A lot of my friends have been asking me about skin care lately and it’s pretty obvious why. We’re stressed out, we’ve all been in lockdown for almost a year now, and the non-stop barrage of bullshit definitely isn’t helping.
Besides, I’m the vainest person they know, so who better to ask?
I know it sounds absurd, but a lot of us older millennials didn’t really have a skin care routine growing up. I probably would have never seen the inside of a dermatologist’s office if I didn’t have eczema.
Skin care was for people with skin problems, you know? So the rest of us pretty much just coasted along, with minimal effort.
(It’s a 90s thing, like one-strapping backpacks and flared jeans.)
The problem for most of my friends, I think, is that they’re essentially going from 0 to 60. There is so much out there now in terms of information and product choice that they don’t even know where to start.
So let’s get back to basics!
You only need three things to build a solid skin care routine:
- a gentle, non-stripping cleanser
- a moisturizer that suits your skin type
- a sunscreen you enjoy
A lot of cleansers promise a ton of benefits like brightening, anti-aging, etc etc. Who gives a flying fuck? No cleanser will be on your face long enough to make that kind of difference.
All you need is a cleanser that will remove the day’s build-up of dirt and oil without leaving your face dry and tight after. That’s it. Everything else is fluff.
My face likes non-foamy facial washes like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, but you do you. Some people need foam to feel clean. If you have a cleanser you enjoy and it doesn’t leave your face feeling like it’s one smile away from cracking, you’re golden.
If someone tells you to skip moisturizer because you have oily skin, punch them in the face.
External factors like the weather, pollution, and harsh products can damage your moisture barrier, no matter what skin type you have. Just because you have oily skin doesn’t mean you’re immune to dehydration!
The key is to have a couple of moisturizers on rotation, so you can give your skin what it needs without drowning it in gloop.
Think of it as a wardrobe. You have light cardigans for spring and thick coats for winter. Same thing goes for moisturizers. I have gels and gel-creams like Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioning Gel and I’m From Mugwort Cream for the summer, then I switch to thicker balms like Curel Intensive Moisture Cream and La Roche Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 when the weather gets cold and dry.
You’ll notice that I said you need a sunscreen you “enjoy” in your skin care routine, and that’s because you do. The best sunscreen is the one you reach for every single morning without fail.
The sun can undo all the good things you’ve ever done for your skin in the most damaging way, so there’s no point in building a skin care routine if you’re not going to have sunscreen in it.
The problem is that sunscreen can be a serious pain in the ass.
They’re either cosmetically inelegant or offer insufficient protection, and you’d better be applying sunscreen with a literal trowel or so help you god you’d never hear the end of it.
Here’s a thought: buy the sunscreen you like. Or, if you don’t have one you like, buy the one you don’t hate. Buy the one you can live with. Buy the one that makes you cringe the least when it’s time to apply it in the morning.
(Unless you’re literally under the sun all the time, in which case suck it up and buy the one that offers the most protection, all other factors be damned.)
I’m currently using Krave Beauty Beet The Sun, which is pretty lightweight (if a little shiny) and easy to apply. It doesn’t have that gross plastic smell and doesn’t leave the dreaded white-cast, either.
And there you have it, you’ve got a skin care routine! It’s pretty basic, true, but you can’t build a house without a solid foundation, no?
Of course you can add your treatments, masks, salves, poultices, and incantations, but none of those will matter without good fundamentals. Get sorted with the basics first, and then you can start messing with the fun stuff.