If you would have asked me about my skincare regime a year ago, I would have only listed one product: A baby wipe. I complained about bad skin and break-outs for years, but was never educated as to why and how to ensure that my skin remained in top condition. There are so many cleansers, toners, scrubs and masks around that it's almost intimidating as well as impossible to find a regime that's suitable for you, so here's my guide to skincare essentials so you get to grips with the basics:
This is the first step in a daily skincare regime. Cleansers aim to remove makeup, excess sebum (oil), dirt and more from your skin. They come in many different forms, they can be creams, milks, waters, foams, gels and lotions (there are also cleansing wipes, but I would advise using a proper cleanser before opting for a wipe!). These obviously do the same initial job, but different types of cleansers work for different types of skin. If you have dry skin you need to go for a slightly heavier cleanser (Like a cream or lotion) that remove less oil and aim to rejuvinate and moisturise the skin, whereas people with oily skin should opt for an extremely light cleanser (I tend to go for cleansing water as it was the lightest on my skin) and the product will remove all of oil and will add no extra to the skin. Everyone's skin is different, and depending if you want something that you need to wash off, or let it absorb in or leave to foam - the choice is yours.
When choosing a cleanser, you need to ensure that it contains to fragrances, harmful chemicals, parabens or alcohol as this could just irritate the skin and defeats the object of 'cleansing'. When choosing your cleanser to need to ensure that it's not too harsh and robs you of your skins natural moisture and oils. Your skin should feel quite bare are refreshed after proper removal of makeup with a cleanser, it shouldn't feel dry or overally sensitive, and definitely not irritated.
The proper way to use a cleanser is to apply onto a flat cotton pad (That way you can cover a wide surface area and you won't get the excess fluff from a cotton ball sticking to your face!) and gently apply in circular motions upwards and outwards. Obviously, it depends on the individual cleanser but be sure to have extra cotton pads at the ready to remove excess product or stubborn makeup and dirt that didn't quite budge the first time round.
Toner is used after cleansing the skin, and basically continues to cleanse and purify the face as well as reduce pore size and prep the skin for moisturising. I like to think of it as a base coat or a primer for moisturiser! These also come in different forms, as some are a liquid that is applied via a cotton pad, some are light sprays. Just as before, it is important that whatever toner you use is light, fragrance free and doesn't contain any drying-agents that will basically undo everything that your cleanser has achieved. Toner sprays are especially ideal for people with sensitive and drier skin as it hydrates, however if you want to ensure that you are completely clean and makeup free, a liquid toner is right for you.
Words cannot express how must of a neccessity a good facial moisturiser is. With the world we live in today, our faces are constantly exposed to a huge variety of harmful toxins and pollutants, and our skin (being the sponge that it is!) absorb these toxins, robbing it of its hydration. Much like needing water to hydrate on the inside, your skin needs moisture on the outside too. This is where you have the opportunity to explore a lot of different ranges of moisturiser. Practically every makeup brand has a moisturiser, as well as drugstore ranges the choice is practically endless. It's hard to narrow it down, so all I can say is ensure that you have the right strength of moisturiser for your skin type - you want it to absorb into your skin, not sit on it and make it greasy. Once again, perfume and alcohol free is the way to go - you want to flush out the harmful toxins, not add any more!
Moisturiser is best applied after cleansing and toning as it means the skin is still damp and the use of the previous products ensures that your skin can absorb as much moisture to maximum capacity, keeping you moisturised even longer.
4. Scrubs & Masks.
Last but certainly not least are facial scrubs and/or masks. These are helpful additions that are to be used sparily, i.e. once a week or twice for oiler skin. They're not neccessarily harsher treatments, but scrubs aim to gently remove dead skin cells, and masks cleanse a lot more thoroughly and are a great treat at the end of a busy week, but overuse could be generally too much for your skin to take. There are countless scrubs and purifying masks, so you can really have fun with this one (peel-offs, self-heating and muds are some examples). Lush and Montague Jeunesse are favourites of mine, as they use natural ingredients such as fruits (which have endless benefits!) meaning that once again you're not piling unwanted chemicals and additives on your skin.
Most scrubs and masks take minutes to apply and the effects are incredible. There are masks and scrubs for different types as well as other desired outcomes such as clearing blackheads and reducing pore size. They are especially great if you live in an area with higher pollution, such as London or Manchester, as your skins exposure to harmful pollutants is far greater - so a deep cleanse and purify is a must-have. They're generally the most enjoyable part of caring for your skin - I can't tell you how relaxing it is to get into your pyjamas and put on a face mask in the evening!
So there you go! It's really not that intimidating, it's just a case of knowing what you want and what to look for. Skincare products range in price, and sometimes it is a case of trial and error, but once you find one that suits you you'll see the benefits in no time.