Building a skincare routine does not have to be complicated, nor should it break the bank. While there are endless options out there, you want to shoot for the products that are the bare-bones. Simple, scientifically-proven ingredients that are shown to improve skin are all you need to have a great skin care routine.
Cleansing is a vital part of any skin care routine. Cleansing will remove the layer of pollution, dirt, makeup, and sunscreen formed throughout the day. Depending on your skin needs, you may only need to do a nighttime cleanse. To have the deepest cleanse possible each night, your cleansing method should consist of two steps: an oil-based cleanse and a water-based cleanse. Oil cleansers are a gentle way to dissolve makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and pollution. Oil cleansing is superior to products like makeup wipes because it is gentler and more effective. Some excellent, cost-effective oil cleansers include The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser ($7.90), Ponds Cold Cream ($4.99), and Neutrogena Makeup Remover Melting Balm ($9.99). All of these options will effectively remove that top layer of grime your skin accumulates throughout the day.
Your second step, the water-based cleanse, should focus on finishing the job of the oil-based cleanse. Now that the top layer of buildup it is taken care of, your second cleanser can now penetrate deeper and do a much more efficient job. You want to find a cleanser that is both hydrating and non-stripping. Cleansers that overly dry or strip your skin can create a long-term impairment to your moisture barrier. Some good water-based cleansers are CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($10.99), Unscented Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser ($8.99), and Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Creamy Facial Cleanser ($8.29). By following these tips, you will have an effective method to cleanse your skin, allowing the following steps to better do their jobs.
After cleansing, your skin barrier will be disrupted. Anytime your skin makes prolonged contact with a cleanser or even water, your skin barrier will encounter minor irritation. To immediately put the brakes on irritation and dryness, you must make moisturizing a part of your skin care routine. Moisturizing prevents hydration from leaving your skin and creating a dry, flaky, texture. Some great, cost-effective moisturizers include, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($13.49), Vanicream Lite Lotion ($13.59), Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream ($10.99) for dry skin, and Unscented Neutrogena Hydro Boost ($16.99), Simple Water Boost Hydrating Gel Cream ($6.35) and Olay Sensitive Calming Facial Moisturizer ($12.02) for oily skin. Each of these options are extremely cheap and effective at providing your skin with the hydration it needs.
This crucial step, only for use in the AM, is by far the most important in your skin care routine. If you are going to skip everything else, DO NOT skip sunscreen. Everyday sunscreen use of at least an SPF 30 or above is going to prevent premature aging and skin cancer. In fact, 90% of skin aging is a result of unprotected sun exposure. The good news is that there are plenty of sunscreens that offer great protection. For oily skin, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sunscreen SPF 50 ($9.99), CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion AM SPF 30 ($13.49), Walgreens Clear Zinc SPF 50 ($4.19) are great options. For dry skin, CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 ($14.99) , PURITO Centella Green Level Unscented Sun SPF50+ PA++++ ($15.90), and Cetaphil Facial Moisturizer SPF 50+ ($13.99) are great options. A word of wisdom, if you are going to spend a good amount of money on any portion of your skincare routine, sunscreen is THE product to splurge on. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 2 hours, so if the cheaper option is pleasant enough to reapply, go for that. If you have some money to spare, don’t be afraid to venture out and find a cosmetically elegant sunscreen you will want to put on 2-3 times a day. The aforementioned products will likely be cheap and elegant enough for most people.
4. Personal treatments
This section of your skin care routine is personalized to you. Everyone has certain things they want to improve about their skin, and while the previous 3 steps are all about creating a bare-bones routine, these treatments are focused on fixing a more specific problem with your skin.
First, acne. Acne, sadly, is not something that magically goes away after you leave your adolescence. Acne can be pervasive well into adulthood. Thankfully, there are plenty of great treatments that can prevent and treat acne. If you struggle with deep cystic acne that takes forever to come to a head, benzoyl peroxide may be an effective method of treatment. By killing acne-causing bacteria, the source of acne will be eradicated. This treatment may take several months to show results. A great benzoyl peroxide product is Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Treatment ($5.39). This can be used as a spot treatment or all over the face as a preventative measure. For whiteheads or blackheads, salicylic acid is a great choice. By exfoliating and unclogging pores, salicylic acid works by clearing out the gunk within your pores that is causing blockages. A great salicylic acid product is ZAPZYT Acne Wash ($8.67). This product should be used as a cleanser.
Second, aging. It is never too early to combat aging. While sunscreen is, by far, the most effective way to prevent aging, there are also other treatments you can add to your routine that can rejuvenate your skin. Differin, a retinoid, is a prescription-strength derivative of Vitamin A that can be used for anti-aging purposes. Differin ($12.99) is often used as an acne treatment because of its ability to increase cell turnover and prevent pore-clogging. This cell turnover happens to give the skin a rejuvenated, youthful appearance. At only $12.99, this is a must-try.
Finally, texture. Textured skin is something most people struggle with, from acne scars to general roughness. Alpha hydroxy acids, also known as AHA’s, are a great way to gently exfoliate the skin using the magic of chemicals. These treatments are preferred over physical exfoliation (brushes, scrubs, etc.) because they are gentler and more effective. Some great AHA’s are The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($8.70) and The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution ($7.20), both of which are very cheap and effective options. However, be sure to follow the label exactly as stated. Incorrect use can lead to significant harm to the skin.