Morning and nighttime routines can be a hassle if you have a million products in your skincare routine. You don't want taking care of your skin to become a tedious chore.
Whether you're looking to simplify your skincare routine, or you're just getting into skincare, you want it to be fun and you want to see results.
Here are the only skincare products you actually need. Consider this my ultimate simple skincare routine.
Note: I reference skin types throughout the post. If you're not sure what skin type you are, see: What Skin Type Am I? to figure it out.
Cleansers clean up the job makeup wipes leave behind. They remove the dirt, oil and impurities that collect in your pores throughout the day. You need a cleanser.
Pick a cleanser that meets your skin's needs. If you're more acne-prone, Neutrogena's Oil-Free Acne Wash ($7) might be the one for you. If you're looking for a more general cleanser, Cetaphil's Daily Facial Cleanser ($15) is perfect for all skin types, especially sensitive skin.
Tip: We've all been told to wash our faces with hot water to open up our pores, then to rinse with cold water to tighten them up. It's a myth! Extreme changes to your skin can cause dehydration and irritation. Lukewarm, or cool, water is the best way to go!
Toners act as a crutch to your cleanser and help remove makeup residue, heavy skin products and dirt and oil.
Toner can also help to rebalance the PH of your skin (some cleansers can do this, but most are not formulated to do so). The reason why rebalancing your skin is important is because all the products that you are putting onto your face are formulated to work best at the skin's natural PH.
Mario Badescu has amazing toners for all skin types.
Tip: If you have oily or acne-prone skin, consider adding this to your skincare routine. Toners can help control your shine and acne, all while hydrating and conditioning your skin.
Moisturizers are non-negotiable. No matter your skin type, you need one. They help prevent wrinkles and dehydration, improve skin tone and texture and provide a protectant layer to your skin. It's a plus if your moisturizer contains SPF to help protect you from the sun.
Neutrogena has oil-free moisturizers for all skin types (dry, oily, combination or sensitive), and they come in different levels of SPF. (See our list of the best moisturizers with SPF for specific recommendations.)
Tip: If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, stick to oil-free and fragrance-free moisturizers. They're less likely to irritate your skin!
4. Eye Cream
Eye creams are perfect for those tired mornings in college. They help battle fine lines, reduce puffiness and brighten and hydrate your under-eyes.
Ole Henriksen's Uplifting Transformation Eye Gel ($34) is a product I keep going back to, and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon! Its lightweight formula always leaves me feeling refreshed. I've also found that it can double as an eye makeup primer. It's all about the hacks, right?
5. Spot Treatment
I think we can all agree that pimples and blemishes are not welcome. I've tried multiple acne spot treatments, but none of them have been as successful as Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion ($17). Dab this on nightly and see those pesky pimples start to shrink! This is the final step in my simple skincare routine.
(See our guide to dealing with breakouts for more product recs.)
Once you are ready to expand your skincare routine, I recommend picking up a serum. Serums have ingredients that are specific to a particular skin issue and they help to target and remedy individual issues.
Serums can help you target your main skin issue and you can use different serums on different days to customize your routine. For instance, I personally have a brightening serum that I use every day but I always keep a hydrating serum on hand for when my skin is feeing dehydrated.
There are a lot of options for serums both at higher and lower price points -- choose one that fits your budget and skin goals.
7. Bonus: Treat Yourself
Skincare routines don't have to be boring. Treat yourself to a few fun products, if budget allows!
Exfoliating facial scrubs, face masks, and facial sprays are all good examples of ways to step up your skincare routine. (We're also loving Korean sheet masks, which are trending right now!) While we can get caught up in the skin must-haves, have some fun and pamper your skin two to three times a week. You'll be left feeling more refreshed than ever. Trust me, your skin will thank you!
What are your must-have items in your skincare routine?
Do you think all of these products are essentials? What do you personally use? Let me know in the comments below!