Want a simple routine & the right products for your skin type?

Want a simple routine & the right products for your skin type?

by Michael Wong

Want a simple routine & the right products for your skin type?

By: Geelda Raoofi

This post is more targeted towards people who might be new to skincare and/or don't want anything more than a very simple (e.g. 3-4 step) routine. I know my boyfriend doesn't want to invest a lot of time or have a 10-step routine, and some others may feel the same if they are very busy. A lot of people want to take care of their skin but don't know how and don't know where to start. For some others, they could be on a budget and don't want to buy more than the essential products. Many people new to skincare come in asking which is the "one" product they should leave here with.

I am here to simplify your routine for you and tell you which products are essential for your skin health.

  1.  Cleanser                                                                                                  Cleansing our face daily prevents the buildup of dirt, which can cause bacteria overgrowth. Daily cleansing will prevent skin issues as well as premature aging.
  2. Moisturizer                                                                                                  Moisturizers improve skin hydration and increases stratum corneum water content by directly providing water to the skin from their water phase and increasing occlusion to reduce trans-epidermal water loss, it also covers small skin fissures, provides a soothing protective film and protects skin from friction. There's some serums that contain peptides/growth factors which can be just as effective as a moisturizer. For example, I sometimes use the ZO: Growth Factor Serum instead of a moisturizer during the warmer seasons (would use it after moisturizer if I wanted to use both). Due to its larger molecular structure, it rests at the top surface of the skin (just like a moisturizer does) to restore hydration and reinforce the skin's protective barrier.
  3. Sunscreen                                                                                                  Choose sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection. This means the sunscreen has the ability to block out both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays can penetrate your skin more deeply and cause your skin cells to age prematurely. About 95 percent of the UV rays that reach the ground are UVA rays. The other 5% of UV rays are UVB. These are the ones responsible for damaging the outer layer of the skin and lead to sunburns. These rays directly damage DNA and are the cause of most skin cancers. Make sure you are usng SPF 30 or higher (going higher can add an extra layer of protection). There's physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and reflects the sun's rays. They create a barrier on the skin's surface that reflects UV rays to prevent damage and sunburns. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the main ingredients in physical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreen absorbs into the skin and then absorbs UV rays, converts the rays into heat, and releases them from the body. The active ingredients in chemical sunscreens include avobenzone, octinoxate and oxybenzone.
  4. Exfoliator                                                                                                        This is something to use 1-2 times a week. Exfoliation is so important regardless of your skin type. Proper exfoliation removes the barrier of dead skin cells clogging the skin and uncovers fresh new cells below. This opens the way for moisturizing products to penetrate more deeply into the skin, which makes them more effective.

Extras that can still be considered essentials.

Vitamin C


These active ingredients will not work properly without being paired with another product. For example, most Vitamin C is too acidic to apply to the skin on its own or it can oxidize when it comes in contact with the environment causing it to turn orange or darker in colour on the skin. This is why it's ideal to use a hydrating ingredient on your skin afterwards. Retinol is too harsh to apply to skin without applying a moisturizer after. Some people even put a small amount of moisturizer prior to retinol and then another layer after they have applied it (this is called the retinol sandwich method).

Why Vitamin C is so important?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells against the effects of free radicals — molecules produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation from the sun, X-rays or other sources. Applying it topically is just as significant as taking it orally. Free radicals might play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Why is retinol so important?

Retinol increases skin cell production (proliferation). It helps unclog pores. Retinol also exfoliates your skin and increases collagen production, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving your skin a fresher, plump appearance. It can help people dealing with breakouts by removing dirt, dead skin cells, and oil from pores. This can help prevent pimples from forming.

Knowing your skin type

Knowing this will allow you to pick the right ingredients/products for your skin. If you use the wrong products for your skin type, this can cause congestion leading to acne or other skin issues. For example, if you have oily skin and you end up using a very heavy cream, this can lead to increased oil production and exacerbate acne breakouts. For someone who has oily skin and experiencing breakouts, you should be using a lightweight moisturizer that are water-based rather than oil-based.

Ingredients for your skin type:

Normal                                                                                                                   Balanced skin with the right amount of oil and hydration. Follicle size is very small. Skin feels soft, smooth texture; good elasticity. Uniform luminosity; no or rare blemishes. What are some ingredients that are good for normal skin? Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, vitamin c, rose hip seed oil etc.

Dry                                                                                                                        Minimal hydration and oil production, difficult to visualize follicle size due to very fine pores. Appears dull, lacks Lumosity, flaky, blotchy. Feels rough, thin, tight. What are some ingredients that are good for dry skin? Ceramides, enzymes, vitamin c, petrolatum etc.

Oily                                                                                                                          Oil is moderate to high, hydration is good to dehydrated, follicle size is moderate to large, appearance is shiny; comedones and blemishes may be present. Feels thick and firm, uneven due to congestion. What are some ingredients that are good for oily skin? Tea tree oil, willow bark, vitamin c, salicylic acid etc.

Combination                                                                                                            Oil is moderate to high, hydration is good to dehydrated, follicle size is larger in T-zone than cheeks and side of face. Can have buildup of dead skin and oil in pores around nose but dry or flaking skin outside of T-zone; some blemishes and comedones. Feels oilier in center T-zone. What are some ingredients that are good for combination skin? Ginseng, honey, vitamin c, witch hazel etc.

Sensitive                                                                                                                   Red, swollen, and itchy skin. Redness that presents with or without swelling. Skin that stings or burns. Dry skin that may crack, blister, or bleed. Patches of skin that feel dry, hard and leathery. What are some ingredients that are good for sensitive skin? Centella asiatica, oatmeal, niacinamide, jojoba oil etc.

Having dehydrated skin is very common. Before I learned about skin in general and my own skin type, I always thought I had dry skin. I found out that I had combination skin and dehydration. It's actually possible to have oily skin and dehydration. What is the difference between dehydrated skin and dry skin you may ask? Dehydration is a condition where the skin lacks water in the uppermost layer. Dry skin is the type that produces less sebum (oil) than other skin types. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) occurs when water passes from the dermis through the epidermis and evaporates through the skin barrier. Essentially, water evaporates out of your skin more quickly than it can hold on to it.

A few simple steps can help re-hydrate your skin.

  • Exfoliate - get rid of the dry, dead skin cells in the epidermis. This will allow proper absorption of nutrients, water and moisturizers. Make sure you aren't exfoliating too often because this can cause irritation and make your skin worse.
  • Hydrate by using ingredients that attract and bind water. These are called humectants (e.g. hyaluronic acid, sorbital, glycerin etc).
  • Moisturize - After a humectant, help lock in hydration and keep the skin from drying out. You can do this with occlusives and emollients. Occlusives work by forming a protective coating on the surface of your skin, and emollients are ingredients in skin care products that soothe dryness or irritation (e.g. ceramides, shea butter, jojoba oil etc).

Other things you can do to hydrate your skin is to make sure you are getting adequate sleep, take lukewarm showers instead of hot, limit/avoid smoking, limit/avoid caffiene and alcohol consumption, use a gentle cleanser, have essential fatty acids, protect your skin from extreme weather conditions (too hot, too cold, wind, UV rays etc.), and reduce your stress levels.

In conclusion, you don't need to be overwhelmed with skincare if you just want to keep it simple. Grab yourself a gentle cleanser, exfoliant, moisturizer, and sunscreen if you are new to skincare. Once you get the hang of the basics, you can incorporate other products based on your skin needs.

I recommend Vitamin C as a great first serum to introduce to your skin. It's great for anyone with acne-prone skin to aging skin, oily to dry skin. At the end of the day, it's always key to be consistant and to understand your skin rather than just applying products and not knowing what your skin really needs. Below I have listed products we have at AE.R if you want to try out a simple routine (doesn't matter whether you are new to skincare or not!)

The ones I listed are the most gentle and hydrating options available. Depending on your skin type and concerns, we have other products available as well.

Cleansers                                                                                                            ZO: Gentle cleanser                                                                                                ZO: Hydrating cleanser                                                                                  SkinCeuticals: Soothing cleanser

Exfoliant                                                                                                                    ZO: Exfoliating polish

Moisturize                                                                                                              ZO: Hydrating Crème                                                                                        SkinCeuticals: Daily Moisture                                                                          SkinCeuticals: Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

Sunscreen                                                                                                        SkinCeuticals: Physical UV Defense SPF 50 (tinted​)                                          SkinCeuticals: Sheer Physical UV Defence SPF 50 (untinted)

For our Valentines flash sale, we have 20% off all of our skincare products online (valid from Feb 7th to 14th) if you want to try any of these products out. Use the promo code: AERLOVE23 at checkout. Happy Valentines Day!