Asian woman in headband and red pajamas doing skincare routine

The foundation of a good skincare routine isn’t expensive or “holy grail” products. They help, but ultimately, only three pillars can determine the success of your efforts. First, understand your skin type and needs. Second, learn how skin works. And third, prioritize protection. Here’s a breakdown of the primary skincare principles that can change your routine forever.

Cater to Your Skin Type

Understanding your skin type is the first step of a good skincare routine. Applying whatever you can get your hands on is not only wasteful, it’s also dangerous! You need to know what your skin needs before you can address it and choose your products accordingly.

You likely have oily skin if your skin feels slick and shiny a few minutes after washing your face. You have dry skin if it feels tight and is flaky. If your skin feels comfortable and hydrated, you have balanced skin. If you can’t tell if your skin is oily or dry, you most likely have combination skin.

Wash Your Face Longer

If you've ever gotten a professional facial, do you remember how the aesthetician spent cleansing your face? Surely it is not the meager 10 seconds you take to work the lather and wash it off. Most people are apparently not cleansing their faces long enough. Try washing your face for 60 seconds, morning and night. This duration allows the product to really get into your pores, unclogging them of oil and grime. You’d be giving your face a stimulating and frictionless massage, too.

As an alternative, you could also massage on an oil-based cleanser to loosen dirt, makeup, and oil from the skin. Follow it up with a regular cleanser to remove all traces of the product. If you prefer a clean, matte feeling, try Eskinol Naturals Micellar Water Glow with Natural Rose Extracts, which cleanses the skin minus the oil while brightening your skin.

Be Gentle, Choose Gentle

It’s easy to assume that troubled skin requires tougher measures, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes harsh products that supposedly “kill” bacteria and exfoliants that “buff” away dead cells are the last thing it needs.

Observe how your skin reacts to certain ingredients and adjust your routine if you notice any irritation. Choose gentle products and non-mechanical exfoliants (read: no beads!) to renew your skin without friction. In addition, handle your skin with care by patting and pressing on products instead of rubbing them in. Opt for soft fabrics for your towels and bedding as well.

Never Sleep with Makeup On

Want to age your skin faster? Don’t wash your face before bedtime. Makeup products often contain oils that clog the skin overnight, resulting in and dullness in the morning. Even if you use non-comedogenic products, leaving them on overnight is still a no-no because they’d be mixed with dirt, bacteria, and sebum. No matter how tired, sleepy, drunk, or busy you are,  

Take Hydration Seriously

A good skincare routine begins with a healthy diet. Make green leafy vegetables and other water-rich foods like melons, strawberries, peaches, broccoli, and celery your best friends. Load up on foods with essential fatty acids like fish, nuts, and olive oil. This feeds your cells, which is also where water goes where you drink it — not directly to the skin.

You can increase your skin’s hydration levels overnight by getting eight to nine hours of sleep. Drink enough (at least six glasses) of water. A study in the Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology says that you should avoid coffee, alcohol, and stress. And finally, apply products that contain ceramides and to improve your skin barrier.

Don’t Skip or Skimp on SPF

Be generous when applying SPF to round off a good skincare routine. Once you get into a sunscreen habit, the next obstacle to overcome is the reflex to skimp on product or skip it when the weather is overcast. There are varying guidelines regarding how much SPF the skin needs.

If you're in doubt, don’t listen to Gwyneth and apply enough sunscreen to cover your entire face and other exposed skin. And use sunscreen even when it's not sunny! As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, , not temperature, do damage.

Follow the foundations of a good skincare routine, and you might even be able to save on products and treatments. Understanding your skin and what it needs trumps buying the most expensive moisturizer any day.