Skincare 101

Sophie Blumenthal Lifestyle Mar 03, 2021

Have you always wanted to clear up your acne or brighten up your skin? Do you see a skincare aisle in the store and get overwhelmed?  Although skincare is very important, many people are uneducated about it. So don’t worry, I’m here to help! As someone who is very passionate about beauty and skincare, and even runs her own beauty blog, I love helping people put together an effective skincare routine that will keep their skin healthy. And before you skip to the next article, it’s important to note that skincare is for everyone. There are no stereotypes around skincare. It will help keep your skin healthy, it can actually be a very calming process, and you might even have some fun.

How To Determine Your Skin Type

There are five main skin types, each with specific descriptions. Look at yourself in the mirror, and please don’t judge! Compare your skin to the descriptions below to find out which skin type you have:

Oily Skin

People with oily skin may have enlarged pores and/or extremely shiny and sweaty-looking skin.

Dry Skin

People with dry skin typically have almost invisible pores, rough or dull looking skin, or experience cracking or peeling of the skin. Your skin will feel very dry.

Sensitive Skin

As told in the name, people with sensitive skin have skin with extreme sensitivity to different products and ingredients. They may have severe acne or breakouts, or extreme redness.

Normal Skin

Normal skin is not too dry, but not too oily. It has normal looking pores and no severe sensitivity. There are no extreme skin concerns occurring. Also, just because you have some acne doesn’t mean you don’t have normal skin. Everyone gets acne. It’s just not as severe for people with normal skin.

Combination Skin

Having combination skin simply means you are a combo of two or more of the above skin types. For example, you could have oily skin in your t-zone (the area around your forehead and nose), and dry skin in other places. It also means you may need different targeted care in different areas of your face. This is the most common skin type.

Starting a Skincare Routine


Believe it or not, a basic skincare routine only has three simple steps: a cleanser, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen. Keep reading to see a full description of these products as well as some other fun products you can include in a routine to target specific concerns.

Step One: Cleanser

Cleanser is the product that will clean all the dirt and grime off your face. This dirt gets into the pores of the skin and clogs them. Our skin constantly faces dirt and pollution from our daily lives, so it is important to clean all of that off, or your other products won’t be effective! When cleansing your face, I recommend washing with lukewarm water and then patting dry with a towel. Some of my favorite cleansers are the Cerave Salicylic Acid Cleanser  for normal skin and the Acure Seriously Soothing Cleansing Cream for all skin types, even sensitive skin.

Tip: to decrease the amount of dirt that gets into your pores, try not to touch your face as much. I’m guilty of leaning on my hands in school, however, you may not realize that this is clogging your skin.

Keep in Mind: If you wear makeup, before cleansing your face you should use a cleansing balm or micellar water to remove the makeup first, and then wash your face. This is known as the double cleanse system. I like the Garnier Micellar Water and I would put this onto a reusable cotton round such as the Green Estate Reusable makeup Remover Pads. These are great because they are good for the environment and they can go in the washing machine.

Step Two (optional): Serum or Treatment

Serums are typically packaged in tiny capsules that can be squeezed into your hand or in containers with droppers. Serums are for targeting specific concerns on your skin. They are great because it allows your routine to be more personalized. For example, using a serum with the ingredient niacinamide or vitamin c in it can help to brighten the skin, and help with acne.

A treatment is another kind of product that can help with a specific skin concern. Treatments are different from serums because they are not to be used every day. Most treatments should only be used about once a week because they can be much harsher. A common use for a treatment would be for acne. This includes acne spot dots, which are tiny stickers you put on your acne to help clear out the pore, and zit sticks which are liquids that come in a stick, and applied directly to the acne. A face mask can also be one once or twice a week as a very relaxing product. Treatments and serums aren’t necessary to a skincare routine, however they can be very helpful. Some of my favorites are the E.L.F. Vitamin C Serum, the Burt's Bees Herbal Complexion Acne Stick, the E.L.F beauty shield magnetic face mask, the Bliss In the Honey Mask, and the Bliss Mighty Marshmallow Mask

Tip: When applying a serum with a dropper, squeeze the product into your hand and then gently tap into the face. Applying the dropper directly to your face can contaminate it because of bacteria on the face, making the serum less effective.

Keep in mind: At around 20 years old, retinol can begin to be used in the routine. Retinol is a major anti-aging ingredient. However, it should not be used if you have sensitive skin.

I would not recommend using peel off masks because they are very harsh on the skin and oftentimes do not work like they are supposed to. They can get stuck to your face and are hard to get off.

Step Three: Moisturizer

Moisturizers are used to moisturize and hydrate your skin. They have a soft, fluffy consistency that feels very soft on the skin. Moisturizers stops your skin from drying out and they keep your skin soft and bouncy. One of my favorite moisturizers of all time is the E.L.F Holy Hydration Face Cream.

Step Four-Sunscreen

Beauty experts highly recommend sunscreen and many argue that it is the most important step of a skincare routine. Unlike the products listed above, sunscreen should be applied in the morning. Experts say that it should be applied daily, even during the winter months and on days when it isn’t sunny. When the sun isn’t out, UV rays are still there, and sunscreen protects your skin from damage and can also help with anti-aging. Mineral sunscreens are the only ones that should be used because they have less chemicals, and they are much better for the environment.

Other Important Notes:

  • It's important to look up information from credible sources before and after purchasing a product. As I can’t go into detail on every product ever made in this article, doing research from credible sources such as dermatologists, influencers, or aestheticians, on the product you’re interested in can make sure it’s worth the money and an effective product. After purchasing the product, this can also tell you information such as whether to apply the product in the morning or evening and how much of it to use. My favorite skincare influencer is Skincare by Hyram. You can also check out my blog on Instagram, @howdoyouglowbysoph, to see product reviews.
  • Another thing you can add to your routine are facial tools! Many facial tools are quite expensive and definitely not worth the money, however, a jade roller and gua sha set are only about twenty dollars and very soothing and relaxing. They can also help reduce puffiness in the morning and help further apply products into the skin. I use my jade roller and gua sha every morning and every night.
  • A skincare fridge can be a great place to store products! Keeping products refrigerated adds another soothing effect to the product. I keep my jade roller in my fridge.
  • Some brands I would not recommend are Biore, Clean and Clear, and St. Ives. Some great brands are the Inkey List, the Ordinary, Bliss, Acure, and Cerave.

Sophie Blumenthal

Sophie, a junior, has a passion for beauty and skincare, starting her own Instagram blog, @Howdoyouglowbysoph. Outside of beauty, Sophie is very organized, and loves music and community service.

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