Why the ‘lazy girl’ skincare routine can do wonders with less effort: a minimal routine can lead to better results than you imagine if you just stick to these 5

When it comes to mainstream beauty trends, I’ve always been a “lazy girl”. I didn’t have the patience to straighten my hair in senior school, I still don’t know how to do a smoky eye, and for most of my life, I had no skincare regimen.

What seemed to come naturally to other people – watching YouTube tutorials, researching products, spending more than five minutes on their face – felt overwhelming to me. When 12-step skincare routines were popular a few years back, I saw it as confirmation that I was just inept at doing the thing every other woman does without thinking and doomed to have dry, acne-prone skin forever.

Skincare routines don’t all have to be overly complicated. Photo: Shutterstock
Since then, I’ve learned I’m not the only one: Plenty of people are opting for more minimalist skin trends, either due to sensitive skin or just the fact that 12 steps are about six too many to reasonably remember every single day.

Eventually, through trial and error (and talking to many dermatologists), I was able to find a simple skincare routine that I could stick to without fail. Because I’m consistent, the products actually work – and have led to the smoothest, clearest skin I’ve ever had.

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I go through three quick steps every morning and night

Face washes are essential. Photo: Shutterstock
I follow the best basic skincare routine according to dermatologists, in which I use a few core products and complete almost the same steps every day and night. Some of my products are multifunctional, like my favourite sunscreen which combines skin-protecting SPF with moisturising niacinamide. Here’s my daily routine:

Morning routine

This writer does a handful of simple things every day. Photo: Handout

I start by cleansing my face with The Rice Wash from Tatcha, which also hydrates. Next, I apply the Matter of Fact vitamin C serum, which has a cult following and is one of the most shelf-stable vitamin C sera out there. Finally, I put on the EltaMD UV Clear sunscreen, which doesn’t leave a white cast or make my skin greasy.

Night routine

The evening routine can be just as simple. Photo: Handout

In the evening, I cleanse my face with Tatcha’s The Rice Wash again. This is optional, but I often use Bioderma micellar water and a cotton pad to remove make-up because I find it more effective than make-up wipes.

I apply Farmacy retinol serum every three days to avoid irritation. Then I put on Cetaphil moisturiser because it’s cheap and I can use it on my face and body. These specific products are what I’ve found works for my skin, but the general principles of cleansing, vitamin C, sunscreen, retinol and moisturising can work for anyone.

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Cleansing gets rid of dirt and clogged pores, vitamin C brightens my complexion, retinol reduces fine lines, moisturiser prevents dry skin, and sunscreen offers crucial protection and anti-ageing benefits. Put together, all these steps help my skin stay smooth, firm and breakout-free.
Removing make-up, if you’re wearing any, is essential before bed. Photo: Shutterstock
Sometimes I do swap out products to try new ones. For example, a dermatologist told me I could try a stronger retinoid for better results, so I switched to a different brand that I like more.

This simple routine also saves me money. Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars on products I might only use a few times before throwing away, I only buy what I absolutely need.

I’ve learned not to obsess over rogue pimples or fine lines

There’s no point stressing over spots – but there are ways to prevent them. Photo: Shutterstock

Even though my skin looks the best it ever has, I know it’s not perfect by everyone’s standards. As a woman over 30, I have fine lines and dark circles. I also still get the occasional zit or two around my period.

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But I’ve learned to accept these small blemishes, instead of stacking my natural face against a stranger’s selfies that are most definitely filtered anyway. I’m sure hyaluronic acid could smooth my skin even more and the right eye cream might work wonders, but over the years I’ve found that the more I fixate on my “flaws”, the more products I buy and the more discouraged I get. Eventually, my skincare routine once again becomes elusive and inaccessible.

Simple skincare routines can do wonders. Photo: Shutterstock

So, I’m sticking to what works and trying to let go of the inner chatter that tells me I need another serum. Maybe I’m a lazy girl, or maybe I’m a tired woman who’s lived through enough rapidly changing beauty standards to know good skin when I feel it.

This article originally appeared on Insider.