Skin Health Series 1.1 // The "What" & The "Why" Behind a Multi-Steps Skin Care Ritual

// Part One //

What Is A Multi-Steps Skin Care Ritual + Reasons Behind Each Step


I've been following a multi-steps skin care ritual for such a long time that I have forgotten how confused I was when I was just starting out.

A few friends recently asked me what the steps really are and how they would know what products they should use.  And that prompted me to write this series on skin care ritual and share what I've learned throughout my skin health journey!

I realize when you don't know what you should be looking for, skin care is a super confusing thing to figure out ...

I used to dive head first into the products and the trends, but now I realize it's most important for me to first understand the reasons behind each step in the ritual.  When you become well-informed about the "why", then finding products your skin loves comes much easier.  

And remember - Skin care is about listening to your skin.

This is why I look at it as a "ritual" because it is something that allows you to connect at a deeper level with your body.  It is beyond just the mere action of putting products on your face.  And since our skin is the largest organ in our body (yes it's true!), it needs all the love we can give to it, both inside and out!  

I hope you will walk away with 2 key points from reading this Skin Health Series.

1. You will always listen to your skin. 

2. You will become a well-informed skin care lover who will make your own choices and not the choices brands want you to make.


Ready to jump start your own skin health journey?

Let's go!!!

skin care ritual At a glance

Here is a look at the multi-step skin care ritual from 30,000 feet

Steps for a day time skin care ritual
Steps for a night time skin care ritual

Notice I am showing no more than 8 steps and can be less based on your skin.  That's all you need - Don't believe in the urban myth that you have to use 20 products all at once to maintain your skin health!

one step at a time!

I made these play cards below to help you understand why each step exists, what to look out for, and how to maximize each step.  I will minimize product talks as what works for my skin may or may not work for yours.  However, I'm happy to share my thoughts on the ones I do use.  Just ask away!

Also, in case you want to have a hard-copy of these play cards, you can download a copy by clicking on the Dropbox file link at the end of this story.

Let's start with your Day Time Ritual

(Note: 4 of the 5 steps will be repeated in your night time ritual)

Steps in a day time skin care ritual

~ 1. CLEANSE ~

Step: Cleanse  The Basics:  It's basically washing and cleaning your face with a facial cleanser.  What To Look Out For#1: 1. Your post-cleansed skin should feel soft and supple. If your skin feels very dry after cleansing, it's time to find a new cleanser. 2. Many people think that a cleanser is doing a great job if it dries up the skin, but in fact, it is harming your skin!   3. You want your cleanser to clear away dirt and excess oil, but not to the point where it strips all moisture from it.
Step: Cleanse  What To Look Out For#2:  1. Always use lukewarm, not hot, water to cleanse your face as hot water dries your skin.  2. Beware of foam cleansers as they tend to be more drying than cream/gel cleansers.  Some even contain astringent which dries up skin. I avoid them at all cost!  3. Exfoliating cleansers shouldn't be used daily as the action is quite harsh on the skin and it's more suitable for oily or combo skin (only use on t-zone).


~ 2. tone ~

Step: Tone  The Basics:  A toner preps your skin for ultimate absorption of the essences and serums that will come later in the ritual.   What To Look Out For#1: 1. Many toners out there contain alcohol, which dries up your skin in a very bad way. 2. Similar to the cleanser misconception, you don't want to use any product that dries up your skin too much.
Step: Tone  What To Look Out For#2:  1. A key difference between Western and Asian skin care is that (most) Asian toners tend to be more mild.    2. It's not there to strip oil - It serves a more positive purpose which is to get your skin prepped for maximum absorption of the essences & serums (with powerful ingredients) in the next step.
Step: Tone  What To Look Out For#3:  1. Your post-toned skin should feel soft and slightly moistened.  2. If you feel any dryness, I suspect that your toner contains alcohol.  3. Time to look for a new one!


~ 3. treat specific needs ~

Step: Treat Specific Needs  The Basics:  A few essences or serums that carry skin health benefits to target specific needs (eye cream included). These products contain powerful ingredients (for example, anti-oxidants, retinol) that come in very concentrated doses.   What To Look Out For#1:  1. Proper order of application is important here.  2. Start with the most-liquid and most-lightweight form and move toward the heavier ones.    3. This is because the liquid kinds get absorbed most quickly and don't form a barrier like a heavier cream would, so that all subsequent products will still be nicely absorbed by the skin.
Step: Treat Specific Needs  What To Look Out For#2:  1. Splurge vs Steal:  If you're on a tight budget, this is the step where you should splurge because you get what you pay for.    2. I've tried my share of affordable vs expensive essences and serums and notice a big difference.  3. Also, get what your skin really needs and not just follow the trends.  My philosophy is always to listen to your skin!
Step: Treat Specific Needs  What To Look Out For#3:  1. Be Patient! I can't stress enough on being patient and not pile on the next thing right away.   2.  You'd only be wasting your time and money if you do that because the skin is not fully absorbing any of the essences or serums in that fashion.


~ 4. moisturize ~

Step: Moisturize  What To Look Out For#1:  1. Skin-type personalization is needed for this step. For example, I have oily combo skin, so I'd look for a moisturizer that is not a heavy cream (like a gel-cream) and something that is possibly oil-free.  2. If you have drier skin, you'd look for the opposite of mine - something heavy to get you the extra moisturization.
Step: Moisturize  What To Look Out For#2:  1. Similar to skin-type personalization, you should also switch out moisturizers based on the season.    2. For example, I use a gel or gel-cream moisturizer during summer months (when my skin gets the oiliest) and a cream moisturizer during winter (when skin feels more dehydrated from brutal weather and indoor heat).
Step: Moisturize  What To Look Out For#3:  1. For day time only, use a moisturizer with Broad Spectrum or PA + SPF, but this shouldn't be the only time you apply sun protection on your face!   2. Most day time moisturizers with sun protection has lower SPF and the lower the SPF number is, the less UVB ray (the UV ray that causes skin to burn) the sunscreen is filtering out.


~ 5. apply sunscreen ~

Step: Apply Sunscreen  The Basics:  Apply sunscreen that reads "Broad Spectrum" or "PA" on the packaging along with SPF #'s. This notation means the sunscreen protects you against both UVA rays (cause aging) & UVB rays (cause burning).  What To Look Out For#1:  1. Skin type matters here, too - If you have oily combo like me, look for a sunscreen that's lightweight, oil-free, or gives a matte finish.    2. If you have dry skin, you're in luck as your options are broader and you don't have to worry as much about extra oiliness created by use of sunscreen.  
Step: Apply Sunscreen  What To Look Out For#2:  1. Sunscreen ingredients can be confusing.  They are typically categorized as either Chemical or Physical Filters.  2. Chemical Filters form a thin protective layer on the skin & absorbs UV rays before they penetrate the skin.  Physical Filters reflect UV rays away from the skin.   3. Zinc Dioxide is the only FDA-approved (Physical) Filter known to protect against all 3 major UV rays (UVA 1 & 2 + UVB).  4. If there is no Zinc in the sunscreen, you want to make sure there is a good mix of ingredients that would cover all 3.
Step: Apply Sunscreen  What To Look Out For #3:  1. The word "sunscreen" can be misleading as UV rays are the culprits of skin damage and they penetrate through the atmosphere even when sun is not out.  2. Think about this tidbit:  40% of sun's UV rays reach the earth on a completely cloudy day.  3. Don't skip this sunscreen step even if it's a cloudy day! 

Time to pause for any questions...

I know we've covered a lot in just this section, but hey, we're talking about your skin, so the more informed you are, the better it is for maintaining your skin health!  If you have questions at this point, ask away because I want to make sure you have a good understanding every step of the way!

Now let's talk about your Night Time ritual

Steps in a night time skin care ritual

Notice 4 of your day time steps will be repeated at night.  I'll be focusing on the 2 steps indicated by the white circles above that are dedicated to your night time ritual.


~ 1. remove makeup & sunscreen ~

Step: Remove Makeup & Sunscreen  What To Look Out For#1:  1. Makeup and sunscreen contain ingredients and come in textures that are harder to remove with just a regular facial cleanser.  2. Letting any residual from these products remain overnight on your face will eventually clog your pores and you'd be offsetting all of the hard work that you've put in with other steps!
Step: Remove Makeup & Sunscreen  What To Look Out For#2:  1. Products here come in all shapes and forms, literally - Wipes, cleansing oil, remover liquid.  2. I'm not against using wipes at all...Just a few things to note: 1) Wipes that contain alcohol are never a good idea;  2) Try not to press/rub too hard against your face as you wipe; 3) Some wipes are not biodegradable (i.e., not capable of decomposing and end up in landfills). 
Step: Remove Makeup & Sunscreen  What To Look Out For#2:  1. On cleansing oil: Don't be afraid of the "oil" part.  I have oily combo skin, so at first glance, I really shouldn't be putting any more oil on my face, right?   2. Not quite - Once mixed with water, it emulsifies into a semi-liquid form and works hard at removing the pore-clogging elements from your face.  


~ 2. weekly bonus treats ~

Step: Weekly Bonus Treats  What To Look Out For#1:  1. Your options here are endless! Sheet mask is a popular one, which does take at least 15 minutes, but that's not the only bonus treat you can do and some take much less time.  2. Think about an eye mask that allows you to do other things while you have it on (if you can't afford to lay down for the whole 15 minutes). 
Step: Weekly Bonus Treats  What To Look Out For#2:  1. A sleeping mask is another time-saving option: It's a leave-on moisturizer mask that you put on your face before going to bed (no, this "mask" blends in just like a moisturizer, so none of that crazy mask face while you sleep).   2. The point here is, if you mix it up a little, this step won't always be time consuming. Your skin deserves this treat!

Time to pause for any questions...

I know you're in an information overload stage right now, so I'll stop here.  I hope so far I've helped you gain a better understanding of what a multi-steps skin care ritual looks like and, more importantly, the reasons behind the different steps.  Again, ask away with any questions.

create your own mini book of skin care rituals

Click on the link below for a printable version of all the play cards that you can turn into your own mini book of skin care ritual.  This file is in PDF format.  If you'd like it in other formats, email me and I'll do my best to get you a version that works for you!

coming up next...

I am a firm believer that skin health includes not only skin care (products, rituals) but also food intake.  In the next post, I'll share a few of my favorite foods along with some simple recipes.  In the meantime, if you have any questions about anything we've discussed today, don't hesitate to ask me! You can comment below or, if you prefer a more direct route, email me here.