What’s in a Skincare Routine?

Let's talk your everyday skincare routine. We've seen the 2-step, 10-step, 17-step suggestions, but what does your skin really, truly, need? As clinicians who specialize in skin and see all kinds of breakouts, wrinkles, burns, and more, we have can make some recommendations. So let's get right into it.


The first, and most important aspect of your skincare routine is how easy it is to do. Skincare often falls into the category of optional grooming. It's not like brushing your teeth – no one's going to notice if you didn't wash your face and apply toner – but we're going to argue that it should be. Maintaining a good skincare is indispensable and offers benefits beyond just gorgeous skin.

So, take a good look at your current routine. Do you enjoy putting on 3 different products that ultimately moisturize your skin and nothing more? If you like it and you manage to do it every day, then keep it in your routine. If the thought of all that product makes you dread taking care of your skin then paring down your routine is a good option.

As a general rule, as long as you cleanse, moisturize, and apply sunscreen you're good to go. Exfoliating about twice a week will get rid of most of your dead skin build up. If you have a couple products for acne, wrinkles, the undereye – keep them as long as you like them and find them effective. If you can't tell what they're doing for you, maybe it's time to reevaluate.

Mild Ingredients

The skincare market is currently flooded with ingredient options. Within this market we've got products that feature chemicals, yeast extracts, botanicals, and vitamins. It's hard to know what each of these ingredients is for, what it will do on your particular skin.

Each category of ingredients has the capacity to vary in strength and be mild and soothing or very strong and possibly irritating. Some specific ingredients that can irritate your skin include acids like Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and botanicals like Tea Tree Oil.

As a general rule, if you're looking for dramatic effects for a skincare problem area, you should consult a clinician. When you seek to self-treat with these ingredients, the possibility of running into skin damage is very real.

High Quality Ingredients

Your skin is your body's largest organ. This means that aside from aesthetics, your skin has functionality and serves a very important purpose to the overall health of your body. In the case of the skin, these purposes include detoxification by excreting things through sweat, but the key thing to think about is that your skin is also capable of absorbing the things you put on it.

That means, that whenever you choose an item for your skin, you want to make sure that it's not contaminated with anything that you don't want going into your body. You also want to think about how certain items in skincare interact with the rest of your body's systems. Sure, some products containing may have great results for the skin – but the science is still out on whether those products interact negatively with your hormones and if they are a cancer risk.

To pick the ingredients you put on your skin, you can think about the following:

  • What is the risk of using this product and how does it compare to the benefit?
  • How long will the product be in contact with my skin?
  • How frequently will I use it?
  • To what capacity can it create unintended negative consequences for my skin or for my body?

When you're looking at a new mystery ingredient or a trendy skincare item, this is a great framework to approach whether the product is right for your routine.

Finally, go for products that have been on the market awhile and have demonstrated a track record of safety.

Expert Recommendations

Now that you know how to pick your skincare products, it's time to discuss what products you need. At the most basic level, all you need is a cleanser, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen. These products will keep your skin clean, hydrated, and protected from the sun.

However, if you have specific problem areas, products like toners, mud masks, serums, and other types of creams can totally have a place in your routine. Just make sure you actually need them and that they work for you.

Do Your Routine, Your Way

While it's important to pick ingredients that are healthy for you and your skin, there's no need to pare down your skincare routine if you love having a lavish multi-step routine. How it makes your skincare routine makes you feel is just as important as how well it works.

If washing your face and lovingly applying a variety of products to it is the time you take in a day to relax, pamper yourself, and decompress, then that's perfectly healthy for your skin. Alternatively, if you want to just wash and go and multiple steps give you anxiety, then you can have a completely minimal routine. There is no need to do anything that doesn't work for you.

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