All too often, a very simple, but necessary, message gets drowned out: Skincare doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive.
Maybe you’re someone who’s avoided a skincare routine because it felt like more than you were willing to commit to. Or maybe you’re reading this because your regimen grew to more than you could manage (or afford). Either way, the baseline regimen for keeping your skin balanced comes down to the same three steps.
That’s not to say that retinol and face serums don’t have their place. For now, though, let’s keep it simple: cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize.
1. Wash your face twice a day
Every skincare routine, whether it’s a dozen steps or just three, should begin with a cleanser. Simply put, a cleanser (face wash) extracts excess oil from the skin and inside the pores, while clearing away sweat, grime, and any previously applied skincare products.
You should wash your face twice daily, once in the morning and again at night. In the morning, a cleanser will flush away any oil buildup and bacteria that may have transferred from your pillowcase and moisturizer. At night, it will wash away the dirt you picked up during the day, along with various pollutants that found their way to your face.
Which type of cleanser you should use depends largely on your skin type (dry, oily, combination), sensitivities, and proneness to acne.
2. Exfoliate twice a week
If you’re not familiar with what it actually is, exfoliation can sound kind of intimidating, I’ll admit. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot on beauty sites, as if you should just know what it is. What it is is a fairly big word that describes a pretty basic process.
Every four weeks, our skin cells turn themselves over, but they’re not always shed from the surface of our skin when they die. In fact, they can accumulate and form rough patches, or clog pores and cause acne. Exfoliation is the term used to describe the process of physically clearing those dead skin cells from your face, which, in turn, enables the new ones to shine through, giving you a radiant, youthful complexion.
Regular exfoliation can also help diminish the appearance of dark spots caused by the sun or acne marks.
There are two different ways to exfoliate: physical scrubs and chemical exfoliants. Both should be used after washing your face. Physical scrubs are then rinsed off, while (most) chemical exfoliants are left on the skin.
Aim to exfoliate twice a week. Any more often and you’ll risk damaging the new skin cells.
3. Moisturize twice a day
Last, and definitely not least, moisturize.
Moisturizing is a little misunderstood. A moisturizer does not add moisture to your skin. Instead, it lays atop your skin and traps moisture in the layers below. In doing so, it also creates an effective shield against airborne pollutants.
Moisturize twice a day. One of those occasions should come after you shower, when your skin’s still slightly damp.
Ideally, you should use two separate moisturizers, one for the morning that includes a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and another for the night that’s plain ol’ moisturizer.