To the newly initiated, the world of skincare can be a confusing one. Learning all about your skin and product ingredients can easily feel like cramming for a biochemistry final.
But those are just the basics.
Here, we’ll give you some advice that every skincare beginner should know -- but often aren’t told about. By making these simple tweaks to your routine, you can take your regimen from so-so to superior.
Skincare for Beginners: Tips Every Beauty Rookie Should Know
This often-forgotten step is the most important.
You use your hands for almost everything -- from opening doors to driving to paying for groceries.
But because they come into contact with so many things, they pick up millions of hitchhikers too. A 2019 study found that your hands become breeding grounds for bacteria if they’re not cleaned often.
And when you do your skincare routine with dirty hands, you transfer all of those germs to your face… which defeats the purpose of your cleanser.
So, every time you clean your face (or touch your face in general), make sure to clean your hands first.
Apply products this way to make them last longer.
Skincare can get expensive, so making the most of your products is important. Follow this unexpected tip to help you save as much of your beauty essentials as possible.
For many beginners, the way they apply skincare looks something like this: add a few drops onto your palm, rub your hands together, and massage the product into your face.
The problem? Your palms absorb it too, and that small amount of skincare never makes it to your face.
To stop this from happening, apply products to your face directly if possible.
Why the order you apply your skincare matters.
Layering your products in the wrong order can prevent them from working at their best.
The general rule is to start with a cleanser, then follow up with a toner, serum, and moisturizer. But say you want to use two serums in the same routine, or maybe an acid and a serum. Which one should you use first?
In situations like these, look to the consistency of your products for the answer. You’ll want to layer thinner, watery toners and serums under thicker, viscous creams and oils.
A thinner product, for example, will have a harder time penetrating a thicker one, which means less of its active ingredients will reach your skin. Similarly, oil-based products create a film that stops water-based ones from getting through.
Skin purging: A bittersweet situation.
If you’ve recently started using actives like AHAs, BHAs, or retinol in your routine, you may be surprised (or annoyed) to see new breakouts. But wait -- these ingredients are supposed to get rid of them, right? So what gives?
This situation, called purging, is actually very normal.
Purging happens when certain ingredients bring blockages deep in your pores to the surface of your skin. It’s a sign that the product is working.
However, keep in mind that you can also break out if you use a product that doesn’t work well with your skin. In cases like these, you should stop using it right away to prevent more acne flare-ups.
So how can you tell the difference between the two? Read this blog post on the difference between skin purging and a regular breakout to find out.
The problem with natural beauty products.
Clean beauty is a new trend many skincare companies jumped on immediately. Some of them even created entire product lines around it. But just because something is “clean” or “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe for you to use.
For one, chemicals aren’t dangerous in themselves. In fact, most skincare ingredients can be counted as chemicals (even water!). Many natural ones, like lemon juice and essential oils, can damage your skin while tried-and-tested synthetic ingredients have proven their worth in scientific studies.
That’s why it’s important to focus on the effectiveness and benefits of an ingredient, instead of whether or not it’s natural.
To learn more, look to this blog post explaining the difference between natural and synthetic skincare ingredients.
Your skincare should change with the seasons.
Don’t underestimate the impact that weather and climate have on your skin.
Just as you need different clothes in different seasons, your skin needs change throughout the year too. You might have noticed, for example, that your skin gets drier in the winter or oilier in the summer.
That’s why you need to change up your regimen with the seasons too. This means choosing lightweight products in the spring and summer to prevent breakouts, and richer ones in the fall and winter to keep your skin from drying out.
Also keep in mind that dry skin gets more sensitive, so strong actives that worked well for you in the summer can be too much for your skin to handle in colder weather. As you transition into your winter routine, consider using acids or retinols less often until your skin adjusts.
All good things take time -- even skincare.
Your skin cell turnover cycle lasts about four to six weeks, so if you just started using a new product, it’s likely you won’t see results until after about a month.
But don’t get discouraged. Skincare is a long-term game that requires patience and consistency for best results.
And speaking of patience…
It may be tempting to start using several new products at once, especially if you’ve just returned from a skincare shopping spree. But if you get an allergic or negative reaction to one of them, how can you tell which one was the culprit?
By incorporating new products slowly and methodically, you’ll know exactly which product caused the problem so you can avoid similar ones in the future.
Your skin is as unique as you are.
Not all skincare is meant for everyone, and there is no cure to magically get rid of all your skin concerns. Skin depends on a variety of things to stay healthy, and a product that works for a friend or family member may not work for you.
That’s why it’s important to do your own research.
To ensure your skincare success, use your skin type and skin concerns as guideposts to follow.
Look for ingredients proven by scientific studies to support your skin’s unique needs. Some of the most well-known examples include salicylic acid for acne and retinol for anti-aging.
Google recommendations from people with similar skin types and issues as you (forums like Reddit’s Skincare Addiction is a great place to start). Talk to your dermatologist or one of our experts for product suggestions and skincare tips.
Use their suggestions as a starting point to create a balanced routine, from the right face wash and toners to serums and moisturizers and sunscreens. From there, use trial and error to discover what works -- and what doesn’t -- for your skin.
If you’re new to skincare, we offer starter kits to make it as easy as possible to get the skin you deserve.
Look to our Anti-Aging Kit for antioxidant-rich products that reveal a youthful, glowing complexion. And if you’re looking for a way to get rid of existing breakouts and prevent new ones, check out our Comprehensive Acne Systemfeaturing acids that fight acne and cleanse your pores.
Journal of Dermatological Science, December 2004, Volume 36, Issue 3, pages 131-140