How to Build a Skincare Routine for Beginners
Learning how to build a skincare routine seemed impossible when I was a teenager. There were so many products out there promising to give me clear skin. I had no idea what cleanser suited me. What was even moisturizer? I just knew I had acne and wanted to get rid of it. Well, no more guessing. After reading this article, you’ll know how to build a skincare routine to use ASAP.
Step 1: Cleanser
This is probably the most essential step in your skincare ritual. Cleansing frees the skin of makeup, oils, dirt, and any other impurities that may lead to acne. If you don’t use makeup wipes because they’re not #sustainable, I would suggest your first step should be an oil cleanser. Besides removing makeup efficiently, oil cleansers can rid your skin of excess sebum, residual sunscreen, and pollution.
Next comes the water-based cleanser. Now that all of the surface gunk is gone, the water-based cleanser can get deep into your pores and remove bacteria, leaving your skin nice and healthy. Double cleansing is suitable for all skin moods.
- Oily/acne-prone skin: gel or foaming liquid cleansers
- Dry/irritated skin: oil-based or creamy hydrating cleansers
- Mature skin: cleansing balm (1)
Step 2: Toner (Well, Maybe)
Here’s a hot take: toner is mostly optional. The preliminary use of toner is to rebalance the skin’s pH. Cleansers make the skin pH above normal, so toners are supposed to bring it back within the ideal range. There’s also a lot of toners flying around the market that promise to get rid of excess oil, hydrate the skin, or deliver more nutrients, and so on.
Since a lot of cleansers are trending towards being pH balanced and moisturizers and serums are taking care of hydration, toners might not be necessary. Here at Mirra, we consider toners more of a personal preference. I actually like my toner because I enjoy the extra level of hydration, and I feel like it soothes my skin after I pluck the ‘stache.
Step 3: Liquid Exfoliant
Exfoliating your skin is a must for great skin since it removes dead skin cells. I notice that I break out whenever I forget to exfoliate. Exfoliation has so many different forms. You can use a scrub or a chemical liquid. Personally, I love chemical exfoliants because they give you more uniform results. Furthermore, if you pick a gentle chemical exfoliant, you can exfoliate every day. Otherwise, depending on the strength of your exfoliant, you would have to be more cautious about the frequency. Over-exfoliating can do some serious damage to your skin.
Step 4: Serum
I know that when you’re learning how to build a skincare routine, serums are probably the last thing on your mind. But let me tell you, these tiny bottles really pack a punch and will change your skincare game. Serums help you target your specific skincare concerns. Need more moisture? There’s a serum for that. Have acne troubles? There’s a serum for that. The possibilities are endless. You don’t have to buy a billion serums, but I would recommend starting with one or two.
Step 4: Moisturizer
Most people are sleeping on this step! I know it’s tempting to want to scrub your face clean and leave it like that, but doing that is more harm than good. Trust me, I speak from experience. Your skin needs moisture. Otherwise, your dried-out skin will signal your sebum glands to produce even more oil.
Moisturizers come in all different forms from creams to lotions. My rule of thumb is that the drier your skin, the thicker the moisturizer needs to be. Since my skin leans towards the oily side, I love the lightweight lotions that instantly absorb into my skin.
Morning vs Night Routine...What’s the Difference?
Okay, so those four steps are essentially the bread and butter of how you build your skincare routine. There are some minor differences between your morning and nighttime ritual.
1. SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN SUNSCREEN
Wanna avoid aging and skin cancer? I don’t know why the answer would be no...so use sunscreen. Please, I’m begging you. Once you finish moisturizing and before you put on makeup, slather yourself in SPF. I recommend getting a sunscreen specifically formulated to be put on the face, so it’ll absorb super quick. (BTW Korean sunscreens are amazing).
2. Use a (different) gentle cleanser
That is if you choose to wash your face in the morning. Personally, I don’t because it doesn’t work for me. However, I know many of my friends here at Mirra highly suggest you do cleanse your face in the morning to wash off all that bacteria from your pillowcase and possible sebum/dead skin cell buildup.
So, if you do wash your face in the morning, opt for a super-duper gentle cleanser that won’t totally strip your face of its natural oils. I heard that micellar water might be a great morning cleanser option (2).
1. Dig deep into the cleansers
As I said in step one, this is the time you would double cleanse. Double cleansing isn’t really necessary in the morning because you don’t have that makeup and sunscreen residue on your face.
If you’re a teenager learning how to build a skincare routine, the chances are that you don’t need retinol for anti-aging purposes. Just wait until you’re in your mid-20’s (4). We usually wear retinol during the nighttime because they are less effective if they come into contact with sunlight. There’s also the risk that wearing retinol during the day might damage your skin (3). Technically, because of the increase of UV-stable retinoids, you can wear retinol during the day if you wear sunscreen (3). I just think it’s more convenient to do it at nighttime.
Figuring out how to build a skincare routine doesn’t need to take up all your energy. Follow these basic four steps. Look into products that suit your skin mood. Watch Youtube reviews. Use Paula’s Choice’s ingredient index to read up on the ingredients. And BAM, your skincare ritual is set up.
Written by Jessica Lu