How to Build the Perfect Facial Skin Care Routine
There are so many products on the market right now, it’s difficult to figure out what you should use or how to apply them.
Use this guide to build the perfect skincare routine that suits your needs and lifestyle. Pick and choose which products you want to use and apply them in the order listed below.
Step 1: Cleanser
When? At night (or both morning and night if you have very oily skin)
Why? Always choose a cleanser that’s more gentle than you think you need; this will avoid stripping and over-drying your skin. As a general rule, creamy cleansers are good for dry, mature, or normal skin types like the Aloe Milk Cleanser by Graydon and foaming cleansers are ideal for very oily skin like the Consonant Natural Foaming Face Wash. You can use an oil cleanser as a pre-cleanse to remove makeup, or solely as a face wash.
Step 2: Toner (aka mists or hydrosols)
When? Morning and night
Why? You can live without a toner, but they’re really helpful for a number of reasons. Toners can act to help further cleanse and purify the skin, to remove makeup, or clear up breakouts like this Pura Botanicals Clarifying Mist. They can also help hydrate and calm dry skin like this Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Toner. Avoid toners with alcohol (generally called “astringents”) which can be too harsh and drying for any skin type, even oily and acne-prone skin.
Step 3: Serum
When? At night (or both morning and night)
Why? Serums confuse a lot of people (why do you need one? Which one do you choose?). In the most traditional sense, a serum is a water soluble product. It contains highly concentrated ingredients that are meant to target specific skincare concerns like dehydration, pigmentation, or fine lines. Serums are great to incorporate into a skincare routine seasonally. For example, use a hydrating serum in the winter like The Ordinary Hyaluronic acid + B5 serum or use an antioxidant serum in the summer to counteract sun damage like this 100% Pure Vitamin C serum.
Step 4: Eye Cream
When? At night
Why? Unfortunately, dark circles and bags are often heredity and can be made worse by the lack of sleep and dehydration. Eye creams aren’t miracle workers but can help ‘de-puff’ tired eyes using stimulating ingredients like caffeine, or soothe and hydrate like this Cocoon Apothecary Awaken Eye Cream.
Step 5: Moisturizer (aka lotion or cream)
When? Morning and night
Why? Don’t skip this step even if you think your skin doesn’t need it. More often than not, skin is dehydrated, making it more susceptible to fine lines and breakouts. If your skin is oily or acne prone try a lighter moisturizer like the Cocoon Apothecary Orange Blossom Facial Cream. If your skin is dry or sensitive try something like Dr. Haushka Rose Day Cream.
Step 6: Facial oil (aka oil serum)
When? At night
Why? Pure plant-based oils are often rich in omega fatty acids and vitamins. They can help to regulate oil production (if you have too much) and can help re-enforce your skin’s natural protective barrier (if you produce too little). Oils can also help to treat specific skin conditions like scarring and pigmentation. For dry and mature skin types try Antipodes Joyous Protein Rich Replenish Serum, or for oily and acne-prone skin try Indie Lee Squalene Facial Oil.
When? 2-3x per week
Why? There are two types of exfoliants: chemical and physical. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are a common type of chemical exfoliant and are derived from fruit and dairy. They work to shed dead skin cells by dissolving the ‘glue’ that holds them together and are ideal for brightening the complexion. Try The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + Hyaluronic Acid.
Physical exfoliants work to manually loosen dead skin cells. They’re fantastic for polishing the skin and reviving a dull, flaky complexion like this Wildcraft Buff Face Scrub.
Why? Waterless balms are made using oils and plant-based butters (like cacao or shea). They are good to use if your skin is extremely dry and irritated (which can happen as a result of eczema, or extreme temperatures).
Why? Face masks are great to use as a special treatment. They can boost your skin’s moisture level like this Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask, help heal blemishes like this Province Apothecary Detoxifying + Clarifying Clay Mask, or brighten the complexion like this Herbivore Botanicals Brighten Botanicals Mask.
Seanna Cohen is a certified skin care therapist and founder of the Clean Beauty School, an online destination to learn skin care tips & tricks and get personalized advice. As a trusted skin care expert, she inspires others to take a holistic approach to beauty and find sustainable practices through her skin care coaching, webinars, and classes.