The age old 'Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise' is a good start to a basic skincare routine. However, with new advances in technology, ingredients and skincare research, routines are now considerably more complex! With so many brands and products on the market, it can be a minefield choosing the right products for you. So for my first post, I thought I'd start with the basic steps you may want to include!
The first step of your routine will always be cleanser. It is essential to remove make up, SPF and surface dirt before doing anything else, as your other products simply won't have an effect. Ideally, you should be cleansing twice a day: in the morning to remove sweat, dirt and excess product applied the night before, and at night to remove make up, dirt, sweat and general grime we're exposed to whilst out and about during the day. Your evening routine will ideally be a double cleanse (i.e. cleanse twice - it doesn't have to be two with two different cleansers) with your first cleanse to remove make up and SPF, and the second to nourish and condition the skin.
In terms of the type of cleanser you use, oil based and cream cleansers are best for removing heavy make up. Foaming cleansers aren't brilliant for removing make up and are best used on oily skins as they can be more astringent. Oily skins are best to use a cream cleanser in the evening to remove make up, then you can use a foaming cleanser for your second cleanse! You don't need to use expensive cleansers if you don't have a large budget, as long as they effectively remove your make up you can go for an inexpensive one. Always remember - MAKE UP WIPES ARE NOT CLEANSERS, THEY WILL NOT TAKE ALL YOUR MAKE UP OFF.
Next up is toner! Traditionally, toners are sold as astringents to 'close pores' (your pores can't close, and you don't want them to) and remove any last dirt or make up (you shouldn't still be removing make up at this stage - you either need to rethink your cleanser or add a second cleanse to your routine). Toners now are much improved and can be amazing for dry skins! You can try acids (glycolic, lactic and salicylic) and wipe over the skin with cotton pads to refine pores and gently exfoliate your skin. You could also try a spritz. Many of these contain humectants (which attract moisture) or hyaluronic acid which holds up to 1000 times its weight in water. You can never spritz enough! spray over your skin after cleansing, after serum, after moisturiser and over make up to hydrate throughout the day! Again, you don't need to spend a fortune on toner, as it won't contain a huge number of active ingredients.
Step 3 of your routine is eye cream! The area of your skin is as thin as a piece of paper so you need to use a dedicated cream as moisturisers are too thick and can make your eyes sensitive and puffy. ALWAYS APPLY EYE CREAM TO THE CONTOUR OF YOUR EYE (i.e. onto the bone area) unless the manufacturer's directions state otherwise. Your eye cream will still work even though it feels like you're not applying it to the area you need - think of how a drop of water spreads on a piece of paper, this is what happens with eye cream. Always use eye cream at morning and at night, but you can use different ones for each. I tend to use a caffeine based eye cream in the morning for puffiness and an anti-ageing one at night time.
Step 4 of your routine is serum. Serum is the 'treatment' part of your routine and this is where you need to spend your money! Serums are the most targeted at specific concerns and will have the most active ingredients, so spending more of your budget here means you'll be getting a higher quality product for the most important part of your routine. The serum you use is completely dependent on your skin concerns. A hyaluronic acid serum would be effective for dry skins, retinol would be perfect for anti-ageing (this is another blog in itself) and a salicylic acid serum is perfect for oily/congested skin. You can mix up your serums as well - for example when using retinol (you can only use it at night), you could use a hyaluronic acid serum in the morning. You could use a Vitamin C at night if you have pigmentation/dull skin and then a salicylic acid in the morning if you suffer from breakouts.
Step 5 of your routine is moisturiser! Again, this is completely down to skin type. I would recommend you use a serum focused on your skin concern (ageing, pigmentation, breakouts) and moisturiser based on your skin type (dry, oily, combination). There is no need for a separate day and night cream, your skin works the same way 24 hours a day. Your skin does not know it is night time and doesn't 'repair' or 'regenerate' any differently. The only difference is the environment your skin is in. During the day your skin exposed to aggressors like pollution, heating, air conditioning and sunlight whereas at night, there are far fewer aggressors, therefore your skin doesn't need the same type of protection. In terms of anti-ageing, always treat the age of your skin rater than your actual age: if you don't have visible signs of ageing then don't use anti-wrinkle creams. Use products which will help prevent ageing instead.
The final step of your routine is for the morning only - SPF. Any time your skin is exposed to daylight, you need to have SPF on. The sun's rays are hitting your skin whether or not its sunny so it is important to make sure you have good quality SPF on. The factor you use is hugely important. A common misconception is that SPF is the strength of the protection you're getting but actually it is the length of time you're protected for. I would always go for at least an SPF 30 but being fair, I always use an SPF 50. Laying SPF does not give you more protection - for example if your moisturiser is SPF 15 and your foundation you apply over it is also SPF 15, you will not end up with SPF 30 protection. Always make sure you apply SPF over your moisturiser, do not mix them together as some ingredients in your moisturiser can stop your SPF from working effectively.
There are 2 other steps in your routine that don't need to be done daily - exfoliators and masks. For oily skins, exfoliating is recommended every 7 - 10 days and once to twice a week for dry skins (so if you aim for once a week you'll be covered!) If your toner step is an acid (glycolic or lactic), you will find that you won't need to exfoliate often, if at all. Personally, I don't like daily exfoliators, if your skin is dry you can strip it by exfoliating any oil off as soon as you produce. With oily skins, if you're using a beaded exfoliator, massaging away in circles over the skin is going to stimulate sebum glands and make you produce more oil. An alternative to physical exfoliators are AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids - glycolic, lactic etc), these can be left on the skin and 'eat away' at dead skin skills, instead of buffing them off the surface. These exfoliators can be better for more sensitive skins, especially touch sensitive skin as they will reduce redness.
Always always always exfoliate before you use a mask. Getting rid of any dead skin cells on the surface of the skin will make your mask far more effective and you will get better results. Traditionally, masks would be the treatment stage of your routine, but with the significant improvement of serums, they aren't necessarily needed as much. I personally love to use masks as a treat, I tend to use hydrating masks the most and love the feeling of super soft, hydrated and bright skin afterwards.
This is not so much a step in your skincare routine, but a regular facial can do amazing things for your skin! The process of our microdermabrasion and collagen induction therapy facials cannot be replicated at home so I would always recommend regular professional treatments (roughly every 4 weeks depending on the treatment). Be aware that some treatments may require you to adapt your skincare routine (for example it is not recommended you exfoliate for a week after a microdermabrasion treatment). Having a good skincare routine will also help maintain the results of your treatments - therapists advise and recommend products to help you achieve the results you want - it isn't a money making exercise!
I hope this blog post has helped you learn more about products and given you some guidance! if you have any questions, would like skincare advice or product recommendations please do not hesitate to get in touch!