The eight steps to starting AND committing to a skincare routine

Picture this: You’re getting un-ready after a horribly hectic day of rushing deadlines, running on coffee, fast food, and three hours of sleep. You change out of your clothes and pass out on your bed. No ceremonies, no frills - understandable after a rough day! The next morning though, you wake up to find makeup on your pillowcase and new pimples on your face. It’s a sucky start to what already feels like another sucky day, but it could have been avoided with just a bit of self-care.

Though there are many different ways to #selfcare, one of our favorites is to follow a daily skincare routine. Of course, skincare isn’t a magical potion that will turn your face into a poreless, filtered masterpiece - at least not overnight - but taking (literal) steps will improve the state of your skin over time. Skincare doesn’t have a cheat sheet that you can just copy word for word, step by step, and product by product. This can make it feel a little overwhelming for first timers who don’t know where to begin, so instead of the usual manual with product recos, I’ve put together 8 tips that helped me to start (and stick to) a good skincare routine!

Image from hellotonatural.com

Image from hellotonatural.com

Figure out your skin type and concerns

Some people feel like this is the hardest thing to nail down when it comes to starting a skincare regimen. What exactly does my skin need? What kind of products do I need purchase? What will they end up DOING to my skin? These questions are actually best answered by you! You know your body best, so consider your skin type and skin concerns when planning your routine. You can even tailor-fit it to suit your lifestyle and activities! Most importantly, take note of your skin’s good days and bad days, so that it’ll be easier to rule out or pinpoint normal or recurring problems such as:

It also helps to know what conditions may have influenced the state of your skin. Were you feeling stressed, or did you get your period? Is your flakiness due to a sunburn or extremely cold weather? This will help you identify your triggers.

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Set a budget

It can be tempting to splurge on a full 10-step Korean skincare, but more than the obvious hole that could burn in your pocket, it’s important to know what your skin needs before committing to a purchase. Starting a skincare routine doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated either!

Our Beginner’s Guide to Skincare lists the four basic elements: a low PH cleanser, suitable exfoliant, a trusty sunscreen and a nourishing moisturizer for a straightforward, effective regimen while you discover the rest of your skin’s needs. Depending on how much money you’re willing to spend at a given time, you can build your regimen with maybe one or two products as you go along - not bad considering that it's best to introduce them into your routine one at a time! By combining the notes regarding your skin concerns, as well as observations you might have after starting your basic regimen, you can then pick out and curate specific products to suit your needs.

Bear in mind that high prices don’t always guarantee good results, and that it’s possible to get great products at lower price points. For example, I personally enjoy the Celeteque Hydration Facial Moisturizer (P127 for 50 ml), as mentioned in Katsy’s 1,000-peso skincare regimen challenge. It was the first ever moisturizer I used when I got into skincare around five years ago, and find that it still works for me even now!

Tip: If you want to try a product first prior to investing in it, try searching for reputable stores that sell deluxe or sample sizes. You might even ask willing friends for decants! Skincare is very YMMV (your mileage may vary) so it's definitely possible for a product that has stellar reviews to NOT have an effect or even possibly trigger a bad reaction.

Do your research

Speaking of reviews, doing your due diligence and finding out everything you can about a product can save you from wasting money and risking your skin. By doing your research, you can narrow down products to ones that meet your prefered ingredients, lifestyle, and budget requirements. Always traveling? Brush up on multi-tasking products so you can pack light! Have oily, acne-prone skin? You can opt for a skincare and makeup line that contains tea tree oil.

Make sure to also take the time to read product labels for shelf-life and cruelty-free options, and carefully consider pH levels and pricing per measure. It may sound like a lot of homework but if you have a limited budget (or sensitive skin!) these practices save you a lot of money and peace of mind in the long run. We've put together a list of some of our favorite blogs, YouTubers, and skincare resources if you don't know where to look, and you can also ask fellow members of the Project Vanity Community to share their experiences.

Make the purchase

This step seems like a no-brainer, but it’s always good to be on the safe side when buying your products! There are a lot of counterfeits circulating in the market, even for KBeauty products, and a fake version may do more harm to your face or even endanger your health. Buy only from reputable sources. BeautyMNL, Althea, Sephora, and The Skincare Curator all carry authentic skincare products if you’re looking to shop online. If you prefer a physical shopping spree, some brands that don’t have stand-alone stores may have partnered with distributors like Beauty Bar, select SM Department Stores, and Watsons.

Shopping responsibly also means only buying what you can repurchase sustainably, so you can avoid taking short cuts like skimping on sunscreen. Make a conscious effort to save for your beauty buys instead of skipping on daily needs, and wait for sales so you make the most out of your purchase!

Acquiring the products for your regimen is only half the battle. Making sure you can form the habit of doing your routine daily is arguably harder, especially when you're tired and sleepy. So I’ve compiled a few tips to help you commit to your skin care routine!

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Document the journey

This particular tip is most effective when you’re a newbie to the world of skincare, but to be honest, it’s never too late to start documenting the changes that your skin undergoes! Sometimes, a simple “before” photo of you pre-skincare craze can really open your eyes as to how far you’ve come in as little as a month, or even a week later. Comparing my bare-faced photos from before to the ones I have now motivates me to keep at it!

Some people have also worked their documentation into their bullet journals by making trackers, personal goals, and daily reminders. I brought back the habit of jotting my routine down during my two weeks of school finals hell. Since the stress was breaking me out, I change my product line-up to focus on oil control and calming my skin. At least it was one less thing to worry about!

Keep a skincare notebook so you can remember which products or routines work for you, or what ingredients your skin hates. You might start a new IG account (even just for your private access) so you can post weekly selfies or your fave routines with notes that you can reference.

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Suit up

Or rather, keep your hair up! Some people find this cheesy, but there IS logic behind donning a cute headband for your skincare. Not only does it make for an adorable Insta-worthy pic, but also because keeping your hair off your face can keep pimples at bay! Your hair and scalp contain natural oils produced by the body, and so allowing oily, unwashed hair to touch your face can also lead to breakouts.

Additionally, remembering to wear your headband is a good prompt for the rest of your skincare routine, as it serves as a visual cue that you have a regimen to do! Pick out any style that best suits your needs and personality - I personally like cloth hair bands for a comfy texture and wear. If you have bangs, you can also use a big hair clip to pin them back.

Tip: Keep at least two hair bands in rotation! Dirty hair bands can also be a breeding ground for bacteria and cause breakouts, so remember to wash them regularly.

Set the mood

By setting the mood for your skincare regimen, you condition yourself to set aside this time for some serious self-care. Whether it’s through tuning into a playlist like the In Her Element mixtape on Spotify, or lighting a few of your favorite scented candles, mood setting helps you get into the moment and enjoy your routine better. Remember, this is not just about skincare. It's also an opportunity for you to breathe and destress.

Remind & Remember

Personally, I found that adding skincare to my to-do list, which I habitually check each night anyway, was a good way to change my mindset. This way, I would consider it as a task to be completed rather than something I would do only if I remembered or if I wasn’t too tired.

Some people set actual alarms, while others use visual cues like sticky notes or placing skincare products next to their toothbrush or bed. By placing skincare with other components of your existing daily routine, the products are physically within easy reach and also constantly within sight, making them easier to adjust to. Following a schedule and doing your routine the same time every day is another good way to form the habit.

Tip: For skincare steps that take a little more time, like masking, have small easy activities that you can do while waiting. Read a couple of pages of your book, catch a few minutes of a KDrama, or plan your outfit for the day. This helps you pass the time while staying productive.

And so, that concludes our crash course on starting (and committing to) a skincare regimen! Remember that there’s no clear-cut way of doing this, and this is only a framework with some tips that you can build around. Skincare is a personal journey that you tweak to your lifestyle and preferences, so don't stress yourself out about missing a session or taking on a massive 10-step program when you can realistically only do 3. Remember that at its core, skincare is a chance for you to tend to your needs and give your body the rest it deserves.

Have any skincare rituals and tips you’d like to share? Add them in the comments down below!