Skincare routines vary the world over – from the insane amount of face wipes that a single episode of Love Island pumps through, to Korean skin care gurus with 11-15 steps (yup, every night), how the hell do you figure out what’s right for your skin?

I’ve taken the guesswork out of it, and pared it back to the simple basics that should work for almost every skin type.

AM

  1. Cleanse – yes, your skin sweats and produces oils at night time so cleansing is important (more important than the 40 seconds extra in bed skipping it would give you!). VIP to do this with warm water, not scaldingly hot. So if you like your showers toasty, keep your face away from the main stream as much as possible, and wash your face after in the sink. If you have sensitive skin this can be a simple cleanse with a cream cleanser too, it doesn’t have to be a major operation.
  2. Exfoliate/tone – I think I’ve spoken ad nauseam about my utter disdain for scrubs, a liquid or cream exfoliant is what you want here. Not everyone suits daily exfoliation (sensitive, rosacea etc don’t tend to in general) so when you’re not using your exfoliant, you can use this apple cider vinegar toner to help maintain your skin’s pH balance.
  3. Eye serum or cream – I like a serum as it’s nice and light, but I must confess I forget this one all the time.
  4. Hydrating spray/Hyaluronic acid/serum etc – this is a great time to boost the hydration in your skin. It can be as simple as using a water spray lightly, and get as complex as high tech serums. This will depend on your skin type and budget, but the water spray is brilliant for winter time when your skin can be crying out for moisture.
  5. Moisturiser – one that suits your skin type, and it may or may not contain SPF (if it doesn’t, you need that as a second step). I like using a combination one like Hydrafactor as my breakout prone skin does not like being overloaded, even in the winter. Some drier skin types love a moisturiser followed by a hydrating SPF, so assess how your skin feels after applying both and switch it up if overloaded or crying out for more.
  6. SPF – always, always, always. Factor 30-50, and in sufficient quantity to actually protect your skin. I use the Hydrafactor above and then a tinted sunscreen to ensure my pigmentation doesn’t flare up, and my skin is protected. Blue light, infrared light and even your phone can damage your skin, so if it’s bright enough to see, you generally need to be wearing an SPF.
  7. Makeup or whatever floats your boat.

PM

  1. Remove your makeup, SPF, pollution, sweat, dirt – this is a separate step to actually cleansing your skin, and SO important. Have you ever blown your nose or checked your nails after taking the tube in London? It’s gross and filthy dirty! Air pollution can age and damage your skin and you want to make sure you remove all that dirt (even if it’s not as obvious as in bigger cities). Also, sunscreen and makeup are designed to stay on your face, so taking them off is a must. Whatever you do, DO NOT use a face wipe or micellar water – harmless and all as the “water” may seem, some of them have a lower pH than some of the peels I use in clinic and can cause serious damage to both your pH barrier and your skin over time. A balm or an oil can be a good option, my go-to for the last 10 years is Dermalogica’s Precleanse Oil (the balm can suit drier skin better).
  2. Cleanse your skin – whether you suit a wash or a cream cleanser will depend on your skin type and what you naturally gravitate towards can be a good indicator (not always, but most of the time). I like a gentle (not too foamy) wash with a facecloth as my skin needs a little bit more exfoliation to prevent blackheads and the like.
  3. Tone – I use the apple cider vinegar one most of the time, and occasionally Pore Therapy to prevent breakouts. If you’re using the correct type of wash and exfoliant for your skin, a simple toner should be plenty here for most people – unless your toner is doing a specific job for you, I don’t believe in wasting your budget on this step so the ACV can be a great one.
  4. Eye serum or cream – as above, although I tend to be a bit better at this at night time.
  5. Active serum/retinol/anti-pigmentation – this is the step to add this in, although it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to apply it every night. I use a retinol every 2-3 nights, varying it depending on time of year, travel commitments and how dry or flaky my skin is feeling.
  6. Moisturiser – I choose an oil free, SPF free one for this step most of the time. My current go-to is actually this one from Neutrogena, but I reach for Hydrate when my skin needs a little bit more nourishment. You can also use a hydrating spray like in the AM if you have time or are suffering from some dehydration.

The above might sound like a lot of work – from someone who is insanely busy at times and falls into bed exhausted frequently, it is actually pretty easy once you have everything within easy reach and give yourself a chance to make it a habit. Something that can make it easier is doing it when you come in from work instead – I know I am a demon for getting straight into my comfy (read cosy, baggy and most definitely unflattering) clothes when I get in the door, so I find I have a bit more resolve to also switch my face to cosy mode at this time of the evening. It might be worth a try, and I would love to hear how it works for you if you give it a go. If you’re finding products a bit of minefield, you can check these out.