If you’re like many people, 2020 was the year for starting a skincare routine. But with so many steps and products, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused. For example, what does the order of skincare look like? And how can I tell if the product I’m using is actually working? You get the idea. So we’re here to help guide you through the process so that you can feel confident in perfecting your routine. 

1. Write down the date when opening a new product

On the back of your packaging, you’ll notice a little graphic of a tub that has a number on it, which can show up as a 3, 6, or 12. This indicates the number of months that the product is good using until; you can think of this as your product’s “best before”. This is important, especially when the product is formulated with active ingredients known to oxidize easily such as vitamin C. For easy tracking, write the date onto the packaging and the estimated expiration with a permanent marker. 

2. Highlight notable ingredients on your product

Following on the previous tip, it’s also worth noting any ingredient that stands out in your products. If you see active ingredients like vitamin C, Azelaic acid, retinol or retinoids, AHAs, BHAs, or hyaluronic acids, highlighting these ingredients can help you make conscious decisions for choosing the right product for the day. As a general rule of thumb, we recommend using one product containing a possible active ingredient and using the rest of the routine for hydrating and nourishing the skin. This way, you can avoid potential irritation, inflammation, and other unpleasant reactions to the skin.

3. Track changes & observations

Every morning or night, take a look in the mirror and take note of your skin’s condition in good lighting. Do you notice any texture, lines, excess oiliness, acne marks or active acne, and hyperpigmentation or discoloration? How does your skin feel to you? Is it feeling taut, tight, itchy, red, painful, or comfortable? When you finish taking all of your glorious skin in, take a few moments to jot down some notes. You can also write down the products you used, specific active ingredients you’ve been using or trying out, the weather, and any other changes/improvements you noticed since starting a skincare routine. This way, it’ll be easier for you to realize patterns or specific products that work or don’t work well for your skin.

4. Track your sleep, stress level, & the foods you eat

We often forget that our skincare routine is only one part of the whole picture! Lifestyle habits like sleep, stress, and diet can also reflect our internal conditions on your skin. Make sure you can get enough sleep, hydrate, eat healthy meals, and engage in calming and self-reflective activities to lower stress levels.

5. Check off your routine

If you’re not into the checking-off game, this is definitely a skin-saving habit worth getting into! When you check off your routine, it can serve as a daily record as you’re monitoring your skin’s reactions and help you understand what your skin reacts well with. 

And if you’re someone who incorporates exfoliating acids or retinol, the frequency (or the days you apply) is something to focus on. These ingredients are potent and can potentially cause negative effects if used every day. So if you’re someone who uses glycolic acid every other day, for example, you can check off the days whenever you add to your routine and make adjustments according to your skin’s condition. If you’re starting a skincare routine anytime soon, this is one tip we highly recommend trying, especially if you’re incorporating treatments to target specific concerns.

6. Incorporate one new product at a time

This one is definitely a struggle since our next haul of skincare makes it tempting to slather on a brand new routine. And let’s be honest here, we’re all guilty of doing this! But for the sake of our skin, we suggest gradually building on your routine one product at a time. We definitely don’t want to accidentally give our skin a rash or irritation by layering on too many new products!

7. Reach out to brands & ask questions

Lastly, we live in a time where information is widely accessible. And since the start of COVID-19, there are many skincare brands that now readily provide extra resources, online consultations, and free virtual courses to help you start your skincare routine. While every brand has its own way of answering questions, it can provide helpful information on building a skincare routine, layering products, and understanding ingredients commonly found in your products. If you find yourself still struggling with your routine, you can reach out to your favorite brand’s social media accounts or website pages and leave them a question! They’ll be more than happy to help you!

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  1. This is such great advice I wish I’d known when I started out my skincare journey. It’s very tempting to change up too many things at the same time, the problem being that it them becomes impossible to know which change is responsible for the effect – positive or negative! I’ve become a lot more controlled and patient now, I even keep a notebook detailing what change I have made to my routine, and give it at least two weeks before making any other change (unless I get a bad reaction) to give it time to work. It’s frustrating at times, but it has enabled me to really refine and optimise my routine, while also trying out new an exciting products.