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How to Establish a Basic Skin Care Routine

As a former personal trainer, Sarah is passionate about all things health, beauty, and self care.


Skin care is a huge topic on social media, journalism, and of course, retail and the beauty industry. From what I’ve seen, it feels like all these beauty gurus are promoting extensive beauty routines involving several steps, products, serums, and tools.

To be completely honest, I have tried all of the above and have never been fully able to stick to a daily ten step facial hygiene routine. In addition, I have since discovered that while these regimens are effective for some people, everyone has slightly different needs depending on their particular case, meaning that they don’t always work for just anyone.

In light of this, I decided to do some research to learn more about whether we really even need daily facial regimens, and if so, the best way to establish one that works for you, regardless of how many steps you can truthfully commit to.

Do you really need a skin care routine?

Before we go into all the details about where to start with yours, let’s discuss whether you actually need a daily regime for your face. The short of the long is that depending on factors including your genetics, hormones, general health, lifestyle, and how important it is to you to “age well,” you may or may not need to spend extra time in your day focusing on your dermal needs. Most people have the general desire to look good, or at the very least, presentable. Whether this applies to you personally or not, our appearance often does matter to an extent, especially when it comes to a professional environment or social situations.

In other cases, you may want to improve an underlying issue, such as cystic acne or eczema, in which case your best bet is to pay your dermatologist a visit for expert advice on how to approach your condition.

A skin care regimen can be beneficial to someone who:

  • Wants to maintain its overall quality
  • Wants to improve its overall quality
  • Wants to take preventative measures to avoid premature aging
  • Wants to slow down the physical signs of the aging process (fine lines, wrinkles, sagging)

The bottom line here is that such a routine is for someone who wants to have one for any of the above mentioned reasons. While studies do provide evidence that certain serums can improve the quality of your skin, unless you have an underlying disease that requires dermal treatment, you don’t actually need a full on routine.

Why do they always involve so many steps?

While you may be under the impression that a normal regimen requires multiple levels, you may actually be able to accomplish the same type of result with a much more manageable system.

A lot of what you learn from beauty gurus and social media influencers often involves a substantial list of steps and accompanying products to fulfill your every need.

Some of these supposedly necessary components may include:

  • Creams
  • Serums
  • Cleansers
  • Scrubs
  • Exfoliants
  • Toners
  • Oils
  • Face masks
  • Jade rollers and other tools

The real question is whether these components are actually worth the time and effort or if the same results can be accomplished using other, more attainable methods.

It turns out that most of the above mentioned tools rely heavily on the same primary ingredients including oils, hyaluronic acids, lactic and glycolic acids, and tretinoin. Some products swear by their “ancient formulations”, which may or may not be a myth according to this beauty expert.

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The primary oils used as an ingredient in many beauty products are jojoba and coconut oil.

Jojoba oil is rich in vitamins and can help hydrate the skin. Coconut oil has been found to provide a barrier for the epidermis when applied topically, which can protect you from UV damage and harmful chemicals, though it is not comparable to sunscreen. It does however provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can be beneficial in terms of wound healing and anti-aging.

Hyaluronic acid is used in several serums and toners and is known for its hydrating qualities. However, it is also important to keep in mind that hyaluronic acid principally only hydrates when combined with water, since it hydrates the area by absorbing surrounding water.

Lactic acid is a common element used in many products, especially serums and creams, due to its natural ability to hydrate. Glycolic acid on the other side has been clinically proven and FDA approved to be used for its exfoliating qualities, and is often included in products to smooth fine lines and improve the texture and tone of your cutaneous layer.

Other clinical studies demonstrate evidence that tretinoin stimulates cell turnover, which in turn increases collagen production, which can help prevent fine lines and wrinkles.

Back to the original question of whether these factors require as many steps as are often advertised on social media - the answer is no.

According to experts, while different methods of application can have varying benefits, it is rare, and even unnecessary, for anyone to undergo a ten-step daily regimen to maintain or improve the quality of their skin.

So what are the easier options?

Depending on whether you prefer a ‘do it yourself’ at home regimen, or a “leave it up to the doctor” type route, you have two options:

  1. Find the right products for you, and use them as directed at home
  2. Let an expert recommend monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly in-office treatments that will suit your dermatological needs

If your choice is the former, you can either start by doing your own personal research, which, if you do have normal or average skin, may not involve extensive involvement, or, you can pay your dermatologist a visit to make it easier on you, so that they can give you their professional suggestion on what creams, serums, or toners would best work for you.

All in all, a quality cream and cleanser typically does the trick when it comes to general dermal care, though consulting with a professional may benefit you more, especially if you plan on sticking to no more than 1-3 products.

If your move is to skip the daily effort and let your doctor do the work for you, then you will likely end up starting a weekly, monthly, or bimonthly plan involving one or more of the following treatments:

  • Any form of microneedling
  • Any form of laser

If you decide to work with a doctor for periodic medical grade dermal procedures, you will likely be treated using a form of mechanical collagen induction therapy. As the name suggests, mechanical collagen induction therapy uses various medical tools to induce collagen stimulation and production. This is typically accomplished by creating controlled damage to the epidermis and dermis, to trigger the body’s “repair mode”, by stimulating collagen and elastin production. Elastin is crucial for the overall health and quality of your cutaneous layer, as it provides strength and elasticity. This can typically be administered in the form of a laser or microneedling.

Do keep in mind that there is a huge variety of lasers and microneedling devices, however, here are some of the most commonly used medical grade facials:

  • RF microneedling

Radiofrequency (RF) microneedling is a form of microneedling involving the use of a mechanical hand-held tool equipped with several tiny needles. The needles are gently pressed into your dermal layers and emit radiofrequency waves into the superficial musculoaponeurotic system (also called the SMAS layer, that lies below the dermis). The RF waves provide additional heat damage, causing an increase in collagen and elastin stimulation as the body attempts to repair itself.

This treatment would likely be carried out once a month, but depending on the current state of your skin, your doctor may have other suggestions.

  • Non-ablative laser resurfacing

There are two different types of laser resurfacing:

  1. Ablative (causes superficial layers (epidermis) to fully peel off)
  2. Non-Ablative (does not cause peeling and is less invasive)

Since the latter is less invasive, non-ablative lasers are typically more popular, though ablative lasers can be more beneficial in some cases. Regardless, most laser resurfacing procedures target more superficial layers and address photo damage, sun damage, and pigmentation.

You may have this kind of procedure once a month, depending on your doctor’s recommendations.

  • Other microneedling and laser treatments that are less intense, but require more frequent visits to your clinic include carbon laser, regular microneedling, transdermal vitamin administration therapy, and other lighter lasers.

The best way to know for sure, which options would meet your needs, is to consult with a dermatologist or cosmetic physician who has an advanced understanding of your skin and what it requires for optimal outcomes.

Summing it up

Finding the proper skin care routine for you can be a bit of a challenge, especially with so many varying suggestions and options presented by beauty experts and influencers.

It turns out that not every regime requires a great deal of time and effort. Instead, there are quite a few options out there that will work just as well, as long as you find the right product for your individual case. This can be accomplished by doing your own research, or relying on an expert in dermatology or cosmetic medicine to lead you in the right direction.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and that there is no single product that is right for everyone.

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