Our Ultimate Guide to Skin Care: What to Use, How to Use It, and How to Create a Daily Routine if You’ve Got Dry, Oily, Combination, or Normal Skin

Here's something we've learned as makeup artists: if you talk about makeup long enough, you'll eventually end up talking about skin care. The two go hand-in-hand, and you can't truly master makeup until you understand skin care.

And unfortunately… skin care can be an absolute pain! It’s surprisingly complicated, and developing an effective daily routine can be a flat-out chore. There are dozens of different products types—hundreds, even—and they all feature different chemicals and vitamins and benefits and WOW it can get overwhelming.

On top of all that, if you've got a unique skin type—dry, oily, or combination skin—it gets even more difficult.

So here, we've literally put together a "just-about-everything-you-need-to-know," A-to-Z guide on how to create a personalized skin care routine.

We introduce each of the skin care tools you'll need, how to select them based on your needs, and how to use them. Then we provide tips on how develop a routine, and what you need to do. We even discuss different skin types, and how to create a daily routine if you've got dry skin, oily skin, and/or combination skin.

By the end, you should have a clear idea on the products available and how to use them for your own needs.

Let’s get to it:

The Products You'll Need (and What They Do)

We’ll start with the fundamental products, and after we’ve discussed those, we’ll get into some fun extras:

Skincare Essentials

These are the true must-haves that anyone should use, no matter their skin type, without any extras or frills, that comprise a basic beauty routine. The first is a biggee:

Cleanser

As the name implies, cleansers clean the skin. Sometimes they are referred to as face washes, cleaning gels, or facial soaps, and they can come in a very wide range of formulas. Cleansers are important because they remove icky stuff from the skin and prepare it for any leave-on products. They are key in preventing breakouts and for maintaining skin health.

The thoroughness of your cleansing routine can depend on your needs: you might only need a light, gentle cleanser to remove your sunscreen and mild pollutants at the end of the day, or you might need a thorough double cleansing routine to also remove layers of makeup. You may also need a more thorough cleanser if you're using makeup that is near its expiration date, because older makeup can be harder to remove from your skin. 

In addition to removing makeup and sunscreen, cleansers also help remove excess sebum (i.e. facial oil), sweat, and other types of grime that can build up on the skin throughout the day.

There are many different kinds of cleanser formulations, including gels, foams, balms, oils, and cleansing milks, and each formula should be used slightly differently. There are also those (usually Korean-beauty and Japanese-beauty fans) who double cleanse by first using an oil-based cleanser and then using a foaming cleanser.

Most cleansers for the face are made up of ingredients called “detergents” or “surfactants,” which are unique molecules that have an affinity for both water and oil. They break down oils as well as other impurities that are on the skin, and they can then be rinsed away with water. Oil-based cleansers also contain surfactants, but their mechanism of action is a little different, since it’s actually the oils in the formula responsible for breaking down oils, while the surfactants just help with the rinsing. Oil-based cleansers will usually have a bit of a moisturizing effect, so hardcore minimalists can use just an oil-based cleanser and to skip moisturizing. It’s usually best to avoid actual soaps on the face, since they can be very alkaline (the opposite of acidic). The skin is happiest when it’s at a slightly acidic state, so traditional soaps can throw it off balance and cause irritation, dryness, acne, or all of the above. 

Sunscreen

Unless you are a vampire (or a normal person working the nightshift), sunscreen is by far the most important skincare product you should be using, because it is so much more than just a cosmetic. In fact, sunscreen is considered a medication that is critical for preventing sunburn in the short term and skin cancer in the long term. A whole range of medical professionals and health organizations stress the importance of using sunscreen, including the American Academy of Dermatology, The Skin Cancer Foundation, and the Cancer Council of Australia.

We also consider sunscreen (broad spectrum sunscreen, especially) to be the most powerful anti-aging product one could use, since exposure to the sun’s rays is the leading cause of premature aging.

Any product that has an SPF rating is a sunscreen, regardless of whether it is marketed as a sunscreen, as a moisturizer or as a primer, so you can kill two birds with one stone and use a moisturizer with an SPF in the morning. The important part is to use enough of the product in order to get full protection (2mg of sunscreen per square cm of skin), and to reapply after two hours of sun exposure.   

Moisturizer

When people think of skincare, chances are a jar full of cream is the first thing that comes to mind. As the name implies, moisturizers are intended to imbue the skin with moisture. When the skin is moisturized it can act as a better barrier against external aggressors, and it also looks healthier and more glowy. Dry and dehydrated skin, on the other hand, looks dull, feels rough, and is more prone to irritation.

Moisturizers usually come in the form of creams, but they can also be gels or lighter lotions. Moisturizers help the skin in three different ways: they deliver water to the skin with the help of water-binding ingredients called humectants, they lock that water into the skin with the help of protective ingredients called occlusives, and they make the skin softer and smoother to the touch with the help of emollient ingredients that fill in gaps in the stratum corneum and smooth down dry skin.

We are listing moisturizers as essential, although the truth is that this is actually debatable. Some dermatologists say that moisturizers are not necessary at all, while others say that they are only necessary for those who have dry or dehydrated skin. It’s usually the case that most people benefit from moisturizer, except for perhaps those with very oily skin who don’t have any problem retaining moisture. We also think it’s very important to use if you are using a cleanser or any harsh active ingredients that might dry out your skin. With that said, many people can use a hydrating essence or serum instead of a regular moisturizer.

Amazing Skincare Add-Ons

Having an essential skincare routine is important, but there are a lot of other product categories out there that are worth knowing about. None of these are mandatory, but each one is beneficial to the skin in its own way, so if you find yourself falling in love with the transformative effects of skincare, you would like to add more self-care into your life, or if you’re just curious about what all of the other products out there in the stores actually do, keep reading:

Exfoliants

Exfoliants are products that remove dead skin buildup from the surface of the skin, and they can come in a few different forms. There are scrubs, which are usually just cleansers that have had some sort of abrasive powder mixed into them.

There are also chemical exfoliants which usually come in the form of toners, serums, or wash-off peels and contain acids or enzymes that help dead skin cells shed on their own. These products often slightly increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, but otherwise they tend to be quite gentle. It is sometimes recommended that chemical exfoliants be left on the skin for 15-30 minutes before any more products are applied, but whether this is actually necessary is debatable so you can experiment and see what works for you.

Not everyone needs to exfoliate their skin, but exfoliation can be extremely useful for helping with a variety of skin issues including texture, flakiness, scarring, acne, and some signs of aging.

Toners

Toners are a controversial skincare product that some sources will tell you is absolutely mandatory while others will tell you it’s a total waste of time. The truth is that while toners as a whole are not a must, it can be really nice to have a good toner in your routine.

A toner is a liquid skincare product with a consistency similar to water, and it can contain any range of different skincare ingredients including hydrating humectants, exfoliating acids, anti-aging compounds, or skin soothing agents. They can also include potentially irritating or drying ingredients, so it’s important to be careful.  

Serums

A serum is a skincare product with a runny texture that is a little like honey, but not sticky. It’s thicker than a toner but lighter than a moisturizer, and is usually formulated to offer a targeted effect, like being anti-aging, skin brightening, or soothing. Most serums are usually also quite moisturizing, so those with oily skin might be able to use a serum instead of a typical moisturizer. Serums are often more expensive than other products in a brand’s portfolio, though a serum doesn’t have to be expensive to do a great job.

Essences

Essence is a newer product category that was popularized in Japan and Korea. Essences are either thicker toners or lighter serums, and they can have the same kinds of ingredients and benefits as either product category, though in general they tend to be heavy on the hydrating ingredients. They can be a nice addition to a skincare routine, especially for those with dehydrated skin, and because of their texture they should usually be applied after toners but before serums or heavier moisturizers.

Eye creams

Eye creams are basically just moisturizers for the area around the eyes. Since most moisturizers do a fine job of moisturizing the eye area, eye creams are not mandatory at all. However, they are usually formulated with ingredients that target the specific needs people have around the eyes, so if you would like to give your eye area a special boost an eye cream can be a good addition to your routine. There are also eye serums and gels which have a lighter texture than a typical eye cream, which can be used in conjunction with a regular eye cream or applied under a moisturizer.

Masks

Masks are a very diverse category of skincare products that are meant to be used a few times a week rather than daily, and they need to be removed from the skin after a short period of time. They can be made with all kinds of ingredients to offer a whole variety of effects, with the main subcategories being clay masks, cream masks, and sheet masks (which are actually sheets soaked in essence, so in a way they are more similar to essences). Recently, overnight masks started gaining traction, but they are a little more similar to moisturizers than they are to traditional masks.

Masks are not nearly as important as the skincare products that you use every day, but they can be a nice pick-me-up for the skin. Using them is also often seen as a self-care practice that allows people to relax and pamper themselves, so their benefits are more mental than they are physical.

Spot treatments

Spot treatments are a category of products that are applied only to small parts of the skin that are breaking out, rather than all over the face. They are usually formulated for acne, with medicinal active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or sulfur, or cosmetic ingredients said to help with breakouts like tea tree oil or willow bark extract. Some brands use the term “spot treatment” to market hyperpigmentation and wrinkle products intended for localized applications.

Your Daily Routine: What You Need to Do and How to Do It

So you’ve decided which products you would like to adopt into your beauty routine, but how do you actually use them? Which order do things go in? Those are good questions, which is why we’ve put everything in order for you!

AM Skin Care Routine

Your morning skincare routine should prepare you to face the day, and it can also make your makeup application much smoother later on. The most important part of the morning routine is sunscreen, and in truth, using anything else in the morning is totally optional. If you want to use a lot of products you can split them up between morning and night in whichever way is convenient for you:

A full cleansing is rarely necessary in the morning, so you can usually just wipe your face with a damp face cloth or wipe it with a cotton pad saturated with toner. This will remove any oil your skin produced during the night. For those with dry skin, a splash of water is often enough. If you would like to cleanse your skin in the morning, refer to the PM section for cleansing instructions;

Next, apply any of the serums or essences you would like to use. Vitamin C serums are especially nice in the morning since their antioxidant effects can help stabilize your sunscreen. Apply a bit of product to the palm of your hand, and then either massage it into your skin in upward motions for a bit more stimulation or press it into your skin if you would like to be more gentle;

Note that acidic products like most chemical exfoliants and vitamin C serums should be applied to the skin first, followed by lightweight hydrating products and then followed by thicker moisturizing products;

If you find it necessary, apply a bit of moisturizer to your skin, once again utilizing either an upward massage or pressing motions. Depending on what you applied beforehand, you may need as little as a pea-sized amount or as much as a dime-sized amount to cover your whole face;

If you use an eye cream, it can come at any point in your routine (but before sunscreen). Apply it with your ring finger, being careful not to exert too much pressure, following the shape of the orbital bone so as to avoid it getting in your eyes;

Finally, sunscreen is the only product that is critical to use in the mornings, and it should always be the final skincare step. Make sure any other layers you’ve applied to your skin have dried down completely, since otherwise they will mix up with the sunscreen and dilute it, thereby reducing its effectiveness. Most people will require around a 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen in order to reach the full amount of protection. We usually split the application into two layers of 1/8 teaspoon, as this will allow all of the sunscreen to absorb into the skin easily; and finally...

Let the sunscreen totally dry down before applying any makeup products to your skin.

PM Skin Care Routine

The purpose of the evening skincare routine is to remove all of the grime from the day. When we sleep, the body is at rest so the skin can more easily absorb products. It is also considered the best time for using serums with stronger actives, including chemical exfoliants or retinoids, since your skin won’t be exposed to the sun. However, for newbies and minimalists, you can totally get by with an evening routine that only consists of cleansing and moisturizing:

Start your evening routine by cleansing the skin with your cleanser of choice, following the instructions on the bottle. Most gel and foam-based cleansers are best lathered with water or massaged into damp skin, while oil-based cleansers work better when applied to dry skin and then rinsed away;

If you wear heavy makeup, you will benefit from using a makeup remover or oil cleanser first to break down all the makeup, and then a foaming cleanser to remove the residue of the oil cleanser. No matter what you choose to use, it is very important to massage the skin thoroughly with the cleanser so that everything can break down completely. Make sure that as you massage with the cleanser it glides over your skin easily without tugging on the skin or leaving it feeling irritated—you want to be thorough, but also gentle. Some sources suggest massaging the skin for a minute or two, although we don’t think you need to cleanse for so long unless you wear heavy waterproof makeup;

If you’re not certain that you are thoroughly removing everything by just rinsing with water, you can use a damp microfiber face cloth or cotton pads to wipe away any potential cleanser or makeup residue. Once you’ve finished cleansing your skin should feel fresh but not tight or “squeaky clean” which is a sign that your cleanser is too drying for your skin;

If you are using a basic toner (rather than a thicker essence), saturate a cotton pad with it and then wipe the cotton pad over your skin in circular motions, starting from the center of the face and working your way outwards;

Next, apply any of your lightweight products in the same order as you would in the morning: start with the acid-based toners or serums, follow them up with any lightweight, hydrating products, and finish off with anything that has a heavier texture. Once again, you can choose between splashing or patting the products onto your face more gently, or using a slightly more vigorous massage to stimulate the skin and get the blood flowing;

If you have a specific spot treatment, you can apply it at any point during your skincare routine, as long as you wait for it to dry completely before applying anything on top of it. Applying a spot treatment directly to cleansed skin will often allow it to work with full potency, but it also increases the chances that it’ll irritate your skin, so depending on how hearty your skin is you might want to ‘buffer’ it by applying it after a serum or moisturizer—it’ll take longer to penetrate, but it’ll still do its job with less irritation;

Use the same principle of light to heavy when it comes to eye products. If you have any eye serums or gels, apply those first, followed by an eye cream, following the same methodology as you would for applying eye cream in the AM;

Finally, apply your moisturizer—the amount you will need depends on how dry your skin is, and it might also depend on how many products you’ve used beforehand, but as we said earlier, anywhere between a pea-sized amount and a dime-sized amount will usually do. Rub the moisturizer between both hands, and then gently press it into your skin or massage it in. The moisturizer will do a better job of sinking in and hydrating if your face is a little bit damp, either from water or from essences or serums. If you stick to a minimal routine, then just splash your face with a bit of water before moisturizing; and finally...

If you’d like to amp things up a bit, you can also add a final, heavier layer after your moisturizer, like an oil or a balm, to help further lock the moisture into your skin, especially when things get drier in the winter. Apply it just like you would a moisturizer, but be careful to sleep on your back to avoid having it smudge on your pillow.

Weekly Pampering / Masks

Finally, people are often confused about how to add masking into their beauty regimen. Masking is usually only done once or twice a week, and here is how you fit it into your usual skincare routine:

First, cleanse your skin as outlined earlier;

If you will be taking the chance to exfoliate your skin, do it first, following the instructions on the exfoliant. Scrubs can usually be used similarly to facial cleansers, but may require cotton pads or a facial cloth to thoroughly remove all of the “grit,” while peels and exfoliating masks should be used like wash-off masks;

After you’ve exfoliated, you can apply your wash-off mask to your skin. You will usually require a dime-sized amount of product. If your mask comes in a jar, scoop it out with a small spatula rather than with your fingers, in order to keep things clean;

To apply the mask to your skin, either massage it in with your hands in circular motions starting from the jawline and working your way upwards, or use a clean mask brush and apply it in careful strokes once again going from the bottom up;

Leave the mask on your skin for the amount of time indicated on the packaging—10-20 minutes is pretty standard. Finally, rinse your face to remove the bulk of the mask, and then use a gentle face cloth to get rid of any stubborn bits;

Finish things off with the rest of your skincare routine, based on the guidelines above; and finally...

If you are using a sheet mask, things are a little different: you apply the mask before moisturizing, but after any toners, serums, or essences. Smooth the sheet mask over your skin carefully, to avoid any air bubbles forming, leave it on for about 30 minutes, and then when it’s time to remove it don’t rinse anything away—just massage in any liquid and finish off with your moisturizer.

Skin Care Regimen Help by Skin Type

Now let’s get into the specifics: non-standard skin tips. Our advice so far spans all skin types, but we have some important skin care regimen advice that relates to each individual skin type.

Skincare Regimen for Dry Skin

Dry skin is easy to recognize, with tiny pores and very little natural oil production. Those with dry skin are also more prone to flakiness and dullness. Sebum, the oil human skin produces, is responsible for keeping water in the skin, and since those with dry skin have less of it, they are more prone to dehydration.

If you have dry skin, here is our advice to help guide you through building your skin care regimen. The key thing is to ensure that every step in your skincare routine does its main job while also helping to moisturize your skin with both water-binding (i.e. humectant) and water-locking (i.e. occlusive) ingredients.

To start, choose a moisturizing cleanser with an oil, balm, or cream formula. Cleansers with oil can do a fantastic job of thoroughly removing makeup and other impurities without dehydrating the skin.

Next, use a moisturizer that will help replace what your skin naturally lacks. Look for rich moisturizers with oils, fatty acids, and ceramides which are all ingredients that can mimic the effects of sebum. These moisturizers should also include water-binding ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and panthenol so that they can attract moisture into your skin.

Sometimes it’s hard to find that perfect balance of occlusion and humectancy in a single moisturizer, so those with dry skin benefit the most from the K-beauty (Korean beauty) principles of layering. By applying multiple layers of hydrating products to the skin, starting with essences then serums and finally a moisturizer or balm, you can load the skin up with a maximum amount of moisture to counter natural dryness and dehydration, and then lock it in with an occlusive layer.

When it comes to exfoliation, the best acid for exfoliating dry skin is lactic acid because in addition to helping unglue dead skin cells, it also has moisture-binding effects so it leaves the skin feeling softer and more hydrated.

The specific skin concerns those with dry skin can have will really vary from person to person—you might be concerned about premature aging, redness, or even acne, to which those with dry skin are not immune. When you have dry skin, the important thing is to address each one of those concerns slowly and gently, since (due to lack of oil) dry skin is more easily compromised and irritated. If your skin is more sensitive, avoid fragrances in your products, and be extra careful to introduce products safely as we outline below.

Skincare Regimen for Oily Skin

If your skin always feels a little greasy and your pores are on the larger side, then you probably have oily skin. You might also be more prone to breakouts, although all skin types can succumb to acne. Here are our tips for caring for oily skin gently but effectively.

To start, we always suggest sticking to a gentle cleanser, even when you have oily skin. Those with oily skin often gravitate towards strong gel cleansers made with detergents that can really cut through oil, but unfortunately those cleansers often also remove a lot of moisture (i.e. water) from the skin. This means that after cleansing the skin feels very tight and dry, which is the opposite of what you want your skin to feel after cleansing. Cleansers based on sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate are often the most stripping.

While gel or foam cleansers can still be great for those with oily skin (although there’s actually nothing wrong with using a cream or oil-cleanser), it’s better to choose ones made of combinations of light surfactants like coco betaine or decyl glucoside which will still remove every last speck of impurity and excess oil from the skin but without causing dryness. After you cleanse your skin it should feel fresh but never tight.

Next, moisturizing is a very important step in your skincare routine. Those with oily skin are just as susceptible to dehydration as those with dry skin, since dehydration means lack of water in the skin instead of lack of oil. When oily skin gets dehydrated, it can feel tight and become flakey, but oils will still show through over it. Light moisturizers rich in water-binding humectants are great for adding water to the skin. Those with severely oily skin might even be able to skip traditional moisturizers altogether and to hydrate their skin with humectant-based serums, gels, or essences instead.

Beyond these basics, build your skincare routine based on your individual goals and desires. You can choose a daily sunscreen that has a light texture and silicones to keep your skin from looking shiny. We also recommend a salicylic acid-based chemical exfoliant, since salicylic acid can penetrate through oils. Lastly, if you occasionally feel like you need a more thorough skin purifying treatment, you can use a clay-based mask that will pull oils from the skin and will get you looking a little more matte for a few days.

Skincare Regimen for Combination Skin

Combination skin is the most complicated skin type to have and deal with, since it exists on a wide spectrum, with certain parts of the skin more dry and other parts that are more oily. In the vast majority of cases, those with combination skin will have larger pores and increased oil production in the T-zone, which is the region of the face encompassing the forehead, nose, chin, and sometimes also the parts of the cheeks closes to the nose, and smaller pores and minimal oil production around the eyes, along the sides of the face, the cheeks, and jawline.

Caring for combination skin, however, doesn't have to be too complicated. We find that a gentle skincare regimen works best to give balance to the skin, so definitely choose a light, non-stripping cleanser. Oil and balm cleansers might feel a little too greasy on their own, so you can try double-cleansing or using a middle-of-the-road oil-jelly or cream cleanser.

When it comes to moisturizing, you can approach finding the right one from a few directions. You can try finding one moisturizer that has the perfect texture that is neither too light nor too greasy, to use all over the face, or you can try a routine with layering where you apply a hydrating serum or light gel moisturizer all over the face and then add a richer moisturizer only to the dry parts of your face.

We also recommend paying attention to how your skin changes from season to season, and adapting your routine appropriately. Since combination skin is the most fluctuating, you might find that in winter you lean more dry and in summer you lean more oily.

As far as exfoliants go, we recommend experimenting and seeing which ones you like best or whether you prefer a combination. Glycolic acid is the most powerful exfoliant, salicylic acid is great all over but is particularly nice for cutting through an oily T-zone, and lactic acid will help bring a bit of hydration to your skin while getting rid of pesky dead skin cells.

Finally, when it comes to extra care during the week, you can have a lot of fun by using different masks depending on the condition of your skin. If you are feeling particularly oily on a given week, you can use a clay mask, while if it’s your dry parts that are suffering you can use a moisturizing mask.

Introducing Skincare Safely

Now that you know exactly what the different skincare products are and how to use them, you might have the urge to go out and buy yourself a new set of things, but that’s actually the wrong instinct. Overloading your skin with a bunch of new products is never a good idea, since you can end up with an unexpected allergic reaction, breakout, or irritation. This is why it’s very important to 1) talk to your dermatologist if you have any concerns regarding new skin care routines, and then 2) patch test new products, and then to introduce them into your facial care routine one product at a time.

To find a dermatologist, go to your favorite search engine and type in “dermatologist” and the name of the city or town you live in.

To patch test, take a few days to try the product on a part of your body where the skin is fairly thin but an allergic reaction won’t be visible, like the forearm or behind the ear. If, after a few days, you don’t have any issues, you can start using the new product on your face.

There are different philosophies as to which product is best to start with: some people insist it’s moisturizer, others say it’s cleanser, and there are those who say sunscreen. We think it’s best to start with cleanser, especially for those with oily skin, and to wear hats or avoid the sun altogether until you introduce a sunscreen. Finally, introduce moisturizer into your routine.

The key is to use a product for at least two weeks before adding the next one—this allows you to make sure that the product interacts well with your skin. If you were to start two or three products at once and end up with some sort of ill effect, you would have no way of identifying which product was responsible, so this tactic gets around the issue.

We recommend that all of our readers follow this technique, but it’s especially important for those with sensitive skin, acne-prone skin, or a lot of allergies.

Busting Skincare Myths

There is a lot of great information out there on the internet, but there is also a lot of misinformation. Some of the misconceptions people have about skincare are benign, but others are straight up dangerous, so we made sure to bust some common myths so you can keep your skin safe:

There are a lot of blogs that recommend you make your own skincare at home out of kitchen staples, but that’s not a great idea. While making a one-off homemade mask out of yogurt and honey is probably fine, there are a lot of ingredients that can be harmful for the skin, like lemon juice, baking soda, white vinegar, and cinnamon (just to name a few). There is another risk to making cosmetics at home—you can’t properly preserve anything that you make in your kitchen, so DIY cosmetics can be breeding grounds for bacteria. One-off masks that you throw out after using once are okay, but don’t keep anything for more than a day;

A lot of people believe that the more money they spend on fancy sounding ingredients, the better their skin will look, but that’s not true! There is actually no correlation between how much a product costs and how well it will work: there are a lot of amazing skincare products that are affordable and many expensive duds. It’s a lot more important to look for ingredients that have proven effects and that will suit your skin’s particular needs;

There are also those who believe that natural cosmetics are always better and safer. While there are a lot of phenomenal skincare ingredients that come from nature, the truth is that sometimes lab-made ingredients are actually safer to the skin because they contain fewer compounds and are less complex. There are also a lot of ingredients out there that have been vilified for no good reason, so always be skeptical of scare-mongering;  

A very heavily entrenched idea is that oils cause acne, but oils are actually fantastic skincare ingredients even if you have acne-prone skin. Sure, some oils are likelier to cause acne for some people, but other oils (especially rosehip seed oil and grape seed oil) are actually pretty promising for moisturizing acne-prone skin without making things worse;

With that said, it can be tempting to add a bit of nice oil to your moisturizer jar, but we recommend you stay away from tampering with existing products. You can mix a bit of moisturizer with oil in your hand before applying it to your skin, but in the jar it can disrupt the moisturizer’s preservative system which will make it spoil faster. This advice actually applies to all skincare products and all potential additives;

If you have acne you’ve probably received a lot of misguided advice about its potential causes, but things like chocolate, oily food, or poor hygiene are probably not the main factors causing breakouts, despite what well-meaning (or passive aggressive) relatives might say. Acne is caused by a variety of factors, and while hygiene and diet can play a part it’s usually a small one, with physiological factors like hormones, oil gland activity, and the makeup of your sebum being the most relevant. You can have acne even if you do everything right, so don’t let bad advice from strangers get you down;

With that said, if you do have acne, cleaning the skin a lot can actually be harmful, especially if you do so aggressively. Overcleaning the face can lead to irritation, and irritated skin is more prone to breakouts;

Many people think that their skin is dry because they don’t drink enough water, but this isn’t true. The water we drink goes to all of our organs including the skin, sure, and not drinking enough water will certainly take its toll, but even if you drink enough water you still might have skin problems, since the skin is heavily influenced by external factors. Keep drinking a healthy amount of water no matter what, but if your skin is dry chugging an extra liter won’t help the way a simple moisturizer will; and finally...

The final myth to bust is that you can never use X in the same routine as Y. There are dozens of different ingredients (usually active ingredients, which are ingredients that have a powerful renewing effect) that people are often cautioned against using together: benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, retinol and just about anything, vitamin C and niacinamide, etc. In reality, this advice is not totally off-base: using too many active ingredients at once can overwhelm and irritate the skin, especially if your skin is more delicate. However, what will irritate one person’s skin might have amazing results with another person’s skin, so introducing new products slowly and paying attention for signs of irritation is the way to go, rather than arbitrarily deciding that two random products can’t be mixed.

Go Forth and Cleanse

There you have it! Our ultimate guide to beginner skin care. If you think there’s something we didn’t cover, please let us know! We’ll update the post accordingly. In the meantime, thank you for reading, and all the best to you!

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