Skincare Routine Order

In my teens, my oily complexion persisted when I deprived my skin of hydration and denounced every moisturising product my mother tried to push on me.

But when I turned 18, my skin became dry instead. The pimples on my forehead were gone, but flakes on my nose and mouth area started to appear.

To get my skin right, I began practicing an 8-step skincare regime. Swiping on creams, gels and lotions not only helped my complexion but also added a glow to my mental health.

Currently, I have normal-type skin which is mildly sensitive. It’s smoothened out considerably, and I only get flakes when I catch a cold.

To make sure each product reached its maximum efficacy, I changed my skincare routine order and here’s the sequence which worked best for me.

Step 1: Cleanser

It’s common sense to start with clean skin. At night, you’ll need to get the sunscreen off your face, as well as the perspiration and general environmental garbage that settled on your skin throughout the day. I’ve found doing a double cleanse works best.

However, you don’t need to double cleanse in the morning; you can just splash your face with water.

I use: Johnson’s Baby Oil (S$4.30) as a first cleanser, and either the Innisfree Green Tea Morning Cleanser (S$16) or the Himalaya Herbals Daily Face Wash (S$7.95) as a second.

The Green Tea Morning Cleanser is awesome as a daily wash, and I only use the Himalaya Face Wash on greasy days.

Step 2: Exfoliant

Exfoliation gets rid of dead skin cells and helps your skin regenerate faster. The acids (AHA/BHA) or physical scrubs/peels will also get the gunk out of your pores so your skin looks smoother and brighter.

I use: Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% (~S$14) as a chemical exfoliant, and Cure Aqua Gel (S$49) as a physical exfoliant when my skin is extra flaky.

Step 3: Toner

Washing your face changes the pH of your skin to a more alkaline level, which can cause irritation and infection.

Using a toner rebalances your skin’s natural acid mantle, to achieve the optimal pH level of 5.5. A good toner will also soothe any redness or dry patches and remove the last traces of stubborn makeup.

I use: The ICM Rose Water (S$6.40) for its cleansing properties and the hydrating Hatomugi Skin Conditioner (S$10.90) which is suitable for most days.

Step 4: Essence

You can combine the third and fourth step, or apply essence after toner.

Essences act as a light primer to help your later products absorb better. Most essences contain hyaluronic acid, which increases moisture absorption.

I use: Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum (S$37) and The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalene (~S$23).

Optional step: Mask

Sheet masks deliver a concentrated shot of essence or serum directly into your skin. The cotton sheet acts as a physical barrier which keeps the product from evaporating, allowing the mask’s ingredients to penetrate deeper into your skin.

Alternatively, use a paste mask. Different ingredients tackle different issues—there are masks for simple hydration, soothing irritated skin, clearing acne, and more.

I use: LUSH Catastrophe Cosmetic Fresh Face Mask (S$30).

Step 5: Serum

Serums are concentrated lotions that deliver active ingredients directly into the deep tissue of your skin, so you should choose a serum that caters to your biggest skincare concern.

For example, you could use a serum for discolouration on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. On other days, you could use a serum that targets wrinkles.

I use: It’s Skin Power 10 Vitamin C (S$29.98) for its brightening effect.

Step 6: Eye cream

The under eye area is more delicate than anywhere else on your face, and it’s mostly where wrinkles show up first. That’s why it’s good to have a cream that specifically targets the skin around your eyes.

I use: Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream (S$26.75).

Step 7: Moisturiser

In the AM, opt for a moisturiser which contains SPF so you can skip the next step. In the PM, use a sleeping pack.

Most moisturisers are humectants (they attract moisture) or emollients (they smooth the skin). These products keep your face well-hydrated and healthy.

I use: Hada Labo Hydrating Perfect Gel Moisturiser (S$26.92), which has SPF 50+. It’s a lightweight gel-cream that feels like nothing. In the night I use CosRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask (S$22.50) or Skinfood Avocado Soup Sleeping Pack (S$18.90).

Step 8: Sunscreen (only in the morning)

Sunscreens are non-negotiable. They protect your skin from sun damage which is the leading cause of early aging, uneven skin, and loss of elasticity.

UV damage also increases your risk of skin cancer, and that’s a risk not worth taking.

I use: CosRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream (S$21.90), which is super lightweight and non-greasy. It also doesn’t leave a white cast.

Optional step: Oil

This should be the last step in your skincare regimen. Let your skin absorb everything while you brush your teeth, then apply a facial oil to act as an occlusive.

Occlusive agents are ingredients that form a film on the skin to prevent water loss. You can use a natural oil (such as grapeseed oil, almond oil), petroleum jelly (which Marilyn Monroe endorsed), or lanolin (an oily substance secreted by sheep to maintain their wool).

I use: Palmer’s Skin Therapy Oil (S$29.90), which boasts an ingredient list containing cocoa butter, canola oil, vitamin E, rosehip oil, sesame oil, and their specially developed cetesomate-E complex (which fades scars and stretch marks).

Your Skincare Regimen

Maybe you have a 2-step cleansing and moisturising regimen. Or you’re the type who can’t be bothered with trying lots of different products.

That’s fine! So long your skin is healthy, and you feel good about the products you’re using, you do you boo boo.