Updated: Jan 5, 2021
I get asked this question quite often! Following a skincare 'regime' is quite overwhelming when you see the number of products/ steps involved. Working women, housewives and mothers don't really have that much time to spare and follow a religious 'regime'. However, every woman must take out 5 minutes to do a quick skincare routine. Get into the habit of following a routine every morning and evening, no matter how busy you happen to be.
In the morning:
Serums / Active Ingredients
In the evening:
Double cleansing- Oil Cleanser (to remove makeup)
Cleanser (cream/ foam)
Serums/ Active Ingredients
Sleeping Mask/ Sheet Mask
Too many products? I know many of you might find this overwhelming. And that is why its imperative to know which product is important and sufficient. Cosmetic/skincare industry is flooded with multiple products that confuse us and make it look complicated. We don't need to perform all these steps to get a flawless skin; while I'm at it, no one should aim at getting a flawless skin. Let's not try to look like pixel perfect goddesses and stress ourselves out. One just needs to aim to be a better version of oneself instead of trying to look like a movie star. That being said, let's simplify your 'routine' and look at the steps which are imperative to keep your skin clean and healthy:
Cleansing - you can't do away with this. Even in the morning, we need to cleanse our face with a gentle cleanser. Sometimes even dandruff stuck on the pillow can cause havoc to the skin. Oil cleansers are great for removing tough waterproof makeup. Unlike cleansing water/ wipes which have chemicals, cleansing oils are all-natural and do a great job at getting rid of waterproof mascara too! Look for a cleansing oil or balm to be used at night.
Exfoliators- are a must but should not be used everyday. When we are young, our skin sheds off dead skin faster and as we grow old, this process becomes slower. This is why we need manual or chemical exfoliants to do the job. If you want your skin to look and feel smooth, this is a must. Manual exfoliators are good for people who do not have sensitive skin as they can be abrasive. A chemical peel (can be fruit derived too) is gentler and does not require an abrasive massage, much like a leave-on peel. You can follow it up with a Face Pack to close all the open pores. Some 'Sleeping Masks' also fit the bill and can be used at night after face oil. Again this is to be done once a week!
Toners- You can get rid of this step, unless you have a very oily skin. Dry skin folks can do away with this. Toners are usually helpful to remove excess oil and balance your skin's PH levels. But if your cleanser itself has a 5.5 PH, you don't need a toner!
Essence- is just a glorified version of a toner. They are mostly slightly thicker than a toner and is used to add hydration to your skin. Have you seen a Korean skincare, where they slap on essence 7 times? humpf! who has the time for that?!, and trust me its just a marketing gimmick. Use it only if you have open pores as some essences are great at shrinking pores.
Serums- These are often called the 'treatment step'. This is where the actual active ingredient is infused in higher concentrations to give you the effective results. Look for Vit C, Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid, Retinol, AHA/ BHA infused serums. Now you don't need a serum for each of these actives. Any one is sufficient. You may also use 2 serums on alternate days, but not together. See the picture below to know why.
Eye Creams- This is the most neglected step, yet THE most important. Even, I have neglected this for a long time, only because I haven't been able to get a product that actually works. Dark circles are usually a genetic problem. So not many products give results. Under eye bags can be treated by incorporating caffeine. Wrinkles can be significantly reduced by getting gentle retinol products or Vit K. But the key is to start early and prevent it as much as possible; cause aging is inevitable! :)
Moisturizer- This step is important to pack moisture into your skin. These could have fruit extracts and also some of the actives mentioned above but in lower concentrations.
Face Oil- This is what seals every single product that you have just applied. Heating and air-conditioned environment suck the moisture out of your skin. So you need a sealant that prevents moisture loss and face oils are occlusive agents which form a cling wrap that also helps in maintaining the skin's moisture barrier. Some oils have wonderful actives and antioxidants which make them multipurpose. During summers, I don't need a moisturizer; an oil is sufficient or vice versa. Since its a sealant it works best when applied under makeup to get a dewy look. We all know that most makeup products have harmful ingredients. Since the oils forms a film, it doesnt let the other topical products enter the deep layers of the skin.
Sunscreen- I need not emphasize on the importance of this step. The internet is flooded with why you should apply it every single day!
Sheet Mask- This is an optional step only if you have extra time, lazing around and when you really want to pamper yourself or slap on one, before an important event. These masks also have some actives and lots of hydration. They are great to give an instant boost, like you've had a good night sleep and lots of water.
So all this was only to sensitize you about what each step really entails. Now make your own 'routine' and not a 'regime', because a regime sounds more stricter, right? :) Let's be kind to our skin and let it feel nourished and looked after, rather than suffocating it with too many products. So here's what I follow on regular days:
Exfoliator (once a week- AHA/BHA peel)
Toner AHA (glycolic acid) every alternate day
Serum ( hyaluronic acid) or Moisturizer (which has good actives like hyaluronic acid or lactic acid in lower concentration) I look for clean ingredients which are plant derived. Also I use them on alternate days.
Sunscreen (in the day)
Sleeping Mask (twice a week at night)
If this still looks like too much, its ok. Just start with cleanser, exfoliator, & moisturizer/face oil to begin with. You will see a huge difference. And once you are regular, you can add more actives or substitute with other steps. Please look after yourself, eat well, drink lots of water and sleep well.