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Skin Care for Beginners: How to Build a Skin Care Routine

Posted by Nikki Wisher on Feb 27th 2024

Skin Care for Beginners: How to Build a Skin Care Routine

As you browse through our site, it becomes clear that skin care can become very complicated and involve countless types of products…exfoliators, toners, ointments, flux capacitors (okay, that last one isn’t real, but you get our drift – skin care can be complex). Don’t worry, you don’t have to know what it all does if you want to have fabulous skin. If you’re a skin care beginner, you can just start simple! This guide will walk you through how to create your beginner skin care routine.

Before You Start: Know Your Skin

Before you hit the shops and start picking out your skin care products, you need to understand your skin. Everyone’s skin is slightly different – its strengths and weaknesses, its texture, the amount of oil vs. dryness it has, etc. Skin care products are designed for different skin features, so you need to know your skin first to know what kinds of products it needs.

Skin Type

The most important factor you should know about your skin is what skin type you have. There are four basic skin types: dry, oily, combination, and normal or balanced. It’s all about the oil your skin produces and where that oil lies.

There’s an easy test to figure this out. First, pick up some blotting papers from your local drug store or beauty store – these are small papers that are designed to absorb oil. Next, wash your skin at home and don’t apply any products or makeup to your skin. Wait 30 minutes and then use the blotting papers on various areas of your face. Compare your findings:

  • If there’s a slight amount of oil on the papers, you have normal/balanced skin.
  • If there’s a significant amount of oil on the papers, you have oily skin.
  • If there’s little or no oil on the papers, you have dry skin.
  • If the papers pick up little or no oil from some areas of your face but a significant amount of oil in other areas (especially the forehead, nose, and chin), you have combination skin.


Another feature of your skin you should note is your sensitivity. Some people’s skin is more reactive to irritants than others’ skin. How easily does your skin get pink or inflamed? Does it react significantly to things like perfumes, new makeup, waxing, etc.? If so, you may have sensitive skin, so you should look for skin care products that are designed for sensitive skin.

Skin Needs

Finally, you want to know what issues or challenges your skin has so you can choose skin care products that will help. Take a little inventory. Does your skin have visible aging you’d like to minimize? What about acne or blemishes? Dull complexion? Sun damage?

Start with the Basics

Now that you’re fully acquainted with your skin, it’s time to treat it to some goodies! Your skin care doesn’t have to be complicated, and in fact, it might not be good for your skin to pile on too many products. As a beginner, you should start with the three essential products every skin care routine needs: cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.


Cleanser, of course, is like soap that’s specifically designed for facial skin. There isn’t a ton of variety when it comes to cleansers, but you do want to think about your skin type. Traditional cleansers can be very drying, so if you have dry or combination skin, look for a hydrating cleanser.


Moisturizer gives your skin the essential hydration it needs on a daily basis. Everyone needs moisturizer, even if you don’t have dry skin (or if you have oily skin) because it helps to even out your oil production and strengthens your skin’s protective barrier. You’ll notice the effects of a good moisturizer right away. Skin that’s plump with hydration looks younger with fewer visible line and wrinkles, and it’s less sensitive too.

There are countless types of moisturizers on the market, so let your skin type and skin concerns guide you. If you have oily skin, choose an oil-free moisturizer. If your skin is prone to acne or blemishes, buy a moisturizer that is labeled as “non-comedogenic,” “non-acneic,” or “acne-friendly.” If you want to reduce signs of aging, some moisturizers have anti-aging ingredients too.


Sunscreen may be the most overlooked skin care essential, but it should be part of everyone’s morning routine, no matter where you live, how little time you plan to spend outdoors, or how pigmented your skin is.

Make sure you choose a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum (which means it blocks both UVA and UVB rays) and has an SPF of 30 or higher. You can also get a hydrating sunscreen if you have dry skin or a tinted sunscreen if you want to even out your skin tone.

Where to Go from Here

Now you’ve put together your basic 3-piece skin care routine…so what next? When it comes to great skin care, half the battle is finding the right products for you. The other half is sticking to your routine and using your products consistently. Focus on making skin care a habit that’s an unquestioned part of your morning and evening.

Once you’ve been using this routine continuously for a few months, you can take a new assessment of your skin and look at what issues have been resolved or stabilized with your routine and which issues you still want to work on. Based on your skin care goals, you can play around with adding serums, treatments, exfoliators, or other products to see how they work with your skin.

The Fun Part: Shopping!

There it is, friend! You have the basics you need to know to build your skin care routine. Now for the fun part – start shopping for your new skin care favorites!