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I'm sure we all know someone who kind of likes the idea of having 'better skin' but looks at your shelf displaying a 10-step Korean routine and backs away slowly. This post is for them! Today I'm talking through the 3 things I recommend everyone does for their skin, and if you can be religious about them: you have a really good chance of improving your skin now and setting it up for the future...
This is definitely the most important thing, for me this should sit next to your toothbrush and your pill if you take it, as an automatic part of your morning routine. As I always say: prevention is easier and cheaper than cure and it's never too late to stop future sun damage. If you do absolutely nothing else for your skin then do this. Obviously we want to minimise the risk of skin cancer, but also: if you have the power to age a little more softly then I'd take it. Moisturiser isn't going to be necessary for every person throughout the year, so I've chosen an affordable option as my sunscreen pick for this post that's moisturising. It also works really well under makeup and has some water-resistance, making it a great all rounder. It's the Garnier Ambre Solaire Anti-Dryness Sun Protection Cream SPF 50+ (broad spectrum) | £6 | full review.
Wash your face properly
If you get little spots and congestion that aren't hormonally-driven and you don't really do much in terms of cleansing, this could be where you're going wrong. If you have dry, sensitive skin, using a cleanser in the morning might be unnecessary, however I definitely recommend it in the evening when you've been out and about in the pollution of the world. I personally like to use a gentle cleanser in the morning. If you're wearing water-resistant sunscreen, I would recommend using something oil-based to break that down, then go in with a water-based cleanser to ensure your skin is totally clean and fresh. This is also important if you wear makeup to ensure it's completely removed at the end of the day. Face wipes are really for emergencies, in my books! For an oil-based cleanser to get that makeup and sunscreen of, I love the Ordinary's Squalane Cleanser* | £13.90 (supersize) | full review. My favourite affordable, simple water-based cleanser is the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser* | £9.50 | full review. That's a non-foaming formula, so if you prefer a rich lather then check out the CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser* | £12.50 | full review | instead. Both products are formulated to be gentle with CeraVe's signature blend of hyaluronic acid and ceramides.
Use a retinoid
Retinoid have been scientifically proven in many, many studies over the years to help treat acne, scarring and uneven skin tone, but also to reverse the signs of ageing, stimulate collagen production (which decreases with age) and reduce the appearance of existing sun damage. Therefore: if you're only going to use one skincare ingredient, make it this, though you absolutely have to have nailed down your daily sunscreen habit before progressing to this. You will absolutely have to build up to using prescription-strength product and I have posts about that here, but I do think that if you want the best results and you're not bothered about having much of a wider routine, I'd go with retinal (the most direct form available in a cosmetic) or even a prescription-strength treatment. Both Skin & Me and Dermatica offer a subscription for £20 a month via their dermatologists. The aim is to build up to using the tretinoin (or other retinoic acid) every single night, which could take you months. Your formula is specially-made for you and your skin with added ingredients. I, for example, also have niacinamide and azelaic acid, which are great for inflammation and uneven skin tone. It's perfect if you just want to cut to the chase and have a simple routine focusing on just the most effective skincare ingredient you can get your hands on.
Ok, even if a moisturiser isn't essential in and of itself, if you're using a retinoid (tretinoin in particular), you'll probably find you want one (drying and peeling is a common side effect, particularly in the early days), in which case my basic pick is the CeraVe Moisturising Cream | £9 | (there's also a lighter lotion version). I personally use this from head to toe: on my face, my dry body skin and as a hand and foot cream. It's a simple, gentle, fragrance-free formula that isn't rich but somehow has this ability to soften and smooth even the roughest, driest skin with replenishing ingredients like fatty alcohols, ceramides, cholesterol, hyaluronic acid, glycerin and Vitamin E.
Let me know: what do you think are the most critical steps of a skincare routine?