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What to Get for Every Step of Your Skin Care Routine, at Every Price Point

Graphic: Jillian Lucas

You cannot be in a noncommittal relationship with your skin care routine. Results only happen with continued use (excuse my drug commercial copy, but it’s true). First: required skin care reading, featuring the cleansers and serums and such that you’ve probably read 17 different articles about. The second half are the pied-à-terre products to use as you please.


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Make Up Remover

This is the most important step if you wear make up, seriously. Please, please take it off every day. If you’re not a makeup wearer, this is obviously not required.



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Cleanser

Get all the gunk off of your face with one step and make sure you don’t skip the lukewarm water. Open up those pores, dammit.

And don’t fucking use dish soap.


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Serum

I feel very strongly that if you choose to take care of your skin with a multi-step routine, you should make sure you’re doing all of the steps, so this is a required one in my book. Serums deliver concentrated solutions to your skin problems, be it dryness, oiliness, dark spots, what have you.


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Cream

Creams are the Saran wrap of skin care. They help seal everything in and add another level of moisture, which your skin always needs. Please use one. And if you opt for one without SPF, you bet your butt you should put a sunscreen on as well.


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Sunscreen

So, like I said, if your moisturizer doesn’t have an SPF, load up on it with your sunscreen. You may be full Nihilist by the time this year is over with how things are going, but cancer-causing UV rays have no pity for you.


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Oil

I recently fell in love with using oils to finish up my routine, rather than a cream, and I’m never looking back. If you want to add one and you already love a cream, use it after, rather than before, no matter how weird it feels. Oils penetrate creams, not the other way around.

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Spot Treatment

Everyone has those spots pop up, so keep something around to put on them that isn’t just a prescription your dermatologist gave you like, six years ago.

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Toner

Toners are sort of the most confusing of the steps. They help balance skin’s pH while also clearing pores. I like to use one in the mornings after going out at night to help get rid of the leftover makeup/sweat/air pollution.

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Facial Spray

Probably the most unnecessary step in any skin care routine (especially if you already use a toner), but it’s a nice added moisture benefit and just... do the most with your skin care at this point.

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Exfoliator

Skip this if you have overly dry or sensitive skin, as chemical exfoliators can be harsh. But if you can handle it, they do wonders for retexturing skin.

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Sheet Mask

You don’t necessarily need to use a sheet mask, especially if you have facial hair. But they’re an incredible way to deliver product and to just, ya know, take 20 minutes and relax while looking like you are wearing someone else’s skin.

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Wash Off Mask

I debated putting a wash off mask in the required section, but if you have your routine down, this is a very every-now-and-then step. Masks have a wide range of functions, so choose one with a more targeted purpose.

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Sleeping Mask

The best way to add a punch of moisture to your nightly routine is to add a sleeping mask. It’s basically a concentrated moisturizing mask that you leave on throughout the night, when cell turnover is at its most.

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Eye Cream/Patches

Some people were blessed with looking like they got a full night’s sleep even if they didn’t. I don’t know any, but I know they exist. If this is not you, try out an eye gel or cream.

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About the author

Jillian Lucas

Managing Editor, The Inventory | Send submissions to tips@theinventory.com