Surprise—These Are the Only 4 Skincare Products You Really Need

If there's one area of the beauty industry that gives way to overcomplication, it's skincare. With an ever-evolving glossary of buzzy ingredients and a growing number of so-called anti-aging practices constantly being preached, it can all spin out of control really fast. For many of us, this is evidenced by undue stress, overconsumption, and countless bottles of this and that scattered over our vanities that only get used halfway before we're on to the next thing. Unpopular opinion: Skincare just doesn't have to be so complicated.

Enter skin minimalism, the idea that you don’t need to use a ton of products in order to have happy, healthy skin. Yes, it's a thing! There's actually a growing community of skincare influencers, enthusiasts, and journalists out there dedicated to this cause. And beyond that, a staggering number of our talks with derms about every skin type under the sun from acne-prone to mature and sensitive boil down to the solitary piece of advice that more often than not, less truly is more. Of course, in-office treatments and targeted topicals can be subbed into any routine for added benefits, but it's certainly worth noting that the pared-back basics of skincare are perfectly adequate.


(Image credit: @olanthamoran)

Considering all of this, we think now is as good a time as any to re-evaluate all the products we're using on our skin. A skincare downsizing, if you will. If the last year has taught us anything it's that we can make do with so much less than we've been programmed to believe, and it's time for that sentiment to extend to our skincare routines, too.

Here, the simple skincare routine derms consistently call out as the best recipe—no matter your skin type. Cheers to doing less!

1. Cleanser


(Image credit: @modestmira_)

Cleanser is an obviously important step in taking care of your skin, but it's important to note the right type. For dry skin, a cream cleanser will work wonders to keep your skin happy and hydrated, while a simple, basic formula (like an option from CeraVe) will work for all types. You don't need to spend a ton of money on a cleanser, either, which your bank account will appreciate. This is the step where basic (read: inexpensive) really does the trick.

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2. Serum


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Serums are concentrated formulas that deliver active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, and vitamin C to hydrate, exfoliate, provide antioxidant protection, and more. If you want an anti-aging glow or have mature skin, countless derms recommend formulas with retinol that help with cell turnover and ensure a youthful glow.

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3. Moisturizer


(Image credit: @alexisforeman)

A serum and a moisturizer? You might be tempted to skip one or the other, but both are beneficial, particularly if you have dry or acne-prone skin. Plus, moisturizer helps seal in the serum and also delivers moisture to your skin, keeping it happy and healthy.

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4. Sunscreen


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The best thing to keep your skin healthy? Daily sunscreen. Thinking your moisturizer with SPF is good enough? Maybe. Many great moisturizers don't have SPF, though, or don't have a strong enough layer (most derms recommend SPF 30). Many of us also won't use enough product to get the skin-saving effect even if our moisturizer meets that threshold. The easiest way to know you're protected is to add a separate one to your routine to offset not only premature signs of aging but to also help preserve collagen and protect against skin cancer.

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