Essential steps for an effective skin care routine

Building a great skin care routine can be trickier than expected. Once you’ve began researching products and skin care tips, it won’t take you long to understand that navigating the beauty industry waters as a newbie can be both time-consuming and frustrating. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole, in search of solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had, so it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed.

How many steps should you include in your routine? Are toners actually doing something or are they a waste of money? What’s the right order to apply products? What does ampoule even mean? There are so many questions and even more contradictory answers that make it hard for you to know where to start from and whom to listen to.

But building an effective skin care regime doesn’t necessarily have to be rocket science. If listening to beauty gurus talking about their 10-step Korean skin care routine has led you to believe that the only way to achieve good skin is by being swept into a whirlpool of toners, serums, face oils, essences, sheet masks and so on, we must stop you right there. To overcome this state of confusion, we’ll help you get back to the basics. Keeping things simple and creating a skin care routine based on a few essential steps will make your skin feel healthier and happier than ever before.

Understanding your skin type

Before we dive into the actual steps that you should follow, you must first determine your skin type. You must know that there’s no one size fits all in skin care, as different skin types have different needs. What works for you, might not work for another, so it’s important to have a customized skin care routine to address your specific needs. Usually, skin types are classified into the following categories:

  • Normal skin – skin that is balanced, neither too dry, nor too oily, with minor or no imperfections
  • Oily skin – skin that overproduces sebum and has a shiny and greasy look. Enlarged pores are common and it’s usually prone to imperfections such as blackheads or pimples.
  • Dry skin – skin that is flakey, dull, easy to irritate and has less visible pores, but more visible lines
  • Combination skin – skin that has a combination of normal and dry or oily areas and is prone to breakouts
  • Sensitive skin – skin that is easily irritated and reactive. Redness, itching or burning sensations are common

Knowing what skin type you have will help you choose the right products to integrate into your daily routine. Read labels carefully and do a patch test before using a new product, to make sure you don’t experience any adverse reactions.

A skin care regimen can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, but as a rule of thumb, it’s always wiser to start with the basics. So, if you want to create an effective routine, stick to these essential steps to begin with and in time you can add others as you see fit.


Washing your face is extremely important for maintaining the health of your skin. A good cleanser helps remove excess oil, dirt, make-up and other impurities that might have gathered on the surface of your skin during the day. It’s best to use a cleanser with a mild formula that will get rid of all the dirt and makeup effectively, without stripping your skin.

People with oilier skin types can use a foaming cleanser, while those with dry and sensitive skin should use non-foaming hydrating cleansers. Ideally you should choose a cleanser with a pH around 5.5, to make sure you’re not overdoing it. That squeaky-clean sensation you often get after washing your face is not a good sign, so you might consider replacing your cleanser with a gentler one.  


Next comes moisturizing. Cleansing can strip your skin of lipids, so right after you’ve washed your face, you should apply a good moisturizer on damp skin, to prevent trans epidermal water loss. Moisturizers containing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides are great for ensuring an optimum level of hydration. Everyone needs to moisturize after cleansing, even those who have oily or combination skin. But there are moisturizers for every skin type. Oilier types should search for a lightweight non-comedogenic formula to keep their skin hydrated without clogging pores. If you have dry skin on the other hand, richer moisturizers with occlusive ingredients are the way to go.

Using sun protection

In case you didn’t know, sun protection isn’t a must only when you’re lying on the beach or during torrid summer months. Sun exposure is to blame for most of the visible signs of aging and it significantly increases the risk of developing skin cancer. If you’re going out and about, you should use sun protection all year round, even on cloudy winter days, as UV rays can penetrate through clouds. These scientifically proven facts should convince you of the importance of using a daily SPF. But don’t rely on products with built-in SPF like moisturizers and foundations. Instead, look for a dedicated sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, with both UVA and UVB filters to protect you from the harmful sunrays. If you’re going to spend more time outside, don’t forget to reapply it every two or three hours.

Be consistent

Nothing great can be achieved over night and good skin makes no exception. Once you’ve found the products that work best for you, it’s time to arm yourself with patience and wait for results. Don’t expect to see an improvement in your skin’s appearance after just a couple of days. It’s important to give your routine enough time to work, so all you have to do is be consistent and stick to the same products for at least six weeks. Of course, if you suspect your moisturizer is making you break out for example, that’s a good reason to replace it immediately. But switching products too often in hopes you’ll see faster results can cause your skin to act up and it will be harder to pinpoint the culprit.