Minimalist Skincare: How to Build the Best Routine for Results

Great skin, woman smiling

Good skin care is simple. You don’t need to own a slew of facial serums, creams, and gels to have good skin. Many beauty product claims go untested. Some work, some don’t. Figuring out which products work as advertised requires extensive research. We don’t often have the time to do that when we have more important things to focus on like our work and our families.

Focus On What’s Proven to Work

Focus only on what has the greatest impact on your skin. Skip everything else. You need only an understanding of your skin and the desire to practice a straight-forward approach to skin care – one that focuses solely on the essential things that have the biggest impact.

You won’t be sacrificing results when you approach skincare from this angle. It’s about making smart choices that deliver you the best results.

Taking care of your skin is important, but so is feeling good about how you go about doing that.

Learning what matters most for your skin and creating a minimalist skincare routine around it can change your life. It saves time, it saves money, and it prevents you from dwelling on skin care products so that you can focus on other things in your life. Feel good about how you spend your time, even when it comes to skin care.

Sidenote: I want to spend my time on my relationships and goals. I want to read more, learn to be a better cook, and spend more time outdoors. I resist complicating my life with new products that I don’t need. With new skincare products coming out each day, I choose not to pay attention to them because I know that they won’t measurably improve my life. I value simplicity and results, and I know that paying attention to the right things and eliminating distractions are key.

12 Minutes Mornings

I spend around 12 minutes in the washroom every morning. I spend this time brushing my teeth, washing and moisturizing my face, and doing my makeup. I focus only on the core practices of good skin care and apply a bare amount of makeup on my face. After that, I feel good and am ready to begin my day.

My quick mornings are not for everyone, but I’ve found that it works for me and incorporates the essentials of good skin care.

I’ve learned through many skin care mistakes and purchases that the essentials of good skin care doesn’t vary much from person to person. The essentials are the same for everyone. That’s why if you’re thinking about starting a new skin care routine, make these your priority.

Minimalist Skin Care Essentials

1. A Gentle and Non-Stripping Cleanser

Choose a cleanser that helps your skin stay moisturized, keeps its own oil and has no added fragrance. You want your skin to be clean, but not be stripped of the beneficial oils that your skin makes to keep your skin healthy. Your cleanser should also be free of fragrances and other additives that may irritate your skin.

Recommended Cleansers: I’ve tried many, but the ones that stood out and make it back into my bathroom cabinet rotation are Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash, OzNatural Vitamin C Facial Cleanser, and Refresh Botanicals Cucumber Foaming Face Cleanser.

If you need a makeup remover, try something simple, like sweet almond oil as a step before cleansing.

2. A Moisturizer Suitable for Your Skin and for the Season

Choose a moisturizer free of fragrances. Aim for natural and for those with fewer ingredients. See EWG for product health ratings.

Recommended Moisturizers: The Ordinary natural Moisturizing Factors + HA Surface HydrationCetaphil Daily Hydrating LotionAll Natural Advice Daily Moisturizer with Peptide and Hyaluronic Acid

I love simple moisturizers that absorb well and don’t leave a greasy residue. The three moisturizers recommended here should suit all skin types.

3. A Sunscreen (Physical)

Sunscreen is the heavyweight champion of anti-aging. Sun damage accelerates the signs of aging and is difficult to reverse. Sunscreen application is a habit you need to include as a part of your daily routine if you haven’t already. This is a non-negotiable step in a good skincare routine.

Physical vs. Chemical Sunscreens

Physical sunscreens create a physical barrier between the sun and your skin. These are best for those with sensitive skin and for kids. They remain on the surface of the skin. They are broad spectrum and will protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Chemical sunscreens are absorbed by the skin. They prevent the sun from penetrating deeper into your skin by absorbing the sun’s rays. These may not offer complete broad-spectrum protection and can irritate sensitive skin.

Physical sunscreens are the best at protecting your skin completely against the sun, but chemical sunscreens can be a good choice for those who have oily skin and need a lightweight alternative.

Recommended Sunscreens: Thinksport Everday Face Safe Sunscreen SPF 30+Thinksport Everyday for Kids SPF 50+, and Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+

I can only recommend physical sunscreens. It’s more likely to give you complete sun protection and is suitable for all skin types. Physical sunscreens are also the only type you should use on young children because they are gentler on the skin.

The Thinksport and Thinkbaby sunscreens are amazing. I use their facial sunscreen daily. I’ve also brought larger tubes of it with me to sun-filled destinations like Mexico and Croatia. No irritation. Not a single burn despite spending hours out on the water at peak UV hours of the day. Designed for the active person, they are water resistant up to 80 minutes and don’t make you pasty-white upon application. They spread evenly and have a light natural scent.

Tip: The Thinksport Everyday Face Sunscreen has a natural tint. For women who want sheer coverage, this is a great choice for a facial sunscreen.

4. A Retinol Product (An Extra Skin Care Product that is Worth It)

Retinoids work. They reduce lines by boosting the production of collagen in your skin. They help fade age spots and speed up skin cell turnover.

There are many types of retinol. Some require a prescription, while others are more gentle and can take a longer time to see visible results. Even the strongest prescriptions of retinol take 6 to 12 months for the best results.

Recommended Retinol Products: Retinol Reform by Shani Darden (Direct Website or at Amazon)

I will try other products in the future, but Retinol Reform will be difficult to top. It’s a gentle and effective retinol cream that has minimal ingredients. It delivers 5% Retinol RX (Ester of retinol and propionic acid) while being mild enough for people who have sensitive skin.

You don’t have to use retinol to achieve good skin. Out of all the skin care products available, retinoids are one of the most studied for its effectiveness for maintaining youthful skin. It’s great to have, but not necessary. But if you do want to add this one extra step, know that this will be worth your time and money.

Last Word on a Minimal Skin Care Routine

A good cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen are all you need. Focus your efforts on these essentials for maximum impact. Build your skin care routine around them.

Don’t let skin care products and routines rule your life. Eliminate extra products and resist adding more steps to your skincare routine whenever you can. Keep things minimal so that you have more time to focus on what matters most to you in life, whether that’s your relationships, your work, or your children.

Don’t Forget the Importance of Your Lifestyle

Your lifestyle habits are also an important part of good skin care. Drinking water, having a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and reducing your stress levels will do more for your skin than any additional steps you add to this list of skincare essentials.

What do you think? Let me know if I’ve forgotten something!

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