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At What Point Do 'Extra’ Skincare Routines Become Too Much?

In a strange turn of events, now we're time-rich but motivation-poor...

Skincare minimalist or maximalist, which camp are you in? 

Spare a thought for a minute, for the simple folk – those who live their lives in blissful ignorance, worlds away from glycolics, hypo-allergenics, non-comedogenics. They consider deodorant a gratuitous indulgence and keep a bottle of E45 (the residual remains of an ex, surely) on hand, in their cabinet, to meet any/all possible impeding cosmetic needs.

Contrast them then, with the pathologically obsessed skincare-junkie. They get their nightly kicks from complex 10-step routines that would rival any Korean’s, succumbing to the self-care-induced state of euphoria, hoping to wake only in Nirvana with a brighter, tighter face. (Projecting? Us? Never.)

Multi-step routines are super-hyped at the minute, but they’re rather labour-intensive and require a real commitment to the cause, even if we do have nowhere else to be right now! Personally speaking, there’s no denying which camp I lie in, and to run the risk of being one of those people who consistently rehashes Norah Ephron quotes, I’m with the sparkling essayist when she said, “Believe me, if I look good, it’s not an accident.”

But then again, it is my job – not the looking good part, that’s still very much a work in progress – but the extensive product-trailing and experiment routine-curation. Call me a method investigative journalist, if you will. Admittedly, I am a skincare maximalist, but somewhere, in an upside-down beauty world, the alternative version of me exists too. 

When it comes to the age-old argument around routine ‘essentials’,  there are points for the hard-fought facts, founded on pure science and counterpoints for the more general theories, supported by no other evidence than good personal practice. But wherever you may fall on the spectrum of soap-and-water-will-suffice to K-skin-standard pro, chances are, as modern multi-hyphenate, down-time is (typically) at a premium and your routine should complement all aspects of a demanding life. 

And so, with that, here are five editor-approved rules of thumb to follow, whether you’re looking to keep your skincare routine to a strictly-stepped diet, or indulge all maximalist beauty tendencies. 

Double Cleanse….always. 

If you fall into the first aforementioned category, worry not, this technically counts as one step and is arguably the single most important ritual you can adopt for healthy skin. Oil or balm cleansers are favourable for removing makeup, as they melt the pigments down without being too astringent. Follow with a lighter milk or gel-based cleanser to condition and soothe.

Bia Wash-Off Cleansing Oil €78, CODEX Beauty - SHOP 

Don’t Dive In

Employing an entirely new army of products for a skin overhaul sounds logical, but if you change everything at once, how will you know what's working? Or more importantly, what's not working? Start with regular use of the skincare stalwarts, (cleanser, moisturiser) and steadily phase in a chemical exfoliator, eye-cream, treatment serum, etc.

Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, €8.70, The Ordinary - SHOP 


Not necessary applied three times per day, but certainly once. Exposure to sunlight is the most weighted factor related to ageing after genetics, so protect against pigmentation, collagen break-down and weakening of the skin’s barrier come rain or shine. This step is even more relevant to you maximalists, who use highly active skincare, such as retinol vitamin A. 

Invisible Physical Defense SPF 30, €59, Dermalogica - SHOP

Exercise Restraint with Actives

Resurfacing might be all the rage, but please proceed with caution. You only get one moisture barrier and exfoliating away older-yet-resilient skin, leaves your baby-fresh face more vulnerable to the elements. Acid o’clock is not the time to be imprudent.

Vitamin B Serum, €29.25, ALPHA-H - SHOP 

Invest Where Matters and Be Patient 

Overnight serums (all retinol treatments, hydration boosters, anti-ageing peptide serums) born from specific areas of R&D, by experts in their field, are worth investing in, i.e. better-quality ingredients = faster results. But note, the skin’s regeneration cycle takes up to 4 weeks plus, which will impact when you'll see the actual results of any given wonder product – particularly one aimed at seriously transforming the condition of your skin.

Retinol Vit C Moisturizer, €89, Kate Sommerville - SHOP 

Main Image: @lalivia

Read More: Now's The Time To Lean Into Nighttime Skincare For A Sense of Normalcy