The beginners guide to skincare seems to be one of my most highly requested posts. People are always asking me questions about determining their skin type and how I got into a routine. But before I hit publish on this long and pretty detailed post, I want to draw your attention to the disclaimer at the bottom of this post.
And if you’re too lazy to scroll to the bottom, I’ll sum it up for you. I’m no skincare expert, all the information in this post is opinion (unless otherwise stated).
Now I know what you’re thinking, a quick google search will provide plenty of information on how to start a skincare regime or what your skin “type” is.
But I’ve noticed that a lot of posts on this subject assume readers understand the basics of skincare. In addition to this, a lot of posts are created by brands that just LOVE to confuse you and feed you ALL of the products (that you don’t actually need).
So I’m bringing it back to basics.
Why you should read this post
I’m going to assume you don’t know anything when it comes to skincare. You’re a person who might sometimes use the odd face wipe but still complain about your skin. Or you’re a regular makeup wipe user – naughty. Or you apply products to your skin with very limited knowledge of exactly what you’re putting on your face.
This post aims to help you understand your skin and how to start with a skincare regime (the very basics).
And why should you even be listening to me?
Well, I’ve been researching and learning about skincare for a while now. Also, I’ve managed to completely transform my skin from frequently broken out and just a hot mess, to combination (little oily) with more infrequent hormonal breakout. I’ve been on a huge journey over the past year or so and have learnt a lot, so wanted to share in the hope it might help someone.
Ok let’s start shall we.
Understanding your skin “type”
As with all topics within skincare, there are varying opinions on how to determine your skin type. But I’m just going to say it, I wouldn’t say many people have “normal” skin. We all have problem areas, things that bother us about our face. Am I right?
There are varying concerns, dry, oily, sensitive, spots, uneven skin, and that’s just scratching the surface. Well I’m going to drop a bomb shell, you could be experiencing way more than one of them.
I don’t necessarily believe in having a skin “type” per se, more concerns but it will make it easier to explain when trying to determine your issues/problem areas.
Let’s use my skin as an example.
I have dehydrated skin (dry that pretty much sucks up product) with some hyper pigmentation (pink marks on the side of my face caused by sun damage and breakouts). I used to suffer from a lot of breakouts (more on that later), and sometimes I get a little oily on my t-zone. I would call my skin combination but this description means different things to different people/brands.
Side note, my skin “type” is not uncommon and it is normal for you to see multiple different concerns. Also, you need to factor in how your skin adapts to the seasons and varying circumstances. Feel like giving up already? I get it. It feels like information overload but bare with me.
ALSO, your skin might be playing up because of the current products you’re using. Harsh scrubs, face wipes and aggravating ingredients can trigger problems that wouldn’t normally be there.
But as a rule of thumb, avoid anything with the word “foaming” in it, no wipes (yes really), skip the stiff-bristled cleansing brushes and try to avoid mineral oil (to be honest, skincare no no’s is a whole separate post).
So as I said, strip back your skincare and once you have thrown out the “ugly” skincare, your skin will slowly start to show it’s true self. Lol.
After a few days, start analysing your skin. Choose a day that you can be makeup free (for a couple of hours at least, but I’d recommend the entire day).
Make sure all you’ve done in the morning is cleanse your face. Then after around 30 mins, examine your face. Make notes of whether certain parts of your face are tight, dry, oily, red etc. Do this again after a couple of hours if you can and see if you notice any differences.
Then compare your notes to the basic (generic) statements below:
- Skin can feel quite tight, small pores, could be flaky in places.
- Can also flair up in colder months.
- Skin can also look dull and not plump.
- Can be easily aggravated and can react a lot more (especially by bad skincare choices).
Although dehydrated skin can have similar characteristics to dry skin, it’s more of a condition that can affect any skin type. So you could be dehydrated and have combination skin for example. This means you could have dehydrated skin but still be oily, or dry.
One thing I’ve noticed on people with dehydrated skin is that makeup can disappear/go patchy in certain parts of your face throughout the day. This is because your skin sucks the water from your foundation, hence it going patchy and rubbing off easily.
Dehydrated skin is one of the hardest to describe as it can pretty much be a mixture of all different issues, I think you should read Caroline’s description about dehydrated skin here.
Side note, around 95% of us are dehydrated and this should actually be the first thing you treat.
- Skin looks shiny all over and can feel quite greasy.
- Breakouts can be common.
- Constantly having to blot or powder your skin.
- No dryness.
- Not oily.
- Not sensitive – never really reacted badly to a product.
- Can feel smooth and as the name suggests, well, normal.
- All of the above (or at least a mixture).
- Can be common to have an oily t-zone.
- Itchy and patchy, can also be quite sore (don’t confuse this to acne, I’m talking about your actual skin being sore).
- Reacts badly to a lot of products (breakouts, dryness, redness).
Things to note about any skin “type”
If you’ve got to the end of those and you’re still none the wiser as to what your skin “type” is, you won’t be the first and certainly won’t be the last. I use the term “type” very loosely, remember any skin type can get spots/breakouts and still have additional problems.
Keep in mind that various conditions can affect your skin; the weather, air-con, products you’re using, hormones, your diet (dairy seemed to really affect my skin).
I’d recommend you keep the analysis of your skin noted down and focus on fixing the problems rather than fitting your skin into a “type” box.
So why do I need a regime?
Well because if you want to attempt to fix any of your skincare issues, you need to get your skin into a regime. Sorry but those face wipes or £2 face scrub will not fix your skin.
I assume you clean every other part of your body properly, so why are you not looking after your face?
And no, it won’t be too costly, but you do need to invest in your skin to really see the benefits.
First of all, you need to have a morning and evening routine. Yes, that means cleansing your face twice in a day. Start small and build up, maybe kick off with a 2 or 3 step routine morning and night.
The basics for morning skincare
The key for morning skincare is to wake your skin up and prep it for the day.
- Cleanse – I prefer to use a milk or gel cleanser in the morning, but you can use any non foaming cleanser. If you’re using a balm, you only need a small amount. Remove with a hot cloth/fannel.
- Exfoliate (Acid) – The aim of this step is to wake your skin up (and lower your skin’s PH level). Some people like to call this the toner phase, but I’m not referring to a product ladened with alcohol. You want to use a glycolic or salicylic acid in this step. I love Pixi glow tonic, First Aid Beauty, Dr Dennis Gross or REN.
- Hydrate – Even if you’re oily you should hydrate your skin. Ingredients to use here are hyaluronic acid or glycerin. I like to use a hydrating spray/mist from Emma Hardie or The Ordinary hyaluronic acid.
- Eye cream – Always apply your eye cream before any other creams. You want this to sink into the skin first so that it isn’t blocked by any other products you’ve used.
- Moisturise & sun protection!! – Lots of dermatologists recommend a separate moisturiser and SPF. Now whilst you can get a moisturiser with an SPF in it, you can’t use SPF in the evening, which means you’ll need two separate moisturisers. Having them separate means you can use the same moisturiser morning and evening. Focus on a moisturiser for your skin type rather than a concern, the previous steps before should help with your concerns. You can get decent separate SPF from the likes of the Body Shop if you don’t want to fork out. But seriously, I can’t reiterate enough, USE SUN PROTECTION. Do you want wrinkles? No? Well use SPF, every single day.
The basics for evening skincare
The main reason for evening skincare is to remove the day (dirt, grime, all the nasties) and help repair itself.
- Cleanse – If you can, you should double cleanse. You really should double cleanse. Makeup and SPF is designed to stay on your face, so you need to work to remove it. Start with a balm or oil first; this will break down your makeup, then remove with a hot cloth/flannel. After, use a milk or gel cleanser and remove with a hot cloth again. If you’re lazy girl and use bioderma or a micellar water, use this first then do another cleanse. And yes, you really do need to use another cleanser after, otherwise you won’t remove the SPF and will most likely break you out.
- Exfoliate (Acid) – Pretty much the same step as the morning routine. If you can have more than one acid I would recommend. Or using a stronger strength acid in the evening (only a few times a week though, not everyday). I am the biggest fan of Alpha H Liquid Gold (but only use 2/3 times a week).
- Optional – Hydrate – You don’t need to do this, but I’m dehyradated so I’ll make sure I’m using hyaluronic acid to ensure my skin is hydrated.
- Eye cream – Refer to the morning regime notes above (use the same one as the morning).
- Treatment – So this is where you can mix things up throughout the week. You don’t need to use a “night time” moisturiser every night, especially if you’re using an oil/other treatment. A treatment is something that helps to target certain concerns, whether it’s breakouts, ageing etc. Again, I’ll be doing another post on all the ingredients to use throughout your regime soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
I really hope this has helped to kick start your skincare regime. As always, any questions or help you need, either leave me a comment below or you’ll find me on any social media! Always happy to help.