Skincare 101: Back to the Basics

Being plagued with acne since the sixth grade, I’ve always envied people who have clear skin. I was always self-conscious of my skin and desperately searched for products to get rid of it. From questionable natural remedies to harsh facial scrubs, I tried them all to combat my skin. Looking back, I’m surprised that I didn’t ruin my skin with all of the products that I put on it. However, 3 years ago, I stumbled upon a video by Liah Yoo explaining that establishing a simple and hydrating skincare routine was key to improving our skin barrier and achieving healthy, blemish-free skin. With her tips, I was able to establish a skincare routine that worked for me. Here is the routine that I’ve perfected over these past few years:

Disclaimer: Everyone’s skin is different and what worked for me may/may not work for everyone.



  1. Wash your face with water

To start, I like to wash my face with warm water to wash away the dirt and grime that accumulated on my face overnight. Even though I have oily skin, I find that using a cleanser in the morning makes my face feel dry, which is never good. After washing my face, I pat my skin dry with my hands instead of a towel to pat some of the hydration from the water into my face.

     2. Toner

To boost my skin’s hydration, I use a simple toner that targets my skin concerns. A favourite of mine is Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner. It’s on the cheaper side and provides great results! Sometimes when my skin is acting up, I spray a couple of spritzes onto cotton pads and place them on my problematic areas for 10 minutes to calm down my skin.

     3. Serum (Optional)

Sometimes when I’m feeling fancy or when my skin isn't at its best, I use a niacinamide serum, either this one by The Ordinary which helps with pores and oiliness or this one by Cosrx which  helps with acne scarring and restoring our skin’s natural barrier. 

     4. Moisturizer

I used to think that with oily skin, I didn’t need to moisturize as often since my skin is already drowning in oil. However, I later learned that for oily-skinned people, our skin gets even more oily when it’s dry. As a result, I use a light gel moisturizer in the warmer months and a lighter cream in the colder months. I tend to stay away from heavy creams since they clog up my pores.

     5. SPF

This is the most important step in everyone’s skincare routine. Since harmful UV rays are present whether it’s rain or shine, we need to protect our skin with some form of SPF. I prefer Asian sunscreens over Western sunscreens, such as the A’pieu Pure Daily Cream, because their formulas have more advanced UV filters. They also have more cosmetically elegant formulas that don’t make me feel greasy or make me look like a ghost. However, keep in mind that most tend to be on the pricier side compared to drugstore Western sunscreens and it can be difficult to get them locally.



  1. Double Cleanse

This step is crucial when you have sunscreen/makeup on. The first cleanse, an oil cleanser or micellar water, removes the sunscreen and makeup from your face. The second cleanse, a face wash, removes the rest of the impurities from your skin. If your skin feels tight after washing your face, it means your cleanser is too stripping for your skin. It’s best to use a hydrating, low-pH cleanser such as the cult-favourite COSRX Low pH Good Morning cleanser to avoid drying out your face. 

     2. Toner

It’s important to do this right after washing your face to restore some of the hydration that was just lost.

     3. Serum/Exfoliant (Optional)

I use a chemical exfoliant by The Ordinary once a week to help with acne scarring, blackheads and uneven skin texture. This is a step that I recently incorporated, and it has worked wonders on my skin. It helped to clear out my pores and have smoother skin.

     4. Moisturizer

Last but not least, I apply some moisturizer to seal all of my products in.


*Don’t neglect your neck when you do this routine, otherwise your neck and your face will be uneven!