6 Must-Have Beauty Products for Your Skin Care Routine

ess is more” is often touted as the best beauty advice you can follow. But screw that. Your skin care routine doesn’t need a cap, but it should include certain types of products—the essentials, if you will.

Here are the six products that you absolutely must include in your skin care routine.

MORE: The 10 Best Korean Skin Care Products at Target Right Now



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Photo: Philosophy.

1. Cleanser

The obvious first step: A good cleanser sets the stage for your whole routine.

Ultimately, your cleanser should be gentle, water-soluble and able to remove your makeup. Avoid anything with soap in it—soap’s pH level is too basic and will dry our your skin.

When it comes to finding the best cleanser, let your unique skin be your guide and choose a product designed to target your primary skin concern (whether that’s acne, dryness, oiliness or sensitivity). We’re loving First Aid Beauty’s Face Cleanser ($20 at First Aid Beauty) for normal skin, Mario Badescu’s Botanical Facial Gel ($14 at Mario Badescu) for oily, and Philosophy ‘sPurity Made Simple Cleanser ($11 at Philosophy) for dry skin.


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Photo: Herbivore.

2. Toner

Toner often gets dismissed as overkill, but as part of a comprehensive skin care regime, toner is actually a pretty crucial step. Not only does it remove any oil or makeup residue, but it also preps your cleansed skin to receive whatever treatments you put on next. Think of it like a pre-serum or a pre-moisturizer.

Choose a gentle, non-alcohol-based formula with skin-repairing ingredients, as well as calming and anti-inflammatory properties. We’re into Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Acid Toner ($18 at Mario Badescu) for normal to oily skin, SK-II’s Facial Essence Treatment ($99 at Sephora) for everyone (seriously, this rules) and Herbivore Botanicals’ Rose Hibiscus Toner ($32 at Herbivore) for sensitive or dry skin.


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Photo: Kate Somerville.

3. Exfoliator

This is a crucial, though definitely not daily, step in your skin care routine.

The best ways to go about exfoliating your face is to either use a cleanser with chemical exfoliants in it or use a dedicated physical exfoliator. Either way, look to use this product about twice a week.

Chemical exfoliators are best for sensitive skin, and physical ones (with gritty bits) are good for occasional use if your skin is on the dry and flaky side. Try any of these, and reap the rewards: Skin Inc’s Pure Revival Peel ($55 at Sephora) for sensitive skin, Kate Somerville’s Exfolikate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment ($85 at Kate Somerville) for normal skin, and Clinique’s Exfoliating Scrub ($22 at Clinique) for oily skin.

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