Every beauty company and publication out there has their own multi-step program, and they can vary quite drastically. Sephora promotes a 4-step plan of cleanse, treat, moisturize, and protect. DHC has a simple 4-step plan of remove makeup, cleanse, tone, and moisturize. Proactiv has a 3-step plan of cleanse, tone and treat. Korean brands can have ten to twenty products layered from lightest to heaviest. French skincare lovers swear by weekly facials. I say, try everything so that you can keep what what does work and weed out what doesn’t. This is what I consider to be the basic pillars of good skincare.
Pillar I: Cleanse
The most basic thing in bodily care. Keeping clean, and washing yourself, is something that almost all animals on this planet understand. It’s simple cleanliness to want to be as bare as possible. Washing your face removes impurities collected throughout the day and night that can clog pores. There are many different types of cleansers too, to be suited for individual tastes, such as bar soaps, gels, creams, oils, and milk. Some people are too lazy to remove their makeup at the end of a long day – that is unthinkable to me. In the very least, there are cleansing wipes for those occasions. Cleanse twice a day.
Pillar II: Exfoliate
Exfoliation is the process of removing old, dead skin cells from your face. A baby’s skin goes through a full cycle of shedding and renewal in just a couple days. For adults, it may take a full month. Helping the skin out with this process has many benefits. It removes the dead layers under which dirt and debris can get caught under, it makes cleansing more efficient at deep cleaning your pores, and it helps moisturizers and other treatments penetrate the skin better. I used to do this twice a week, but now limit myself to once a month.
Pillar III: Moisturize
Along with cleansing, moisturizing is a basic step that is universally agreed to be necessary. Even people with oily or combination skin should be moisturizing. If your wash your face without hydrating, your body thinks that you’re too dry and will respond by producing more oil! It’s counterproductive to avoiding hydrating, so just do it. Moisturizers are also packed with a lot of conditioners that are good for your skin in many ways. With a good moisturizer, you can get your anti-aging fix and SPF protection in addition to hydration. Unlike cleansers and scrubs, they moisturizers actually sit on your skin long enough to work. Thus, a moisturizer is one of the most effective weapons in your arsenal! Do this twice a day.
Pillar IV: Wild Card
In a basic skincare plan, it’s important to tailor your regime to your individual needs and values. I consider wild cards to be things like serums, masks, oils, spot treatments, eye creams, etc. Since each person could go overboard in listing their flaws, it’s better to pick two items to focus on. A person with oily skin may use a clay mask every week. People with dry skin would probably be using hydrating masks and oils, while women with no severe problems would be concentrating on anti-aging products. And of course, our focus changes based what phase of our lives we are in.
And what about men’s skincare? While I think these basic pillars apply well to men too, men traditionally spend less time on their skin and, while they treat their skin more roughly, they are less prone to trouble due to their lack of pore-clogging product use and hormonal cycles. Thus, I think men can get away with a skincare plan that includes only (1) a cleanser/scrub and (2) a moisturizer.