The Basic Skincare Routine (What No-One Will Tell You)

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Did you know that you need only just two ingredients for a healthy-glowing skin? Yes, research says so.


The only two ingredients you need for a healthy-looking skin is an “antioxidant and cell-renewing ingredient“.

One may ask, if our skin only needs these two ingredients, why are skincare brands producing so many skincare products? – the simple answer is, if skincare brands only produces these two main products, then they won’t make enough money.

And what are these two ingredients needed for a beautiful, healthy skin?. They are, vitamin C and retinoids (retinol or tretinoin).

How Does These Two Ingredients Work?

Topical vitamin C (which is to be applied in the morning) dissolves and fends-off free radicals — which our skin encounters everyday.
Environmental pollutions such as smoke (from cars and cigarettes), radiations, and sun rays exposure are things that back-slide our skin-health, as they contribute to loss of collagen and dull appearance.

Vitamin C serum in the morning fights these free radicals, while your sunscreen protects your skin from sun damage by acting as a sun-defense machanism.

Vitamin C also acts an sun-damage-protectant, which helps potentiates the efficacy of your sunscreen (but should no way replace your sunscreen).

Vitamin C also revive the looks of dull skin, it adds that glow-spark to the skin, giving it a conspicuous luminosity, just like the rising sun, which in turn helps fades the looks of hyperpigmentation. Ensure to always go for a well formulated vitamin C serum at the pH of 3.5 (for optimal absorption), and contains L-ascorbic acid with concentration ranging from 8-20% (which is know as the sweet-spot of vitamin C).

While at night…….Retinoids (retinol or tretinoin) does its anti-aging and skin renewing magic.
Retinoids helps renew skin cells for a smoother, plump and glowing skin.

How Does Retinoids Work for the Skin?

When applied to the skin, they communicate to the cells, that’s why retinoids are called “cell-communicator“, telling the skin to produce new cells (which is the stimulation process), bringing new cells to the skin top, and sloughing off dead skin cells. And when ready-new-skin cells comes to the skin top what happens? The skin becomes anew.

This cell turnover process not only gives the skin a beautiful glow, but also helps treat acne, and smoothens fine lines and wrinkles.

For a basic skincare routine, you skincare routine should be as follows.

A Basic Skincare Routine

AM (Morning).

  • Step 1: Cleanse (with skin-suitable cleanser)
  • Step 2: Tone (optional). 
  • Step 3: Vitamin C serum.
  • Step 4: Moisturize.
  • Step 5: Sunscreen.

PM (Evening or Night).

  • Step 1: Double-cleanse
  • Step 2: Tone (with hydrating toner).
  • Step 3: Hydrate (with hyaluronic acid serum).
  • Step 4: Retinol or Tretinoin
  • Step 5: Moisturize.
  • Step 6: Add extra layer of hydration (if necessary) with facial oil ( recommended: Squalane facial oil).

Weekend Skincare Routine.

  • Exfoliate.

You need to exfoliate your skin to help get rid of dead skin cells that also contributes to dull-looking skin. When it comes to exfoliation, going gentle is key, you wouldn’t want to over-exfoliate your skin thereby increasing skin sensitivity or worse cause inflammatory-irritation. Therefore It’s recommended to use lactic acid, being known as a gentle exfoliator. For mild weekly exfoliation. We recommend The Ordinary 10% + HA Serum. It’s a leave-on exfoliant, no need to wash off.

How To Use The Ordinary Lactic Acid Solution.

  • Step 1: Cleanse (and pat your face dry)
  • Step 2: Apply 2-3 drops of Lactic acid solution (gently massage till fully absorbed).
  • Step 3: Apply Moisturizer afterwards.

If you’re concerned that the 10% lactic acid concentration will be too much for your skin, you can go for the 5% concentration, thank goodness The Ordinary made provision for that.

If you’re an experienced acid-user, you can use The Ordinary peeling solution, which pairs AHA at 30% and BHA at 2% for optimum result. Read full review here.

How To Use The Ordinary AHA 30% & BHA 2% Peeling Solution.

  • Step 1: Cleanse (and pat your face dry).
  • Step 2: Coat your face with 4-5 drops of the peeling solution. Leave on your face for 8-10 minutes.
  • Step 3: Rinse off with clean water.
  • Step 4: Moisturize your skin afterwards.

We highly recommend you should exfoliate at night-time only as exfoliating during the day increases skin sensitivity to the sun. While you exfoliate at night, don’t forget to wear your sunscreen religiously during the day to shield your skin from sun exposure.

Vitamin C Serums We Most Recommend.

SkinCeuticles C E Ferulic Serum.

Basic skincare routine

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A gold standard and well formulated vitamin C serum since 1994. Formulated at the right pH (3.5). Contains 15% L-ascorbic acid with added antioxidants (1% vitamin E and 0.5% ferulic acid) to preserve and potentiate the effectiveness of vitamin C. You can read our comparison review between SkinCeuticles and Timeless vitamin C serum.

Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E, Ferulic Serum.

Timeless Vs SkinCeuticles Vitamin C Serum

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Similar to SkinCeuticles vitamin C serum, Timeless is another elegant vitamin C serum and you know what? It’s pocket-friendly, (for those who can’t afford SkinCeuticles vitamin C serum).
Formulate with 20% L-ascorbic acid (a 10% version was newly released for those with senstive skin) and also at the right pH 3.5.

Retinol Serums We Most Recommend.

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane.

The ordinary skincare routine

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This formula houses 1% retinol in squalane oil — a plant derived or hydrogenated oil which is used in its pure form or in cosmetic formulations for moisturizing, hydrating and soothing the skin. Other skin hydrating and soothing ingredients such as tomato fruit extract and jojoba seed oil, are also included in this formulation to increase skin superficial hydration and also reduces possible occurrence of irritations which is associated with retinol. Read full review here.

Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Treatment.

Basic skincare routine

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Formulated with 1% encapsulated retinol, that hydrates and delivers remarkable anti-aging benefits with a controlled-release delivery system to allow for even, consistent absorption. And you know what? This formula also includes tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, – an oil-soluble vitamin C derivative for antioxidant and skin glowing benefit. Consider this formula a bioactive for a dazzling skin. 

In Conclusion.

Not only will a simple and basic skincare routine promote healthy and glowing skin, but also limits you from incurring irritations as layering too many products on the skin can lead to irritations such as redness and acne breakouts (as a result of clogged-pores) as the skin can be overwhelmed with too many products.

You should also have in mind that this basis skincare routine doesn’t apply to those with specific skin concerns like hyperpigmentation. If you want to treat your hyperpigmentation, then use hyperpigmentation-targeting Ingredients such as alpha arbutin, tranexamic acid, kojic acidazelaic acid and licorice in your night-time routine.

Possible Questions & Answers?

Q: What if I want to use tretinoin instead?

A: If you wish to use tretinoin instead of retinol, bear in mind that tretinoin is the most potent of all retinoids, so you must be an experienced retinoid-user before plunging to using this potent vitamin A derivative.
Consult with your board-certified dermatologist regarding your intention and also start from a lower concentration 0.025%, while your skin gradually acclimates to tretinoin you can move to a moderate concentration 0.5% and then 0.1% (if your skin can take it). You can read our beginners guide on how to use tretinoin.

Q: How can I incorporate my hyperpigmentation-targeting product into this basic skincare routine?

A: You can apply your hyperpigmentation-targeting products in your night-time skincare routine after applying your toner or hydrator, then go ahead and apply your retinol or tretinoin, then seal in with a moisturizer.

UP NEXT: Here’s A Standard Day-Time & Night-Time Skincare Routine

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