Building our own skincare routine that fits our unique skin needs can be confusing.
In this hyperconnected world, we can easily access all kind of information at our fingertips. Whilst this is useful, do not underestimate the impact of information overload! There could be too many conflicting information and advice out there which could create further confusion.
As a result, we might end up taking mental shortcuts when it is time to make decisions on which skincare products to purchase and use.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with this, but you might end up choosing a skincare product that do not fit your ultimate needs .
Are you listening to your own skin's need or someone else's?
One mental shortcut that we often rely on is overly trusting product reviews or recommendations. Whilst product reviews and recommendations could help to weed out bad products, we need to be aware that skincare is highly personal and skin reactions that one has from using a particular product could be different from yours.
Our skin is a complex organ, and it is influenced by many factors such as genetic, climate, surrounding environment, and food.
A 10-step routine may work great for that beauty guru, but it may put too much stress on our skin, vice versa.
How do I start building my own skincare routine?
To be able to build our personalized skincare routine we must listen to and understand our unique skin's need.
To do that, we must first go back to the basics: clean our face, keep our skin hydrated by putting a simple moisturizer on, and wear sunscreen to protect from UV.
We would recommend keeping the basic routine for 2-4 weeks because it takes ~28 days to complete a skin renewal cycle1.
Listen to the skin's need closely during this period. We will get a clearer picture because we are not using other products that mask our problem (or potentially create a new problem).
Reintroduce supplementary steps or actives back in your routine
When you are ready to reintroduce supplementary steps and actives back to your routine, try to make it targeted to your need.
You don't have to use more than you need just for the sake of using it or because everyone else is using it.
Also, feel free to be flexible in your routine, adjust it to your skin's need that day.
Your skin felt dry? Reach out for hydrating serum. Your skin looks dull? Vitamin C or Niacinamide serum might help.
What our personal routine looks like?
Our personal routine changes all the time because we always try out new products for our research.
But if we were to build our ideal routine it would look something like this:
I have an oily skin that is prone to dehydration, but otherwise it's pretty resistant (I don't often get an outbreak or irritation).
I like to keep my routine simple to suit my busy lifestyle. I usually don't put more than 3 layers at any given time.
In the morning, after cleansing I would simply use a water-based hydrating serum before wearing a sunscreen.
I would like my hydrating serum to include actives that help tone down the oiliness of my skin such as Niacinamide and/or Zinc PCA.
I skipped the moisturizer in the morning because of my oily skin and the sunscreen usually provide enough occlusives for me.
At night, I usually use a hydrating serum (this is essential to me) and alternate 1 other step depending on what I need on that day. I then top it off with a light moisturizer (my skin is drier at night).
I also rotate between an exfoliant (I prefer BHA) and a retinoid every other day. Sometimes I skip this step.
I have an oily combination skin that is prone to excess sebum, clogged pores but also dehydration if I overuse my chemical exfoliation!
Whilst I like to keep my routine simple to suit my busy lifestyle, sometimes I like to pamper myself with additional skincare steps.
In the morning, I wash my face with just water unless I exercise and sweat in the morning (I will use facial cleanser in this case). After cleansing, depending how much time I have, I will use a hydrating serum and vitamin C when I have time, or I will just skip to moisturizer and sunscreen
At night, I cleanse my face with gentle cleaner, I do not like the squeaky tight feeling from harsh cleanser. I will then use a hydrating serum and on alternate days I will exfoliate my skin with AHA/ BHA. My night routine also depends on my skin condition: when my skin is drier than usual, I will skip the exfoliation step but if I notice clogged pores or increased comedones, I will be more diligent in my exfoliation step. Most importantly, I will never forget to moisturize my skin, sometimes I might swap my moisturizer with a sleeping mask.
On days when I feel like giving my skin a special treat, I will use face masks -- sheet mask or other type of masks. I will also massage my skin using facial roller.
We are sharing our ideal personal routine only to give you some comparison. You don't have to follow it and you should find out what works for you.
It could be 1, 5, or maybe even 10 steps. It is fine as long as you are aware of your needs and it works for you.