How to Build a Skincare Routine

Great skin is not the outcome of one single factor. It is the result of the liquids you drink, the foods you eat, the environment you live in, DNA you inherited, and your daily habits. With the overwhelming multiplicity of products, do not forget to pay attention to your skin needs instead of just following the trends.



Author: J. Agner

Before you start

There are five basic skin types — normal, dry, oily, combination, and sensitive. Your DNA pretty much determines your type, which can, however, change with age and various other factors. For example, your hormonal balance influences your skin, which is why, during pregnancy and menopause, some can experience a significant shift in their skin type. Each type requires a different approach.

Normal skin is neither dry nor oily. It is usually well-balanced, without becoming flaky, cracked, or shine.

Dry skin is prone to irritation, pre-mature ageing, tightness, and flaking. It can be hereditary or a result of lousy skin treatments, including the use of chemicals, solvents, detergents, and excessive water. As a rule of thumb, our skin is usually becoming drier as we grow.

Oily skin is prone to breakouts. It is usually a result of active oil glands that produce a higher amount of sebum, causing visible pores, which subsequently lead to blockages that cause pimples and acne blemishes. Although frequently irritated by these facts, those with oily skin are fortunate when it comes to ageing, as they develop fewer wrinkles.

Combination skin features two or more of the above types, such as dry and flaky skin in one portion of the face, and excessive oil in other, frequently the so-called T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin). It is the most common skin type and can be challenging to treat. Dealing with combination skin requires balance and careful approach.

Sensitive skin can display characteristics of the above types; however, it also suffers from sensitivity, irritation, and redness. Skin conditions, allergies, eczemas, and rosacea are included here. Those with sensitive skin should avoid chemical-based skincare products at all cost unless prescribed by a dermatologist.

Royal Star Magnolia by Winky Lewis

STEP 1 of Skincare Routine: Cleansing

Cleansing your skin is essential, and the very first step of a skincare routine for all skin types. It removes environmental pollutants, dirt and prevents clogged pores and dullness. Each skin type requires a different approach.

Normal skin
You can follow any option you prefer from the recommendations below, but keep an eye on what effects each have on your skin.

Dry and sensitive skin
In case of dry and sensitive skin, it is especially important not to strip the skin too much from its natural oils. Use emollient based cleansers if you have dry skin, such as those with coconut oil, Shea butter, or glycerin, or simply give preference to oil cleansing. It might not feel like proper cleansing at first, but trust me, it is your best choice. Start with warming up the oil in your hands, massaging it in your face, and follow up with towel dumped in the warm bowl of water to gently remove the oil.

Combination skin
Here is where you will indeed need to pay attention to what works best for you. You can combine different methods of cleansing on different portions of your skin. Or, test those recommended for sensitive skin and chose non-comedogenic oils.

Oily skin
Oily skin represents the only skin type for which you can use foaming cleansers. However, before you do, make sure you review them for high-alcohol-content,* chemicals and SLS** that can harm the protective layer of your skin. These would cause more harm than benefits. The best option might be cleansing mud that works wonders on oily skin. Many with oily skin also use non-comedogenic oils to their advantage. Non-comedogenic oil should not clog pores or trigger acne.

*Notice the position of the ingredient, alcohol should not be at the top of the list. If unsure, seek skincare without water and alcohol.

** Sodium Lauryl Sulfate; I recommend generally avoiding this ingredient in your products, including shower gels and shampoos!


Step 2 of Skincare Routine: Toning

Toning is an optional part in the skincare routine. Little green tea or tea tree toner might work lovely for oily skin, the former also doing wonders for sensitive skin. Rosewater works for all skin types, and so does chamomile mist. Just do not overdo it and skip this step in winter before outdoor walks. The popularity of alpha and beta hydroxy acids is growing, but they might be a bad option for sensitive skin, since some, such as GLYCOLIC ACID can irritate.

Step 3 of Skincare Routine: Moisturising

The must-skincare-step for us all! As we grow, our skin loses the ability to retain moisture, and as such, moisturisers together with cleansing should be an all-year-long measure in our skincare routine.

Normal skin
You can use light creams, lotions, oils or gel moisturisers, testing them all and selecting the ones that work the best for you. Simply, keep in mind that you need to test each for a sufficient period of time and without combining it with another form of cleansing to determine, which works the best.

Dry and sensitive skin
Chose antioxidant-rich oils with high levels of linoleic and oleic acids, and avoid any water-based products that contain alcohol. During warmer days, go for lighter, quickly-absorbing oils. In colder days, give preference to oil-based balms that contain Shea butter. Make sure your product does not contain any irritants, chemicals and alcohol. If the product contains water (aqua) — it has alcohol as well to prevent the formation of bacteria.

Step 4 of Skincare Routine: Sunscreen

Sunscreen is necessary! All experts seem to agree on this one thing. We know the sun can cause irreversible damage to our epidermis.


However, selecting a sunscreen might be considerably difficult. There are basically organic and inorganic ultraviolet (UV) filters, the former usually absorbs and convert radiation, whereas the inorganic sunscreen reflects radiation. Although the inorganic sunscreens might be more effective, they also tend to be toxic and in some cases banned, such as oxybenzone and octinoxate filters that are now prohibited in Hawaii because of their harmful effect on the coral reefs.

Majestic nature and its charming crafts. West Maui Forest Reserve by Cate Bligh

However, finding organic filters that work is a challenging task, which I have been working on for many years now. So before I figure it out, my best advice is sun precaution and physical filters which are safe for you and the environment: meaning long sleeves and big hats!

Photo credits:

Ospan Ali, Winky Lewis, Lucie_Sa_Vi, Cate Bligh

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