Build A Skin Care Routine You'll Look Forward To Each Day
Choose clean, green and sustainable alternatives to synthetic skin care products for your freshest face ever
What is a skin care routine?
The simplest way to understand what a skin care routine is, is to break it down into its most common steps: we cleanse, tone, hydrate and treat our skin each day, with a number of different products designed to do everything from remove dirt and oil, add moisture, treat breakouts or blemishes to reducing the appearance of dryness, fine lines and wrinkles. To say that there are innumerable ways to define a skin care routine would be an understatement. Rather than focusing on the definition of a skin care routine, let's get you focused on building one that feels attainable and sustainable for you.
If you ask around, you’re bound to find many people who tout the benefits of adding highly specialized skin care products to your daily routine, from eye cream to vitamin C serums and face masks, and while each of these specialty products is not without its benefits, most skin care experts agree that what’s most important is getting back to basics. Properly cleansing, hydrating and treating your skin every day is what’s most likely to get you the results you desire. You’re likely to find that once you’ve created a foundational routine that you look forward to in the morning and the evening, your natural curiosity for products that are typically more specialized might lead you in the direction of a new elixir or fancy face mask to really help elevate the routine you’re already establishing.
When looking to get started in building a new skin care routine, it’s only natural that you might have a lot of questions. How many products is the ‘right’ number of products? How will you know which products are right for your skin type? We’re saving the question that confuses the most people for last: what is the correct order of application for various skin care products? Rather than letting these and other questions overwhelm and deter you, lets’ address them one at a time.
How do I choose skin care products to best suit my needs?
Let’s start by debunking the idea that there is a ‘right’ number of products when it comes to skin care. We each have unique and individual needs and desires for our skin care routines, and some of us are more willing than others to spend a certain amount of time (and money) on the upkeep of this routine. Getting back to basics will tell you that it’s important to have a good quality cleansing product, an efficacious and easily absorbed (read: right for your skin type) moisturizer, and a treatment product that can include anything from a water based elixir or serum to a face oil or spot treatment. Many of the other products we enjoy are an added bonus, each bringing their own potential benefits and advantages, while not necessarily being such an integral part of our skin care routine regularly. Our best advice is to start small and build on your product assortment as you get a better idea of what types of products you like and the effect they are having on your skin.
When it comes to choosing products that are right for your skin type, most reputable companies make this quite easy by being very clear about their particular lines of products and the skin types they’ve been developed for. Typically, you’ll see skin types listed as normal or normal/combination, sensitive, oily or oily/combination and mature or dry/mature. Selecting products made specifically for your skin type is always a good starting point, as you want to ensure you’re treating any particular concerns you might have like moisture depletion or an overproduction of oil. A good rule of thumb? If a product doesn’t absorb relatively well into your skin or feels like it’s sitting on the surface, it might not be the right one for your skin type. To determine your correct skin type, think of how your skin looks and feels first thing in the morning: is it dry, tight or itchy? Do you notice an excess amount of oil? Or does it feel relatively balanced and neutral? These are some of the ways you can determine the correct types of products you should be buying. When in doubt, you can always get a second opinion from an esthetician or dermatologist.
Lastly when it comes to the order in which you should apply skin care products, think of going from your lightest to your heaviest products. Typically, these are your products with the highest water content (think cleansers or toners) to the lowest water content (think face oils or sunscreens). In a very basic skin care system, this might look like cleansing, applying elixir and then moisturizer. With a few more specialty skin care products included in your regimen, it can look like cleansing, a few spritzes of toner, 3-4 drops of your serum or elixir, eye cream, moisturizer, face oil (for you nighttime routine) and sunscreen (for your daytime routine).
Skin care products to cleanse and prep the skin
As mentioned, cleansing is the most important first step in any good skin care routine. Because you may be adding more active ingredients and essential oils in the products that follow, it’s best to choose a gentle cleanser that will get the job done but doesn’t cause any dryness, irritation or stripping of important moisture from the skin. If you cleanse too much or too often, you’re not doing your skin any favors as it’s more likely to experience adverse reactions like dryness or symptoms of irritation like redness. Instead, choose a light formula in your favorite format or that’s best suited to your skin type (think: cleansing bar, gel, cream or oil based cleanser) and prep the skin for more moisture. Pro tip: gently massage cleanser into the skin for between 30-60 seconds to ensure you’re getting the full benefits of the ingredients.
Pre-cleanse, it’s important to remove as much makeup as possible to truly allow our skin care products to do their jobs. We created Bare Face Makeup Remover to be an all-in-one, complete makeup remover that is tough on makeup, dirt, oil and grime yet gentle enough for use on the entire face, including the eyes. Aloe vera soothes and refreshes, promoting moisture balance in the skin while coconut oil and witch hazel distillate ensure makeup is removed and the skin is nourished. Why coconut oil? Fractionated coconut oil is a liquid, non-greasy emollient that easily penetrates the skin, helping you to absorb the benefits of plant-based ingredients. With its naturally balancing and cleansing properties, coconut oil gently moisturizes the skin without clogging your pores. The fresh, clean scent comes from essential oils of lavender, frankincense and roman chamomile. Apply with fingertips, a cotton pad or a clean cloth and rinse afterwards with warm water prior to cleansing.
A cleansing bar we love is called Zap, and it’s been formulated for oily or blemish prone skin that tends to experience breakouts. This deep cleansing bar with tea tree essential oil takes care of excess dirt, oil and dead skin cells, but also uses gentle and hydrating base ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil to hydrate, soothe and balance the skin. We recommend to use this cleansing bar in the morning and at night, followed by your remaining skin care products of choice for your skin type.
For normal/combination skin types, we’re big fans of a cleansing bar called Parisian Garden. Made from richly moisturizing and nourishing coconut oil to promote skin’s natural regeneration and french green clay to promote clarity while gently exfoliating and stimulating renewal, this bar also contains balancing and renewing essential oils of lavender, geranium and lemon. Wash away impurities and soften the skin, while leaving behind a freshly floral aroma.
Skin care products to tone and re-balance
A lesser known and sometimes underutilized product in skin care is toner. While toning is an optional step, a toner can help soothe and balance the skin post cleansing and set the stage for additional products to follow. Almost exclusively, toners are water based products. Blended with other ingredients to nourish and revive the skin, toners are meant to add moisture that may have been lost during cleansing as their primary benefit. Because at Saje all our toning skin care products are made with pure essential oils and distilled water, we believe there is a complementary product for all skin types in our collection.
For those who identify as having normal/combination or dry/mature skin, we recommend our Bliss Mist Harmonizing Facial Toner. A quick spritz of blissful, hydrating florals instantly relaxes and calms the skin and the mind. Bliss Mist is our ritziest blend of essential oils; the formula is chock full of essential oils prized in aromatherapy for their soothing and balancing properties like sweet sandalwood, balsamic frankincense, floral rose and geranium as well as ho wood, carrot, cypress and lavender. Mist generously post cleanse and breathe deeply for the secondary benefits of aromatherapy through inhalation.
Rain Forest Purifying Facial Toner is the product we recommend for those with oily/combination skin, or you are looking for a more astringent product because of congestion in the skin. Essential oils like petitgrain, pine needle and vetiver are renowned for their tonifying and clarifying properties for the skin, where gentle essential oils like patchouli, palmarosa and jasmine add balance to the blend. This refreshing and revitalizing toner can help reduce the appearance of excess oil and provide a freshy, woody aroma.
For problem skin that’s prone to breakouts, blemishes and excess oil, we recommend our Zap Toner that was specifically formulated with skin-clarifying ingredients that can help soothe, balance, reduce excess oil and calm irritation while promoting your skin’s natural rejuvenation. Liquid mineral salts help remove lingering traces of dirt, oil and makeup while essential oils like tea tree, geranium and juniper berry refresh, cleanse and rejuvenate; it all adds up to a radiantly clean and healthy-looking glow.
Not specifically formulated as a toner but one of our most well-loved products for skin care maintenance is none other than Rose Mist. Rose, the most precious of all essential oils, is a sweet and pungent floral that is well-known in aromatherapy for its soothing, smoothing, balancing and hydrating properties. Beneficial to not only the skin but to the mind as well, Rose Mist can be spritzed throughout the day, over the hair, face and body, anytime you need a refresh and a boost. As a bonus? It’s safe for use for all skin types.
Treatment products for a full skin care routine
We referred earlier to treatment products that are not necessarily considered must-haves, but more ‘nice to have’. We’re firm believers that treatment products can and should have a place in a well-rounded skin care routine, including as daily use products. Sometimes called serums, elixirs or face oils, if a product contains 100% pure oils (in the form of carrier oils and essential oils), it should be considered as the last step in a skin care regimen. Some serums or elixirs are water based, which means they would be placed between cleansing and moisturizing, or after toning. The facial oils we’re sharing today would be the last step in your skin care routine, after moisturizer.
Each of the three elixirs we’re featuring are comprised of base oils, usually called carrier oils, and essential oils that were formulated specifically for certain skin types and to address certain needs of the skin. Let’s start with an explanation of carrier oils: also known as base oils or vegetable oils, carrier oils come from a variety of plant sources and are used to help dilute and ‘carry’ essential oils safely to the skin. Here are the varieties we use in our skin care elixirs today and some of their benefits:
- Rosehip fruit oil: deeply hydrating and moisturizing, rosehip can help to gently exfoliate the skin bringing a bright and refreshed glow. Because it helps protect against sun damage, rosehip can help improve the appearance of skin’s texture and can reduce the appearance of redness or irritation due to dryness
- Grapeseed oil: high in omega chain fatty acids and vitamin E, grapeseed oil helps to improve skin’s moisture retention, elevates skin’s softness and helps support our skin’s natural ability to bounce back
- Evening Primrose oil: promotes skin health by relieving symptoms of irritation like redness, dryness and itching. Evening Primrose is high in linoleic acid which reinforces the skin’s barrier and helps the skin retain moisture
- Apricot Kernel oil: nourishing and softening, apricot kernel oil helps improve the appearance of skin tone, diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and helps restore a healthy and youthful glow
We offer three elixirs at Saje for different skin types as follows:
For sensitive skin, we recommend Sensitive Elixir, a calming skin serum with essential oils of restorative and rejuvenating geranium, delicate and soothing roman chamomile and balancing and harmonizing lavender.
For oily/combination or blemish prone skin, we recommend Balancing Elixir, a replenishing skin serum with essential oils of deeply cleansing and relieving tea tree, smoothing and soothing myrtle and fresh and astringent bergamot.
For normal, dry/mature skin types, we recommend Rejuvenating Elixir, a nourishing skin serum with essential oils of floral and texture-improving neroli, hydrating and replenishing rose and sweet and woody sandalwood.
Another product considered a treatment that we think everyone should add at least weekly to their skin care routine is a face mask. The right mask can do a whole host of things to improve the appearance of your skin, like hydrate the skin, reduce excess oil and draw out dirt, grime and other impurities from deep within the pores. Clay Cleanse is a face mask we formulated to help purify, rejuvenate and restore a healthy glow to skin that’s feeling lackluster or congested. The hero ingredient, kaolin clay, is a purifying clay mineral that helps to reduce excess oil and balance the skin. Other ingredients include bamboo charcoal to gently draw dirt and oil from pores and grounding, nurturing frankincense essential oil to restore skin’s vitality.
Lastly as far as treatments go, we’re sharing our Herbal Balm lash & nail salve, which is basically a little miracle worker in a skin care tub. This nourishing balm works double duty to support strong, resilient nails, while also conditioning your eyelashes. It also works wonders as a gentle eye make up remover! Made from calendula flower infused oil to hydrate dry, delicate skin and St. John’s wort to temporarily calm irritation and help skin look smoother, we’ve also included soothing and comforting essential oils like patchouli, geranium and sandalwood. From your lashes to your cuticles, (and as lip balm, in a pinch!) is there anything this multi purpose balm can’t do?
Accessories you can add to your skin care routine
Other products you can add to your skin care routine that are not products at all, are what we call skin care accessories. These are tools you can use to complement your existing skin care routine and help take it to the next level. There are many skin care accessories on the market today, from silicone brushes to apply your face masks evenly to facial steamers, eye patches and dry brushes. While there is no shortage of options when it comes to skin care accessories, we are the biggest fans of the two we’re featuring below.
The first is a Quartz Roller Facial Massager, made from a healing crystal called Clear Quartz. In energy healing, clear quartz is thought to be an energy amplifier and master healer, helping to promote clarity and balance. As a facial massage tool, the clear quartz roller is used to improve the look and feel of your skin, by gently massaging the face, neck and upper chest to encourage blood flow and increased circulation. An ancient skin care ritual, massaging the face can help smooth, soothe and rejuvenate the skin’s appearance with gentle pressure. We like to apply a few drops of our favorite elixir to a clean face and begin massaging and rolling in an upwards and outwards motion, starting in the center and moving towards the frame of the face, making sure to be extra careful around the sensitive eye and eyebrow area. After use, rinse the crystal roller with soap and water and dry thoroughly. A hot tip: place in the fridge before use for an extra cooling effect and sensation.
Another skin care accessory we love is a plant-derived facial sponge called Konjac Kare. A traditional beauty treatment in Japan, the natural konjac sponge comes from a perennial plant that is native to the Indochina Peninsula. This 100% natural vegetable fibre sponge is enriched with yam extract, which contains enriched protein amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Every wash delivers a dose of proteins, amino acids and minerals to your skin, helping to defend against the elements. Regular use will gently exfoliate skin, soothe, comfort and support skin’s ability to defend against dehydrating environmental influences. 100% naturally occurring plant fibres are uncolored and untreated; our favorite part is that at the end of the life cycle for your konjac sponge, you can add it to your garden or compost bin where it will 100% break down naturally!
Lifestyle factors that have an influence on your skin care
While high quality and efficacious ingredients and skin care products can go a long way, there are certain lifestyle factors that can undoubtedly have a major impact on your skin’s health. Make no mistake, long term neglect of your diet, sleeping habits and prioritization of movement for your body can wreak havoc on your skin’s look and feel. A holistic, well-rounded approach to skin care starts with healthy habits that are attainable and sustainable for the short and long terms. We’re closing this article with some tried and true tips and tricks for how you can use your lifestyle to have a positive impact on your skin’s health and maintenance.
- Drink enough water. There is no way to overstate the importance of this healthy habit in each and every one of our lifestyles. Our bodies are made up of roughly 70% water and our skin is our largest organ - you do the math. Proper, sufficient hydration is necessary to address everything from sleep concerns, digestive issues and problematic skin afflictions like dryness or breakouts. Across the board, we’re depleted of the H20 we need every day to function optimally; too much caffeine and overestimating the amount of water we’ve consumed are two of the likely culprits. Do your skin a favor and have an extra glass (or two!) of water.
- Sleep like your skin’s health depends on it. Speaking of sleep, are you prioritizing 7-9 hours every single night? If you’re like most people, the answer is no. Sleep is another one of our body’s most important functions, and also plays a part in the systems we mentioned above, including hormonal regulation and energy levels. Another one of the major reasons to prioritize sleep? Our skin cells regenerate more quickly at night. If you want supple, hydrated skin that retains moisture and naturally helps itself combat the signs of aging, get your beauty sleep.
- Move your body. In whatever way makes sense and feels good to you, prioritizing moving our bodies is also good for the health of our skin. Getting our heart rate up is good for circulation in our bodies and helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to the skin. All that sweating is good for getting gunk out of our pores, which is why working out with makeup on is a big skin care no-no! Regardless of which particular exercises you choose, find ways to incorporate movement into your life everyday.
- Eat the rainbow. Book after study after article will tell us we are what we eat and while this is only partially true, there is sound reasoning when it comes to fuelling our bodies with nutritious and delicious foods that come to us primarily from plants. Foods like most nuts, blueberries, avocados and fermented foods like tempeh for some people help to reduce the amount of inflammation they experience in the body, which can help improve the appearance of the skin while also helping the body to feel balanced and regulated. Try and incorporate clean, healthy vegetables with each meal and see how you (and your skin!) feel.
- Never, ever sleep in your makeup. This one is a cardinal rule for skin care. This one should go without saying. In order for our skin to breathe at night, thus beginning its cycle of repair and restoration, it needs to be clean. It needs to be free of potentially pore-clogging dirt, oil and makeup, which is why prioritizing a nighttime skin care routine should be at the top of your list. Make cleansing your skin in the evening the same priority as brushing your teeth and changing into your comfiest pyjamas and your skin will thank you for it.
While building a skin care routine that is tailored to your specific skin type and personal needs can seem daunting, try and focus on the end goal, which is maintaining your healthiest looking skin that glows from the inside out!
Be good to your skin. You’ll wear it every day for the rest of your life.
— Renee Rouleau