Starting a Skincare Routine – What you need to know to get started

Starting a skincare routine and deciding on what products to use can be intimidating. Let’s break it down so you can start your skin care regimen today.

Starting a Skincare Routine - What You Need to Know to Get Started

Are you familiar with the 10-step Korean skincare routine? It’s essentially a facial skin care routine that has ten (yes, ten) steps. 

I’m a big fan of it and Korean skincare products in general (and lately Korean fashion too!). The skin care routine I have now doesn’t quite make it to 10 steps but there are a lot of steps. 

The crazy thing about it though? It works for me and my skin. And I think that’s what good skin care is about. 

It doesn’t matter if you use 3 products or 12, or how many skin care steps you have, as long as it makes your skin feel and look great, you’re golden. 

And the first step in creating a routine that works for you? Knowing your skin and what it needs.

Your skin type determines the kind of skin care you need

First thing you need to know is your skin type. The gazillions of products in the market today are all tailored to specific skin types and it’s important for you to use the right one.

Different Skin Types

Normal Skin

Normal skin (which I also like to call lucky-you skin) is essentially well-balanced skin. 

Sebum (or natural oils) and moisture levels are balanced so it’s not too oily or too dry. Normal skin folks usually have small pores, soft and smooth skin, hardly any acne or blemishes. 

Like I said, lucky you!

Dry Skin

Dry skin doesn’t produce enough sebum and it also lacks lipids, that thing that helps maintain the strength of our skin’s protective barrier, which holds moisture, protects the skin from damage, and protects it from bad external things like dirt and pollution. 

Unfortunately, dry skin feels tight and looks rough and patchy. Dry skin is also more susceptible to flaking, scaling, peeling and fine lines. 

Oily Skin

Oily skin, on the other hand, produces an excess of sebum. It has a naturally glossy shine, no highlighter needed! 

Along with it comes visibly large pores though, as well as a susceptibility to comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) and to varying degrees of acne.

Combination Skin

Combination skin has the best (or worst, depending on your predisposition) of both worlds. While cheeks are normal or dry, the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin) is oily.

This means some parts of the face are producing too much sebum and the other parts have a lipid deficiency (don’t you wish they can just get along?).

Another thing to think about is if you have sensitive skin. Do you usually have a bad reaction to new products? Are you allergic to certain active ingredients?

Dry vs Dehydrated Skin

You also need to consider if you sometimes get dehydrated skin.

It’s most commonly mistaken for dry skin. But they’re totally different. Oily skin people can have dehydrated skin too. 

Dehydrated skin is skin that lacks water and hydration and is considered a skin condition. And it’s important to know if you have dry vs. dehydrated skin because the treatment of one is different from the other. 

You can read more about it here.

Winter vs Summer Skin

Also remember that your skin type can change with the seasons. You might have dry skin in the winter but totally normal skin in the summer.

This means you’d need to switch products as the seasons change.

Starting a skincare routine for beginners

If you have specific skin concerns, it’s always best to first consult your dermatologist before starting any basic skin care routine.

Once you know what your skin type is, you can start building your basic skincare routine.

The best way to build your regimen is by starting with the skincare essentials:

  • cleanser
  • toner
  • and moisturizer
  • plus sunscreen in the morning

Don’t worry about double cleansing, serums, sheet masks and all that jazz for now. 

Allow your skin — and yourself — to get used to this fundamental facial skin care routine first. We can introduce new products to your skincare routine later.

Skin care routine steps

You skincare routine order will look something like this:

Basic Skincare Routine Infographic

In the morning:

STEP 1: Wash your face using a gentle cleanser. 

I know a lot of people (celebrities included) simply splash water on their face in the morning. 

However, I feel more comfortable knowing that I’m washing off the excess oils my face produced overnight. Plus dead skins cells (and other nasties) I might have picked up while I was sleeping.

If you have dry skin, you’ll want a gentle cleanser that will moisturize and not strip away more of your skin’s essential oils. Look for moisture-retaining ingredients like hyaluronic acid.

On the flip side, if you have oily skin, look for cleansers that would help control your excess sebum production. In case you’re wondering, at the moment there are two cleansers in my rotation: CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser and Hada Labo Foaming Cleanser.

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STEP 2: While your face is still damp, apply toner. 

Since I started my skincare routine, I stopped drying my face with a towel (seriously). I simply pat my face with my hands and allow it to dry. It’s a tip I picked up from skincare guru James Welsh and my skin has never felt better after cleansing!

In this case though, I apply toner while my face is still damp. Some toners recommend application with a cotton pad. Others recommend patting the product on your face with your hands until absorbed. I prefer the latter. 

Like cleansers, there are different kinds of toners and you should pick one depending on your particular skin concerns.

STEP 3: Apply moisturizer. 

Even though toners leave your skin feeling soft and supple, you still need to apply a moisturizer (here’s a great article on DIY lotion if you want to make your own). 

Moisturizers hydrate and soften the skin, and help prevent further moisture loss, especially as we go about our activities throughout the day. 

Worried about your oily skin? There are now mattifying moisturizers that help control shine while hydrating your skin (don’t you just love science?).

STEP 4: Apply sunscreen. 

It is very, very important to apply sunscreen. Everyday. Even in the winter. Even if it’s raining. The sun is still out there! 

Ideally, you want a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. I’m currently using Klairs sunscreen which has an SPF 50.

In the evening, you basically repeat steps 1 to 3 though you might want to find a richer moisturizer (or cream or oil) to use at night so it can do its magic restoring your skin and repairing any damage while you sleep.

Give your new skincare routine time to work

Skincare and healthy skin, like all good things, take time. So don’t expect results overnight. I personally don’t trust products that promise miracle results because they honestly don’t exist.

You have to stick with your routine consistently for at least a month to see any noticeable results. 

This means you cleanse-tone-moisturize even if you’re tired, drunk, running late in the morning or very sleepy in the evening.

Keep at it and you should see a brighter, healthier you in no time.

Listen to your skin

Most important of all though – listen to your skin. How is it reacting to your regimen? Is it feeling smoother and looking more radiant? 

If you think something is not right, stop your routine immediately. When this happens to me, I give my skin a break and when I feel like it’s ready, I try again.

I re-introduce my products one at a time to see which one is making my skin mad. Then I adjust. And re-start.

Creating a good skin care routine is not hard at all. It’s actually thrilling to wake up and realize your pores are smaller and your skin looks younger. The best part? When someone else notices!

And it’s never too late to start. Whether you’re in your 20s or your 40s, the best day to start is today.

Happy skin experimenting!

Starting a Skincare Routine - What You Need to Know to Get Started

When did you start your skin care routine? How many steps does yours have? Did you have to break some bad skincare habits to make your skincare routine work for you? Have you found your holy grail product?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

And let’s get social — follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook where we can get a little bit more personal and talk about skincare in real time!

17 thoughts on “Starting a Skincare Routine – What you need to know to get started”

  1. Love the blog! Has helped so much in figuring out how to have healthier skin! Thank you for your time and research into all these products! Do you have any soko glam recommendations for normal skin? I’m looking for a cleanser. Also, I have hormonal acne so I have some dark spots from that. Thank you!

  2. I could really use a skincare routine. My face doesn’t really like winter, and I should definitely start taking care more of myself.

  3. I love your skincare tips. Lately I have noticed that my skin has become more dry than usual. It must be because of the extremely hot weather during the past couple of months until today.

    • My skin changes with the seasons too. I’m usually combination-dry in the winter and combination-oily in the summer. So I need to switch up my skincare products!


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