Here’s a Breakdown of the 10-Step Skincare Routine

by PrimaryHomes

May 05, 2021

10 steps?! That’s crazy.

This is often the reaction whenever someone divulges following an extensive skincare routine, and, well, okay, it’s a lot. When you really think about it though, the skin is the largest organ we have, and it’s also our bodies’ first line of defense against germs and infections. The least we can do is take care of it.

News flash: You don’t actually have to do all 10 steps, or all at once for that matter. While it’s very beneficial to make time for yourself and take care of your skin, there are just days when you’re pressed for time, or nights when you come home exhausted. The important thing is to actually have a routine that works for you, as well as for your skin.

Here, we list down all 10 steps (in order) so you can determine what your skin needs and take it from there. If this is too overwhelming, we also list down recommendations which steps to keep if you want a more streamlined routine.



Skincare starts with a clean face. Dermatologists and other skin professionals often recommend double cleansing, so it can break down all impurities on your face. If you’re wearing makeup, start with a makeup remover. Take an oil cleanser and massage it into your dry skin. To the uninitiated, applying oil may sound unappealing especially for those with oily skin, but an oil cleanser removes oil-based residue on your face such as sebum and SPF. Splash with water to emulsify, then rinse off.



The second step of the double cleanse is a water-based cleanser, which could be in the form of a foam, gel, or cream facial wash. For lazy days, even miscellar water on a cotton pad will do. This further removes whatever residue your oil cleanser didn’t pick up, such as sweat and stubborn makeup.  Massage the product all over your face in a circular motion, and rinse off with water afterwards.


Next is a step that you can do once or twice a week. An exfoliator provides a deep-clean for your pores and removes dead skin cells. There are products on the market that provide a mild chemical exfoliation, although that often results in peeling. A good alternative is a mask that you can leave on for a few minutes while it suctions off impurities. Exfoliating regularly will give you visibly brighter and smoother skin, while also helping your other skincare products absorb better.



After all that cleansing, your skin would be thirsty for some moisture—it’s time to break out the toner. A common misconception is that toners are harsh chemicals that pick up what your cleanser didn’t. These products are actually designed to restore and balance your skin’s pH levels and provide a little moisture, enough to prepare it for the next steps of your routine. 

Apply your toner with a cotton pad, or gently pat on your face using your fingers. Or do both—a cotton pad at night will help you make sure you got all the day’s dirt off your face.



For a lot of people, this is often when skincare gets complicated. Essences are lightweight (almost watery in texture) yet concentrated blends of ingredients that will hydrate your skin and enhance your complexion. They get your skin ready to absorb further moisture—and yes, there will be more moisturizing steps along the way. 

Skip the cotton pad for this one and use your hands to lightly apply it onto your face or neck.


At this point, you may be flabbergasted at the amount of hydrating steps you’re taking, but your skin will thank you for it. Serums or treatments (also called boosters or ampoules) differ from essences by being thicker and having active ingredients to target specific skin concerns. This is where your acne treatment comes in, if you’re using it. Other treatments could target redness, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation.

Like the essence, just use your fingers to apply this onto your face.


Nearly everyone is familiar with sheet masks, which are super concentrated essences that you leave on your face for 15-30 minutes. There are a lot of sheet masks in the market, dedicated to specific skin needs, with fun designs, ranging from cheap to expensive, so have your fun choosing them. These are best done once or twice a week (preferably those days you do your exfoliation), although you can also do them every day if you like.

Don’t make the common mistake of sleeping in your face mask. The sheet will absorb back the essence as it dries out, so follow the time specified in your mask’s packaging. Pat the remaining product onto your décolletage or elbows, or wherever you need extra moisture.


You may be wondering why you can’t just use your moisturizer and skip on the eye cream for this step. Technically you can—if your moisturizer is light enough. The skin around your eyes is actually thinner and more sensitive than the rest of your face, and it absorbs product quicker. If your moisturizer has a lot of active ingredients such as retinol, you’d risk irritating your skin.

Anti-aging eye creams may contain retinol, but at lower doses that are more effective for your eyes. Also, dedicated eye creams can target eye-specific issues such as dark circles and puffiness better than an over-all moisturizer. 

Use your pinkie or ring finger to gently tap your eye cream around your orbital bone, and don’t get close to the actual eye area. Dab excess eye cream over laugh lines.



You’ve packed your skin with a lot of good stuff, now it’s time to seal it all in. Moisturizers are generally thicker in texture so you’ll want to save them for the last step. For this step, you may opt to have different products for day and night: A lighter one for the day to go under your makeup or keep you from being too greasy, and a heavier cream that you can leave on at night while you sleep.

Massage into your face with your fingers, avoiding the eye area.

10. SPF

Your entire skincare routine would be at jeopardy if you don’t protect your skin from the damaging UV rays. Always wear SPF, even if you’re just indoors or if it’s overcast. It’s the most effective anti-aging step and prevents skin cancer. These days, there are a lot of SPF that also serve as a makeup base, although some of them can cause a white cast over your face. Experiment with brands to see what works for you.

Gently massage onto your face with your fingers until fully absorbed.

If you feel like you can’t get through all 10 steps, that’s totally okay! Shane Yapcoy, who runs Cebu-based online skincare store Love, Unnie has some suggested modifications, “Three steps is the basic routine, which most people are doing: Cleanse-Tone- Moisturize,” she says. “For five steps, Cleanse-Exfoliate-Tone-Serum-Moisturize.”

Either way, she recommends people to go the extra mile and add one more step for day time, “Sunblock! Skincare is a waste of time and money if we don’t protect our skin from UV.”



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