How To Build A Simple 7 STEP Skincare Routine
The question I get most often when I talk to women is "How do I build a basic Beginner Skincare Routine?" As a Cosmetic Formulator, I am going to give you what I think is a great basic beginner skincare routine that will really teach you the steps and in what order to do them. There are definitely more steps that can be added later when you get into an Advanced Skincare routine, but for now let’s focus on building a basic beginner routine.
First, especially during the Winter season, let’s understand why our skin becomes dry.
Between fighting the cold weather, rough winds, and dry air, as well as heaters, your skin can really take a beating during the winter. As the seasons change, you certainly need to make a few tweaks in your skincare regimen in order to prevent your skin from drying out and flaking, while still maintaining a good level of moisture and suppleness.
You might be wondering why your skin gets particularly dry in the winter, despite your attempts at moisturizing on a daily basis. Naturally, environmental conditions affect your skin’s health, and during wintertime, humidity levels drop significantly. This means that the air is drier and holds far less moisture than during summertime or warmer weather, which means the elements are pulling moisture out of your skin and dehydrating it. So nourishing and rejuvenating the skin as the weather turns cooler is essential, and this guide to building the perfect basic beginner skincare routine aims to help you do just that.
Here are a few fundamental steps compiled with some of our best tips on protecting your skin from the cold weather and preserving it from drying and dehydration.
You can also watch my YouTube video where I show you a step-by-step routine on my own face.
STEP 1: Cleanse the face
The first step in any proper beauty and skincare routine is cleansing the skin. You want to make sure that your skin is purged of all dirt, nasty oils, and grimes that tend to accumulate during the day. Cleansing should be the base of your skincare routine, however, you should not be using harsh products that strip the skin from its natural oils, no matter how oily your skin is.
Keep in mind that you need to tweak your beauty regimen to fit your seasonal climate. To do so, you can start with an oil-based cleanser (optional) to remove any makeup remnants but still preserve a good amount of moisture. Then you can proceed with a deeper cleanser. If you have very dry skin, avoid using foams or mousses and opt for a product with a creamy and/or milky consistency. On the other hand, if you have excessively oily skin, choose a gentle gel or foam cleanser strong enough to remove the daily oil without stripping your skin's natural oils.
Naturally, the temperature is going to drop during the winter months. It might get unbearably cold but you should not, at any time, wash your face with really hot water. Not only does it strip your skin from all the oils that keep it healthy and balanced, but it will dry your face and cause it to flake. Instead, try cleansing with lukewarm water.
Because it’s winter, you want to stay away from traditional soap ingredients, such as, sodium lauryl sulfate, or products that have a high concentration of AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids) because they tend to dry out the skin and operate deeper into the pores. With that said, if you are acne prone you might want to consider using a face wash with AHA’s or BHA’s because of their ability to remove excess oil. But be sure to hydrate the skin after washing and always wear sunscreen, as the AHA’s and BHA’s can cause your skin to be more sensitive to the sun.
STEP 2: Use a Spray Mist or Toner
So now that your face is clean, you can start adding and locking in moisture. The next step consists of using a hydrating spray or toner. After cleaning your face, you might notice that your skin is looking particularly dull, which is the very opposite of what we’re aiming for. To restore that natural glow and prepare your skin for better absorption of the products to come, you need to use a toner or hydrating spray to add some moisture and balance your skin’s pH levels. Opt for alcohol-free products, as alcohol can dry and irritate the skin.
This step is necessary since some cleansers can move your skin’s pH levels to the acidic side, and you want to bring it back to a neutral level with toning and hydrating. Toners also help remove any extra dirt or makeup residue, especially in the neck area. You’d be surprised how much grime you can still find around the decollete parameters after toning. This step is pretty straightforward, as toners and sprays add an extra layer of hydration to thirsty skin. Since damp skin is far more permeable than dry skin, this step is necessary because using a spray or toner allows serums to sink deep into your skin for optimal absorption.
STEP 3: Apply Serums
Serums consist of highly concentrated active ingredients that are specifically designed to remedy particular skincare concerns, such as, acne, dull skin, prominent pores, dry skin, and wrinkles. You would typically use a serum to hydrate, lighten, get rid of pigmentation and/or treat pimples. They’re generally found in small bottles because they’re very powerful and a few drops go a long way. I personally recommend using three serums with three different properties, but you can work with what you’ve got and one is just fine.
The first one would be a hyaluronic acid serum, and because it binds to water, it will help keep your skin hydrated. Here is the perfect one from SunLux Skincare (my brand). It's called Red Tea Serum + Hyaluronic Acid. It gives you the hydrating benefits, paired with a powerful antioxidant. The second serum should have antioxidant properties, especially since it will help protect your skin from free radicals. I would recommend a serum with Vitamin C. The third serum would be a Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) serum. It works on reducing skin blemishes, and acne scarring, as well as repairing any damage to the skin barrier.
STEP 4: Essential Fatty Acids / Face Oils
The following step involves using facial oils with essential fatty acids (EFA’s), also known as Carrier Oils. These are oils, such as, Argan Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil and other oils or blends of oils that contain EFA’s. Essential fatty acids are emollients that work on softening the surface layer of the skin to keep your face well-protected, extra smooth, and glowing. These essential fatty acids can really help to repair damage done to the skin by the sun or other environmental pollutants.
Facial oils work on delivering vital fatty acids to your skin, along with sealing in moisture. So if you’re finding that your normal moisturizer isn’t doing the trick, you can look for facial oils with essential fatty acids to replenish and revitalize your dehydrated skin. Remember this step is after you have applied your Serums. Take two to four drops of your oil and gently pat it all over your face. Or you can add one or two drops of your oils to your moisturizer cream, mix it in your hands and then apply.
Let me be clear, I am NOT talking about Essential Oils in this step. Essential Oils are highly concentrated compounds extracted from plants through a distillation process, and can cause severe reactions and become toxic to the skin with direct sun exposure. I never recommend putting essential oils directly on the skin. It can be very dangerous and cause the skin to burn.
STEP 5 & 6: Moisturizer / Eye Cream
This is definitely the most important step in your basic beginner skincare routine, if you want to avoid dry, flaky and dull skin. Moisturizing is essential to ensure the delivery of moisture and hydration into your skin. This step is extremely important because it also locks hydrating and softening agents into your face without allowing them to evaporate off your skin. It also forms a barrier that water cannot penetrate, allowing moisture to be trapped under the skin. The loss of moisture from the skin is called Transepidermal Water Loss; we want to avoid this everyday.
During colder months, you should step up your moisturizers from using light gels to something with a bit thicker consistency. This, again, will seal the moisture into your skin, not allowing it to evaporate into the air.
There is a plethora of moisturizing products available on the market, so be mindful of what ingredients are in these products. Focus on active ingredients that will deliver hydration and nourishment to your skin. Though we all have different complexions and skin types, dryness, dullness, or flakiness are not definitive of a certain skin type, but rather a skin condition that occurs when you don’t moisturize enough.
If you’re worried about your skin looking really shiny or greasy, you should reach for a light moisturizer to use during the daytime. This will not compromise the look you’re going for, but do implement a heavier product into your nighttime skincare routine.
Now let’s take a minute to talk about eye creams. For me, in my skincare routine, I count this as a separate Step. I know not everyone uses eye creams, so I'm including them here under moisturizers. But let’s talk about why I recommend them as a Cosmetic Formulator. This step is equally important as all the others and should not be omitted. The eye area is the thinnest skin on our body and it has no oil glands to keep it moisturized, which is also why we tend to get wrinkles and fine lines, first, under the eyes. This specific area is more prone to dryness during the wintertime, so don’t forget to pick a replenishing eye cream to get you by in the colder months. Much like serums, a little bit goes a long way, so you can apply just about the tiniest amount and that will do the job.
STEP 7: Sunscreen
Now, this should be your most IMPORTANT step of all the steps in your skincare routine. This is coming form someone who has had skin cancer (Basal Cell Carcinoma) removed a number of times from my body. This step is just as important as moisturizing, and I really can’t stress that enough. Whether it’s sunny, snowy or rainy, you should never leave the house without applying sunscreen. One reason why you don’t get sunburned during the winter is because the short waves, (Ultraviolet B), that usually burn the surface layer of your skin, are weaker. However, long waves, Ultraviolet A (or UVA rays), are just as powerful all year-round. This means that you’re still exposed to the damaging effects UVA rays have on your skin; they have an ability to deeply penetrate your skin leading to wrinkles, sunspots, and premature aging. Rain, snow, or shine, always make sure to apply a generous amount of sunscreen before you do your makeup, as dermatologists advise to put on sunscreen at least half an hour before you go outside. And because you can never be too cautious, you can go the extra mile and purchase an SPF lip balm that both moisturizes and protects your lips. The skin on that particular area is substantially thinner and generally much more delicate than other areas on your body, which means it’s also prone to UVA ray's damage.
BONUS: A Lip Balm that might interest you is from my brand SunLux Skincare, which contains the powerful antioxidant Vitamin C. It's excellent for repairing the lips after sun damage and gives great moisturizing benefits.
Take it from me, a Skin Cancer Patient now for life, make sunscreen your favorite product and put it on daily!
With all of these steps, you are now ready to take care of your skin and feel confident in your daily skincare routine.
Here is the list again of all the steps. You can take a screen shot or write it down so you don’t forget.
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*Disclaimer: I am a trained Cosmetic Skincare Formulator and this article is intended for educational purposes and we feel it meets our SunLux Skincare standards. We never claim to heal or cure any skin conditions. If you need additional help we always recommend our customers & readers go see their local Dermatologist.