How To Build A Skincare Routine : For All Skin Types and All Budgets.

I get a lot of questions about skincare, so I decided to dedicate this post to it.  I hope that this post will help you figure out how to build a skincare routine that works for you, and help you understand why each step is necessary, and in what order to use skincare products.

My skin is oily-combination and non-sensitive. My product recommendations will be geared towards that, but I hope this post will explain each step well enough that you can benefit from it  no matter what your skin type is, and ultimately that you will be able to pick products that work for your skin type.

What Order To Use Skincare Products 

If you have perfect skin and you don’t  wear makeup, and you only want to do the barest minimun, your  skincare routine would look like this

Daily (morning): Cleanse -Tone -Moisturize – Sun Protection

Daily (night) : Cleanse -Tone- Moisturize (with a nourishing night cream)

Weekly: Exfoliate & Face Mask.

And those are really the  basic steps every skincare routine needs.If you have troubled skin, you can add in a treatment to address your concerns. I will explain more below.

How To Build A Skincare Routine 

Here’s my skincare routine, and the order in which I apply products

1. Double Cleansing: (pre-cleansing, and cleansing)

2. Exfoliating*

3. Mask*

4. Toner

5. Treatment* : examples include anti aging  serums , acne treatments, etc.

6. Moisturizer

7. Sun protection/night cream

Some general rules of thumb 

*. You cleanse, tone, then moisturize. In that order.

*. If you’re layering multiple products, always apply lighter serums before heavier creams, and always apply water based products before oil based ones. This applies to the treatment and moisturization steps only.  For double cleansing, use an oil based cleanser first, the  follow with a water  based cleanser.


1. Cleansing (Double Cleansing )

This is the process of removing  impurities  from your  skin. I double-cleanse, which means I do a two step cleansing process.

1A) Pre-Cleansing (For Makeup  Removal):

If you don’t wear makeup, you can skip this step. But if you wear makeup, cleanser alone cannot properly clean your face, so you will need to remove the makeup before washing your face, to get the deepest clean possible.

To remove my makeup I like to use the following:

Banila Co Clean It Zero : this is a cleansing balm, not unlike the Clinique Take The Day Off.

Simple Micellar Water : this is a gentle alcohol free micellar water.

I would  recommend all these products for all skin types. They are all neither  drying nor pore clogging

1B) Cleansers 

Now on to the actual cleansing. For my oily-combination skin I like to use gel cleansers. People with drier skin might find that creamier, more hydrating cleansers work best for their skin type.

I use the Vichy Normaderm Gel cleanser and the Vichy Pro Even Brightening  cleansers, and I also love Simple cleansers. Simple makes great affordable cleansers for all skin types, especially sensitive skin. If you’re  on a budget, you can’t  go wrong  with them. For acne prone skin, I recommend the Simple  Rrfreshing Facial Wash Gel. For dryer skin, they offer hydrating cleansers too.

I also use micellar water sometimes as a standalone cleanser. This works best in the mornings when I’m not wearing any makeup. It’s  a gentler way to cleanse.

2. Toners: 

A toner is a liquid you apply after cleansing your face and before moisturizer, and the main function of this is to bring your skin’s pH back to optimum levels. Most cleansers are alkaline, but the skin’s protective barrier works best in a slightly acidic environment.

I have to  mention here that double toning is becoming popular. This  is the process of toning first with an exfoliating toner, followed by a hydrating toner.

Toners pull double duty a lot. I rarely ever see a basic toner. It’s always either an exfoliating toner, a hydrating toner, or a pore refining toner . I love this though, because  it helps  me combine  steps in my routine and save time.

These are some of my current favourite toners:

Pixi Glow Tonic reviewed here. (This is an exfoliating toner)

Boots Rosewater Toning Spritz (this is a nice affordable hydrating toner, and might  be better  suited to dry skin)

Freedom Radiance Tonic (this is a more affordable alternative to the Pixi Glow Tonic )

3. Serums and Treatments:

If you have perfect skin, you can skip this step. Personally, I have blemished, acne prone skin, so I use a few products that address that.  Most treatments come as serums or toners, and I find it best to apply them after regular toner, but before moisturizer.

This isn’t one size fits all, so take my recommendations lightly, but recently, for my skin type, I’ve been loving:

La Roche Posay Effaclar K+: this contains salicylic acid and targets excessive sebum production, black heads, and large open pores

Alpha H Liquid Gold: this contains glycolic acid and licorice extract and targets textured skin and hyperpigmentation

The Ordinary Vitamin C 23%: targets dullness, hyperpigmentation and protects skin from environmental damage.

There are lots of options  out there, so find something  that works for your  skin type and whatever concern you want to address. If you’re  on a budget, I recommend The Ordinary by Deciem. They have lots of options for all sorts of serums and treatments for all skin types, and everything  so far is under $20

4. Moisturizers:

Like the name suggests, this is for adding moisture to the skin, and everyone needs this. Even those with oily skin need to moisturize. You just need to find a formula that works for you.

Moisturizing your skin helps to fight wrinkles in all skin types . In oily skin, it actually helps to combat excessive oil production, because the skin produces more oil when it’s dry, in an effort to compensate for the lack of moisture. So, moisturizing is important  for everyone.

For oily skin, I would suggest water based moisturizers, and something with a little more oil for people with drier skin.

The Vichy Aqualia serum is my favourite way to moisturize because it has a lightweight serum-like texture,  absorbs easily and is oil-free. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which is one ingredient I always look out for in moisturizers these days.

I also love the Vichy Ideal Soleil because it is a hydrating, mattifying lotion with SPF 45.

Moisturizers are appied after toners, treatments and serums.

5. Sun Protection:

The rays of the sun makes the skin age faster, and makes us more prone to lines, wrinkles, acne scarring and hyperpigmentation. The last two are especially apparent in deeper complexions. Studies show that SPF 15 is not enough to protect from  both UVB and UVA rays, and products with at least SPF 30 is recommended for sun protection.

I’ve noticed such an improvement to my skin since I started taking  this step seriously.

I currently use and love for following for my oily combination deep skin:

Vichy SPF 45 Sun Screen

La Roche Posay SPF 50 Mist

They don’t leave me greasy or leave a gray cast on my skin.

Sun protection is the  last step of your skincare routine in the morning.



There are so many different types of masks, brightening, mattifying, hydrating, and so on, so you can choose whatever works for you.

There are creamy masks and sheet masks. There are even eye and lip masks! The possibilities are endless.

This is my favourite skin care step, and I love to multi-mask .

My current absolute favourite masks are the Vichy Mineral Masks. They cost $20 a jar, so I’d consider them mid range, not too expensive. There are different types for different skin types too.

Exfoliation removes the dead layers of skin and keep the skin looking radiant and fresh.
Recently, face brushes have become really popular. The Vanity Planet Ultimate Skin Spa is a great affordable brush. The Clarisonic Mia is also pretty amazing, but it is a little pricier. I like them both.  I don’t use a face brush every single day. I use a konjac sponge most days, and a face brush maybe once or twice a week, when I feel like I need it.

You can also use face scrubs to exfoliate. I personally prefer chemical exfoliation. You can read more about  how chemical exfoliation works.

Pixi Glow Tonic, Freedom Radiance Tonic, CosRX Power Liquid, and Alpha H Liquid Gold are some of my favourite chemical exfoliants. I would recommend any of these  for oily, non sensitive skin. They all contain glycolic acid, which is my preferred AHA for chemical exfoliation.

Don’t know what an AHA is? Click the link on chemical exfoliation above to learn more.

However, lactic acid is another  AHA which is also good for exfoliation. It has larger molecules than glycolic acid, so it doesn’t penetrate into the skin  as easily, and it is not as effective or as drying as glycolic acid. This makes lactic acid better for people with dryer or sensitive skin, or people  who are just getting started with chemical exfoliation. I would recommend the lactic acid serums from The Ordinary, or if you’re feeling spendy, you can check  out the Sunday Riley  Good Genes.

Important things to note

Just incase I have overwhelmed you with information , here are the major things I want you to take  away from this post.

1. Toning is important. Find a toner that suits you and incorporate it into your routine. It will make your skin stronger, balance the pH of your skin and make whatever  else you put on top  so much more effective.

2. Just because you have oily skin doesn’t mean you get to skip moisturizer. Find a nice, water based moisturizer that works for you.

3. Sun protection is compulsory. Find a way to incorporate it into your routine. Lots of primers, foundations and moisturizers come with SPF, so try to fit it in however works best for you.

4. Consistency is key. When it comes  to  skincare, you likely won’t see results in a matter of days. Infact, I’m wary of products that can drastically change the  way the skin looks in days. It will take anywhere from 1 to 3 months to see results, so you just need to be consistent with whatever you’re using.

5. If you are looking for affordable skincare products with ingredients that are good  for your skin, Simple and The Ordinary are two affordable brands that seem really conscious about what they put in their products, and they both offer a wide range of products. To read more about my favourite affordable skincare products, check out this post. 

6. This post might seem daunting, but lots of products combine these steps. There are exfoliating toners, exfoliating masks, moisturizers with SPF, so you can always look for products that combine two or more functions. 

And that concludes this long post! What’s your current favourite skincare products?

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3 Replies to “How To Build A Skincare Routine : For All Skin Types and All Budgets.”

  1. Great post hun. You cover every important aspect wonderfully. Some days I like to layer loads of products and others I do the bare minimum of 2-3 products. I love Liquid Gold and really love how instantly it gives me results xxx
    Sal | UmmBabyBeauty

    1. Thank you. I love the Liquid Gold as well. It is very effective. I know right? Somedays I can layer 7 products. Other days I wash my face, tone, moisturize, and go right to sleep.

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