Skin Health

How to Build a Skincare Routine in 4 Easy Steps

*This article contains affiliate links*

Introduction

Are you overwhelmed by the thought of building a skincare routine? Not to worry, let’s break this all down together. Building a skincare routine in 4 easy steps is the ultimate gesture of kindness and respect for your skin. A complete skincare routine must include these 4 steps: cleanse, treat, moisturize, and protect. Let’s get into it.

Picture courtesy of Fenty Beauty

But First… What is Your Skin Type?

Before we jump into the 4 steps of building a skincare routine, do you know your skin type? This fact is pivotal to establishing a skincare routine. Skincare is not one size fits all. 

  • Oily
  • Combination
  • Dry
  • Normal/ Balanced 
  • Sensitive 

Here is a quick hack to figure out your skin type. After washing your face, wait a few minutes and pay attention to how your skin feels when it’s bare of all products. Things to pay attention to;

  •  DRY SKIN – Is your skin feeling tight, uncomfortable, or starting to flake in the few minutes after washing? 
  • OILY SKIN – Are you noticing your skin is getting shiny or looking slick in some spots?
  • COMBINATION SKIN – Do you have a mixture of dry skin in one area and oily in other areas on your face? 
  • NORMAL SKIN – Is your skin feeling fine, with no oily, or dry spots?
  • SENSITIVE – Are you noticing your skin getting red, or blotchy? Are there any burning or itching sensations going on? 

You can also pay attention to how your skin looks and feels throughout the day. This can help you narrow down what your skin type is. 

Need a bit more on the Skin Typing side of things; download my Skin Typing chart here.

Step 1: Cleanse

Elf Holy Hydration Makeup Melting Balm

Now that we’ve figured out that skin type, let’s move on to Step # 1 – Cleansing. 

Cleansing is the first and one of the most important steps in your skincare routine. Cleansing removes dirt, dust, makeup, sunscreen, and all the other products from your face.

Cleansing your face can be a 1 step process or a 2 step process. The 2-step process is called Double Cleansing. The idea behind double cleansing is like dissolves like; cleansing oils and balms will dissolve oil and oil-based products; water-based cleansers will dissolve water based products.

Double Cleansing

The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm

Step 1a: Massage a cleansing balm or cleansing oil into your skin.

This first step dissolves oil-based products like sunscreens, moisturizers, and makeup. No need to use any other type of makeup remover when using cleansing balms. They serve as a makeup remover. 

Step 1b: Apply a water-based cleanser to your face after using a cleansing balm or oil. Massage it into your skin for at least 1 minute. Look for gentle cleansers based on your skin type. 

Farmacy Clearly Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm

A gentle Cetaphil cleanser can do the job for most. However, I prefer The Inkey List Fulvic Acid Brightening Cleanser. Selecting a face wash is a matter of preference. Also, it’s about finding a gentle formula that removes the day from your face. Choose a face wash that has your skin type in mind. For example, a person with oily skin might not get the same benefits from using the same cleanser as someone with dry skin. There are a lot of beautifully formulated cleansers that check all boxes for most skin types. 

Step 2: Treat

Immediately after cleansing your face, we move into treating any skin conditions. In step #2, we apply toners, essences, and serums. Just a heads up, this is where the splurging begins!

Toners: Removes any residual dirt on your face. I doubt you will have anything left to clean off your face after a thorough double cleanse.

Toners also balance the pH of your skin pH. This optimizes the absorption of other skincare products.

Essences: Essences have a similar watery, lightweight consistency to that of toners. Contains active ingredients aimed at providing hydration, brightening, or addressing specific skin concerns.

Serums: Serums are tiny bottles of skincare actives that deliver mighty results! Skin actives target specific skin concerns.

The quality of these little magic potions is essential. Serums, essences, and some toners can pack a price punch. As mentioned above, the ingredients are highly concentrated. They are often created in very specific conditions, environments, seasons, and even countries.

If I had to choose 1 of the above, it would be serum. Serums tackle specific skin concerns with a higher concentration of active ingredients. Serums are made to penetrate deeper into the skin. Splurge here because serums are magical!

Step 3: Moisturize

When you’re not able to get to any other step of your skincare routine because you are so tired. You must at the very least cleanse and moisturize your face. Step #3 – moisturization is pivotal to maintaining the hydration and treatments you just packed into your skin. This is the last step in your nighttime routine. It strengthens and preserves your skin barrier.  

Nivea Creme

Adding a quality moisturizer to your skincare routine can be a splurge but it does not have to be. There are so many options. Keep your skin type in mind. My current nighttime moisturizer is Laniege Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Intensive Moisturizer. It is a dream. So soft and luxurious. Ultra moisturizing and restorative to the skin and it is safe for all skin types. 

Step 4: Protect 

Step #4 is a necessary daytime step. Sunscreen! I will die on this hill screaming ALL skin needs sunscreen. Melanin-rich skin needs sunscreen, skin with little or no melanin needs sunscreen. The sun does not discriminate and neither should we. Skin cancer is very real and it is on the rise in the black population. We all have skin, and we need to protect it from the elements. 

My criteria for sunscreen and some sunscreen tips

  • Hydrating 
  • Blends into my skin well – NO white cast
  • SPF 30 and up in winter; SPF 50 in summer
  • Easy to apply to the skin
  • If you have dry skin, apply a thin layer of moisturizer before applying sunscreen. This helps the sunscreen to melt into the skin easier. 

Shop here for the SPF 50 Premium Mineral Sunscreen that remains my summer go-to for myself and my kids! Enter code SHAN_THESKINNURSE at checkout for 15% off your entire order!

Debunk some sunscreen myths here.

Optional Practices You Should Add to Your Skincare Routine

Exfoliate

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells to reveal new, smooth, fresh skin. It speeds up the rate of skin cell turnover. There are 2 modes of exfoliation; chemical and mechanical (physical). Mechanical exfoliation uses coarse scrubs and brushes to sloth off dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation uses natural acids to dissolve dead skin cells on the skin’s surface. That sounds scarier than it is. Face acids are made from various natural sources like fruit and food enzymes, tree bark, and milk.

Chemical exfoliation with the Consonant DHE Mask

Either method of exfoliation is fine. However, chemical exfoliation remains unmatched for the face. Chemical exfoliation eliminates the worry about creating micro-tears and other unnecessary trauma to the delicate skin on your face.

With that said, you still need to be mindful and choose a skin acid that suits your skin. For example, glycolic acid might be a bit too strong for dry, sensitive skin. It is perfect for oily, acne-prone skin.

Always start with the lowest concentration of any skincare product, if applicable, including face acids used for skin exfoliation. Get more details on face acids here.

Eye Care

Answering a few questions about eye care right off the bat;

  • Yes, you need an eye cream in your skin regimen by the age of 30 
  • Yes, you need an eye cream because the skin under your eyes is very delicate and is paper thin.
  • You can use your face cream under your eyes but it might be too thick for the area. Eye creams are formulated specifically for that area so it gets the job done! 

My disclaimer here is, your lifestyle plays a huge role in your overall health, this includes your undereye area.

If there’s ever a skin care product that beauty brands claim to be the jack of all trades, it’s the eye cream. Most people have 4 main under-eye concerns. Let’s discuss them below and what ingredients you should be using to help each concern.

Dark circles

  • Causes
    • Genetics, aging, lack of sleep, dehydration, hyperpigmentation (darkened areas), allergies, and thinning skin
  • Treatment Options
    • Use eye creams containing ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, peptides, and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients brighten and hydrate the under-eye area.
    • Apply sunscreen to avoid further hyperpigmentation in the under-eye area
    • Cold compress (cucumber slices, a cool cloth) to improve circulation in the area

Puffiness (Under eye bags)

  • Causes
    • Fluid retention, lack of sleep, allergies, aging, and genetics
  • Treatment Options
    • Use eye creams with ingredients like caffeine, hyaluronic acid, and peptides. They reduce swelling.
    • Apply a cold compress, cucumber slices, and a cool cloth, to constrict blood vessels and reduce puffiness

Dryness

  • Causes
    • Aging, environmental factors, dehydration, harsh skincare products, and genetics.
  • Treatment Options
    • Use eye creams with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or ceramides to moisturize the under-eye area.
    • Consider applying a light layer of face oil (squalane, rose hip seed oil) after your eye cream

Fine lines 

  • Causes
    • Aging, sun damage, dehydration, repetitive facial movements, and genetics.
  • Treatment Options
    • Use retinoid-containing creams to stimulate collagen production and reduce fine lines.

Skincare is a Marathon, not a Race

With most things in life, nothing happens overnight. Skincare is a marathon, not a race. It takes at least 1- 3 months minimum, to see if a new skincare regimen or product is working for you. Be patient and gentle with your skin.

Introduce new products one at a time. Give your skin time to get used to one product before introducing another. 

Patch- Test New Skincare Products

Patch-test products before using them on your face or a large part of your body. The best place to patch test is on the side of your neck or the inside of your forearm. Leave the product there for at least 12 hours and check for any reaction. Reactions can range from itchiness, tiny or large bumps, redness, and dryness. Anything out of the ordinary that causes discomfort or pain for you is a reaction to a new product. If a reaction occurs that is negative, do not use this product. 

Conclusion

We have made it to the end lovelies! I hope you found this 4 step guide to building a skincare routine helpful. Keeping it simple for yourself so that you can stay consistent with your skincare routine is key. Just remember the 4 main steps of any solid skincare routine; cleanse, treat, moisturize, and protect. 

For more information on building an ideal skincare routine for your skin based on your age, see this article.

Your best skin awaits! If you haven’t already, go download my Skin Typing Guide here and subscribe to the blog, just scroll down a bit. 

It was lovely meeting you here. Feel free to leave a comment or email me with any questions. Until next time…

Keep Glowing!

Shan,

Your Skin & Beauty Nurse

Just a nurse obsessed with skincare! By day, I'm a Public Health Nurse by night I'm a skincare obsessed mom of 3 littles, a wife and lover of all things coconut!

8 Comments on “How to Build a Skincare Routine in 4 Easy Steps

  1. This was an insightful blog post! Very informational and great to see some suggested products 🙂 will definitely check out some!

  2. Nice read!

    Here’s a question I use at. Ives face wash and Aveeno lotion on my face. Should I use toner or is that optional?

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