How to Build a Skincare Routine

Genetics may contribute greatly to how you look, but it’s the lifestyle, habits, and skincare products that complete the whole picture of having healthy skin. With different skin-related trends circulating the internet, it may be hard to distinguish what’s right from what’s not. If you’re a beginner seeking information about building a skincare regimen, let board-certified Doctor Serena Patel’s insights guide you along the way.  

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The Basics

Before jumping into the actual routine, be attentive to three things: your skin type, skin needs, and lastly, skin goals. These factors are the foundation of having an established regimen. 

“Skincare routines can be as basic or as involved as you would like but there are three musts that every skincare routine should have regardless of age, skin type, and skin goals,” explains Dr. Serena. She adds that a minimal routine should involve the following:


The make-up, dirt, and other pollutants that you have gathered all throughout the day need to be removed daily. Each skin type requires a different set of cleansing formulation — however, it’s important to note that “cleansers that strip your skin to make you feel ‘squeaky clean’ should be avoided at all costs,” reminds Dr. Patel. 


To keep your skin barrier healthy and retain an ideal oil-water balance, applying a moisturizer shouldn’t be looked down upon. This goes for all skin types, especially those with oily skin. Dr. Serena states, “People with oil skin sometimes skip the moisturiser thinking that it will clog their pores or cause further breakouts.” She explains that excessive oil production is the skin’s signal to add in that extra layer of hydration.

Sun protection 

Nope, sunscreens are not just for the summer season. “[A] minimum or 30 and must be worn all year round. If you’re going outside. Make sure to put it on for 20 mins before you go out as it takes a little while to take effect and make sure to top up every 2 hours as best as you can maximum protection,” Dr. Patel reminds. As an additional remark, she says that one’s effort in putting various products will be put to waste when sunblocks are not applied as the UV rays from the sun penetrate the skin easier.

A More “Involved” Regimen

Additional steps that cater to different skin concerns as well as improve your skin’s absorption abilities can be incorporated as well.


To balance the skin’s PH levels as well as prep the skin for the next few products, consider putting on a toner. It hydrates the skin well, too!


These products have concentrated formulas which have different functions, which serve as treatments. A word of caution from Dr. Serena: “it’s important to get advice from someone who knows what works well for your skin type and how to layer serums. Not all serums and ingredients can be used together as they can cause breakouts and skin irritation. They also all don’t mix well formulation wise on the skin and can cause ‘pilling.’.”

Face oil

This is an optional step which can bring benefits to every skin type. “Even if you have oily skin, some face oils can help with your skin over producing oils. Oils are especially great to use in the winter months and dryer climates,” explains Dr. Patel.

Must-know Ingredients for Beginners

Depending on the type of skin concern you have, Dr. Patel recommends you to consider using salicylic acid to diminish the appearance of blackheads; niacinamide to lessen congestion and promote brightening; azelaic and mandelic acid to even out skin surface; and vitamin c as well as alpha arbutin to minimize hyperpigmentation. Do remember to conduct patch tests before applying actives in order to avoid any harsh reactions.


Whatever your skin type may be, never forget to stick by the fundamental steps of double cleansing, strengthening your skin barrier with a moisturizer, and wearing armor against the sun’s harmful rays in the form of SPF. If you want more fun, try mixing in any of the said optional steps and you’ll surely notice a big difference in your skin’s appearance.

About the Contributor

Dr Serena grew up in America and is now living and working in London & Essex. She is a qualified medical doctor with a degree in medical genetics, medicine and surgery. She has a special interest in skincare, aesthetic medicine and cosmetic dermatology. She currently runs an aesthetic clinic in London and Essex as well as virtual skincare clinics with clients from all over the world. Dr Serena helps clients achieve their skin goals by working with clients to build regimens that are suitable for their skin needs, lifestyle and budget. Her social media pages are Instagram: @SkinByDrSerena, Facebook: SkinByDrSerena. Appointments can be made via e-mail at as well as calling her clinic on 07306404104.

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