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How to Build a Good Skincare Routine

Ever since quarantine started, I broke my long habit of applying a full face of makeup every day. Like most of us, I don’t see the point because the only person seeing me is myself, all day long, and when I do go out, my face is covered by a mask. Still, I wasn’t able to give up my need for luxury and vanity quite so easily as I quickly became obsessed with skincare; watching skincare reaction videos and learning detailed descriptions of various skincare ingredients. I am now somewhat aware of the dos and don’ts of skincare and I am excited to impart my knowledge with you. An important side-note to make is that this skincare routine is indeed elaborate and if you’re too lazy and/or broke I totally get it – just remember to remove your makeup at night, wash and moisturize your face, and apply SPF every morning. For the rest of you who don’t mind splurging on a little self-care, let’s dive in.

You Need a Good Cleanser

The type of cleanser you need depends on your skin type, but the one I’m currently using is the Naturium Mixed Greens Nutrient-Rich Cleanser ($16) which is packed with green tea, aloe vera, and Kakadu plum which are good for most skin types, in my rookie opinion. While you definitely do not have to buy this cleanser, I recommend you pick a relatively straightforward and cheap one since cleansers aren’t supposed to be anything fancy and you won’t get a whole lot out of the luxurious ones. The CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($14) is also a great option that is found in the drugstore if you don’t want to deal with online retailers.

Consider a Double Cleanse

Double-cleansing is all the hype right now and dermatologists and general skin-care enthusiasts are frequently in disagreement about the practice, but the idea is to use first an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup and sunscreen and then a regular water-based cleanser to get all the dirt off. While I can’t factually say this is necessary, if you can afford another cleanser and you wear a lot of makeup, it may be wise to do so. Currently, I am using the Banila Co Clean It Zero 3-in-1 Cleansing Balm ($19) and it works nicely without breaking the bank. If you have the extra means to splurge on a high-end cleansing balm, the Then I Met You Cleansing Balm ($38) is all the rave of the moment. If you are going to double cleanse, please note that you should use the cleansing balm first, then the water-based cleanser and the double cleansing is only for nighttime.

Try Out a Toner

While I by no means believe that toners are necessary, they are a good way to add some extra goodness to your skin. I use the Korean brand SOME BY MI Aha.Bha.Pha 30Days Miracle Toner ($14) which prevents breakouts, exfoliates the skin and balances your pH. This product is extremely famous for its anti-acne effects and I would highly recommend it. Another recommendation is the Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner ($18). If you are interested in purchasing a toner, I’d recommend staying clear of anything with witch hazel or alcohol as I find them to be much too drying and not beneficial for the skin (but I’m not an expert or anything).

Serums Galore

Recently I have purchased way too many serums and I definitely do not need all of them – but I love them! Right now I am using the Naturium Niacinamide Serum 12% Plus Zinc 2% ($16).  While I do not know the science behind it, I do know that niacinamide is hecking good for your skin: it shrinks pores, smoothens skin texture, balances oil, and helps with acne. If you are going to spend a little extra on any skincare non-necessity, I’d say it would have to be a Niacinamide serum. The Inkey List has a nice cheap one for $7. The other serums I’m using are the Neogen Real Ferment Micro Serum ($38) intended to brighten the complexion. I definitely did not have to spend so much money on this as it probably just adds an additional layer of moisture to my face that I don’t really need, but it does make me feel fancy that’s for sure. The last serum I am using is the Good (Skin) Days C’s the Day Serum ($26); Vitamin C is widely known for helping with hyper-pigmentation and brightening the skin overall. What you have to be careful about with these serums is oxidization, since exposure to oxygen and sunlight will ruin the composition of the serum and make it turn from clear to yellow ( I don’t know the science again, but I know it’s bad). Unfortunately for me, this happened with my serum despite my intent care to prevent it, so I’d say only buy a Vitamin C serum if it comes in an opaque bottle and you have a fridge you can keep it in since this helps with preventing oxidization a lot. The Naturium Vitamin C Complex Serum is a slightly cheaper alternative at $20, although I must recommend not going too cheap on a Vitamin C serum since it does take a lot of effort to make one that’s well-formulated.

Make Sure to Moisture

Moisturizing is extremely important – even if you have oily skin. I am using the CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 ($14) since the normal AM moisturize from CeraVe smells too unpleasant for me to use. At nighttime, I cleverly use the CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion ($12) and it is truly wonderful. CeraVe, in my opinion, is a brand you can hardly go wrong with and since it is an accessible item in most drugstores, I highly recommend it.

Top It All Off with an Oil or SPF

Okay depending on the time of day this is when you’ll want to use either a facial oil or an SPF. If it is morning time, please, I am begging you, use an SPF because your skin really needs it -even if you’re indoors. Most SPF’s will do the trick, but the Centella Green Level Unscented Sun SPF50+ PA ++++ ($15.90) is highly recommended by most as it doesn’t leave a white cast and is fragrance-free. A cheaper alternative that may be slightly less effective at preventing a white-cast is the Etude House Sunprise Mildy Airy Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ PA +++($9). If it’s nighttime, it may be nice to try out oil like marula (for dry skin) or squalene (for pretty much everyone) to add on top of all your products. I use the Naturium Plant Squalane Face Oil 100$ ($16) and it works wonders for me! Just make sure not to overdo it on the oil – one to two drops only. Also, please don’t touch the dropper to your face as this dirties it; we want our droppers to stay nice and hygienic (I recommend putting it right above your face and letting the product simply dropdown).

I know that was a ridiculous number of products and you can definitely judge me – I won’t mind- but hopefully, you will find the chance to slowly integrate some of these products into your morning or night routine and see the benefits for doing so. Everyone’s skin is different, but these all worked for me and I hope you find the same success. Good luck!

Leela Rajeev

Stony Brook '22

Hello, I love writing and watching Netflix!
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