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13 Products That'll Help You Start Your Skincare Routine

Because it's hard to know where to even start with this stuff.

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Okay, skincare is kind of scary and intimidating and not quite as fun as playing with makeup.

It's really hard to know how to build up a skincare routine. It's a lot like baking; the ingredients are important but so is the order in which you apply them, and how you apply them. I'm by no means an expert and I'm still working on building up my own personal ideal skincare routine, but here is a non-exhaustive list of stuff that'll hopefully help get you started.

Obviously you don't need to buy all of these products and follow all of these steps immediately (or ever, I'm not your boss). But your skin is an organ, and it'll appreciate any little positive thing you do, just like your body will appreciate the occasional pizza-free evening.

1. If you wear makeup, the first thing you'll need is a decent makeup remover, like the Garnier Micellar Water.

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Wipes are handy but they tend to be very harsh. Additionally, just by their nature they force you to rub your skin and eyes, which causes lots of irritation. I personally think they're also very economically inefficient, because you can get a big ol' container of micellar water for under a fiver and it'll last you months. It's a win-win, my friends. Soak a cotton wool pad in the product, then hold the pad over your eyes for a few seconds before wiping off until the makeup is gone. Then wipe the rest of your face until all of your beautiful makeup is gone.

Buy the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water at Boots for £3.33 (currently on offer, usually £4.99).

2. If you don't like micellar water, try the Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover.

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This is amazing for removing even waterproof mascara, and has received ~rave reviews~ from Anna of The Anna Edit.

I've also used the makeup remover from Simple for years, it works a dream and is super budget-friendly. However, unlike micellar water, you can't use these products all over your face to take off the rest of your makeup.

Buy the Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover for £20.

Buy the Simple Kind To Eyes Eye Makeup Remover from Boots for £3.45.

3. Next, you need a decent cleanser, like this Elemis balm cleanser.

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Balm cleansers are all the rage right now; this one is amazing but is really rather pricey. The reason I like them is because they allow you to give yourself a really nice facial massage, like in this Lisa Eldridge tutorial.

However, you don't need to spend a lot on them – I like the Boots Botanics one, and it comes with a free flannel to rinse the product off with, too. Apply the balm cleanser to your dry face and massage it in, then rinse a cloth in hot water and wipe the product off.

Buy the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm from Asos for £40.

Buy the Botanics Organic Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm from Amazon for £14.99.

4. A milky cleanser is necessary for your mornings and can work in the evenings too, if balms are a bit too much effort. This one from REN is great.

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Milky cleansers are great for people that don't wear lots of makeup as they're super lightweight and gentle. If I were made of money, I'd use the Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip cleanser all the time, but alas, I'm mere flesh, and money would probably be made soggy and ruined by a cleanser. You can also use this in the morning. I'm pretty lazy and don't usually wash my face in the morning with anything other than water unless I've had a particularly sweaty night, but I don't often have breakouts so it depends on your skin type.

Buy the REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk from Cultbeauty for £16.

Buy the Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser from Cultbeauty for £35.

5. After cleansing, your next step should be toning and Pixi's Glow Tonic is a cult product for a reason.

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Toners are basically chemical exfoliators, but much gentler and more nourishing than scrubs. I really like the Pixi Glow tonic but if you're particularly acne-prone, this Clinique toner is fantastic.

If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to these heavy-duty toners, you try this one from Bravura.

For sensitive skin, try this gentler formulation from REN. You can do this step morning and night, but if you're using a potent formula then you should opt for second, a gentler one in the mornings.

Buy the Pixi Glow Tonic from Asos for £18.

Buy the Clinique Clarifying Lotion 3 from £16.50.

Buy the Bravura Revitalising Ginseng Toner for £12.40.

Buy the REN Clean Skincare Face Clarimatte Clarifying Toner from Allbeauty for £11.40.

6. The next step is to apply a second, more nourishing toner, such as the La Roche-Posay Serozinc spray.

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I really, really love this stuff, and when I stop using it I can really notice. I also like this facial spray from Mario Badescu, mostly because it smells incredible, and I actually keep it at my desk at work and use it whenever the air conditioning has turned me into a shrivelled prune. But to be honest, you can literally just put rosewater into a spray bottle and use that.

Buy the La Roche-Posay Serozinc Spray from Boots for £8.50.

Buy the Mario Badescu Facial Spray With Aloe Herbs And Rosewater from BeautyBay for £7.50.

7. Next, you'll need an eye cream, and this one from Boots is under two quid and works a treat.

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Okay, a lot of actual skincare experts will probably shake their heads at me, but moisturisers is where I scrimp and save. Maybe I'll regret that when I'm old and my eyes are hidden deep within wrinkled folds of my own skin, but in all honestly I think their job is to moisturise and I find it difficult to imagine what more they can do. For that reason, I really love the Boots Simply Sensitive eye cream. I also like the REN eye cream, which I'm using right now, if you feel like this is an area worth investing in.

Buy the Boots Simply Sensitive Hydrating Eye Cream for £1.99.

Buy the Keep Young And Beautiful Firm And Lift Eye Cream for £28.

8. You should add a serum at this stage of your night time routine, and I'm currently on my third bloody bottle of Sunday Riley's Luna Sleeping Night Oil.

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Serums are super personal and dependent on your own skin type. I really, really love Sunday Riley's Luna Night Oil. It's literally changed my life. It's a retinol which essentially means it's a Vitamin A serum, which has been clinically proven to have anti-aging qualities, as Caroline Hirons (a.k.a Skincare Goddess) explains in this video. However, this might be too potent for some, and so might be better as a once-or-twice weekly treatment.

Other serums that I've heard good things about are the Kiehl's one, the Estee Lauder one, and Kypris do a bunch depending on your skin type. Deciem do a very purse-friendly retinol serum that I also love.

Buy Sunday Riley's Luna Night Oil from Cultbeauty for £85.

Buy the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate from Feelunique for £37.


Buy the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II for £52.

Buy the Kypris serums from Cultbeauty, starting from £64.

Buy the Deciem The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% for £8.

9. If retinols don't sit well with you, try cold-pressed rosehip oil, like this one from The Organic Pharmacy.

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It's still expensive, but serums are the products with the purest and most potent ingredients, which is why you're shelling out so much for them. Melissa Alatorre gives a really great summary of various rosehip oils in this video. My co-worker (and dare I say, friend) Gena swears by cold-pressed rosehip oil and says that it's cleared up all her scarring and hyper-pigmentation within weeks. If you're not sure what serum would work best for you, then Renee of Gothamista will clear things up for you in this very informative video, far better than I ever could.


Buy The Organic Pharmacy Virgin Cold Pressed Rose Hip Oil for £29.95
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10. After this, you need to moisturise, and I love this Argan du Maroc moisturiser.

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Like I said, I'm a cheapskate when it comes to moisturisers, don't @ me. Or maybe @ me and make a compelling argument of why I should invest in moisturisers, but please be nice. I love this product because it's literally just three ingredients and it smells amazing. However, moisturisers are super personal and it depends on your own skin type and budget, there are plenty at all different price points. The important thing is to do it every single day.

Buy the Argan du Maroc Anti-Aging Cream from Amazon for £4.49.

11. For mornings, get yourself a moisturiser with SPF in it, like the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturiser.

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Look, I don't care if you sit in an office all day and never see the sun anyway. We are all slowly decaying and not wearing SPF is like saying you want to be a leathery old handbag. I've been using this moisturiser every single day for the past nine months and I've still got a good fifth of the bottle left. It makes my skin a little greasy after I apply it, but I actually think that makes a great surface for makeup because it gives a dewy effect.

Buy the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturiser from £17.50.

12. Add a detoxifying mask treatment to your routine, like the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask.

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Masks are always seen as this ~luxury~ thing you do when you really want to treat yourself, but they're most effective as a regular part of your routine rather than a one off thing. I've loved the Origins charcoal mask for years, I tend to buy a tube of the stuff every Black Friday to save a bit of money. However, there are loads of cheaper alternatives, like the new L'Oreal clay masks. I also love the Sukin Oil Balancing Plus Charcoal Anti-Pollution Facial Masque (plus, this brand is vegan and totally organic!).

Buy the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask from Boots for £24.

Buy the L'Oreal Skin Pure Masks from Boots for £5.99 (on offer, usually £7.99).

Buy the Sukin Oil Balancing Plus Charcoal Anti-Pollution Facial Masquefrom Boots for £7.97 (on offer, usually £11.95).

13. And finally, treat yourself to a regular sheet mask, like these Tonymoly ones.

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Sheet masks are super fun but also super-hydrating. When I put one on, I like to carefully cut it by the bridge of the nose and around the chin with a pair of scissors and flatten it down, to make sure the whole sheet covers as much of my face as possible. They're not totally necessary, but it's good to incorporate a super-hydrating treatment into your routine, because we're all dehydrated, frankly. If you're not int the feel of sheet masks, try the Origins overnight mask.

Buy the Tonymoly I'm Real Skin Care Facial Mask Sheets from Amazon for £12.60.

Buy the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask from Boots for £24.

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