Layering skincare has been a revelation for me. Without really noticing, I’d been slowly adding steps to my routine for the past few years. I started with cleansers and SPF day creams. Then I added serums and night creams. Soon after came essences and chemical exfoliants. Early last year, I discovered the joys of facial oils, and more recently, facial mists.
If I’d started with all eight steps at once, I don’t think I’d be able to appreciate how each new step/product benefitted my skin. To be honest, I probably didn’t need all of this skincare a few years ago, but it’s become essential since I’d been edging ever closer to the big five-o. I’ll take you through the routine that works for me. Feel free to pick and choose the bits you feel will benefit you.
- Cleanser – I think I’ve mentioned before that this is my favourite type of skincare. There are few things I love more than taking off my makeup at the end of the day and treating my skin to some much-needed care and attention. I’ve read about people doing what’s called a double cleanse. This is essentially cleaning your face twice in a row, the rationale being that the first cleanse removes makeup and dirt and the second cleans your skin a bit deeper. Because my skin is quite dry and dehydrated, this method doesn’t work for me. It leaves my skin feeling tight, stripped, and unhappy, which is why I try to pick a single cleanser for the job at hand. If I’ve a lot of makeup to remove, I’ll go with a balm or cream cleanser. If it’s a morning cleanse, I choose something milder like a clay or a gel. And I always use a damp muslin cloth to be sure no residue is left behind.
- Exfoliant – Once the skin is clean, it’s time to get rid of dead skin so that the fresher, younger skin underneath is revealed. I don’t recommend any exfoliant that is abrasive. The particles within can scratch and break the skin, even at microscopic levels. To remove dead skin and break away any adhesions, I use a chemical exfoliant. Just add a few drops to a cotton pad and sweep over your face. I like a very mild glycolic acid exfoliant twice a day, but feel free to fine tune this to your skin’s needs. You may need to exfoliate once a day, or even once a week. Listen to your skin. If it doesn’t like an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid), try a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) or even a PHA (polyhydroxy acid).
- Essence – Now that the dead skin is away, it’s time to put some moisture back into your skin with an essence. Essences are watery moisturisers that are gently patted onto the skin and left to dry. A good essence will contain plenty of hyaluronic acid to help draw moisture back into the skin. Essences have become absolutely essential as I’ve aged. The moisture from an essence seems to reach my skin on a deeper level than any other product.
- Facial Mist – There are quite a few new mists on the market, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money on this. In fact, if there is a step that can be skipped, it’s probably this one. I use a facial mist because I enjoy it. My first mist was a sample bottle of toner decanted into a spray bottle – nothing fancy at all – but the experience is something I’m addicted to. Just a quick spritz over the face and it’s onto the next step.
- Serum – A good serum does the heavy lifting in a skincare routine. Depending on the one you choose, it can firm, hydrate, brighten, help fade dark spots, target wrinkles – you get the idea. Some of the most powerful anti-ageing treatments are serums. Really, there isn’t much they can’t do. I like to have a couple on the go and often use one for day (antioxidant) and another for night (anti-ageing). You don’t need to spend a lot to get a good serum, but if you do want to invest, a good serum will go a long way to improving your skin.
- Facial Oil – There is a lot of discussion about when to use a facial oil. Some say to use it after your moisturiser, but I find doing this makes my makeup slide off my face. Others say to mix it with your moisturiser before applying, but that’s a bit of a faff. I like to put it on after my serum’s had time to sink in and then quickly put my moisturiser over the top of it. My theory is that if you can mix it in your hand, you can mix it on your face. And your face will thank you. Facial oils are full of antioxidants and have the added benefit of plumping the skin and adding a bit of glow.
- Moisturiser – Serums have sort of taken over from moisturising creams as the workhorse of skincare, so unless your skin has very specific needs that can only be seen to by a specific moisturiser, don’t worry too much about choosing one. I like a day cream with SPF and a night cream without, but there aren’t any rules here. Find one that makes your skin feel comfortable and protected. This is another good place to save money. There are countless fantastic moisturisers on the market that don’t cost the earth.
- SPF/Sunblock – This goes over the top of everything else. I live in Scotland, so I don’t use this in winter as I opt for a SPF 30 foundation, but if you live where vitamin D is plentiful, I recommend a good sunblock. You can use the most expensive and effective skincare available, but it won’t do a bit of good if you don’t protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays.
Extras – I’ve not included these as steps because they’re not essential. I apply lip balm right after my serum, and I sometimes use an eye cream at the same time.
Remember, not every step will suit every skin type. You don’t need to rush out and buy a bunch of new products, and you certainly don’t need a lot of expensive kit. Try samples, add slowly, and choose wisely. You’ll see a difference!
Tip: if you have any leftover essence, serum, facial oil, or moisturiser left on your fingers between steps, massage it onto the backs of your hands. They’ll benefit from an anti-ageing treat.