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Your Guide to an Effective and Minimal Skincare Routine

Getting into skincare can be overwhelming with all the different products and weird ingredients you’ve never heard of. Let’s break down all the steps and minimize your routine. 

Double Cleanse

Double cleansing is a K-beauty cleansing method and the backbone to any well-rounded skincare routine because it ensures that all the makeup, dirt and pollutants are removed from the surface of your skin. First, you start off with an oil-based cleanser to break down the makeup, if you wear any, and sunscreen. Then, you follow up with a water-based cleanser to remove sweat and dirt. A double cleanse will clean your skin and prevent breakouts.

When it comes to cleansing your skin, you need to ditch those makeup wipes. They might seem convenient, but they are not because they are an ineffective method of removing your makeup. They actually damage your skin because they destroy your acid mantle, a delicate and important layer on the surface of your skin that keeps moisture in and protects your skin from external bacteria. The texture of makeup wipes is too harsh for your skin for regular use. All the pulling and tugging will damage and age your skin. And finally, makeup wipes are not formulated to actually clean your skin. They are designed to break down makeup. While your face might look makeup-free, the skin is not clean. In fact, the makeup wipes leave behind a residue that needs to be washed off. So, if you are using makeup wipes, make sure you go in with an actual cleanser to remove that layer of residue. 


Serums are skincare products that deliver a high concentration of a specific active ingredient to the skin. The active ingredient can range anything from chemical exfoliants to hydrators to antioxidants. But finding that perfect match for your skin can be a feat because there is no “one size fits all” serum. However, there are a number of well-loved active ingredients that you should look into.

Retinol, also known as retinoids, is a topical vitamin A product that has the most scientific research showing that it can reduce fine lines and wrinkles. In addition to its anti-aging benefits, retinol has been shown to fade dark spots by increasing collagen production in the skin. If you are planning on incorporating retinol in your skincare routine, please note that it can cause skin dryness and irritation. Therefore, start off by using it every other day and opt for a gentle retinol, such as the Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum, which can be found at your local Target.

Another well-loved skincare ingredient is hyaluronic acid. It is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture from their surroundings into the skin. This ingredient can boost skin plumpness and suppleness while maintaining a balanced amount of moisture. While hyaluronic acids is a wonderful active, it can dry out your skin by drawing water out of your skin if you live in a dry climate. If you are planning on incorporating this product into your routine, make sure that you follow up with an occlusive moisturizer. Occlusives are skincare agent that physically prevents water loss from your skin by creating a barrier.

My personal favorite skincare active is glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is the most gentle chemical exfoliant that promotes cell turnover. It works for anti-aging, it prevents acne, it gets rid of blackheads and it evens out skin hyperpigmentation. And it does of this without irritating my dry, sensitive skin. 


This is a pretty straight forward step. A moisturizer helps keeps your skin hydrated and prevents trans-epidermal water loss, a water evaporation process that your skin undergoes. Over time, this leads to the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. No matter your skin type, everyone needs a moisturizer. If you have oily skin, a gel-based moisturizer will do the trick of moisturizing your skin without the greasy feel. If you have dry skin like me, a cream moisturizer will offer that heavy-duty moisture your skin needs. If you have normal skin, a lotion is your perfect medium. 


For your morning skincare routine, a sunscreen is essential. If you don’t plan on using sunscreen, you might as well go right back to bed. Sunscreen protects your skin from sun damage. Sun damage can cause skin cancer, discoloration, dark spots and advanced skin aging by breaking down your skin’s collagen production. Sunscreen is truly the most important step in your skincare routine. My personal favorite sunscreen is the Purito Centella Unscented Sunscreen SPF 50 because it doesn’t feel heavy, and it doesn’t leave a white cast. 

Skincare isn’t just about beauty or pampering yourself. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and you need to take good care of it. On a final note, you do not need to spend a lot of money to take good care of your skin. There’s nothing wrong with splurging on a fancy product and treating yourself, but please do not ever feel pressured into spending a lot of money. There are plenty of affordable options from the drugstore.  

Kathy Nguyen is a Senior at VCU. She is double majoring in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies and Political Science with concentration in International Relations. Her passion includes advocating for women's reproductive rights and gun reforms. In addition to her political activism, she is a coffee snob and a Harry Potter fanatic.
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