· By Mary Dale

The 5 Pillars of a Natural Skincare Routine

We're living in the golden age of skincare. There is more knowledge available for skincare consumers than ever before. Pair that beautiful fact with the reality that we have more options for high-powered organic and natural skincare than at any other time. We’re officially moving out of the dark ages of having no idea what we’re putting on our face!

And yet it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start with building a clean beauty routine that nourishes your skin. While the internet is going wild with 10 step skincare routines, there are really only 5 basic steps necessary for your skincare routine. Feel free to add onto this but it's nice to keep things simple and start with the basics when crafting your routine, especially if you’re just starting to seek out non-toxic products.  

As always, treat your body with the best care possible and stick to non-toxic products that are free from parabens, formaldehyde releasers, EDTA and a bunch of other nasty chemicals that are lurking in drugstore and luxury products alike. I'll cover how to read labels, what to look out for, and cleaning up your beauty routine in my recent blog post, Ready To Detox Your Beauty Routine.



Cleansing is the foundation of any skincare routine and it doesn't need to be complicated, but it is one of your most important steps. For normal and dry skin, a cream, oil or balm based cleanser works best. You want something that's not going to strip your skin of its natural oils and disrupt the very important lipid barrier function. For oily or acne-prone skin, a gentle, non-drying cream, oil, gel or bar (whatever appeals to you). Again, avoid a daily cleanser that is too harsh which can strip your skin of its oil, leading to even more oil production and more problems. Double cleansing with an oil cleanser every night is a major cleansing upgrade you can apply to the cleansing step and I highly reccomend it for it's deep pore cleansing properties. For extra help with acne, hyperpigmentation and anti-aging, incorporating an exfoliating cleanser into your routine is a must! It will brighten the appearance of skin, refine texture, reduce acne/clogged pores and smooth signs of aging. When using an exfoliating cleanser, you can alternate your exfoliating cleanser with a more gentle one to help maintain your skin's natural lipid barrier and avoid over stripping the skin. 

Product Recomendations: 
    1. For an Oil Cleanse: Agent Nateur HOLI (CLEANSE) CLEANSING FACE OIL ($52) 
    2. For a Gentle Moisturizing Cleanse: Josh Rosebrook Complete Moisture Cleanse ($50) 
    3. For an Exfoliating Cleanser: Agent Nateur's Acid (wash) Brightening Cleanser ($62) 
    4. For a balancing bar soap cleanse: Ayuna's The Soap


Back in the day, toners were nothing more than the final step of cleansing to remove any traces of dirt your cleanser missed. But it's so much more than that. While toner does perform the important task of any last cleansing, it's also your first step for getting powerful active ingredients a chance to work their magic, while also preparing your skin for the next steps in your routine. Exfoliating toners work by sloughing away dead skin cells to rid your skin of fine lines and blocked pores to consequently reveal a brighter, smoother complexion. This is also where you incorporate literal hydration in the form of the most water based step in your skincare routine. I aways keep a hydrating mist on hand like the Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator to mist as the final stage of this step. 

Product Recomendation: 



  • This step is where you can really pack a punch with serious anti-aging actives to help you achieve radiant, glowing skin. Serums are mainly active ingredients so you can get the most powerful results versus having the actives suspended in a moisturizer which can alter the PH and make the actives much less active. Pick something that packs a powerful punch and you won't be sorry. I'll go into actives for specific goals in a different article, but the basics include retinols/retinoids, targeted bio-extracts, vitamins and antioxidants for anti-aging, brightening, etc for normal and dry skin. Oily and acne prone skin can benefit from lactic acid, retinols/retinoids, tea tree oil, vitamin C, etc.  
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  • This is my favorite step, I love lathering my rich moisturizing Ayuna cream on every night. Moisturizers, creams, and oils lock in hydration and plump your skin so your it looks smoother while strengthening the skin’s barrier function, making it less vulnerable to inflammation and irritation and sealing in all the previous hydration and actives you put onto your skin in your earlier steps. When moisturizing your face, it’s very important to pay special attention to the skin around your eyes, which produce very little oil. The skin around your eyes is also the thinnest skin you have. I highly recommend using a specially formulated eye cream to treat this special area with an extra dose of actives and concentrated moisture. Make sure to gently tap your moisturizer on your eye area with your ring finger so you don’t tug on the delicate skin.
  • When layering, you would use your moisturizer first and then apply a face oil to literally seal everything in. Since the oil is heavier than the moisturizer, it will lock the moisture into your skin, kind of like you're saran wrapping all the goodness into your face! 
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  • Protection is all about sunscreen and this is probably the most important part of your daily routine for keeping your skin youthful as long as possible. If you're unconvinced, google "twins sun damage" and be prepared to start slathering sunscreen on like crazy. Avoiding chemical sunscreens is a must so you'll want to use a natural, mineral sunscreen with uncoated, non-nano zinc oxide as your active sunscreen ingredient. I'm really picky with my sunscreens and Verde Lusso only carries natural sunscreens that are non-toxic, work beautifully, and are actually a delight to use. I’ll dive into more details for choosing a clean sunscreen in an upcoming post too.
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For all you overachievers, this is extra credit that I personally abide by daily. Taking the time to do some form of massage, either when putting on your moisturizer or following a basic lymph drainage massage while cleansing, keeps your skin bouncy and lifted and will pay dividends as you grow older. If you really want to go above and beyond, add a micro-current device to your routine for long term lifting benefits. I'm a huge fan of the microcurrent Myolift mini which I massage over my face once a week after my toner and before my serum. Microcurrent devices are incredible for maintaining muscle tone in your face and you can also get micrcurrent treatments done by a skincare professional for a much stronger effect. (If pregnant, don't use micro-current, but massage is your best friend!)