The basics of a baseline routine

During this darkest timeline, global skincare spend is booming. It’s easy to understand why – our skincare routines have turned into self-care rituals. A way to take a minute and take a breath. To centre ourselves. It’s great we are taking better care of our skin. But in our enthusiasm, we can go a bit overboard. Retinol, acids, toners, essences, 10 products in one sitting can be a bit much. Not to mention, in some cases, it can cause irritation.

What is the end goal? It’s definitely not the images we see on our social media feeds – filtered and airbrushed to perfection. Real skin has pores, blemishes, lines. The end goal is healthy skin, no? For that, we all need a good baseline routine. You might be a skincare novice feeling overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. Or you are a fatigued skincare nerd who wants a pared-down routine. What are the basics of any good baseline routine? What is the minimum you need to keep your skin healthy?


Cleansing is essential and the first step to healthy skin. It removes makeup, dirt, dead skin cells, and sweat off our faces. It also preps the skin for the rest of the skincare routine. Some prefer their cleansers to have a bit of acid and reduce congestion and breakouts. Others love a sensory experience. It might be all about the texture – some love balms and oils, others prefer gels and creams. As long as you use a low ph cleanser (read more on why it matters), you are good to go.


The treatment step is where you go for a targeted approach to address any specific skin concerns.
It all depends on your skin’s needs, but any of these below can work as a starting point.

  • AHAs trigger cell renewal, exfoliate and help manage hyperpigmentation.
  • BHA eases congestion, treats blemishes, removes oily deposits from the pores, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that photoprotects the skin against daily UV damage and helps repair existing damage. As it is an essential part of collagen synthesis, it boosts the production of collagen and elastin.
  • Retinol is the powerhouse ingredient of the skincare world. It has skin-rejuvenating properties backed up by decades of scientific research. It refines the skin texture, reduces wrinkles, boosts collagen production, helps fade hyperpigmentation, and can reduce blemishes.
  • Hyaluronic acid hydrates and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Ceramides are an essential component of the skin that prevents moisture loss and signals the skin to make more lipids.



All skin types need moisture. Just how much moisture depends on your skin’s needs. Drier skin types will love nourishing moisturisers with a thicker texture. Oily or combination folk might opt for gels creams or oil-free moisturisers. A good rule of the thumb is to assess how your skin feels – does your skin feel comfortable? Is there any tightness? Is there any excessive oiliness? Moisturisers aren’t the most exciting product in the skincare world, but they serve a purpose – to keep your moisture barrier healthy and functioning as it should – as a protection against the outside elements.


If you do a quick google, you’ll find millions of articles on “best sunscreen ever.” Someone said (we can’t remember who otherwise we’d attribute the quote) the best sunscreen is the one you’ll use every day. Ain’t that the truth? Nowadays, sunscreens are cosmetically elegant, affordable, and a joy to use. Yes, it’ll take some trial and error to find the right fit. But if you are serious about your skin’s health, sunscreen is non-negotiable. It is one product in your stash guaranteed to prevent signs of aging. And skin cancer.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Patience is a virtue. Once you nail down your baseline routine, stick with it. Persistence is the key because the results aren’t visible overnight (especially with actives like Retinol or vitamin C).
  • Stop using a product if it irritates your skin.
  • What works for someone else might not work for you. You know your skin best.

Do you have a baseline routine? What does it include?

Roberta Striga