A Beginners Guide to Skincare – Part 1

Today we’re running part one of a two part instructional guide on basic skincare by full clutch contributor Maria.  Be sure to check back in tomorrow for the second half of the guide, plus more affordable product suggestions.

Maria is the Lead Editor and female half of Electrogent, a men’s interest, grooming, and lifestyle website and Hemlock and Tonic, a male-focused interior design website. As a makeup lover and skincare addict, when she isn’t giving advice to men she can usually be found trying on every lipstick in Sephora.

Cleansers, exfoliators, moisturizers, serums, retinoids, spot treatments, AHAs, sunscreens… oh my! If you don’t know where to start, building a skincare regimen can be a daunting task. Every skincare company will tell you that you NEED their products if you want clear, radiant, youthful skin. Not true. Some of the best products for your skin can be found at your local drugstore or supermarket. What follows is a guide to help you put together a basic skincare routine. Of course, there are additional products you can add depending on your skin’s needs. However, you’ll still need a solid foundation to work from.


Without a solid foundation your skin might do this.

Step 1: Cleanse

CeraVe CleanserThe base of any skincare routine is a good cleanser. You don’t need a super expensive department store face wash. Just because something costs more doesn’t mean it’s going to get all of the gunk off your face any better. If you’re acne-prone, use a foaming cleanser. It will be gentler on your skin. Cleanse your face twice a day- when you wake up and before you go to sleep.

I recommend: CeraVe Foaming Facial or Hydrating Cleanser which runs about $14 on Amazon.

Step 2: Exfoliate

Exfoliating removes layers of dead skin cells from your face. Doing this at least once a day will help if you have acne, blackheads, whiteheads, uneven skin tone, or dark spots. There’s two ways to exfoliate: manually and chemically. With manual exfoliation, you literally rub away the dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliation uses (you guessed it) chemicals to remove dead skin. If you’ve been using St. Ives Apricot Scrub to exfoliate your skin- stop that right now. It contains ground up walnut shells that create micro-tears in your skin which will cause serious irritation. To compensate for the irritation, your skin will produce more oil which in turn causes more acne. So just step away from the scrub. Instead, use a soft toothbrush or a washcloth to rub your face in gentle, circular motions after you cleanse it.

Products that contain alpha or beta hydroxy acids work well as chemical exfoliators. Look for products that don’t contain alcohol, which can be very drying. Surprisingly, the Stri-dex pads in the red box you probably used as a teenager are the most gentle and convenient way to chemically exfoliate. They contain salicylic acid (a beta hydroxy acid) and are alcohol free. While you can exfoliate twice a day for better results, doing this step at night is sufficient for most people.

I recommend: Stri-dex Medicated Pads, Maximum Strength.  Buy three boxes for around $12 from Amazon.

Radiance Tea Tree OilStep 3: Spot Treat

Even if you thoroughly cleanse and maintain your skin, it’s inevitable that you will get a few flare ups every now and then. Refrain from picking at your zits! The fastest way to get dark post-acne marks and scars is to pick at your face. I know- I’m guilty of this myself. Instead, apply tea tree oil or a salicylic acid spot treatment to the blemish with a q-tip. If your skin can tolerate it, benzoyl peroxide will work much faster than salicylic acid. However, only use it in concentrations of 2% or less. Many spot treatments contain benzoyl peroxide at a 10% concentration, which is way too harsh for normal skin types. Use spot treatments only when needed.

I recommend: Radiance Tea Tree Oil for $8.49 at CVS Pharmacy.


Make sure to check back in tomorrow for part two of the guide!  Flickr Photo Credit: WayTru

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