We Tried It: 10 Step Skincare Routine
10 Steps, 10 Days, We're not messing around about our skin care!
One of my major shelter in place goals? Stepping up my skincare game. I've tried to educate myself about different skincare products over the years, but I still find myself standing at the sink wondering what exactly double cleansing is, or if there's any difference between applying eye cream before or after my moisturizer. After scrolling through some K Beauty reviews on Influenster I started noticing people buzzing about a 10 step skincare routine. So I decided in the true Influenster spirit to try it out myself for ten days.
Although I was inspired by K Beauty and I did experiment with some really exciting K Beauty products I wanted to use this as an opportunity to play with the products I already had. I wanted to try and figure out if there was a way I could make myself a routine that would work for me long term and maximize the efficacy of products that I already knew worked pretty well for me.
What Were the Ten Steps?
Step One: Oil Cleanser
An oil cleasner is a facial cleanser that is oil based, and not water based (sounds pretty simple, but I read a few articles to figure out which one would be best for me). Oil Cleansers remove dirt, makeup, and other impurities from your skin. My experience was that using one made my skin feel very soft afterwards. I found it melted my makeup off like a cleansing balm, and I had a few cleansing balms (one of my favorite products!) at my disposal, so I wound up substituting oil based cleansing balms for a few of the ten days. I used Tatcha, Farmacy, and Fountain of Truth.
Step Two: Water Based Cleanser
A water based cleanser is a more of traditional face wash. When you're choosing one, look for a cleanser that addresses your particular skincare concerns. From anti-aging, acne fighting, pore minimizing, redness releiving or soothing assitance, there's a wide variety of options. My specific concerns are redness and large pores, so I used the Fresh Soy cleanser and my newest obsession: a CVS Daily Pore Cleanser I stole from my younger brother!
Step Three: Exfoliant
Exfoliant is one of my new favorite skincare products. Basically, you use it after you've washed (or in my case during these ten days very fancily double cleansed) your face in order to remove dead skin cells. I started thinking of it as a way to polish my skin. There are different kinds of exfoliants. Chemical exfoliants work by using ingredients like acids or AHAs, whereas physical exfoliants feel grainy and use the texture (also known as an abrasive) to get to work and clear you out. Most physical exfoliants are called scrubs, and, unlike my favorite TLC song, these scrubs can get love from me. I found that my skin felt significantly softer and smoother and looked brighter and clearer thanks to all my exfoliation. I used this PTR Lactic Acid treatment and Saturday Skin Rub a Dub.
Step Four: Toner
Toner is my personal holy grail skincare product. This superhero basically seals off your pores after you clean your face while balancing your skin's natural pH levels. I think of it as my skincare sheild: It closes down and shrinks all my pores so no dirt or grime can get in there and inflame them, and I have found it helps me absorb all my favorite serums and moisturizers without breaking out. In addition to using Thayer's Witch Hazel (which I use religiously twice a day!), I also tried Glow Recipe's Watermelon Glow Toner.
Step Five: Essence
I was very excited to try an essence for the first time as a part of this experiment. It took me a while to understand the difference between essence and toner, but the long and the short of it is that toner seals your skin, and essence helps you get the most out of the rest of your skincare routine. Think of it as a very lightweight serum. Another way to think of an essence is with an analogy: it works with your skincare the way primer works with your makeup routine. I used the Fresh Black Tea Kombucha essence.
Step Six: Serums (& Friends)
In addition to your serum, this would also be the step where you would want to use a face oil, ampoule, or other skincare treatment. I am a big serum fan; I have a large collection that I vary depending on my mood like a mad scientist. Serums are usually more lightweight than a moisturizer, but thicker than a toner or essence. They deliver a high concentration of a specific ingredient (like Vitamin C, Retinol, or Hylauronic Acid), so no matter what your skin concerns are, you can find one that will help you. I used Sunday Riley Good Genes, Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, GlamGlow Star Potion, and Ole Henriksen Truth Serum.
Step Seven: Masks
When I mask I love a really intense extracting clay mask, so I was a little confused why this step came at this point of the process. Instead, this is the moment for a fun, hydrating sheet mask. A sheet mask is a way to trap in all of the ingredients you've already used (especially that high concentration you just got from your serum!) and take a moment to hydrate. I was very excited to try these cute Animalz sheet masks and rock these glammy Wander Beauty Baggage Claim eye masks.
Step Eight: Eye Cream
I was thrilled to learn that there is a correct order for eye cream and moisturizer. Generally you want to go from the thinnest product to the thickest, creamiest product and since most eye creams are more delicate than most moisturizers, you want to put them on first. My favorite eye cream trick is to pat it on with your ring finger, because that's your weakest finger, so you won't press too hard on the sensitive tissue. I used Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream and Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb.
Step Nine: Moisturizer
My skin is firmly in the combination category and I will admit I was a little nervous that putting on this many hydrating products and then topping it off with a moisturizer would make me break out or feel oily. However, (spoiler alert!) that wasn't an issue. I was actually really happy with how my skin felt, and even happier with how it looked. I'm getting ahead of myself... Whether you're in the dry, oily or combination zone, there's a ton of moisturizers for you to choose from. I prefer a cream moisturizer, but there are also a lot of great water based gel options out there. For the purposes of this experiment, I used moisturizer in the morning, and night cream in the evening. The reached for Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich, Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte's Magic Cream, and BOBBI BROWN Hydrating Intense Night Cream I had the Strivectin Re-Quench Water Cream at the ready in case I needed to switch to something a little more lightweight, but I didn't wind up using it.
Step Ten: SPF
I only used this during the morning routine. SPF is so important to use on a daily basis. In the past I have used moisturizers that have SPF built in, but it was a great reminder how vital it is to be using it every day, even if you're just sitting by a window instead of going outside, to protect yourself from those UVB rays. I used Glossier Invisible Shield.
How It Went:
For the first few days it did feel overwhelming to do each step every morning and evening. I had to force myself to do all the steps a few times, and it's a good thing I'm currently working remotely because there were a few mornings that some of this happened at my desk while I answered emails. I wasn't perfect about doing every step every time: I did sheet masks probably every other day, the exfoliation products both recommended only being used a few times a week (not twice daily), and there were a few times I didn't fully double cleanse, especially on mornings when I didn't have any makeup on. That being said, the more it became a habit, the more I found myself looking forward to it, and it really was nice to have a specific order for everything.
My skin has never looked or felt better. I was concerned that I would break out, feel oily, or clog my pores, but when I was using all 10 of the products I found I used less of each individually. This meant I had better ratios so everything could do it's job more effectively. One of my bad habits is to overdo it with my skincare (apply too much product, leave masks on for too long) so it was a great learning experience that I actually can use the recommended pea-sized amount.
Because of our current circumstances, I haven't been wearing makeup daily, which is also probably a contributing factor, but my skin is so smooth. Normally I have very visible pores and small bumps on my cheeks and chin and even in just ten days I noticed a marked improvement. When I did apply makeup I used barely any foundation and a lot less concealer than I usually do, and what I did use went on really evenly.
At the end of the day, skincare, although it's really fun and I love it, can be a little stressful. Sometimes you can score an amazing deal (looking at the CVS cleanser from my brother!), but a lot of times it's an investment, especially when you're using some of the higher quality ingredients, and I personally get nervous that I'm not getting the most out of it, or I'm applying it wrong, or I need to get a skin fridge ASAP. Hearing what the Influenster community was saying, and then establishing a routine gave me a lot of peace of mind.
At the beginning of the 10 days I sometimes felt like using this much product every day was "wasting it", and I should save those face masks for a special occassion or to share with someone else, but it actually wound up making me feel really good to use it. Don't get me wrong, a mask night with a friend is still the best, but if anyone else hoards their product because they don't feel like they deserve to use them on a daily basis do me a favor and crack open one of those masks or serums today and use it on yourself. You do deserve it.
Will I Keep It Up?
I've maintained most of the routine, but I'm probably averaging a 5-7 step skincare routine now that the 10 day experiment is over. There have been mornings when I've known I was going to be going for a jog, or doing some deep cleaning and haven't wanted to rinse it off, and there have been evenings I've been tired where I've just done a quick cleanse, tone, and moisturize. However, I am going to to try to keep this up. It might turn out the right amount of steps for me is 8, and if you're reading this and inspired to try your own routine, your magic number might be 11, but I think this was a great framework for anyone who wants to try an intense skincare regimen or learn a little more about which products really work for them (essence and exfoliant I love you!).
Ready to join me? Comment below if you're feeling inspired to try a 10 Step Skincare Routine and ask any questions you may have in the comments below!