Skincare 101

When first starting out with building a skincare regime, it can be extremely overwhelming due to the many different products out there. This guide is designed to demystify some of that by introducing some of the basic steps and products that are used in most skincare routines.


One of the first steps in skincare is cleansing your face. There are two primary forms of cleansers:

1. oil based cleansers

2. water based cleansers

Oil based cleansers include products such as cleansing balms (which is basically oil that has been solidified) such as Clean It Zero or oil cleansers that are liquid-based oils like DHC Cleansing Oil. These types of cleansers are primarily used for removing makeup and sunscreen as it breaks down oil-based impurities.

Water-based cleansers are usually foaming cleansers or gel cleansers such as Cosrx Low-Ph Cleanser - these can be effective in removing sweat and dirt from the skin.

It’s often recommended to double cleanse by using an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup and sunscreen first and then cleanse off the residue by using a water-based cleanser.


Exfoliating the skin is important to remove dead skin cells so that your pores don’t get clogged. This is particularly useful for people with acne, uneven texture, clogged pores, blackheads, whiteheads, dry skin and dullness.

Exfoliation can come in the form of physical or chemical exfoliation:

Physical exfoliators like St. Ices Cleansing Scrub involves using hard materials such as beads or a scrub to physically remove dead skin cells from the face. This can be harsher to the skin so often chemical exfoliation is preferred if you have sensitive skin.

Chemical exfoliation can be separated primarily into AHAs and BHAs. AHAs are alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic acid and glycolic acid. These are water-soluble acids that peel away at the surface of the skin so that newer skin cells can generate. Compared to AHAs, BHAs (beta hydroxy acids) such as salicylic acid can go deeper into the pores to remove impurities so it is often recommended for people with oily skin.


Depending on your skin concerns and skin type, you might consider adding treatments into your routine. These can range from treatment toners to essences and serums or masks. If dullness or pigmentation is a concern, you could add Vitamin C to your routine such as Melano CC.

If clogged pores or anti aging is a concern, retinoids are a form of Vitamin A that can regulate skin cell growth.

Sheet masks or wash off masks also often contain treatment ingredients. Masks with ceramides, for example, can help hydrate and repair the moisture barrier for people who have dry skin.


Moisturizing is important for all skin types, particularly after cleansing or exfoliation as we need to replenish moisture to the skin after its been lost. Most moisturizers use a mixture of humectants, emollients, fatty acids as well as oils in order to act as an occlusive layer to the skin.

Depending on your skin type, you want to choose a moisturizer with the right ratio - people with oily skin might choose moisturizers that contain high linoleic oils or less occlusive ingredients in order to prevent clogged pores whilst people with dry skin want moisturizers with high oleic oils and more occlusivity to prevent moisture loss.


Protecting your skin from the sun during the day is a crucial step in your skincare regime because it prevents dark spots, wrinkles, sagging skin, discoloration and sunburn. Even when there isn’t that much visible sun during the day, it’s still important to wear sunscreen because there can still be harmful UVA or UVB rays that can cause damage to your skin.

Sunscreens come in two main types: physical and chemical sunscreen. Physical Sunscreens use minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, to reflect the sun’s rays from the skin. Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays and converts it into before and releases it from the skin. There are pros and cons to both but some people react badly to certain types of sunscreen so it’s important to choose sunscreens with ingredients that work for your skin.

What is the order for all these products?

There’s no “prescribed” order to skincare but the general rule of thumb is to go with the thinnest products first and then the thicker and more vicious products should go at the end.

For example, a common routine would be

1. Cleanser

2. Toner

3. Treatment

4. Moisturizer

During the day, sunscreen often goes over moisturizer and makeup will go over the sunscreen if you wear makeup. This enables the sunscreen to work at its maximum efficacy.

If you opt to use a mask at night, that would usually come before using a moisturizer unless you’re using a sleeping mask at night, the sleeping mask will function as your night time moisturizer.