What’s the best skincare routine for normal skin? And does normal skin even need a skincare routine? After all, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. That’s how I feel about normal skin. You ladies have won the skincare jackpot. Your skin never pumps out too much oil. You don’t know what dryness and blemishes are. Wrinkles haven’t creeped up on your face yet. Everything’s working as it should. So does that mean you don’t need a skincare routine?
Well, no. Here’s the deal: your skin is an organ. Like your heart. You wouldn’t go and take pills for heart disease when your heart’s healthy, right? But, you can’t even binge on fast foods every night, smoke 3 packets of cigarettes a day, never move your body and expect not to get a heart attack. Prevention is better than cure.
It’s the same for your skin: you don’t need all those powerful actives that zip blemishes, fade away dark spots and treat wrinkles BUT you do need a gentle skincare routine that helps prevent sun damage and protect it from harsh weather and anything else that could damage it. Your skincare mantra is KISS: keep it simple, stupid.
- What Is Normal Skin?
- Does Normal Skin Need A Skincare Routine?
- What Products Does Normal Skin Need?
- The Best Skincare Routine For Normal Skin
- What About Moisturiser?
- What About Exfoliation?
- What About Retinol?
- How To Choose Skincare Products For Normal Skin
- Avoid Irritants
- The Bottom Line
What Is Normal Skin?
Normal skin is a unicorn. Even if you won the skincare jackpot and your skin looks flawless, it may still produce the slightest amount of excess oil on your t-zone or get a teeny tiny bit dry in winter. You can also still get the odd pimple, particularly if you’re under stress or use comedogenic products. And, overtime, your skin will age too – especially if you haven’t been diligent with sunscreen.
Said that, your skin is flawless most of the time. You don’t experience regular burst of acne or dry patches of skin. Your skin just looks healthy, bright and soft, without you having to do anything to get it there. It functions as it should, so your main focus is to keep the status quo and not do anything or use any products that’d make things worse.
Does Normal Skin Need A Skincare Routine?
Yes, normal skin needs a skincare routine too. It just doesn’t need a 10 step skincare routine or any of the skincare products (toner! essence! scrub!) most brand swear are a must (they’re not). Truth is, normal skin already functions the way healthy skin should. It exfoliates on its own. It gets enough hydration on its own. It produces just the right amount of sebum your skin needs to be naturally moisturised without going overboard and causing acne. It doesn’t need your health to function normally.
So why does normal skin still needs a skincare routine? Because you live in the real world where there are external agents that could damage it. First and foremost, the sun. You skip sunscreen, you’re going to get wrinkles and dark spots. You live in a harsh, cold climate, your protective barrier will get damaged and dry out your normal skin. You use products full of fragrant essential oils and other irritating crap and you may develop a rash.
You get my point. Your skin doesn’t need your help in functioning properly, but it does need your help in protecting it from environmental aggressors that may tip the balance from normal to dry or oily or fast-track premature aging. The trick is to keep it simple and give your skin only what it absolutely needs.
What Products Does Normal Skin Need?
I get it. You keep hearing about all these amazing skincare ingredients and think you’re missing out if you don’t exfoliate with two types of acids, use the highest concentration of retinoids you can get your hands on, and incorporate at least a skin-lightener into your skincare routine. But these are skincare medicines: if you’ve got nothing to treat, there’s no point using them. Especially because they could seriously ruin the balance and dry out your skin.
Normal skin is lucky: it does every job – yes, including exfoliating and moisturising – on its own so you don’t need to jump in and give it a helping hand just cos acids are having a moment and Allure tells you a moisturiser is a must.
The only products normal skin truly needs are:
- Cleanser: I don’t really need to explain this one, do I?
- Antioxidant serum: It helps prevent premature wrinkles.
- Sunscreen: It prevents sun damage, including wrinkles, sagging and dark spots.
These are the foundation of any good skincare routine. You can build on it if your skin at some point tells you it needs a bit more help. Otherwise, chill. If ain’t broken, why risk breaking it?
Related: My Fave Antioxidant Serums
The Best Skincare Routine For Normal Skin
Now we’ve got the basic steps sorted, it’s time to break them down. Here is the best skincare routine for normal skin:
Not washing your skin is just gross. But washing with the wrong type of cleanser could seriously dry out your skin and even give you pimples. The key is to choose a gentle cleanser that removes dirt and makeup without stripping your skin of the moisturising oils it naturally produces. I’m partial to milk cleansers for normal skin because they’re neither too stripping nor too emollient. But if you prefer a foaming formula, pick a gentle one that produces very little lather. The less it foams, the gentler it is.
- CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($14.99): A cream cleanser loaded with ceramide to remove impurities while strengthening your skin’s protective barrier. Available at Boots, Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Look Fantastic, Sephora, Ulta and Walmart.
- Corsx Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser ($11.00): A gentle pH-balanced (5.5) foaming cleanser that gets rid of excess oil and impurities without drying out skin. Available at Sokoglam and YesStyle.
- Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Softening Cream Cleanser ($17.00): This moisturising cleanser uses a mix of surfactants and natural oils to remove impurities and makeup from skin, leaving it soft and clean. Available at Paula’s Choice.
Related: How To Pick The Right Cleanser For Your Skin Type
2. Antioxidant Serum
Antioxidants are your skin’s BFF: they patrol the body looking for free radicals to kill before they can destroy your collagen, elastin and everything else they meet on their path. Every brand has its darling, but the truth is, there’s no super antioxidant that’s better than all the rest. Just like your body doesn’t only need kale, your skin doesn’t only need vitamin C.
A combination of antioxidants is the way to go. My fave is vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid (CEF). Studies show they enhance one another’s effectiveness and boost sun protection. I personally use CEF in the morning and another serum full of different antioxidants in the evening. The more you use, the slower your skin will age. Don’t skimp on this!
P.S. If you do decide you need a moisturiser or essence after all, pick one that’s full of antioxidants. That way, you can avoid using two serums.
- Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster ($49.00): It’s enriched with Hyaluronic Acid and glycerin to deeply hydrate skin. Available at Cult Beauty, Dermstore, Net-A-Porter, Paula’s Choice, Sephora, and SpaceNK.
- Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($38.00): From Vitamin C (it has 3 forms!!) to Ferulic Acid and superoxide dismutase, this hydrating serum is loaded with every antioxidant you can think of to neutralise as many free radicals as possible. Available at Dermstore and Paula’s Choice.
- The Ordinary EUK 134 0.1% (£6.90): A mimetic of superoxide dismutase and catalase, it destroys superoxide free radicals, the worst and most damaging types of free radicals out there. If it’s missing from your skincare routine, it’s a good idea to supplement with this. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, and Sephora.
Related: Which Antioxidant Should You Use?
Your skin may not have a care in the world right now but that won’t last long if you skip sunscreen. The sun is responsible for 90% of premature aging. You know, wrinkles, dark spots and sagging. Imagine how much damage you can avoid just by slathering sunscreen on every single day.
Yep, even in winter. Even if it rains. UVA rays, the sneaky ones that give you wrinkles, are present from the moment the sun comes up to the moment the sun goes down, get through clouds and glass and can even be reflected on snow. Pile that sunscreen on, ladies!
- EltaMD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46 ($33.00): A lightweight half-mineral, half-chemical sunscreen for normal skin that skews slightly oily. It protects from UV rays, provides a light layer of hydration, and brightens dark spots. Available at Blue Mercury, Dermstore, Look Fantastic, and Skin Store.
- MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme Broad Spectrum SPF 50 UVA-UVB Sunscreen ($30.00): A mineral sunscreen with a silky smooth texture that provides broad spectrum protection and hydrates skin at the same time. Available at Dermstore, Revolve, and Skin Store.
- Ultrasun Ultra Sensitive Very High SPF50+ Extreme Formula (£54.00): This sunscreen uses the latest generation of chemical UV filters to provide broad spectrum, water-resistant protection without irritating sensitive skin, like the old generation did. Available at Boots, Sephora, and SpaceNK.
What About Moisturiser?
Wait, what?! A skincare routine WITHOUT moisturiser?! Hear me out: the basic job of a moisturiser is to add moisture back into the skin and strengthen its protective barrier so it never gets dry and flaky. And if it’s already dry and flay, to nurse it back to health. If your have normal skin, your skin’s protective barrier is intact and working properly. Water isn’t evaporating out of your skin.
If your skin doesn’t feel tight and uncomfortable at any point during the day and it’s not flaking, you don’t need a moisturiser. A hydrating serum or moisturising sunscreen is more than enough for you. The only exception? Well, if you live somewhere cold and your skin’s constantly under the attack of unrelenting cold winds and low temperatures, you may want to add a moisturiser to give your natural skin’s defences a boost and prevent dryness.
- Byoma Moisturizing Gel Cream ($9.99): A lightweight moisturiser with niacinamide, ceramides, and antioxidants to keep skin soft and supple and prevent premature aging. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora, SpaceNK, and Ulta.
- Cerave PM Facial Moisturising Lotion ($10.94): It uses humectants that hyaluronic acid and glycerin to attract water into your skin and ceramides to moisturise skin without adding more oil to it. Available at Beauty Bay, Boots, Cult Beauty, Dermstore, and Ulta.
- Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream ($68.00): I’m not impressed by the peptides, but it’s also loaded with amino acids (the building blocks of your skin) to moisturise skin and plump it up – without clogging your pores and giving you breakouts. Its lightweight, gel-like texture sinks in immediately, leaving skin softer, smoother, and dewy. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
Related: Does Everyone Needs A Moisturiser?
What About Exfoliation?
Did you know your skin exfoliates on its own? That’s why your skin is soft and glowy when you’re a teen. But when you get older, your skin starts slacking on the job and needs the helping hand of an exfoliant. If your skin’s normal, chances are it’s still doing the exfoliating job well on its own. You’ll know when this isn’t the case anymore: when your skin starts struggling, it gets rougher and dull.
Until then, you DON’T have to do anything. If you really, really, really insist on exfoliating anyway, a gentle washcloth or a lactic acid exfoliant a couple of times a week are more than enough. If you’re around 30s and want to up your anti aging game, you can go with a small concentration of glycolic acid twice a week. It’ll boost collagen and reduce fine lines too.
- Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90.00): This exfoliant contains two exfoliants. Glycolic Acid to fade away dark spots and Salicylic Acid to unclog pores. Available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA ($33.00): A wonderful low strength Glycolic Acid exfoliant that makes skin softer, smoother, and brighter. Available at Paula’s Choice and Selfridges
- The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (£6.80): A gentle, no-frills Glycolic Acid exfoliant for people on a budget. Available at Beauty Bay and Cult Beauty
Related: What’s The Best Type Of Exfoliation For Your Skin Type?
What About Retinol?
Yes, retinol is one of the very few things that can reduce wrinkles. You don’t want to wait until you have deep wrinkles to use it. But I don’t believe in using it too soon either. I’d say your late 20s/early 30s are a good time to start using it. Again, look at your skin. If it’s still young and not showing even the tiniest of fine lines, you can hold back.
But as you get older and you start noticing your skin doesn’t snap back as quickly when you smile or frown or, worse, you’ve already have a hint of fine lines, add it to your skincare routine pronto. FYI, retinol can be irritating and drying when you first start using it. The trick is to start with a small concentration (1% is HUGE for retinol – yes, really) twice a week and build up both dose and frequency from there.
- Paula’s Choice Resist Wrinkle Repair Retinol Serum ($42.00): An anti-aging serum with 0.1% retinol. It also includes antioxidants, like Vitamin E, to prevent premature aging, and soothing ingredients to reduce irritations. Available at Paula’s Choice and Sephora.
- Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Night Cream ($62.00): This cream contains only 0.3% retinol but it packs an anti-aging punch. It comes in a moisturising base, but you need to use a separate moisturiser to counteract the dryness of retinol. Available at Dermstore and Skinceuticals.
- Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster ($52.00): This high-strength 1% retinol booster has a moisturising base and plenty of skin-soothers to counteract the irritating effects of retinol. Use it on its own for maximum effect or dilute it with moisturiser if it’s too harsh for you. Available at Cult Beauty, Net-A-Porter, Paula’s Choice and SpaceNK.
- Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65.00): A micro encapsulated 1.5% retinol serum in an oily, moisturising base to fight wrinkles and fade away dark spots. Available at Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty, and Peter Thomas Roth.
Related: What Strength Of Retinol Do You Need?
How To Choose Skincare Products For Normal Skin
Now you know what skincare products you need, how do you pick the right ones off the shelves? I mean, everything seems to be made for oily, dry or sensitive skin. Where the heck is the section for normal skin?!
Well, there isn’t one. But there are a couple of criteria you can follow to help you make your choice easier:
- Skin type: Yes, yes, it’s normal. But does it tend to get a little dry when the weather’s freezing cold? Then you may want to go with products for dry skin. Do you get the odd zit every now and then? Products for oily skin may be better for you. Your skin doesn’t mishbehave? Check point 2.
- Personal preference: Normal skin is lucky. You can choose products based on the texture you prefer. If you like super light lotions, go with gel. If you enjoy something richer, go with that. It’s up to you.
One more thing: whatever product you pick, make sure it doesn’t contain any irritants that could wreak havoc on your skin. The worst culprits are:
- Alcohol denat
- Essential oils
- Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone
- Mint and peppermint
- Sodium lauryl sulfate
- Witch hazel
For the complete list, download your FREE “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” cheatsheet below:
The Bottom Line
When it comes to the best skincare routine for normal skin, less is more. Unless your skin is telling you it needs an extra helping hand, keep your routine as simple as possible. Focus on maintaining the balance and don’t be tempted to try the latest fad: they may push your skin over the edge and wreak havoc!