When it comes to skincare, we have been led to believe that there is a product out there to solve all of our skin-woes. As a result, we spend our time in front of the bathroom mirror applying a myriad of products to our skin in hopes of achieving the flawless face of dreams.
Inspired by Korean skincare routines, the 10-12 step routine became popular in recent years across the globe with the promise of smoother, clearer and brighter skin. Layering a blend of ingredients in the form of serums, masks, moisturizers and more with a whole host of skin-perfecting benefits, you would think the more the merrier, right?
Although some swear by their lengthy nightime routines others have found the results lacklustre. With the average woman spending $3756 per year on beauty products, according to a survey conducted by Groupon, is it just plain excessive?
Are extensive routines really necessary and can a minimalistic regime really achieve the same results?
Many of the skincare rituals and terms we are so familiar with today, originate back to influences taken from Korean beauty and skincare.
Sheet masks, once a product that was relatively unheard of outside of Asia, were proclaimed 2018’s biggest beauty trend by The Guardian and are now a symbol of wellness and self-care in the western world.
Double cleansing, foot peels and most importantly multi-step routines, grew in popularity as ‘K-beauty’ took the world by storm.
A 3-step routine may have once sufficed, but as minimalism seems to take over every aspect of our lives, for many an extensive skincare regime can offer the ‘glass skin’ effect they are after.
Another popular term originating from the K-beauty scene that went viral on social media, ‘glass skin’ refers to an ultra-luminous complexion obtained by flooding the skin with moisture and layering a number of different products to smooth and perfect.
To get there, a certain amount of work is required. Alicia Yoon, founder of beauty brand Peach and Lily said of the process, “Think of it as a meal plan—giving your skin the 360-degree care it needs to thrive: proper cleansing, exfoliating, balancing, antioxidants, humectants, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and protection!”
Although a significant amount of effort, for many the promise of mythically glowing skin is worth the extra time spent scrubbing or masking and our desire for selfie-worthy skin without a filter has fuelled this multi-step phenomenon. But, is it always necessary?
It is difficult to say exactly when skincare routines went from simply caring for our skin to a cultural trend, but it is safe to say that elaborate routines have become a widely accepted part of our day to day beauty rituals. However, many have begun to question whether they are having any effect or are possibly even doing more harm than good.
Melanie Grant, facialist to the likes of Victoria Beckham claims that a minimalist routine is far better for your skin than an elaborate, multi-step routine.
“Your skin can only absorb so many products and be wary of layering different actives as this can have dire implications for skin-believe it or not, it is possible to unknowingly give yourself the equivalent of a chemical peel on a nightly basis!” – Proving there is such a thing as too much.
So how much is too much?
Grant believes that a skin care routine should consist of 8 steps at the most. But, if you are a maximalist at heart and want a little extra, look to skin boosters and treatments such as facial mists, DIY peels and facial massages to give skin targeted treatment without overdoing it. This not only limits the risk of irritating skin with excessive products but also significantly cuts down the length of your daily routine without comprising results.
Since a 10-12 step skincare routine is not entirely necessary, the importance of good quality products that serve their purpose prevails. With consistent use and a clear understanding of which product to use for which purpose, there is no reason why flawless skin should be unobtainable.
Dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Chwalek believes that every product used on the face should have a purpose that is understood by the user.
“Each time you’re putting something on your face, you have to ask yourself, why are you doing it? What is its purpose? If you’re using a bunch of stuff and you can’t say why you’re doing it or what it’s doing for you, I think you have to rethink it.”
As it turns out, there are a number of dermatologists and beauty experts who stand by the idea that a good skincare routine can be made up of two or three good products, suited to your skin.
Skincare is a personal affair and should be treated as such. Products designed to combat particular issues should be incorporated where needed whilst a few basic steps remain the same. Cleansing for example is key to ensure the removal of makeup and dirt that builds up on the skin and causes inflammation or sunscreen which is essential to protect against UV exposure.
Finding a routine that works for you is most important. At the end of the day, there is no point having a 10-step routine only to fall asleep every night and forget about it. Whether minimalist or maximalist, do what suits your skin.
Now we know that an extensive routine isn’t necessarily, well, necessary there is no need to buy a ton of other products or set your alarm an hour earlier in the morning. But, if you are still curious about the potential benefits of a multi-step routine and think it is high time to beef up your beauty cabinet, here is a breakdown of what you need to know.
Step 1 – Using an oil cleanser
Oil cleansers were popular in Asia long before they were even a thing in the US and UK; applied onto dry skin, the goal of this first step is to remove makeup and any other dirt and residue built up throughout the day. Try Typology’s 7-ingredient Cleansing Oil for a gentle cleanse.
Step 2 – Using a foam cleanser
This step is known as a double cleanse. Whereas step one is more about removing makeup, switching to a foaming face wash gets rid of dirt, sweat and any remaining grime that may be left on your skin. For the remaining steps to be effective your skin needs to be completely clean. Unlike step one, a foam cleanser is applied onto wet skin and rinsed off. Try the Fresh Rose Cleansing Foam for a healthy, balanced and calm complexion.
Step 3 – Exfoliating
If exfoliating is something you’re used to doing a few times per week, think again. In multi-step routines, exfoliating is a daily occurrence. Not only does this step help clean out clogged pores, it also sloughs off the dead, dry skin cells that can build up on the top layer of your skin and leave it looking dull, lackluster, and less than radiant. ExfoliKate by Kate Somerville is a dual-action exfoliator, which delivers results in as little as one use. Using ingredients such as papaya, pineapple and pumpkin enzymes.
Step 4 – Applying a toner
After double cleansing and then exfoliating, your skin is most likely ready for a little nourishment and hydration. In this case toners function as a way to add some moisture back into the skin, and help prep it for the next steps. Caudelie’s Vinopure Clear Skin Purifying Toner will give a refreshing boost to skin and prepare it to absorb serums and treatments.
Step 5 – Applying an essence
Definitive of the Korean skin care routine, an essence delivers a light amount of hydration to leave your complexion instantly soft and supple, and ready for heavier moisture and other ingredients to come. The Origins Original Skin Essence Lotion with Dual Ferment Complex is a fast-absorbing formula that works to hydrate, soften and refine dull, uneven complexions.
Step 6 – Treatments
Now that your face is properly cleansed and prepped, it’s time for the treatments. This is when serums, ampoules, or boosters come into play, and when specific issues are targeted. Whether it is redness or hyperpigmentation, this is the step to solve your skin woes. Try the Glossier Super Bounce Serum, packed with hyaluronic acid for instantly smooth and plump skin.
Step 7 – Masking
Gone are the days when a face mask was an occasional self-care treat, this routine requires daily masking. Possibly the most time consuming step, the formula is chosen based on your skin’s specific needs. Whether you want to use a clay mask for oily or clogged skin or a sheet mask for extra brightness and hydration. Try the Summer Fridays Overtime Mask, packed with restorative minerals to clarify skin and leave it looking bright and healthy.
Step 8 – Eye cream
The skin around our eyes is very delicate and requires specific care. Although there are a number of options out there that can tackle different concerns, finding a multi-tasking formula that addresses multiple concerns: puffiness, visible fine lines, dark circles is often the easiest way to combat everything at once. Kiehl’s Creamy Eye-Treatment with Avocado promises to visibly brighten and refresh the eye area.
Step 9 – Moisturizing
Hydration is one of the key ways to keep your skin looking—and feeling—youthful and hydrated. A dedicated face cream is essential, gel formulas are a favorite in the K-beauty scene, since they absorb quickly, making them a good option to use under SPF and makeup. The Innisfree Jeju Cherry Blossom Jelly Cream is bursting with moisture and absorbs quickly leaving skin with a dewy glow.
Step 10 – SPF
Sunscreen is a step not to be missed. Applying a broad-spectrum SPF regularly helps to protect skin from UV exposure that is linked to premature ageing and hyperpigmentation. Lightweight formulas absorb quickly and leave skin looking fresh and not at all greasy. Supergoop’s Glow Screen ensures the ultimate protection and leaves skin with a dewy, radiant finish.