Daily Skincare Routine: What’s Necessary and Why

Now that I read a number of blogs, I see a few topics that seem to come up regularly. One of those topics is face and skincare and the many things associated with it: what products to use, what routines to follow, what should you do and how often should you do it, etc., etc. Seeing so much of this, I was curious whether this buzz was solely focused on product promotion and sales or whether a good skincare routine can actually make a difference to the health and appearance of your skin. 

My daily skincare routine has been the same for many years and it’s pretty simple (might want to grab a pen): splash cold water all over face in the morning; repeat in the evening. However, as I age, I’m beginning to note some things about my skin that don’t look as healthy as perhaps they could (i.e., bags/lines under eyes, pores that are large, and, most recently, the appearance of milia on my forehead). Plus, I’m increasingly concerned about protecting my skin from the sun and warding off skin cancer. With all of that combined with the prevalence of skincare talk, I was motivated to research and create a daily skincare routine. Even so, step one for me was determining how important a routine really is. 

Daily Skincare Routine: How Important is It?

It seems universally accepted, from WebMD to The New York Times, that there are a few things that we should all be doing on a daily basis to care for our skin. There are tangible benefits and important preventative care that can come from the right routine. The benefits of a good routine include: keeping your skin looking and feeling healthy, keeping your skin balanced, preventing acne and blemishes, preventing wrinkles, and protecting your skin from the sun and elements (note: full list of articles referenced is listed at the end so you can go directly to the experts for more details). 

To be fair, these sources broadly define caring for skin – i.e, drinking water, eating right, getting plenty of sleep, minimizing stress – in addition to things like cleansing, toning, and exfoliating. Even so, it seems like this is a debate that has long since been decided: daily skincare matters, and the right daily routine can help protect your skin, make you feel better, and make you look better, both in the short and long-term. 

What to Include in Your Daily Routine

While it seems that everyone is in agreement that a daily routine is necessary, there’s much less consensus on what should be included in that routine. I’ve read “must-include” lists that have 10 or more steps, and others that include a multitude of words that I know nothing about – antioxidant serums, masks, eye creams, boosters, exfoliating rubs, etc. Given that I’m starting at the most basic of levels and that I don’t want a time-consuming routine, one that will require a hefty investment, or one that will send my skin into shock, I put together a routine with nothing but the bare essentials. 

Before getting into the steps I included, it’s worth briefly noting some of the broader skincare steps that the experts consistently included as really important in maintaining healthy skin. First, it seems that staying hydrated is one of, if not the, most important steps you can take to ensure that your skin is healthy. Second, eating well – especially omega-3 foods, fruits, vegetables, and grains – plays a major role in keeping your skin in balance and healthy. Finally – and we’ve all got the life experience to support this one – sleep is a major factor in keeping your skin healthy.

Those three things – hydration, nutrition, and sleep – are major categories in and of themselves, so I’m not really tackling them with this project. Yet, I’d be missing a major component of this article to not acknowledge how important they are in caring for your skin. Hopefully, I can tackle those in the future, but for now, baby steps. 

The Daily Routine

Wow. There are a lot of potential things to include in your daily routine, and depending on the source, every last one is essential. Being a very low-level beginner at this, I pulled out the steps that appear on all lists and seem to be pretty unanimously in the category of “you should do this every day.” Here’s the routine I landed with: 

Once per day: 

  • Wash face with warm water and a cleanser
  • Use a toner
  • Use moisturizer with SPF

Once a week: 

  • Use an exfoliating cleanser
Photo: Byrdie

A couple notes about this: 
– per WebMD, a good wash once a day is all that you need (although there’s plenty of debate about this). I do the full routine in the morning so that I get the sun protection for the day. In the evening, I rinse my face with warm water and leave it at that. 
– The weekly exfoliation doesn’t seem as essential as the daily routine above, but I decided to go a little crazy and add that one on. 
– There was a strong emphasis on warm water in most every article that I read. Apparently, cold water won’t tighten your pores and hot water will dry your face out. Lukewarm it is!
– There also seems to be an emphasis on how to dry your face after washing it: “pat” and “dab” come up a lot. At this point, I’m so focused on gently dabbing my face dry that I can’t even remember how I used to dry it. 
– There’s lots of talk about finding the right products for you. I haven’t gotten into any of that – I went with the mildest versions of everything for a normal skin type and have been happy so far. I’ll share below what I’m using, but this is far from a full product review. I’m happy with what I have, but haven’t done any experimenting with products. 

So, I’m on day nine of implementing the above routine. First, I really enjoy it. It only adds about 2-3 minutes to my morning routine, but it makes me feel a little more together in the morning and my skin definitely feels better. I *think* that my pores are already looking better and my overall tone looks healthier, although it’s a little early for all of that. Regardless, I enjoy the routine, I feel better, and my skin is decidedly healthier.

If you don’t already have a routine in place, I highly recommend adding it, and I hope that some piece of this can help you create one. If you have any additional steps that you consider to be “must haves” or that you really enjoy, please share them!

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