Skincare 101: The Basic Skincare Routine

for when you’re first starting out or — if you’re me — when you gone f****d your face…

basic skincare routine

If you follow me on Instagram, you’d know that a few weeks back, I overdid it with the acids. Two words to succinctly sum it up: holy breakout! Needless to say, it did its job and forced me to tread *extra* cautiously with acids. So, to counteract my overzealousness with acids, I took a gentle approach with my skincare routine by paring it all the way back. Most days, I simply opted for the basic skincare routine that consisted of: cleanser + toner + moisturiser. Easy. 

This is of course modelled after the Clinique 3-Step Skincare System (i know, i know, save your eye rolls). Funny story: the Clinique 3-Step served as the foundation blocks of my skincare routine way back in the day when I first started taking care of my skin. I’ve come a long way since then; I know now how crap those products were, but I still feel a nostalgic pang whenever I see it. Hey, everyone’s gotta start somewhere…

The 3-step skincare routine seems old-fashioned in this day and age when everyone is enamoured by the Korean 17-step routine. But I do believe it’s such a good stepping stone for someone who’s just starting a skincare routine (like I was), or when they need to go back to the basics when they go overboard (like I did). After all, good skincare doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated. I like to think of this 3-Step Basic Skincare Routine as a less-but-better approach.

Step One: Cleansing

Essentially, the purpose of cleansing is to — well, duh — clean. Cleansers work to remove any sweat or impurities that may have built up overnight and, at the end of the day, gently remove makeup, any  grime AND SPF. Ideally, you’ll want a cleanser that has a slightly acidic pH level. (we’ll chat more about cleansers and pH levels in the next Skincare 101 post, but in short: the higher the pH, the better bacterias breed = hello breakouts) By default, this nixes most — if not all — foaming cleansers.

Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel (£24.58) — an in-depth review is in the works.
Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser  (£25) — but it has a pH level of 6.25* (it is working out fine for me though, in fact I love it!)

*as tested by the lovely Vanessa of Goals to Get Glowing.  Check out all the cleansers she tested by tracking this hashtag on Instagram: #gtggphtest

Step Two: Toning

The idea of a toner is to balance out the skin’s pH without dehydrating skin and to give your skin a zap of hydration. A toner also acts to boost your skin’s absorption ability thereby prepping it for the moisturising step. If you’re after something with a little more oomph than just a hydrating toner, some toners are formulated with a small percentage of acid (usually glycolic acid) allowing it to gently exfoliate your skin to reveal glowing skin. To avoid drying skin out, I’d recommend an alcohol-free toner. I remember the Clinique one smelling an awful lot like nail polish remover, yuck. 

Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner (£25) — pH-balancing toner formulated with CoQ-10, a potent antioxidant/anti-aging workhorse.
Pixi Glow Tonic (£15) — formulated with 5% Glycolic Acid, a super-gentle introductory acid toner

Step Three: Moisturising

Moisturisers are crucial in everyday skincare as it is what keeps your skin hydrated and supple. A good moisturiser should absorb beautifully (again, a good toner can aid this) instead of leaving your skin feeling clingy and greasy. It serves as a protectant and seal to your skin’s natural moisture balance. My skincare routine feels utterly incomplete until I do this step. I’d suggest getting two different moisturisers for day and evening. The day moisturiser is typically a lighter more absorbent formula (a gel-like consistency is my sweet spot). On the other hand, I’d opt for a heavier evening moisturiser that’s more potent and creamier, since your skin has more time to take all the goodness in.

Zelens Z Matrix (£70.83) — super expensive, I know. I’m toying with the idea of splurging on it. It’s one of my favourite day moisturisers to date. If you haven’t tried it, it comes in a set (15ml) as well for £35
January Labs Moisture Balancing Lotion (£17.50) — I’m undecided on this, but it’s an affordable option for a day moisturiser
Belif Moisturising Bomb (SG$54) — a great night time option. They also have a lighter version of this the Aqua Bomb (it’s more of a gel consistency)

Of course, if you’re out and about in the day SPF should be a no-brainer. And yes, even on a cloudy day.

Now, it’s obvious that I’m no skincare expert. I’m just a regular ol’ gal who just so happens to be massively obsessed with skincare. I do a lot of reading up on skincare because it’s just what I love and it’s what I do for work (i write beauty articles for my clients). So I may not have the right information all the time — although, I really try to wade through a lot of contradictory skincare articles, and find what works best for me at that time — and I think that’s okay. It’s part and parcel of the learning process and I thought I’d share some of the things I learn along the way in this Skincare 101 series.

Until the next one, xo

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