Sometimes it seems like finding a simple skincare routine is an impossible fantasy. A quick Google search will tell you there are about 100 million things you can do to care for your skin each day, leaving many of us feeling like we have to have a long, drawn-out skincare routine to match.
I’ve played around with quite a few different skincare routines over the years in an attempt to find something that would get rid of my acne.
One of the most viral skincare routines I tried is the Korean skincare routine. The toners, the essences, the moisturizers… it all seemed so glamorous and fun, even if it was goddamn expensive.
There’s just one problem with using a Korean skincare routine when you have serious acne: it’s reeeally hard to tell what’s working for your skin and what isn’t.
Why More Isn’t Always Better
Now, don’t get me wrong. In general, I like Korean skincare products much, much more than Western skincare products. Korean products tend to be gentler and seem to have less alcohol and harsh cleansing chemicals in them than products from the U.S. or U.K.
However, Korean skincare routines also tout a five- to seven-step cleansing process morning and night. You end up spending a considerable amount of time in the bathroom applying toners, moisturizers, etc.
It’s hard enough for me to stick to a regular skincare schedule, let alone one that has seven steps to it.
As someone with acne, though, the real problem with following a Korean skincare routine is that, by putting all of those products on your skin, it’s essentially impossible to tell which products are helping your acne, or if any are making it worse.
That’s why, though I do like the idea of Korean skincare, I started following a more basic skincare routine. It’s short and easy and you don’t have to buy tons of products.
My Simple Skincare Routine Steps
Whether you’re looking for a good basic skincare plan or just want to tone down your long bedtime process, this simple skincare routine is for you.
1. Rub a cleansing oil or serum onto your skin.
This will help clear away and makeup, excess oils or dirt.
Two products I really like:
- Neutrogena’s Ultra Light Facial Cleansing Oil – $7.75
- Skinfood Black Sugar Perfect Cleansing Serum – $19.00
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2. Wash your face with a foaming cleanser.
Okay, the one thing about Korean skincare that I absolutely cannot let go of is double cleansing. I don’t know how I went my whole life without doing it.
After you’ve washed the cleansing oil or serum off your skin, gently rub a foaming cleanser onto your face and wash it off. Be sure to pat your face dry (never rub!) with a clean towel or let your skin air dry before moving on to the next step.
My favorite foaming cleanser:
- CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser – $12.59
3. Apply your moisturizer.
Use a water-based moisturizer to avoid clogging pores or creating milia.
- CeraVe Moisturizing Cream – $12.98
4. Apply any prescriptions or skincare treatments. The fewer the better.
While a lot of us feel the urge to layer treatment after treatment onto our skin in the hopes of giving it EVERYTHING it needs to be healthy, the truth is layering skincare products can have the opposite effect.
A good way to use all your skincare products but not layer them is to cycle through them during the week. For example, if you use a Vitamin C serum one night, you can use a retinoid another night and a natural oil (like jojoba oil or rose hip oil) another night.
This lets your skin reap the benefits of each product without forcing your skin to process all those different compounds at once, which can actually cause further breakouts.
Three skincare treatments I like:
- The Ordinary’s Vitamin C Suspension (Silicone free kind) – $11.29
- The Ordinary’s Niacinamide Serum – $10.87
- The Ordinary’s Cold Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil – $15.99
One important exception to the cycling rule: If you use topical treatment prescribed by a doctor you should use that treatment every night and probably stay away from any additional treatments. I say this because many prescription treatments can cause you to go through a “purge” stage, and not using the treatment every day could prolong this period or potentially prevent the treatment from doing its best work.
That’s it. Skincare routine complete!
The four steps above are assuming you do the most amount of work necessary to keep your skin clean.
Sometimes I skip some of these steps if they seem unnecessary, which cuts my skincare time down even more.
For example, if I know I’m going to apply an oil or serum to my face, I don’t apply moisturizer beforehand because I want that serum to go right into my skin, not on top of a layer of lotion.
Likewise, I don’t generally double cleanse in the mornings because the only thing my skin has touched during the night is my pillow (which I wash regularly).
A Simple Skincare Routine is Enough
I know we see all these neat-looking skincare products and want to incorporate every single one of them into our skincare routines, but the truth is less can be more… especially when you have acne.
Having acne means you have sensitive skin. This means that putting just a few, simple products on your skin has the potential to do a whole lot more for it than subjecting your face to 10 different kinds of products before you even put your makeup on.
For people with naturally clear skin, sure, a more complicated skincare routine might work. You’re still likely to waste time and extra money, but you probably won’t see any adverse effects from your skincare routine.
For those of us with acne, life is just different. Trying out a new product for us can mean the difference between having an okay week and a really shitty one.
I’ve found the best way to have a good week every week is to stick to a basic skincare routine and put that saved time toward finding out what you really need to clear your acne.
To hear about how I got rid of my acne, keep reading here.