Skincare used to be so simple: wash, moisturize, sunscreen, and done. Now, it seems everyone is on a never-ending quest for the most expansive and epic skincare routine to make their face clearer, younger, brighter, smoother, tighter… You get the picture.
But take it from us, do not just jump right into your skincare journey. Given the extensive amount of products on the market, it's important to learn which products work best for your skin type, how to apply them, and which order to apply them in to see the best results.
Here are 6 skincare steps (and some tips along the way) to get you your best skin yet.
Wash (Gentle Cleanser)
Sounds simple right? Wash your face with soap and water. Moving on… NOPE! One of the greatest mistakes made by young skincare disciples is not treating cleansing as a valuable step in a skincare regimen. In reality, it’s the most important step.
Especially if you are someone who values a shorter routine, thorough cleansing is the bare minimum best thing you can do for your skin. We highly recommend choosing a gentle, foaming hydrating facial cleanser that won’t strip or dry out your skin.
As a rule of thumb, you should rinse your face morning and night with water and lather a small amount of cleanser in your hands before gently massaging the product all over your face. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a towel before moving on to the next step.
At night, it is a good idea to double cleanse with cleansing oil or micellar water, especially if you’re a makeup lover. Washing your face well removes impurities and sets your skin up for success and allows a clean, dirt-free canvas for your other healing and restorative products.
Super Important Tip: Before you officially begin cleansing, please for the love of all that is good, wash your hands thoroughly! During your skincare routine, you will be all up in those pores with your hands and you do not need the dirt, oil, and grime from your life to end up on your face. (Ew.)
If you want an even deeper clean than you can achieve with your hands (we’re talking the luxury of a spa-level clean), we highly recommend investing in a cleansing brush like the Petal 2. An ultrasonic cleansing brush like the Petal 2 can help penetrate pores deeper and dislodge any dirt that is stuck too deep for the hands to reach.
If you are new to toning, it might seem a little confusing due to its diverse range of benefits. We like to think of toning as a magic skin prepper.
Toners, at their base state, are great for one final cleanse and prep that allows the rest of your products to sink in beautifully. However, toners can have a variety of benefits depending on your skin’s needs. One of the most popular varieties is a hydrating toner that can add much-needed hydration to the skin (especially after cleansing, which can sometimes leave your skin feeling a little dry or tight).
Alternatively, you may opt for an exfoliating toner that uses ingredients like glycolic acid to remove built-up dead skin and brighten your complexion. Just make sure to only use exfoliating toners once at night, since they can be harsh if over-used. Hydrating toners can be used twice a day, in the morning and evening.
Toners can be applied by hand or by dropping the product onto a cotton pad and swiping it over the skin. For beginners just developing their routine, we recommend hydrating toners as the best place to start.
Treat (Acne Treatments)
An optional but important step for anyone with skin concerns like pimples: acne spot treatments. If you have any prescription gels or creams to help treat acne or breakouts, apply them after your toner has completely dried or soaked into the skin.
If you suffer from breakouts and have not had the chance to receive a prescription from a dermatologist, there are plenty of over-the-counter acne-targeting products to explore.
Products like alpha hydroxy acids (including glycolic acid and lactic acid) treat acne by helping to remove dead skin cells and decrease inflammation. Products using salicylic acid and sulfur work to remove excess oil and dirt and prevent pores from becoming clogged.
Many acne treatment products (like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide) come in a variety of strengths ranging from 0.5 to 10 percent. If you are just starting your skincare journey, we encourage you to start at the lowest dosage and work your way up once you see how your skin reacts to the treatment.
Unlike acne treatments, which are designed to remove unwanted gunk from your face, serums add antioxidants, ceramides, moisture, and a range of other beneficial products back into your skin. This helps boost complexion and protect the skin barrier from harmful pollution you may face throughout your day (pun intended).
Serums that are best for the morning include brightening vitamin C serums which can protect you from free radicals. Serums that are best used at nighttime are moisturizing serums containing hyaluronic acid that help your skin retain water and moisture throughout the night. These can be extremely helpful to those who use acne treatment products that dry out your skin. (See, we promise there is a method to the madness.)
PS: The serums used in this step must be water-based. We love our oil-based serums, but they will essentially seal out your routine (and come after step five). Water-based serums still allow your moisturizer to penetrate the skin and work its magic throughout the night. Stick around, and we will talk about oils soon, we promise.
4 ½. Tool Time-Out
We know we’ve already talked your ear off about skincare products, but let us take a short detour into skincare tools. One of the best tools that can take your routine to the next level (specifically in the serum stage) is a face roller.
A few of the many benefits of using a face roller include improved lymphatic drainage and reduced inflammation and puffiness. With several varieties including jade, amethyst, rose quartz, or stainless steel, face rollers are a trendy way to not only improve your skin but also distribute your skincare more deeply and evenly.
Our favorite is the ultrasonic rose quartz roller, which features a detachable roller head (perfect for popping it in the fridge overnight for a more cooling effect in the morning) and delivers 13,000 vibrations a minute to awaken your skin.
Rose quartz bragging time! Rose quartz is a very powerful stone for our crystal-loving girls and is non-porous, making it much harder to accidentally get unwanted bacteria and products trapped in the stone, unlike other materials. (Still, be sure to wash the roller after every use.)
Roll away from the center of your faceand upwards for a lifting effect (try to avoid the urge to paint-roller back and forth along your face, as that does not help with blood flow). You’ll start to see results almost instantly.
Hydrate and Seal (Moisturizers and Oils)
Coming in second to last in our list, moisturizers deliver the final dose of hydration and lock in all the other amazing products you’ve applied in your routine. Everyone can benefit from a high-quality moisturizer, but it can be make or break for those in drier or colder climates.
If you’re willing to splurge on more than one, feel free to opt for a lighter gel-based moisturizer in the morning (better for all-day wear and for underneath makeup) and a thicker cream-based lotion at night for intense hydration while you sleep. That way, you’ll avoid dryness throughout the day to follow.
We also like to include eye creams in this step since an eye cream is essentially a super-charged specialized moisturizer for your eyes. Don’t treat it as any less important though especially if you are prioritizing anti-aging products.
The skin around the eye is incredibly sensitive and can be one of the first places to show signs of aging on the face. Keeping the eyes thoroughly hydrated and treating the skin with care will show you benefits not only immediately but years from now as well. In addition, it’s best to avoid using retinol or retinoid-based night creams on the sensitive skin around the eye area.
And finally, we return to oils. As we mentioned before, face oils may be life-saving for those who suffer from extremely dry skin as oils are incredibly effective at locking in moisture. But they also block out everything else, which is why we emphasize this being the absolute final step in your routine — and perhaps avoided if you have oily skin, combination skin, or acne-prone skin.
The only exception to the “facial oils last” rule is sunscreen. Rounding out our list with the last step almost as important as the first is sun protection. There is a reason it's included in the 1-2-3 basic routine after all. There is almost nothing as beneficial to the long-term health of your skin as SPF. At the very least, you should be using a mineral sunscreen with SPF 15 every day (and we mean every. day.) but ideally, reach for SPF 30 or higher if you plan to be outdoors for any length of time (any longer than walking your dog or walking to Starbucks).
When choosing a sunscreen be sure to look for “broad spectrum SPF” indicating that your sunscreen protects from both UVA and UVB radiation. When used properly, sunscreen has been proven to reduce the risk of skin cancers and prevent premature aging caused by sun damage. (Girl, if we told you there was a guaranteed way to prevent wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, dark circles, fine lines, dull skin, and dark spots you would listen, right?)
If you’ve been surviving off of the classic 1-2-3 method we mentioned earlier, you might be ready to employ a more intense routine to finally see a real change in your skin. Or maybe you have problem skin and need more from your routine than just moisturizer. We get it, and we encourage you to live your best beauty guru life with all the products that the skincare industry has available. Hopefully, this six-step routine gave you everything you need for your glowiest, youngest, and smoothest-looking skin yet!