The No-BS Guide To Great Skin

When it comes to skin care, we are inundated with different routines, rules, and products that we're told will give us the complexion of our dreams. But with all the overwhelming information constantly being fed to us, where do we begin? To exfoliate daily or not to, that is the question. Do we need to use a regime of products from the same brand, or is it acceptable to mix and match? What exactly is a toner, and how/where do we apply it? If you've ever asked yourself these questions, fear not. Sure, there are women out there with a 16-step skin-care routine, a facialist and dermatologist on speed-dial, and subsequently the most radiant, clear skin imaginable. But by following this basic advice, we promise you can have a glowing complexion too.
1 of 14
Work out your current skin type
Maybe you had breakouts in your teens and an oily T-zone, and ever since then you've stuck to products for "combination skin." Well, after a decade of using the same routine with lackluster results, perhaps it's time to visit a professional and find out exactly what your skin is like and what it needs the most. As we age, our skin changes significantly, and if you're addressing its specific concerns, you'll notice an instant difference.
Advertisement
2 of 14
Cleanse, tone, moisturize
"The secret to good skin maintenance and radiant, well-hydrated skin is the daily use, morning and evening, of a good-quality cleanser," explains Noella Gabriel, cofounder and managing director at Elemis. "Don’t cut corners with your cleansing routine! A [targeted] cleanser ensures you are using the correct cleanser and, most important, the texture most suitable for your skin type, whether that’s a milk, a cream, a balm, or a facial wash."

If you choose, you can follow up with a toner, which removes any impurities left over after cleansing. The majority of toners are water-based liquids made up of specific active ingredients including plant extracts and essential oils; they're tailored to tackle a variety of skin types.

Next up is moisturizer. Even if you have the oiliest skin known to man, moisturizing is one of the best things you can do for your skin. Proper hydration ensures your face is healthy, glowing, and plump and keeps roughness and flakes at bay.
3 of 14
Massage in your moisturizer
Now that you've realized the importance of moisturizer, you need to know how to apply it. To maximize its effect, dot it on and rub it into the skin in gentle, circular motions. This daily massage will reduce puffiness, boost circulation, and energize skin. The upward movement also helps to counter wrinkles and downward drag. Hooray!
4 of 14
Strip back your daily routine to a very simple regime
"Stick to minimum products: a good milky cleanser for removing makeup and eye makeup in one step at night [you can use it with a face cloth to gently exfoliate]. And keep a face wash in the shower for mornings," advises Rowan Hall-Farrise, the head facialist at Face Place London. "Then apply serum, moisturizer, and eye cream for a super-quick and effective regime. Our tip is to always buy two of each product at a time to keep a spare 'in stock' so you don’t run out. Consistency is key."
5 of 14
Add a serum
A serum ought to be a key part of your routine if you're able to incorporate one. As serums are lightweight and usually water-based, they sink right in, delivering active ingredients straight into your skin. For a thorough lesson on serums and the best one for you, click here.
6 of 14
Protect your eyes
You can find an eye cream for pretty much every concern out there, but if puffiness is your gripe, be sure to stash your cream or mask in the fridge. That gives it an extra-cooling factor, explains Noella Gabriel, Elemis' cofounder and MD.
Advertisement
7 of 14
Wear sunscreen
If you take one thing from this article, we hope it's the importance of SPF. We don't care if you never wash your face again or refuse to moisturize, but please just slap on the sunscreen. It prevents facial brown spots and skin discolorations and also reduces the appearance of facial red veins and blotchiness. And if that hasn't convinced you yet, it slows down the development of wrinkled, prematurely aged skin. Basically, it's as close to the fountain of youth as you can get.
8 of 14
Don't squeeze your face
There's nothing more unsightly and frustrating than when a prominent spot rears its ugly head in the middle of your face. Hands off! Fingers down! Think how many things you handle and touch each day — so putting your hands anywhere near your face is a no-go, least of all spreading bacteria by picking or attacking a spot. If you leave it and don't touch it, it will pass sooner than you think and leave without a trace. Squeeze it, and you'll most likely be left with a long-lasting scar or impossible-to-conceal scab. Not so nice.
9 of 14
Take off your makeup at night
"Don't wait until you're too tired to remove your makeup and do your skin-care routine," warns beauty blogger Lily Pebbles. "As soon as you get home from work, get into your comfy clothes and take your makeup off! It means when it's time for bed, you can actually go to sleep and not worry about your skin." Whatever you do, don't sleep in your makeup. Neither your pillow nor your complexion will thank you for it.

International makeup artist Wendy Rowe adds: "There are two nonnegotiables for me when it comes to skin — no matter how tired or busy you are — always take your makeup off before you go to bed. And always put moisturizer on in the morning."
10 of 14
Drink plenty of water
You've heard it enough times before, but we'll say it again: Stay hydrated. Stash a bottle of water on your desk to encourage you to drink H2O throughout the day, and add in half a lemon or some sliced cucumber to make it more palatable. You'll notice not only a radiance to your skin but also a spring in your step with the more water you drink.
11 of 14
Treat yourself to a facial
Whether it's an at-home mask or a luxury treatment at a spa, a facial every now and then can rejuvenate your skin and give you time to truly relax and unwind.

Not sure when to go? "How often you should have a facial depends on your skin's needs," Rowan says. "We recommend between weekly and [every six weeks], depending on if the client is targeting a specific concern like acne or fine lines or as ongoing maintenance..."
Advertisement
12 of 14
Avoid face wipes
We understand. You come home late from work or a party, you may have had a drink or two, and the last thing you want to do is stand in front of the sink for 15 minutes and waste precious sleeping time. We get it. However, on the whole, face wipes are the enemy. The chemical-drenched cloths can be incredibly irritating for the skin, and, being packed on top of one another, they are a breeding ground for bacteria. Packets of face wipes might remain on shelves for 18 months on a warm shop floor or bathroom, so they require high levels of preservatives, alcohol, and antibacterial agents to keep them usable, all of which you're then applying to your skin.
13 of 14
Don't over-exfoliate or over-wash your face
Just as face wipes can aggravate your skin, too much cleansing and over-exfoliating are skin-care sins too. Skin is delicate and needs TLC, so vigorous scrubbing will strip the face of its natural oils, either leaving you with a bone-dry complexion or a layer of oil, which your skin has produced to compensate. Be gentle.
14 of 14
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!
Advertisement