How To Take Care of Skin: Basic Skincare Regimen

In this tile, you will learn the basics and step-by-step guide to a skincare routine.

Lipids, or oils
Humectants and occlusives
Do a patch test

Basic skincare regimen

Your skin guards you against **germs, pollutants, and other irritants**. So, it is essential to pay your skin back by taking care of it, not just once or twice a month, but regularly.


However, **choosing a skincare routine comes with certain challenges**. With hundreds of skincare products out there, it is natural to feel overwhelmed. Amidst the flood of **moisturizers, serum, anti-wrinkle cream and anti-aging lotions**, it is tricky to make the best decision for your skin type.

How many products should I use? Which products should I apply first? And, what do these skincare products do? These are some of the questions that most beginners might wonder. The answer is simple. **Always start with the basics**.

The skincare basics include a cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Having these products in your routine is crucial to keeping your skin healthy regardless of your skin type.

The importance of layering a skincare regimen

Applying the skincare products in the right order is as important as choosing the suitable products. The rule of thumb is to **go from thin to thick**. The products with thinner consistency need to be applied first and thicker ones later.

Remember how your skin keeps things from reaching inside? Because of the strong skin barrier, **only a few skincare product ingredients actually get in**. Even the ones that get inside the skin take some time to work their action.

**Applying thicker products before the thinner ones will make it even more difficult for the thinner products to cross the skin barrier**. Dermatologists suggest waiting at least 30 minutes for one product to get absorbed before applying the next one. That’s why layering in the right order is essential to fulfilling your skincare goals.

This requires starting with a cleanser. Move to the serum, put on some moisturizer, and end your regimen with sunscreen.

Start with a cleanser

**Start your skincare routine with a cleanser**. Exposure to car exhaust, cigarette smoke, and other air pollutants can throw dust and germs on the skin. Cleansers help to remove them with the help of surfactants. These are the chemicals that provide the cleansers with the superpower of eliminating dust and dead cells.


It can take a lot of force to remove the dust and germs from the skin when washing it with water, so surfactants stick to the skin to reduce the force required to strip the dirt from the skin. Massaging your skin with a cleanser **promotes the blood flow through the skin, providing a fresh, rejuvenated look**.

When choosing a cleanser, do not forget to consider its pH. As the skin’s pH is 7, it is important to choose a cleanser with a pH of no more than 7 because the skin is meant to be acidic. **A higher pH can disturb the skin’s acid balance, inducing dryness**.

Apply toner after the cleanser

**While a cleanser cleans the skin, it may sometimes leave the skin dry**. That is where a toner jumps in. A toner is a liquid skincare product consisting of water and humectant.


Humectants are chemicals that attract water; they help absorb the moisture from the air to keep your skin hydrated. Applying the toner using a cotton swab gives you 2 benefits: **it hydrates the skin and eliminates dirt residues that may have remained even after cleansing**. An added advantage of water is that the toners reduce the appearance of pores to make your skin smoother.

The process adds a glowing effect to the skin and prepares it for the next steps of the skincare routine. Sometimes, toners are packed with vitamin B5, licorice root, and beta-glucan to fight blemishes and other skin concerns. While making a choice, go for the toner that is most suitable for your skin type.

Serum comes next

**Serums are water-based skincare products with a high concentration of ingredients that benefit the skin**. Some ingredients used in the skin serum include L-ascorbic acid and retinoids.


If you have complaints of redness, aging and dull skin, and sun-damaged spots on the skin, then serum is going to be your best buddy. **Redness, aging, or dull skin are all an indication of a damaged skin barrier**. Fortunately, the serum has the power to cater to these complaints.

For instance, **L-ascorbic acid in the serum is effective in minimizing sunspots**. Sunspots are brownish spots that appear on the parts of the skin as a result of exposure to the sun.. L-ascorbic acid reduces the molecules that promote the formation of these spots.

Similarly, retinoids are potent chemicals that can delay skin aging and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Serums also contain kojic acid. This chemical creates an environment which makes it harder for the germs to thrive. With no germs, your skin remains safe and brightened.

Moisturizers come fourth

**Your skin needs sufficient moisture content for the enzymes to work and bring the younger cells up to the surface**. This movement makes the skin look young and smooth. However, a lower water content does not let the enzymes work efficiently, making the skin dry and flaky.


That’s where moisturizers come in! They add 2 factors to the skin – **hydration and moisturization**. Hydration is the concentration of water in the skin’s top layer; moisturization is the suppleness of the skin .

**Moisturizers have emollients to keep the skin supple. Emollients are lipids, or oils that heal damaged skin barriers**. They fill in the cracks of a damaged skin barrier to form a protective layer on the top, locking in the moisture to provide a smooth texture to the skin. Squalene, wool fat, and mineral oil are a few of the emollients used in moisturizers.

Hydrating agents in moisturizers

There are two types of ingredients that provide hydration – **humectants and occlusives**. Humectants are chemicals with a sponge-like structure.

They absorb water from the air and the lower layers of the skin to bring it to the outer layer, making the skin hydrated. **Vitamins, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid are a few humectants that lock the skin barrier’s moisture**.

**Occlusives are another type of molecule used in moisturizers**. They are thick waxy substances that form a water-resistant barrier on the skin to prevent the loss of moisture. Occlusives keep the skin pores open to allow the skin to breathe and stay fresh .

Examples of occlusives include beeswax and petroleum jelly. They may feel sticky and greasy, but they are super beneficial for your skin. Moisturizers can either have both humectants and occlusives or one of them, depending on the type of skin they are made for.

Sunscreen comes last

Sunlight consists of 2 types of UV rays, **UVA and UVB**. Both of them are harmful to the skin. UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and damage the elastin, which should provide flexibility and elasticity to the skin. Unfortunately, **exposure to UVA rays damages the elastin**. Over time, elastin can become stiff, which inhibits its ability to recoil, making the skin thin and saggy.


UVB rays do not go deeper into the skin as UVA does, but they are still more damaging than UVA. UVB damages melanin, causing sunburn and skin cancer.

**Protecting your skin from UVA and UVB requires you to use sunscreen daily and never miss it**. Sunscreens are either physical or chemical.

Physical sunscreen consists of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and work by forming a protective shield on your skin. These shields reflect the UV rays and stop them from inflicting skin damage.

Chemical sunscreen

**Chemical sunscreens have organic molecules that are usually present in humans, plants, and animals, like avobenzone, octinoxate, and oxybenzone**. These molecules are compatible with skin and less likely to produce side effects.

When applied on the skin, **the organic molecules of chemical sunscreen react with the UV rays reaching the skin to initiate a chemical reaction**. This reaction converts the UV rays into less damaging heat which is then dissipated into the air.

**That’s how a chemical sunscreen protects your skin from the UV rays**. Chemical sunscreens are more effective as they protect the skin for longer than physical ones.

The potency of sunscreen is measured by SPF (Sun Protect Factor). SPF determines how many UV rays are required to inflict sunburn with sunscreen on the skin. SPF30 blocks 97% UV rays, but **sunscreens with greater SPF are better at protecting the skin**.

Why is the patch important?

Although all skincare products claim they are safe, unfortunately, not every product is. However, this does not mean that the claims from skincare brands are false.

Instead, **every product is different for every individual: a certain sunscreen might not have irritated your friend’s skin, but it can cause inflammation in you**.


So, **always do a patch test** before using a new product because it is an effective way to determine if a certain product is suitable for your skin. When doing a patch test, you should choose a skin region that’s not directly exposed to UV rays, like the inside of the elbow, back of the neck, or back of the ear.

Apply a small amount of the product to the selected area and wait for 72 hours. If you don’t observe rashes, redness, or any other side effect, the product is safe to use. You are free to grab more of that!

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