The ‘why’ of a beauty copywriter’s morning skincare routine

The ‘why’ of someone’s skincare routine always interests me far more than the ‘what’. As a beauty copywriter, my approach to skincare is very much informed by my on-the-job knowledge. I can spot an empty marketing message from a mile away and I actively avoid certain products, ingredients, or brands based on what I know from being inside the beauty industry. That’s not to say I don’t get sucked in by pretty packaging, novel formats, or exciting ingredients – I certainly do! But what really works for me is sticking with a structured routine and experimenting with individual products, not steps.

Step zero: cleansing

I don’t cleanse my face in the morning because I’m too tired, too lazy, or in winter, too cold (or all three). My skin feels pretty clean and balanced in the morning, so I prefer to do it only in the evening.

Step one: vitamin C serum

Using a preventative skincare product like vitamin C serum is kind of like thinking about alternate universes. If I use it consistently for years, will it make my skin look better in the long run? If I stop using it, will my skin look worse in the future? Or is there a universe where I don’t use it, and my skin will still look fine when I’m older?

We can’t predict how our skin will look later in life or if preventative products will have much of an effect over time. However, there are many studies about the efficacy of topical vitamin C and its derivatives. Plenty of research confirms it has potent antioxidant properties, a brightening effect, and can assist with creating more even-looking skin. This evidence is compelling enough for me (and most skincare enthusiasts) to use it daily. Even if it doesn’t future-proof my skin, the visible benefits are worth it now.

Step two: hydrating serum

Some people don’t endorse using an individual hydrating product, based on the fact that other key skincare products (such as cleansers and moisturisers) usually contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. There’s also an argument that topical hyaluronic acid can negatively impact your skin’s natural moisture levels and function, but it’s generally tolerable and suitable for most people.

Hydrating serums benefit my skin enough to warrant using one. Anecdotally, I find my skin feels smooth, balanced and more resilient when I use a specific hydrating serum. For context, I used to apply serums targeting my combination/oily skin type. Although they were somewhat helpful for balancing oiliness, they didn’t create a noticeable difference so I was forever shopping around for other products. I changed the foundation of my skincare routine to include a prescription retinoid at night, with the goal of cutting out the billions of other products I was using to address oiliness and textural issues. Of course, this is what improved the quality of my skin, rather than adding a hydration serum to my routine. However, including a hydrating serum has helped with retinoid-related dryness and I’ve found it to be helpful for adjacent skin problems, too.

Step three: moisturiser

Moisturiser is the step in my routine that very rarely changes. Once I find a moisturiser I like, I stick with it. I’m quite particular about moisturiser formulas, finishes, and formats. My favourites contain multi-functional softening and strengthening ingredients, look neither matte nor dewy, and ideally, come in a tube or pump bottle. (I don’t like jars but I will make an exception for the right formula.)

I like to use pretty plain moisturisers that have broad benefits, rather than skin concern-specific options. There’s certainly merit in using moisturiser designed for certain skin types, however, I don’t think there’s much value in using a moisturiser targeting individual skin concerns. When a moisturiser claims to help with concerns like uneven skin tone, visible pores, redness, or blemishes, I feel like it’s a job better suited to a serum. The main purpose of a moisturiser is to moisturise (wow), rather than address specific concerns. I’m not a formulation expert, but I’d also assume there wouldn’t be a particularly high concentration of concern-specific ingredients.

I never use moisturisers formulated with SPF. It’s important enough to be its own step and shouldn’t be considered an add-on. This brings us to…

Step four: sunscreen

Here in Australia, sunscreen is regulated by Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), so there’s not much I can reasonably say about sunscreen other than it’s important to use. I use a face sunscreen with SPF50+ protection that doesn’t make my skin feel like it’s a congealed mess. As a bonus, it remains flat and smooth after application, so adding makeup afterwards isn’t a hassle. (Avoid prolonged sun exposure. Wear a hat, protective clothing and sunglasses when exposed to the sun. Re-apply frequently. Always read the label and follow the directions for use.)

Beauty copywriter recommendation

When you’re building or adjusting your skincare routine, spend some time thinking about why you’re doing it. Is it because you’ve been ‘got’ by a brand’s marketing? Is it because you learnt something new about skincare? It is because someone influential prompted you to? Or is it because you’ve observed a change in your skin or lifestyle and you want to adjust accordingly? All of the reasons above are valid – just make sure you’re taking care of your skin in a way that’s suited to your budget, expectations, and commitment level.

Amy Hadley

Amy Hadley is a beauty copywriter with a background in print journalism, digital media, public relations, and eCommerce. As someone contributing to the beauty industry, she encourages her clients to use words creatively, sincerely, and responsibly. This is to promote more honest and thoughtful communication in the beauty industry, and better serve its consumers.

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