Stepping into the world of skincare is confusing, no matter where you start. Even if you understand the basic concepts of hydration and sun protection, it’s easy to get lost in the maze of products, protocols, and order of application. With contradictory advice from influencers, physicians, and brands, who is telling the truth, and where do you begin?
The truth is that skincare is a highly personalized practice that can differ dramatically from one person to the next. Depending on factors like skin type, age, and even season and climate, you’ll need a custom approach that fits your needs and priorities.
That’s why we’ve dedicated this article not to a specific type of skincare, but to the process of building a skincare routine that works for you. This is the ultimate skincare guide you’ve been looking for, so let’s jump right in.
How can you build an effective skincare routine?
Before you start searching for products and building your arsenal of skincare items, you’ll need to first understand what your skin actually needs—developing a skincare routine means knowing your own skin and what it needs to thrive.
Start here so you can learn more about your skin and make the right choices when it comes time to pick essential products and construct your skincare regimen.
Know your skin type
Assessing your skin type starts with knowing the main categories that cosmetologists use to evaluate and work with their patients and clients. While professional input can certainly help, you can learn your own skin type by looking for a few key features.
Normal skin is characterized by an even tone and small pores, generally with a smooth texture and low occurrence of breakouts. This balanced skin type produces natural oils that don’t interfere with your complexion or cause issues like irritation from dryness. While some people enjoy smooth normal skin year-round, it’s common to experience fluctuations due to seasonal or hormonal changes.
When the skin produces excess sebum, it can take on a shiny appearance and lead to acne or blackheads. This type of oily skin is very common and requires continued cleansing to reduce the size of pores and maintain an even complexion.
On the flip side, dry skin occurs when sebum production is lower, causing a rough texture and increasing the risk of wrinkles. The drier the skin, the more emphasis on moisturization and hydration is needed.
Finally, combination skin is defined by inconsistent sebum production and unpredictable qualities. People with this type of skin can see major changes depending on diet, season, and internal factors like hormones. Combination skin can also be sensitive to certain products and demands a highly personalized routine that may require more attention than usual.
Note any skin concerns or needs
No matter what type of skin you have, it’s important to identify other conditions or concerns that may impact the health and quality of your skin. These may include breakouts, blackheads, rough patches, or more serious skin conditions.
Take note of when and where you experience breakouts or flare-ups so that you can work to pinpoint the root causes and make informed choices when choosing your skincare products.
Keep in mind that some skin conditions cannot be addressed with skincare alone — they may require medical intervention from dermatologists or advanced treatments to see improvements. The right skincare routine can make a difference, but in many cases, a more holistic approach is needed, including lifestyle changes and ongoing effort.
Ultimately, the quality and appearance of your skin will dictate which products to prioritize and how to incorporate them into a routine. Be on the lookout for cleansers, moisturizers, serums, and eye cream products to build a well-rounded lineup of products.
If you have acne-prone skin, look for gentler products and supplement with salicylic acid products. If anti-aging is your goal, a specialized night cream can help you minimize signs of aging. Only by understanding your own skin and setting clear goals can you construct a skincare routine that delivers the results you want in the long term.
Choose compatible products
Most skincare products are meant to be mixed and matched, provided you choose ones that are compatible with your skin type and don’t cause adverse reactions.
However, some products are harsher on the skin and should be used sparingly or strategically. For example, if you’re using strong actives like retinol, be aware that it can cause redness or peeling, which changes your approach with other skincare ingredients.
Retinol helps promote cell turnover, which means it supports a healthy skin renewal rate when applied. You may want to start with small amounts of retinol and see how your skin responds to the ingredient before using it more frequently.
This is a good rule of thumb for all skincare products — you never know how certain ingredients may interact with your body chemistry and skin type. When incorporating a new product into your routine, pay close attention during the first few days and be mindful of any reactions, like dryness or irritation.
Incorporate sun protection
There’s one non-negotiable in skincare, regardless of your skin type… and that’s sun protection. Wearing sunscreen is key in limiting the harmful effects of UV rays and promoting youthful, resilient skin.
Sunscreen uses chemical or physical filters, like minerals, to create a barrier on the skin. This barrier can either absorb the energy of the sun or reflect it so that the effects of the most intense rays are reduced or avoided completely. Be sure to check the sun protection factor, or SPF, of sunscreen before buying it, and aim for a minimum of SPF 30.
It’s also best to get into the habit of applying a light layer of sun protection product each morning, especially if you live in an area with high UV exposure. The sun’s rays are not completely blocked by clouds or overcast conditions, so you should always be prepared with some degree of sun protection.
Thankfully, many skincare products, including moisturizers, now come equipped with SPF so that you can save some steps in your morning routine. When spending hours in the sun, be sure to reapply your sunscreen every two hours to maximize protection. Just keep in mind that sunscreen can only do so much to protect your skin—covering up or seeking shade in addition to wearing SPF is the best way to reduce your risk.
Choose a nourishing moisturizer
In addition to sun protection products, a nourishing moisturizer should be at the top of your list when formulating a skincare routine. Moisturizers are designed to provide and maintain hydration in the skin, preventing water loss and working to combat the effects of dryness.
Even those with oily skin can benefit from a moisturizer since these products can help support balanced sebum production. The highest-quality moisturizers may also contain antioxidants like vitamins C and E, which support the skin during exposure to damaging free radicals.
Some moisturizers are designed to provide a collagen boost to the skin, which can make up for the decreased production of these crucial peptides due to aging and environmental factors. Our Broad Spectrum Collagen Cream incorporates hydrating ingredients with organic hemp, marine collagen, and vitamin E to check multiple boxes on your skincare checklist.*
Other moisturizers may feature more basic formulations, while some are designed for specific brightening effects or built for sensitive skin. Don’t hesitate to test different types of lotion and try various products for your nighttime and morning skincare routines.
Look for hydrating ingredients
As we’ve learned so far, every skincare product brings something different to the table. With that said, you should always prioritize quality ingredients when selecting products for your routine.
Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are two of the most common hydrating skincare ingredients and are safe to use on sensitive areas like the face and around the eyes. Meanwhile, ingredients like occlusives (beeswax) and emollients (shea butter) seal moisture into the skin by creating barriers and preventing water loss.
This shows that not all hydrating ingredients work the same way, and your skin may respond differently based on your skin type and other conditions you may have. Hydration is also just one aspect of skincare — you may also want to target excess oil, dark circles and dark spots, and impurities or breakouts.
Knowing this, you should approach your skincare routine with a basic “order of operations” to get the most from each of your products.
Here’s a basic use order you can follow to get started:
- Cleanser to remove dirt, dead skin cells, face oil, and other impurities from the skin
- Toner to tighten pores and remove trace amounts of bacteria
- Serums like hyaluronic acid with vitamin C to address specific skin needs
- Moisturizer to nourish skin and lock in hydration
- Sun protection to reduce the effects of UV exposure
This is just one example of a skincare routine that works for many, but the products you choose should be carefully curated to achieve your desired results. You’ll be on the right track with your skincare routine if you prioritize the basics and proper order.
How long does it take to see results from skincare?
The most overlooked skincare ingredient is consistency. It’s easy to stock up on skincare products and get excited to begin a regimen, only to let that commitment slip when we’re feeling lazy or distracted by other priorities.
However, if you apply your products consistently and track results over time, you should start to see results anywhere from two weeks to a month. Continued application and adjustments will only improve outcomes with time — you could see a significant turnaround in the quality of your skin within six months to a year.
This introduces two key questions that many new skincare practitioners tend to ask. Let’s address these now.
How do you know if a product is working?
You won’t know if a skincare product is working until you’ve consistently applied it for several weeks and you’re seeing positive results. Keep in mind your specific goals and skin concerns, looking at target areas in addition to your general complexion and skin quality.
For example, if you’ve been using a product to target dark spots and bags under your eyes, focus on the progress of these issues and consider taking pictures to track results. For a moisturizer, look for enhancement in general skin tone and enhanced glow.
Ultimately, your personal satisfaction with your appearance should dictate whether you know a product is working as it should. You may even get a few compliments along the way, which never hurts!
When should you stop using a product?
It’s not always easy to part ways with a product, especially if you’ve made a significant time and monetary investment. However, you should stop using a product immediately if you notice your skin conditions worsen or you experience an adverse reaction like irritation or discomfort.
You may also want to stop using a product if you’re unsatisfied with the results after using it consistently for several months. There are so many alternatives available, and you may simply not have the right formula for your skin type or characteristics.
Don’t hesitate to switch out products once you’re finished with a bottle or container, and be open to taking alternative routes to reach your goals.
How else can you support healthy skin?
While our focus today is on skincare products and routines, we can’t overlook the importance of a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle that naturally supports skin quality.
Revamp your diet
Your diet provides your skin with the building blocks it needs to thrive. From amino acids and healthy fats to complex carbs for energy and rejuvenation, a balanced diet is often the missing link in the modern skincare equation.
Rather than trying to choose the perfect foods to eat at each meal, start with a process of elimination. Aim to reduce your intake of processed sugars, artificial ingredients, and greasy snacks fried in peanut or vegetable oils. Reducing your alcohol intake can also benefit your skin by improving hydration and aiding with nutrient delivery to skin cells.
Drink enough water
Chronic dehydration is the hidden killer of healthy skin, so make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, your body is likely lacking the hydration you need to help your skin glow.
Set daily goals for water intake, whether you need to set reminders on your phone or carry a bottle of filtered water wherever you go. Once you get into the habit of meeting your daily water needs, you’ll see the effects on your skin and general well-being.
Prioritize your sleep
The phenomenon of beauty sleep isn’t just a theory. Sleep is when you enter restoration and repair mode for all aspects of your body. The puffiness and dark circles you get from lack of sleep indicate you haven’t fully recovered from the day before.
It’s not only the amount of time you spend asleep, either. The quality of your sleep — including REM and deep sleep — will determine the effectiveness of your rest each night and give your skin the support it needs.
Try hemp topicals
Don’t underestimate the power of hemp to offer soothing, nourishing benefits to the skin, even in sensitive areas. Our Broad Spectrum Topical Cream is formulated with multiple hydrating ingredients, including shea butter and cocoa butter, to moisturize deeply and support recovery.*
This cream also contains cooling MSM and peppermint essential oils that can reduce feelings of discomfort on irritated skin and sore muscles. Hemp topicals pair well with other forms of CBD, which may support skin health from within by supporting balance in the endocannabinoid system.* Try our Broad Spectrum Topical Cream for targeted relief and our Broad Spectrum Collagen Cream for everyday hydration and anti-aging.
Consult your dermatologist
If you’re dealing with chronic skin conditions that don’t seem to go away, it may be time to speak with a board-certified dermatologist and look at treatment options. Your doctor may have insights on certain products that can help your skin or offer advice on diet and lifestyle that you’ve been neglecting.
The bottom line
When constructing a skincare regimen, patience and consistency go a long way. Even if you go all-in with top-quality products and make key lifestyle adjustments, it may be weeks before you see any noticeable changes. The key is to stay committed to your routine, be willing to alter your approach, and remember that practice makes perfect.
Skincare is a lifelong pursuit and a learning experience you should embrace to get the most from your natural skin and health. With the right attitude and long-term vision, you can keep your skin looking great for years to come and enjoy all that life has to offer.