How to get started with skincare: a no-nonsense guide to looking after your skin

Where to get started with skincare: a no-nonsense guide to looking after your skin

I’ve been interested in skincare for as long as I can remember.  My time working as a beauty department manager for Boots was definitely a career highlight.  And so it would be fair to say when it comes to skincare, I’m a mega-fan; always eager to grow my knowledge and trial anything new! 

However, I appreciate this isn’t the case for everyone.  I understand that for some, skincare is quite daunting.  You just need to walk up and down the beauty department aisles to figure out there’s a lot to figure out.  That’s before we factor in the level of interest in using skincare products in the first place.  

[Which, regardless of your level of interest in skincare, there is one thing we all SHOULD do skincare-wise every day – I’ll share what that is in a moment.] 

Discussing this with a friend, we began to feel there’s information overload for anyone who really is new to building a skincare routine.  Start searching online and quite often your requested ‘basic skincare routine’ is around a minimum of 7 steps, includes ingredients you haven’t heard of since GCSE science and requires a significant investment of both time & finances. 

It really doesn’t need to be this way.

So, I want to take you back to the very basics.  To understand, in a simple no-nonsense way, where to start with skincare.  

Where to Start With Skincare: A No-Nonsense Guide to Looking After Your Skin

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Firstly, and above all else, it’s important for me to point out that you’re a completely unique person,  and therefore your skincare routine needs to reflect this, it needs to be tailored to you.  Whilst the core steps are intended for everyone, the products you use for each step will need to be the right ones for your skin, your budget & your lifestyle.  

I cover how to select the right products for you in: How to Get the Most Out of Your Skincare Products

The 3 Core Steps: Skincare Basics 101

#01 Cleanse (AM/PM)

Quite simply, wash your face.  As well as cleaning your skin, this step enables you to receive the maximum benefits from the products you apply afterwards because your face is free of any dirt and debris that would impact the way products are absorbed.

Do you have to cleanse AM & PM?

Ideally yes, but if you only want to do it once per day – I would suggest makeup wearers cleanse PM to remove makeup.  Non-makeup wearers can choose which time of day suits them best.  If you have particularly dry skin, cleansing only once a day is potentially optimal too.  

Good to know:  The only product I strongly discourage you from using to cleanse your face are wipes (including specific makeup remover wipes or even baby wipes) don’t get me wrong, I have used them, but only for a really quick-fix.  They really don’t clean your skin as well you think and are not comparative to washing your face.  Micellar Water is a better alternative.   

#02 Hydrate (AM/PM)

Apply a moisturiser.  Moisturisers help to hydrate and soften.  They assist in preventing water loss through the outer layers of our skin.  They also help to complement the naturally found protective oils and other building blocks within the skin.  Moisturiser becomes particularly important as we age and our skin loses the ability to retain moisture levels.  

Day or night cream?  Is there a difference?

Yes, there is a difference and it can make a difference too (which I explain in the infographic below)  However, the key here is to moisturise, so in my opinion, it wouldn’t be a terrible thing if you use the same cream both AM &PM.  I use (& highly recommend) a facial oil which is suitable for use anytime – it cuts out a lot of fuss for me!

Find out more about my recommended facial oil for all skin types here

Good to know: Even if you have oily or combination skin, it’s still important to moisturise. A lack of moisture can lead your skin to produce more oil in order to compensate for it, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.

Top Tip:  Drink plenty of water.  Staying hydrated is not only great for our wellness but also for our skin too!  

#03 Protect (AM)

I mentioned above that there is one skincare step we should ALL do – regardless of our thoughts on skincare – and this is it!  We must (unless allergic) wear an SPF daily.  

Ideally, we would choose a broad-spectrum SPF, which not only cuts your risk of skin cancers but also helps delay skin ageing.  It’s recommended we wear a minimum of SPF30 even when the weather isn’t playing nice.  

I currently alternate between Frezyderm SPF50 velvet face sunscreen & ARK Skinprotector SPF30 Primer – both of these are very lightweight and are great under makeup.  

Read my complete guide to SPF & Sunscreen here



Is that really all there is to getting started with skincare?

Yes! When it comes to where to start with skincare, you’re really only looking to build in 3 simple steps.  

Starting out simply, using the fewest products for some good results will hopefully ease you in gently.  Plus, starting this way saves you money & avoids wastage.  It’s easier to work out which products work best for you, with less to eliminate and you’re less likely to cause breakouts or skin reactions from product overload. 

Obviously, there is plenty more we could add-in – and I will cover that another time – but these 3 steps are the best place to start.  

But what about breakouts?  

Even with a good 3-core step routine in place, breakouts can happen.  If it’s a regular occurrence, selecting a cleanser & moisturiser intended for spot prone skin is an advisable first step.  Additionally having spot zapping products such as Tea Tree Oil available to apply topically is also a good shout.  

I share lots more spot-busting tips in: Face Invaders – How to deal with spots in adulthood

Good to know:  Not just good for helping to reduce breakouts, having at least 2 makeup-free days per week will really benefit your skin.  Find out my experiences going makeup-free each week in: Embracing Makeup-Free Days

PS Don’t neglect your lips

I haven’t suggested it as a core step, but I do highly recommend the use of lip balm daily – if not multiple times daily!  The skin on your lips is delicate and has no sebaceous glands, meaning it doesn’t naturally produce the moisturising oils that the rest of your skin does.  Adding lip balm provides moisture and protection from external exposure. 

Exceptionally cheap to buy, I recommend Nivea Hydro Care lip balm and also for extra protection Nivea Sun Protect SPF30 lip balm is a great daily skincare staple.  

One last point to note, you need to give your skincare routine time! 

For the most noticeable results, aim to follow your routine for at least six weeks.  This is around the amount of time it takes your skin to complete the cycle of renewing itself with new skin cells.  I’ve often written something off too prematurely, and on the times I’ve actually allowed something a fair trial, I’ve always been happy with the results.  


RELATED:  3 Steps to Build & Maintain An Effective Skincare Routine 

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So did you know where to start with skincare already? Is this what you were expecting or are you pleasantly surprised (or shocked!) with the simplicity of it? How do you feel about skincare? If you have any questions, go ahead and ask. I’m happy to help & I always love to hear from you!

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5 thoughts on “How to get started with skincare: a no-nonsense guide to looking after your skin

    1. I’m so pleased you’ve found it helpful. It really is about feeling comfortable with what you’re doing in the precious time you have to do it xx

  1. Home and Horizon – Kent, UK – I'm Lauretta, journalist, editor, mum of teens and lover of cake and quotes. My lifestyle blog covers plenty of topics, but I mainly write about my two big passions - interiors and travel. Feel free to get in touch as I love to chat - lauretta@homeandhorizon.com
    Home and Horizon says:

    Great post Alex and it’s so important for us to look after our biggest organ. This has really become apparent to me in the last six months or so. Nice to have things broken down into simple steps for everyone to understand as skincare can be quite complex when it comes to the nitty gritty.

    1. Thank you that’s very kind. With all the jargon now and 10-step beauty regimes, it can definitely be overwhelming, so I always recommend start simple and work up – thanks so much for reading xxx

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