Back to the Basics of Skincare

With school starting soon I figured I’d give a little lesson on the purpose of a skincare routine and break down each step. Having a solid understanding of why you are incorporating each step into your routine will set you up on the journey to healthy skin.



Every solid skincare routine starts with a cleanser. Throughout the day you are sweating, your skin is producing oil, and you are coming in contact with pollution, dirt, UV rays, wind, hot and cold temperatures, makeup, food, etc. A cleanser is going to remove all those irritants, particles, and build-up of oil/sweat to provide a clean canvas for the rest of your routine to work properly. Not cleansing your face can disrupt the microbiome on your skin leading to bacterial overgrowth, textural issues, and irritation. It’s always best practice to cleanse once in the morning and once at night for 60 seconds.



Traditionally toners are used to bring the pH level of your skin back to its normal state (pH 4.7-5.75). As we rinse our face with water (pH 7) it can disrupt the skin’s pH and negatively impact the acid mantle/barrier of the skin. Toners have also been used to help remove any residual trace of dirt/oil or makeup left over from cleansing. It makes it helpful to think of a toner as part of the cleansing process. Today toners are packed full of skin-loving ingredients that provide additional benefits to the skin and have become a great way to add a layer of hydration. Essences first made their appearance in Korea where their skin philosophy focuses on a gentle approach with emphasis on hydration and prevention. The best way to think of essences is to think of all the layers of clothing you put on in the winter to protect yourself from the environment. Essences are the “long-johns” or “tank top and leggings” that are your first layer of warmth and protection. It sets you up to be able to withstand the harsh elements. Similarly, essences will give your skin anti-inflammatory and hydrating ingredients to protect your skin and allow the other steps of your routine to work optimally.



These products are for managing and treating skin concerns, such as acne, hyperpigmentation, redness, aging, etc. They contain high concentrations of active ingredients that have been studied and proven to create change in the skin. A few of these ingredients include salicylic acid, vitamin c, bakuchiol, niacinamide, azelaic acid, and hyaluronic acid. Having 1-3 serums in your routine is ideal if there are concerns you wish to address or even just to protect and maintain healthy skin. Picking the right serum can be tricky, especially when there are a lot of options. If you are starting out your best choice would be to focus on preventing or reducing inflammation as this is a contributing factor to the majority of skin concerns.



Everyone can benefit from a moisturizer, regardless of skin type and concern. Hydrated skin heals better and functions properly. Without moisturizer, you risk transepidermal water loss, which is the evaporation of water off the skin. If too much water has evaporated, the skin barrier can break down and irritants can wreak havoc on the skin. Moisturizers will provide a protective film from the environment and daytime moisturizers are often full of antioxidants which are great for preventing sun damage and oxidative stress, which can contribute to premature signs of aging. At night time your skin starts to regenerate, replenish, and heal from the day so nighttime moisturizers will include ingredients that will aid in this process.



A non-negotiable, sunscreen, is a staple item in everyone’s skincare routine. UV rays can create a lot of damage to the skin and trigger premature aging, pigmentation, and rosacea. Not to mention they can lead to skin cancer. Sunscreens have greatly improved from the past, gone are the days of white-cast and thick smelly creams. There is a sunscreen out there for every skin type and concern, so there is no excuse not to wear it.  Sunscreens will always be applied after your moisturizer as your last step. If you wear makeup, you will apply that after your sunscreen.



Skin will naturally go through a shedding cycle, called desquamation, where the outermost layer of the skin will fall away as it is replaced by new skin cells. Between the ages of 20-40, this cycle takes 28 days, between your 40-50s the cycle takes up to 60 days and at the ages of 50-60s the cycle slows down further to 60-90 days. As the cycle slows down there is an accumulation of dead skin cells which can cause some problems over time, such as clogged pores/acne, discolouration, texture, dull complexion, etc.  Maintaining a regular exfoliation routine will keep that shedding cycle at an ideal 28-day cycle and allow for new, healthy skin cells to come to the surface. To break it down further, exfoliation will help prevent and unclog acne lesions, lighten pigmentation, remove visible flaking and reduce the depth of wrinkles. There are different types of exfoliation including chemical, physical and enzymatic. Chemical uses alpha-hydroxy acids and/or beta-hydroxy acids to dissolve the bonds between the skin cells. Enzymatic exfoliants work in the same way as chemical exfoliants, but are much gentler and work at a more superficial level.  Physical uses friction with powders or crushed nuts to lift the skin cells off the surface. Chemical exfoliants are best for those concerned with acne, hyperpigmentation and aging. Enzymatic is great for everyone including those with redness/rosacea. Physical exfoliants are ideal for individuals who have visible flaking. Exfoliants should be used at night time, after you have cleansed and toned, and used 1-3x a week.



To supplement your routine, you can add specialized masks that provide additional benefits for your skin. Often done after your exfoliation, masks can help treat stubborn acne, calm and brighten the skin or add deep hydration to soften fine lines. There are different types of masks, such as sheet masks, clay/mud, cream, gel and stimulating masks. Although masks are thought of as optional they are still a nice way to add extra nutrients to the skin to maintain its vitality.


A simple routine to get your skin looking and feeling its best should consist of a cleanser, serum and sunscreen. As you start to become consistent with your routine you can begin to add additional steps. Everyone’s routine is going to look different as no two skins are the same. If you have questions or need help with putting together a skincare regime you can book an in-person skin consultation at our spa or a virtual consultation through our website.


Blog By Stephanie Byrne

Leave a comment