Build a skincare routine with just 3 dermatologist-approved products

·Contributor
·5-min read

Dr. Shreya Andric is a dermatologist based in Sydney. She is passionate about skin health and her mission is to educate the public on how to care for their skin, and also clear up the vast amount of misinformation out there on this topic.

When not at work, Shreya is kept busy by her two young children and loves to spend time with family, friends and occasionally get to a pilates or boxing class!

While Dr. Andric has independently chosen the products that appear in this article, she does not receive revenue from the links. Some of the links may return revenue to Yahoo Lifestyle Australia.

Dr Shreya Andric is a Sydney-based dermatologist on a mission to educate people on how to look after their skin. Photo: supplied.
Dr Shreya Andric is a Sydney-based dermatologist on a mission to educate people on how to look after their skin. Photo: supplied.

The old adage 'cleanse, tone, moisturise' has become a lot more complicated in recent times. With so many different skincare products on the market, it’s hard to know where to begin — so here I am to break it down for you.

Firstly, let me begin by saying that not all skin is the same and not everyone has the exact same concerns. I often have patients come to see me and lay down 10+ products that they are using because a friend has used them and they have worked for them. Skincare is not one size fits all.

Another point is that starting a bunch of products at once is a sure-fire way to develop skin irritation so it’s always best to start one at a time and slowly build up from there.

So... let's get started!

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Sunscreen

If you do nothing else, you absolutely must wear a sunscreen on the face and any exposed areas every single day.

This is important for patients with all skin types, no matter how dark or fair you are, and rain, hail or shine.

Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF 50+
Ultra Violette Supreme Screen SPF 50+, $49. Photo: Adore Beauty.

Regular use (and reapplication) of sunscreen has multiple benefits:

  1. It reduces your risk of skin cancer including melanoma as well as non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell cancers, squamous cell cancers)

  2. It helps to prevent premature skin ageing caused by the sun including wrinkles, sagging and age spots

Sunscreen should be broad-spectrum with UVA and UVB protection and at least SPF30+.

And no, the SPF in your moisturiser or makeup is not enough! You need to use a separate sunscreen to your moisturiser as you likely will not use enough to get the full protection.

Which sunscreen to use? It's been said again and again: the best sunscreen is the one you will use.

This often requires a bit of trial and error to find one that suits your skin best. Personally, I lean towards drier skin so I like using the UltraViolette Supreme Screen Hydrating Sunscreen. My patients who have oily/acne-prone skin really like the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Sunscreen.

Any sunscreen that has been approved for use in Australia has been through extensive testing so they are all up to the mark. Sunscreen will always be the final step in your morning routine.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+ 50ml
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF 50+ 50ml, $31.95. Photo: Adore Beauty.

Cleanser

If you are using a sunscreen during the day (which as I said, you all should be), then you should at minimum cleanse the face at night, to take the day off.

With 'double cleansing', the first cleanser will break down any makeup as well as remove dirt and excess oils from the day and clean your skin. The second cleanser then comes in to address your particular skin type or concern and should contain ingredients to hydrate, smooth or exfoliate and treat acne.

I don’t believe you need to spend a lot of money on cleansers. I usually recommend a micellar water for your first cleanse (eg. BioDerma), followed by whichever cleanser you need for your skin.

The Neutrogena HydroBoost Cleanser contains hyaluronic acid and is great for dry skin. Those with oily/acne-prone skin may benefit from a cleanser containing salicylic acid to clear out the pores, such as Neutrogena Acne Wash or La Roche Posay Effaclar cleanser.

In the mornings a single cleanse only is required.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleanser Water Gel 145ml, $10.99. Photo: Chemist Warehouse.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleanser Water Gel 145ml, $10.99. Photo: Chemist Warehouse.

Moisturiser

Let me start off by saying that not all skin types need to be moisturised twice a day. If you have dry skin, then moisturise away, but those with oily skin do not necessarily need to do this as their skin is overproducing oil anyway.

If they are feeling a bit dry or irritated from active skincare ingredients, these people should stick to oil-free, non-comedogenic moisturisers — there are many products out there so just keep an eye out on the packaging. CeraVe Facial Moisturing Lotion is a great option.

Active ingredients

I’ve put together a summary below of some active skincare ingredients and why you may choose to add them to your skincare routine:

Retinol/retinoid

What's the difference between retinol and retinoid? Both are synthetic forms of vitamin A. Retinoids are active and available by prescription only, whereas retinols require two steps to be converted to the active molecule and so are less potent but also less irritating.

Woman holding bottles with spa cosmetics against gray wall. Photo: Getty Images.
Choosing the right active ingredient in skincare can make all the difference. Photo: Getty Images.

They can be used to treat acne and melasma, reduce acne scarring and are also effective in reducing fine lines, freckles and sunspots when used for longer than six months.

Other than sunscreen, topical retinoids are the most effective anti-ageing product you could be using. Apply to clean skin at night using a pea-sized amount for the full face. Start 2-3 times a week to begin with, then build up to every night as tolerated.

Apply a moisturiser over the top and make sure you use your sunscreen in the morning as they do make you more sun-sensitive. Retinols and retinoids should not be used in pregnancy. Bakuchiol is a plant-based retinol alternative which is safe in pregnancy.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C works to reduce sun damage, promote collagen synthesis and reduce pigmentation. It works synergistically with sunscreen and makes your sunscreen work more effectively. Check out my guide to vitamin C piece for more helpful info.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution 240ml, $14.50. Photo: Adore Beauty.
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution 240ml, $14.50. Photo: Adore Beauty.

Alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids

Alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids (aka AHAs and BHAs) are chemical exfoliators. The two main AHAs are glycolic and lactic acid and the main BHA is salicylic acid.

AHAs work well to increase cell turnover resulting in a brighter, more clear complexion. Skincare brand The Ordinary has many varying strengths of glycolic acid including toners and peels.

Salicylic acid is oil-soluble and therefore able to enter pores and kill the bacteria that cause breakouts so it is more suitable for acne-prone skin. Ego's Elucent line has a great range of salicylic acid-containing products.

Azelaic acid

This is used for treatment of rosacea, acne and melasma and can also help to fade dark spots and brighten the skin. It is safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding and can be used morning and night but can be irritating.

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