How to Build Your Perfect Skin Care Routine
Whatever your skin type, a proper skin care routine is essential if you want to achieve a healthier-looking, blemish-free complexion. We’re all experts when it comes to daily routines in every other area of our lives, often managing jam-packed schedules without flinching. When it comes to our skin care regimes however, things get a little complicated. With so many options out there, it’s difficult to know what we should be buying.
In fact, a 2018 survey commissioned by Fragrance Direct found that the average woman uses around 12 different products on her face every day, spending approximately £482.51 a year on beauty. And that’s not even counting beauty obsessives, who could be spending £1,000 or more on products every year!
Since we’re all prepared to spend a good chunk of our hard-earned cash on our skin, we may as well get the most out of our products. And that’s where skin care routines come in. To get started, here’s everything you need to know about building a beauty regimen that works.
Work Out Your Skin Type
Your skin type is one of those things that you probably haven’t thought about much since you started cleansing daily as a teenager. But the fact is, your skin changes with time; your everyday formulations may not be what’s best for it anymore.
Before embarking on any skin care routine – whatever your age – you need to work out your skin type. The easiest (and most assured) way to do this is by talking to a professional. Any trained beauty specialist will be able to offer expert advice on what you should be using on your skin. You’ll then be able to start investing in products that target your skin’s specific concerns and in doing so, you’ll notice the difference.
There are five basic skin types to be aware of:
- Normal skin is a term used to describe well-balanced skin that’s not really sensitive. It’s not too dry or too oily; pores aren’t very visible either.
- Combination skin can be dry in some places and oily in others (like the T-zone).
- Dry skin produces less sebum than other skin types. Because it lacks natural moisture, dry skin can feel tight and itchy, and become irritated or inflamed.
- Oily skin usually produces more sebum. Those with oily skin may find that they suffer from blackheads or pimples more regularly; pores can be enlarged too.
- Sensitive or redness prone skin is more delicate and easily irritated. It often flushes, burns or stings without much prompting. If you’ve got sensitive skin, you’ll need to be especially careful about which products you use.
Know Your Products
Cleanse, tone and moisturise; these are the foundations of any good skin care routine. These three steps are crucial, regardless of your skin type.
Daily cleansing is key if you want to maintain healthy skin. It removes oil and dirt, clears pores (to tackle blemishes) and boosts hydration.
You should always use a cleanser that’s designed to target your specific skin concerns. Struggling to know which type of cleanser is best for your skin? These common cleansers are better for some skin types than others – take a look:
- Foam cleansers are designed to target acne-prone skin; these lightweight formulations start out as a cream or gel before foaming for a deeper clean. They can be a bit harsh for those with dry or sensitive skin, especially if they’re not fortified with moisturising oils.
- Cream or milk cleansers are a gentler option for anyone with dry, sensitive or mature skin. They cleanse and moisturise the skin, without being soapy or stripping away natural oils.
- Those with oily skin will benefit from the deep cleansing you get from gel cleansers. These effectively remove the excess oils and bacteria known to cause breakouts.
- All skin types can use oil cleansers (although those with very oily skin should be wary). These cleansers absorb impurities without drying out the skin. They’re particularly effective at removing makeup, and can be applied as part of a ‘multi-step’ cleansing process because of this. So, you might want to remove your makeup using an oil cleanser, before giving your face a once-over with a foam or gel cleanser, for example.
- Micellar water is essentially a water-based, soap-free cleanser. These cleansers contain ‘micelles’ – tiny oil molecules that attract dirt and makeup – that rearrange themselves (for optimal cleansing) when your pour your micellar water onto a cotton pad. Micellar water is best-suited to sensitive or dry skin; it can also be used as a follow up to cream cleansers if you want a deeper clean.
Toners are used to complete the cleansing process by removing any residual impurities on the skin. They’re usually water-based, containing active ingredients like plant extracts and essential oils to tackle specific skin concerns.
They replenish the skin after washing; hydrating, calming or soothing toners and astringent toners are the most common types on the market. The latter deeply cleans and closes the pores. If you’ve got dry or sensitive skin, avoid using astringent toners that contain alcohol, as these can dry out the skin even more.
It’s important that you moisturise, regardless of your skin type. Yes, even oily skin needs proper hydration to ensure it stays healthy. In fact, if you’ve got blemish or acne-prone skin, dryness can aggravate flare-ups. Use a lightweight gel serum or oil-free moisturiser that’s been dermatologically tested, rather than skipping this step altogether!
Those with dry or sensitive skin should look for fragrance and alcohol-free moisturisers that have been developed with emollients (which prevent moisture loss) and contain soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Moisturising the face comes with plenty of benefits:
- It helps the skin to lock in moisture. When your skin is dry, its lipid cells deplete. This means there’s less moisture in the outermost layer of the skin (the stratum corneum). Skin lipids maintain the strength of the skin’s protective barrier and regulate moisture balance; the fewer there are, the drier, tighter and more irritated the skin feels.
- It improves the texture of your skin. Dehydrated skin appears dull and flaky.
- It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If your skin is dehydrated, any fine lines or winkles will be more prominent.
- Moisturised skin takes makeup better. Makeup sticks to dry areas of the skin – it even seeps into fine lines. So, if you’re looking for a flawless finish, it’s important to keep your skin hydrated. For the best results, wait 5 minutes before applying makeup, so that your moisturiser is properly absorbed.
To maximise the effects of any moisturiser, it’s recommended that you dot on and rub it in with gentle, circular motions. This daily ‘mini massage’ will help to reduce puffiness and boost circulation.
Another facet of any good skin care routine – and one that people tend to overlook for most of the year – is the daily use of sunscreen. But even on overcast days, up to 80% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can penetrate the clouds. By applying an SPF cream every day, you’re protecting your skin from irreversible damage. Facial brown spots, skin discoloration, blotchiness and premature ageing are just a few signs of sun damage.
Use Your Products Properly
Now that you know what all those lotions and potions actually do, it’s time to work on your daily routine.
Cleanse, tone and moisturise the skin twice daily (in the morning and just before you go to bed – whether you wear makeup or not). In the morning, apply a facial sunscreen too.
Eye creams can be applied to tackle puffiness, dark circles and/or crow’s feet. To apply, gently pat around the eye area after cleansing.
Regular exfoliation gets rid of dead skin cells that can cause blemishes and dullness. Doing this two or three times a week is more than enough; over-exfoliating can strip away natural oils, leaving skin feeling dry.
Applying a face mask once a week is a great way to deep-clean and balance the skin too. These are some of the most popular masks out there:
- Detoxifying masks – which usually contain natural ingredients like charcoal to draw out impurities – are great for oily skin.
- Brightening masks and exfoliating masks both work to revive dull, dry skin.
- Sheet masks are suitable for all skin types, and contain nourishing serums that are designed to tackle a variety of issues from dryness to puffiness – just choose the one that’s right for you.
- Sleep (or overnight) masks are designed to deeply nourish the skin whilst you’re sleeping; think of them as more intense night creams (luckily, they’re less messy than your typical clay mask!).
Experts recommend that you book a facial every month or so, since it takes an average of 5-6 weeks for the skin to complete one full skin cycle.
This is where new skin cells are formed at the deepest layer of the epidermis and work their way up to the surface layer of the skin, before maturing and shedding. Skin cycles vary from person to person; age, genetics, lifestyle and hormones can affect how long the process takes.
As we grow older, our skin cycle slows down. Facial treatments can accelerate cellular turnover as we age. To find out which treatment is right for you, take a look at our Pre and Post Treatment Guide to Facials.