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A man putting on a face mask, looking into a mirror

Skincare 101: A Guide to Skincare for Beginners

If you asked any of your friends about their skincare routine, we’d bet they’d each have a different answer. Some friends could have a routine that only involves rinsing their face with water morning and night, and others might swear by their expensive serums, moisturizers, eye creams, sunscreens, and toners.

The truth is, just like learning the best makeup products for your skin type and color, skincare routines are as individual as the person following them.

There are literally thousands of products in the skincare aisle and we know it can be overwhelming. Add in the vegan and cruelty-free qualifier when shopping for skincare products, and you’re likely as intimidated and confused as you were when you first decided to eat more plant-based foods. 

But don’t worry—we’re here to help! The process of caring for your skin doesn’t have to be complicated. Below, we are breaking down the steps and basic products to keep your face healthy and glowing. 

1. Cleanser

Cleaning your face morning and night is the foundation of skincare. This step should never be missed because it removes the dirt and oil that builds up over the course of the day and night. When choosing a product, be sure to stick to a gentle cleansing formula so you don’t disrupt your skin’s natural protective barrier—you’ll know it’s too harsh if it causes irritation, redness, or a dry, parched feeling. Generally, a foam cleanser is best if you have oily, acne-prone skin, and a cream is best for mature or dry/combination skin. If you find you have extra sensitive skin, be sure to try these five vegan and cruelty-free facial cleansers.

We like: Osea ocean cleanser and ocean cleansing milk 

2. Toner

Though facial toner is not a necessity, it can level up your skincare routine in many ways. A little spritz after cleansing your skin can provide benefits such as restoring your skin’s pH balance, minimizing the appearance of pores, and protecting your skin from the elements. Toner is also naturally hydrating and helps to increase absorption of your moisturizer. If you choose to add this product to your routine, opt for a toner with natural, plant-based ingredients like green tea for its antioxidant properties, aloe vera to smooth the skin, tea tree oil to remove buildup from the skin’s surface, or rose water oil to temporarily tighten the skin.

We like: Herbal Dynamics Beauty Rosewater face toner 

3. Serum

Designed to nourish, protect, and hydrate your skin, a face serum offers a concentrated dose of active ingredients and can be a beneficial next step after cleansing and before moisturizing. Think of it as a secret weapon to combating skin issues such as discoloration, dullness, fine lines, or acne. And because it is a concentrated formula with a thinner viscosity, it is absorbed more easily into your skin and typically takes a shorter amount of time to see visible results. There are different types of serums—such as anti-aging, skin brightening, hydrating, acne-prone, and reparative—with specific active ingredients, so be sure to choose one based on your needs.

We like: East 29th vital serum 

 

4. Exfoliator

In addition to clearing away dead and dry skin, a regular exfoliation routine can improve your skin’s clarity, radiance, and youthfulness by unclogging pores and boosting circulation and lymphatic drainage. Importantly though, the process of removing dead and dry skin allows your other skincare products to penetrate more deeply and effectively. Over time, the habit helps stimulate collagen synthesis, improving your skin’s texture and lessening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. We consider this an essential self-care step that can be done on a weekly or biweekly basis after cleansing and before adding serum, toner, or moisturizer. 

We like: Sukin super greens exfoliating scrub

 

5. Moisturizer

Consider moisturizer the second-most important product in youår skincare arsenal, next to a good cleanser. Choosing one that is appropriate for your skin type and age is important—for example, if you’re in your 20s and you have oily skin, don’t buy a product that is meant for dry, mature skin. In addition, be sure to use a moisturizer that includes SPF 15 sunscreen or higher to protect your precious skin from the sun’s harsh rays. Cleanse your skin first, and then apply your serum, toner, or exfoliator (if you’re using them) before finishing with moisturizer. Generally, a lighter formula is best for wearing underneath your makeup during the day, and if your skin needs additional hydration, opt for a thicker, hydrating cream moisturizer at night so it can more easily absorb into your skin while you sleep.

We like: Earth Harbor Mermaid Milk 

 

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Nicole Axworthy is a Toronto-based writer and author of the vegan cookbook DIY Vegan.

Tags: Vegan Beauty