A 101 from folks who do it every day
If we haven’t formally met, we’re Kura—the skincare matchmakers (nice to meet you!). We use data from customers’ skin profiles to match them with the best products for their unique needs, and our speciality is building custom, clean, budget-based routines. If that sounds cool to you, you can skip this post, complete a profile at kuraskin.com, and we’ll send your personalized routine to your door within a couple of days. But if DIY’s more your thing, we’re pulling back the curtain to help you build a personalized skincare routine of your own.
Start with the skin care basics
Good things come in threes. Luke, Leia, Han. Peanut butter, jelly and…bread? You get it. The same’s true here.
Regardless of your skin type, age or concerns, you need to cleanse, hydrate and use SPF.
We can already hear your objections: I don’t need to moisturize, I have oily skin, or I don’t need SPF because I don’t burn! We know—we’ve heard it all before. But look, it’s this simple: good skin health necessitates that you cleanse, moisturize, and protect a daily basis. So let’s get into why those 3 matter when you build a skincare routine and how to find the right products for you.
Finding your cleanser
Cleansing is the one thing that pretty much everyone does, even if it’s with bar of soap or a 3-in-1 body wash (p.s. these aren’t great options). It’s important because it keeps your face free from clogged pores and acne, and it keeps impurities from accumulating and causing dullness, increasing skin texture, and triggering irritation.
While washing your face may seem too simple to mess up, there is a right way to do it. There is also a right way to choose your products.
One critical piece of the puzzle has to do with pH. You may remember from chemistry class that there’s a pH range of 1-14, where below 7 is acidic and above 7 is basic. Your skin has a natural pH of 5.5, and when you use skincare with too high or low a pH you can strip your skin of its natural oils and cause irritation, dryness and redness. As a general rule, you want to look for cleansers that are slightly acidic, with a pH around 5.5 but as low as 4.5.
How to choose the right one
We consider three factors when in matching individuals to their best cleanser: skin type, concerns, and seasonality.
Drier skin types will react well to creamier textures that melt away impurities while also hydrating skin. Oilier skin types often do better with gel formulas. When it comes to ingredients, acne-prone types can benefit from ingredients like salicylic acid, which can help penetrate and clear pores. People thinking about lines and wrinkles may prefer a daily wash featuring alpha hydroxy acids, which offer a touch of gentle exfoliation. But of course the calculus here can change over the course of a year—a cream that feels nourishing in winter may not feel like it thoroughly takes off the day in a steamy summer, so listen to your skin and don’t be afraid to do a bit of seasonal product transitioning.
Finding your moisturizer
Hydration is for everyone and it plays a critical role in helping your skin do the job it was intended to do: keeping moisture in and bacteria out. When your skin gets too dry it can become inflamed, cause wrinkles to look deeper, aggravate acne, and cause oily skin to overproduce oil. It becomes even more important as we age as skin increasingly looses its ability to retain moisture.
How to choose the right one
When thinking about how to build hydration into your skincare routine, skin type should be the first consideration. Drier skin types will generally appreciate creamier moisturizers, which can be formulated with plant oils or occlusive ingredients that help lock in hydration and prevent moisture loss. On the other end of the spectrum, oilier skin types will feel more comfortable with gel textures formulated with humectants, which work by binding moisture to the surface of your skin.
But there are other factors to consider. Your climate is one of them. For example, arid climates can cause skin to become more quickly dehydrated, so oil-based hydrators will do a better job of preventing moisture loss. Seasonality is another factor to consider; a Boston winter may call for a cream layered with an oil while a gel-cream may be enough in summer. Having a few different hydrating layers on hand can help you moderate your hydration levels from one day to the next.
A note on non-comedogenic
You may have seen this term on skincare products. It basically means that it won’t clog your pores. Unfortunately the term isn’t tested or regulated, so any company can slap the term on their bottle if they feel like it’s appropriate.
A much better way for the acne prone to defend against clogged pores is to get to know which ingredients are comedogenic and read the ingredients label.
Finding your SPF
You cannot build a skincare routine without SPF. In fact, this may be the most important part of your routine. Wearing it on a daily basis defends against all kinds of signs of aging and, more importantly, defends against skin cancer.
How to choose the right one
Choose a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30. That helps defend against almost 97% of UVB rays. From there you have your pick of chemical or physical SPF. Chemical SPFs tend to be thinner and feel lighter and easier to wear. But they work by absorbing into your skin, and that has raised some health concerns in recent years.
That’s why we prefer physical SPFs with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as their active ingredients. These sit on top of the skin and reflect damaging UV rays. Not only are these ingredients safer to use but they’re also far less irritating. The downside is that some can leave a white cast after application.
Want help building your skincare routine?
Figuring it all out can feel like a lot. That’s why we started Kura. We’re on a mission to take the guesswork out of skincare and connect you with the right products without all the friction.
To get started with routine built around you, create a skin profile at kuraskin.com and we’ll take care of the rest.