The ultimate beginners guide to looking after your skin

If you don’t know what you’re doing in regards to skincare, you’re not alone. And the hugely saturated skincare market is full of conflicting and confusing advice.

Rather than you trying to wade through this avalanche of information, we’ve created the ultimate guide to skin care for beginners. But even if you’re not a beginner, you might learn something new.

Looking after your skin
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Create a simple skin care routine

You want to create a simple routine that you will follow every day. Because if it’s too complex or time consuming, you won’t do it every day. Because for great skin, you want to be consistent, with the same basics, day in, day out. Once you have the routine sorted, you can add things as you want.

Every good basic routine has three steps: Cleanse, moisturise and protect.

Step one: Cleanse

You want to clean your face, morning and night. There are two reasons for this. You clean in the morning to remove sweat and oils from overnight, and at night to remove makeup and grime from the day. But you’ll also wear day creams and night creams (will get into that soon) and you need to wash off one to have fresh skin to apply another.

Which cleanser you use depends on your skin. Do an experiment to find out which skin type you are. Wash your face and don’t apply any moisturiser or product for an hour. What happens?

  • Dry/ sensitive skin will feel tight, red, itchy and dry
  • Normal skin will feel ok
  • Oily skin will start to get greasy/ oily
  • Combination skin might be dry in some places, but oily on the nose and forehead (the ‘t-zone’)

So now that you know what type of skin you have, you can buy a facial wash to suit it. It can be really tempting to buy a harsh foaming cleanser if you have oily skin, but beware: if you wash all your skin oils (sebum) off, your skin produces twice as much to compensate. So, instead use a gentle foaming cleanser. For sensitive and dry skin types, try an oil-based, non-foaming cleanser.

Now you have lovely clean skin, move on to the next step.

Step two: Moisturise

Even if you have a super oily skin, you still need to moisturise day and night. This step might take a bit of trial and error, depending on what your skin needs are. For instance, delicate, irritated skin needs to avoid anything perfumed, but often can tolerate oils like rosehip.

Acne prone skin and oily skin want to avoid oil-based anything. Normal skin can use almost anything. Combination skin is a little tricky, and you may end up using one product for the oily skin, and another for the drier areas.

Try to keep in mind what is wrong (arguably) with your skin and find something to address that.

  • Acne: many commercial acne-targeting products simply dry out your skin and irritate it. Tea tree oil is great for treating the bacteria that cause acne.
  • Aging/ fine lines and wrinkles: Hyaluronic acid plumps up the skin and is good for hydrating
  • Frequently irritated: Ceramides help to strengthen the skin barrier and calm the redness down
  • Discoloured/ patchy: Vitamin C helps with overall skin brightening

There are different formulations for day and night. Day creams are about protecting your skin from everyday life. Night creams are about rejuvenating and renewing your skin while you’re tucked up safe in bed. While you can use the same moisturiser for both, you’ll get more benefits from using a product targeted correctly.

Words to look out for


This is how much something will block your pores. An example of a high rating product is coconut oil, which is why those prone to acne should avoid coconut based skincare.


These are ‘goodies’ that fight the ‘baddies’, free radicals. These free radicals are harmful particles from pollution and day to day life. They cause skin issues, but antioxidants go some way to minimising the problems.

Now you’ve cleaned your face and added a moisturiser, the final step.

Step three: Protection

Sunscreen, especially in NZ, is absolutely vital. Our UVB and UVA rays are harmful and damage the skin. This leads to discolouration, dry skin, wrinkles, and in some cases, melanoma. Sun protection is a must.

Find a sunscreen that you like that’s at least SPF30. Wear it every day.

This can be tricky because many people associate sunscreen with greasiness. However, try a physical barrier cream, which is usually based on zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They work in a different way to chemical sunscreens and many people find they are less irritating and far nicer on the skin.

That’s it. That’s your basic skin-care routine.

Add and subtract

Once you’ve got the basics sorted, you can add things (and then remove) as you wish. Think about:

  • Exfoliation with a gentle scrub a couple of times a once (or once only if you have sensitive skin)
  • Toner, which you apply after washing and before moisturiser. It preps your skin for the next step.
  • Serums and treatments are great to target problem skin areas and issues. Check out the brand ‘The Ordinary’ for great value, scientifically created skin treatments.
  • Face treatments are a great treat once a week or so. You can buy facial masks, or make them at home from ingredients like oats, honey, yoghurt and papaya.
  • Collagen and zinc supplements may help your skin, from the inside. Zinc is good for those suffering from breakouts, while collagen is great for aging skin.

When you have a basic routine that works, it’s easy to adjust it as your skin changes, as the weather gets colder or hotter, and as your lifestyle changes. Whatever you do, make sure you’re consistent. This simple routine gives you a great base to create flawless, healthy, beautiful skin—and it doesn’t have to cost a lot either. Tired of feeling lost when it comes to skincare? Visit to start feeling more confident and empowered about your skin. You can also visit for some great products too!

Interesting related article: “Face massage for glowing skin.”