But of course, even when choosing actives for a specific skin concern, there are several to choose from and no one-size-fits-all. While it can be tempting to just buy up anything and everything, I cannot stress this enough: resist the temptation.
Lastly, it doesn’t matter what the product label says about a product, keep in mind that the ingredients of every single product matter more than anything else, including the cleanser you use, even though, it's a wash-off product.
If you’re new to skincare, and don’t know what to use, or where to start, get in touch, and we’ll be more than happy to help! :)