Routine Builder

Build a skincare routine that works

Four simple steps to get a free presonalized recommendation for actives and products that are right for you.

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How to build an effective skincare routine?

Skincare routines, not products bring real results. Like in a cooking recipe, it's both the ingredients and the exact way of combining them that counts. 

Here are the guidelines that will help you create an effective routine   - for your skin needs and budget. 

  1. Start with the basics

  2. Think your skin goals first, products second.

  3. Check the product formulation and do not rely on the product marketing.

  4. Build a routine that is easy for you to follow. 

  5. When in doubt, less is more. 

  6. Do not connect your "me time" with skincare. 

Below we discuss each of these tips in detail.

1. Start with the basics

Every effective skincare routine needs a solid foundation. Skincare success is build on generous hydration, reliable sun protection and gentle cleansing. 

No matter if your skin is dry, oily, or somewhere in between: these three things are essential to help your skin be healthy, clear and beautiful.  

Of course, the products that are right for you in fulfilling these basic skin needs depend on your skin type, tone and even lifestyle. Good moisturizers come in different textures and packaging. Some of them are better for skin that is feeling dry, while others work for oilier complexions and are safer for acne-prone skin. 

The same goes for sunscreens. If your skin is sensitive, it is generally better to go for sunscreens with mineral UV filters. At the same time, if your skin tone is darker than pale, a mineral sunscreen might leave an unsightly white cast, which can mean that it won't work for daily use. If you are wear a skin makeup, you should also go for a lighter sunscreen formulation, so that it does not pile under the foundation. Most people prefer lighter sunscreens anyway, but a word of caution is due here. Unfortunately, the lighter the sunscreen, the less reliable its sun protection is. If a sunscreen is completely undetectable on your skin, it is probably not protecting your skin enough.

Luckily, things are a little easier with cleansing. A good cleanser needs to be gentle and effective. This way you can "take your day off" in one go (yep, avoid double cleansing if you can) and without damaging your skin barrier. It doesn't matter what cleansing texture you go for. It can be a micellar water, a cleansing oil, milk, lotion, cream or balm. Your skin oiliness does not have to play into your cleansing texture choice. The idea that oily skin needs to be cleansed "more thoroughly" or more often is a harmful myth. Too vigorous and harsh cleansing damages the skin barrier, and that's bad for any skin type. It also makes acne-prone skin worse. 

2. Think your skin goals first, products second.

In some ways, skincare is similar to nutrition. No nutritionist would tell you "You need to eat an eggplant ragu". Instead, they'd say "You need to eat food rich in vitamins and fiber". In the same way the skincare advice "You need a serum in your routine" does not make sense. You might need an active to target your skin concern, but it does not matter if the product that delivers this active is a serum, booster, cream or a sheet mask. 

Once you've figured out your skincare basics, you can focus on your  specific skin concerns. For example, it could be reducing clogged pores and acne, evening out the skin tone, or preventing early signs of aging. 

Once you are clear on your skin goals, look into actives that are shown to work for them. It is a good idea to go for actives that went through a couple of clinical trials and are well-researched. Do not go for the next "hot ingredient". Beauty industry marketers always on a look-out for novelty. Skin though is a complicated biological organ, and finding treatments for it takes long years of research and testing. We have at least a couple of proven actives in our arsenal for every major skin concern. Your best bet is selecting among these tried and tested ones. 

When you know the actives you need, that's the time to look for products. The best formulations for delivering actives to your skin are free from other irritants like fragrance. (Actives themselves are often irritating, but it is the risk most of us are willing to take because there is an upside to it).  

The basic skincare steps (sunscreen, moisturizer, cleanser) should be used every day. Yet, the targeted actives are often better applied  less frequently. This is again because of their irritation potential. The more sensitive your skin is, the less frequent the actives application should be. You can always start with applying your targeted treatment once per week. If your skin takes it well, you can slowly move up in the frequency. In any case, do not use strong exfoliating products more than twice per week.

3. Check the product formulation and do not rely on the product marketing.

Unfortunately, you can not trust skincare labels. At WIMJ we often come across dozens of products that promise help with wrinkles but do not contain even a single effective anti-aging ingredient. The market is also flooded with products marketed "for sensitive skin" that, unfortunately, contain common contact irritants and allergens. Or products for blemish-prone skin that contain "actives" that were never shown to have an impact on acne, inflammation or clogged pores. 

Even if a product has "Vitamin C" in its name, it does not guarantee that it contains a potent form of the vitamin C in a right concentration. Always, always check the product ingredient list. (Luckily, WIMJ makes it easy, and you can even search for products based on specific actives). 

4. Build a routine that is easy for you to follow. 

Skin needs time to change and improve. It is linked to the skin natural turnover cycle. It takes about 6 weeks for the new skin cells to come to the surface. So as a rule of thumb, you need to follow a routine for at least 6 weeks to see any real results. 

More than that, some skin goals - like more even skin tone or preventing early aging need even a longer time horizon. Ideally, you create a skincare routine that you can follow for months. For most of us, it means going for simplicity and less products. On average, effective skincare routines on WIMJ contain the three basic products + one to three targeted treatments. It makes sense to invest the time to understand what actives would be most helpful for you, and then put a priority on them. You can't possibly use every single good active, and that's ok. At the end, you only need one that works.

5. When in doubt, less is more. 

Skin biology is complex. Often a cause of skin issues it not a lack of skincare, but rather too much of it. If you already have a regular routine, but your skin feels dry, break outs or is otherwise unhappy, the first step is to dial it down.

Go through your current products and check if they contain irritants that might be causing the trouble. Once you have a "suspect", stop using it and see if your skin gets better. Never add a new product without critically examining what you've been using so far.

6. Do not connect your "me time" with skincare. 

 Our final tip is somewhat philosophical, but it can help make your skincare routine more effective. The beauty industry marketers invest a lot of effort to make their products "more than a skincare". They create beautiful stories around them. Consumers then often crave the story more than they crave the actual skincare formulation. 

There is nothing wrong with good marketing, but the association of skincare with the "me-time" can lead to worse skin. If you use skincare for relaxation rather than for skin benefits, you are more likely to want to use highly fragranced, potentially irritating products. You'd also risk overusing actives snd overdoing your skincare in general. 

At the same time, using other relaxation methods - for example, reading a book, listening to music, going for a walk with a friend or exercising has skin benefits too! Less stress, more exercise and good food helps make our skin clearer, gives a glow and keeps it younger. It's a total "win-win" for your beauty, mental and physical health. 

And here is a bonus tip: to help you create a good skincare routine faster, we've built a free tool that is using all the principles listed above. It first assesses your skin needs, then identifies the actives that can help your skin goals. Only then the tool searches through the 60000+ products in our database to offer you the formulations with the right concentration of the actives. We always try to offer you multiple different products that contain the "prescribed" actives - so that you can make the final call on the brand, price point and packaging. At the end, you can save and download your personalized recommendation. Bye-bye impulsive skincare shopping spree, and hello real skin results!

How do we come up with the recommendations?

The WIMJ Routine Builder starts with basics: the fundamental building blocks of any effective skincare. No matter your skin type, everyone needs a sunscreen, moisturizer and cleanser. These three products are a must for supporting health and beauty of your skin.

The main principle of the WIMj algorithm is matching each specific skin concern with effective actives. WIMJ checks for skincare ingredients that have the most convincing evidence for helping with each skin issue, be it breakouts, clogged pores, early wrinkles or dark spots. The best evidence for efficacy of an active are results of clinical trials.

Once the Routine Builder knows the actives that your skin needs, it offers you a list of products to choose from. You can choose yourself the brands and products so that they fit your budget and lifestyle. WIMJ has over 60 000 products in the database, and we are doing our best to offer you at least a couple of alternatives for every recommended active.

WIMJ algorithm also assesses the irritation risk of the whole routine. It helps to make sure that you do not overwhelm your skin with too many actives. Still, if you notice signs of irritation, pause your skincare products. Skin can react to anything, and what is fine for some people can lead to strong irritation in others.

Please keep in mind that the Routine Builder is an automated tool. The WIMJ team put a lot of effort and love into building it, but it is not perfect. This is why we encourage you to post to our community if you get any questions or doubts about your routine.