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I think we all get so into active ingredients that it can be confusing to figure out what's essential in your routine and what's an intensive added extra that you may or may not choose to use regularly. Whilst these extras can give our skin a great boost of what it really needs, you don't have to use all of them in your routine! Today I'm stripping it back to the essentials and sharing with you what is totally skippable...
- THE ESSENTIALS -For me; the most basic products you need as part of your skincare routine are your cleansers. If you wear makeup or sunscreen then I recommend getting yourself an oil-based product for your first cleanse. I'm currently using and loving the REN Perfect Clean Jelly Oil Cleanser* | £25 | full review. You squeeze a bit out, warm it between your fingers and massage it onto the skin. It lifts up the makeup and, with a bit of water, emulsifies so you can wipe away the day. For me, makeup removal and cleansing the skin are two very different things. You can have a separate morning and second evening cleanse if you feel like your skin needs something different first thing in the morning to what it does after having removed your makeup, but it's not necessary. The product that does it for me, whether it's morning or evening, is the Wow You! Zen Cleanser | £16 (15% off with code JASMINE15) | full review. This is a rich, nourishing cream cleanser with oat, cucumber and avocado, that leaves my skin soft and moisturised every time.
Whilst I don't think toning is totally essential to your skincare routine, I do think exfoliation is and I usually find that in the form of a toner. One that I find gentle enough for daily or at least 'every other day' use is the Inkey List PHA Toner | £9.99 | full review. This chemical exfoliator operates on more of a surface level than an AHA (like glycolic or lactic acid) or a BHA (such as salicylic acid) and feels gentler on my skin, whilst still giving me a softer, smoother finish.
Adding moisture to my dehydrated skin is also essential. I generally use a serum to add a big hit of what my skin needs. Having dehydrated skin, this usually means water for me! However if you're oily that could mean a low-concentration salicylic acid serum, or if you want to combat ageing; something with a small amount of retinol (these less simple options just mean you probably should skip using an acid toner). I like to keep things simple and use a humectant-based serum to deliver water into the layers of my skin, so it looks plumper and healthier. I'm currently reaching for the Jordan Samuel Skin Hydrate Serum | £26 | full review. Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are great ingredients for me and this serum is formulated with both. If you don't struggle with hydration levels, you might choose a different booster ingredient in your routine; it totally depends on what works for your skin. For more of that nourishing moisture, I personally love the Milk Makeup Vegan Milk Moisturiser | £35 | full review. The plant and fruit milks in this moisturiser are so replenishing and hydrating for my skin, leaving it soft and taking care of any dry patches. I use it for both day and night. If you have a more oily skin type, you may prefer a gel-based moisturiser; find what works for you as a good all-rounder.
The final 'every single day' product is sunscreen! I had to kiss a lot of frogs to find my perfect formula, but I love the Coola Classic Face Sport SPF 50 with White Tea | £30 | full review. As a general rule, I try to use SPF 50 throughout the spring and summer months, though I'll relax to a 30 throughout the autumn and winter. Ensure your sunscreen is broad spectrum and be sure to use enough product when you apply it every morning. However, outside of that, just find something that works for you so it's not any effort to apply. When things are messy or tricky, we don't tend to stick with them, and sunscreen is critical. I love this particular sunscreen because it melts onto the skin, doesn't feel like a thick extra layer, doesn't leave any white cast and doesn't pill up when I start applying my makeup.
I've chosen two 'booster' products that address concerns I have with my skin pretty regularly, so they're always on standby. For me, the regular skincare concerns I have are hormonal breakouts and general dryness, so a couple of basic products to combat these issues form part of my essential routine. I have the Ordinary's Salicylic Acid 2% Masque* | £9.90 | full review | and the Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil | £34 | full review. Salicylic acid is an oil-soluble chemical exfoliator that's amazing for clearing up breakouts and preventing blemish scarring. The Drunk Elephant oil is so nourishing and softening when my skin is dry and lacklustre; it just gives things that extra boost.
- THE NON-ESSENTIALS -The principal non-essentials in my routine are definitely eye creams and specific neck creams, for pretty much the same reason. A moisturiser is a moisturiser; it contains humectants (to pull water into the skin), emollients (to soften the skin) and occlusives (to prevent water loss). That's what a moisturiser does, whether it's marketed as for your eyes, your face or your neck. Obviously I wouldn't use a body moisturiser on my face, because the skin on the face is far more sensitive to fragrance and breakouts. However, whilst the skin on your neck and around your eyes is thinner, there's no reason why you can't use a gentle fragrance-free face moisturiser in these areas. Unless you specifically want something richer around the eyes than you do on your face; an eye cream is a 'nice to have', not an essential. Likewise, unless you specifically want something much richer as your overnight cream, you really don't have to have a separate day and night cream. As I mentioned above, I reach for the Milk moisturiser both in the morning and in the evening, and it does the job for both.
I also don't think everyone needs to use retinol, Vitamin C and stronger acids. I think, fundamentally, a lot of these ingredients can be amazing for the skin, but many of them don't mix well with each other. Try to remember that you don't need to be doing everything all the time! Do your research on these ingredients and choose what's best for your personal skin concerns, maybe incorporating one of the above into your routine. As brilliant as brands like the Ordinary are, I think it's made us feel like we're all our own cosmetic chemists and I've definitely been guilty of overdoing it a bit and feeling like I need to find a way of fitting every active under the sun into my routine. It's just not necessary; look at your skin, figure out what your primary concern is and choose at most a two actives (one for the morning and one for the evening) that will help address this.
Do you agree with my essentials and non-essentials? What would you change?