Knowing what skincare products do, which ones we should be using and whether they actually work can be a bit of a minefield.
Our Beauty Basics series looks at seemingly simple beauty topics and breaks them right down. This time, lifestyle writer Charlotte Begg speaks to a skin expert about the different steps in a skincare routine.
What type of serum should I be using? Should I be applying an oil too? Do I use them together or separately? The list goes on.
I don’t even want to know how much money I’ve spent on products that I’m still unsure about.
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So I decided to get some expert advice. Dr Michele Squire, a PhD-qualified scientist and owner of Qr8, who has been in the skincare business for over 17 years, shared with me exactly what each skincare step does and whether or not you really need to use them all (hint: you don’t).
So from toner to serum, here’s what every step of a skincare routine actually does.
What is a cleanser and what does it do?
Cleansing is a basic hygiene measure to remove excess oil, makeup, sunscreen, perspiration and the microbes, dirt and skin cells that get stuck in that.
Do you need a cleanser?
Yes. To perform their magic, cleansers contain ingredients called surfactants that allow dirt and oil to be bundled up and washed off with water (water can’t do this alone). Everyone needs to cleanse at least once a day (twice if you’re oily or acne prone).
What is a toner and what does it do?
Toner, essence, mist – these are all names for a watery product that you can sandwich somewhere between your cleanser and moisturiser. They can contain just about anything and are often just a way to include another product in overloaded skincare routines.
Do you need a toner?
Nope, but if you want to use one, make sure it doesn’t contain drying alcohol!
What is a serum and what does it do?
Serums are the workhorses of a skincare routine. They contain concentrated ingredients in a light and easily absorbed formulation (so you can layer a few if necessary).
Do you need a serum?
Probably. Because there are so many types of serum, you can mix and match to suit your individual skin concerns.