Wondering what products you really need in your skincare regimen? Whether you’re a power user or a minimalist, if you care about having healthy, beautiful skin, there are certain products you should definitely be using. Here’s what you need:

+ A Cleanser
This is a no-brainer. The first step in obtaining healthy skin is to wash away substances like makeup, pollution and grime that can clog pores, cause inflammation and dull your complexion. You should cleanse twice a day and whatever cleanser you’re using, make sure it’s removing your makeup but is not stripping your skin. This is important whether your skin is on the dryer side or is acne prone or oily but for acne prone or oily skin, using a cleanser with some AHAs will help keep pores clear.

? Maybe: Toner
Do you really need a toner? The purpose of a toner is to balance your skin’s pH (even the tap water you use for cleansing can disrupt the pH balance of your skin), remove anything left over after cleansing including makeup and tap water residue and prep your skin to receive the next step even better. However, a lot of cleansers do this job on their own. So, as long as your cleanser isn’t leaving anything behind, you can most likely skin this step. Test by wiping a section of your skin with a cotton pad with witch hazel or even a skin-friendly oil like argan oil to see anything wipes off onto the cotton pad.

+ An Exfoliant
Since our skin cell turnover slows down dramatically as we age (as babies our skin cells turn over every 14 days but by age 50 they only turn over every 1 ½ to 2 months!) it’s important to stimulate the natural cell renewal process. Exfoliants encourage our skin to behave the way it did when it was younger – removing old, dull skin cells on the surface and encouraging healthy, new, plump cells to take their place. While this is a crucial step in your skin care routine, don’t overdo it because this can lead to irritation. You should exfoliate 1-2 times per week using either chemical exfoliants like alpha and beta hydroxy acids or physical ones like scrubs. Stay away from scrubs if you have active acne or sensitive skin though.

+ Serum(s)
Possibly one of the most important skin care products that you can use, this is where the magic happens! Serums are in the treatment category and are packed full of active ingredients to brighten, repair, build collagen, increase skin cell turnover, smooth texture, decrease fine lines, hydrate, —the works. Some serums are targeted for a single purpose like decreasing hyper-pigmentation and some treat multiple concerns at once. Keep in mind that you can also layer your serums if you’re after some serious results or have multiple concerns. We will delve into skin care active ingredients in an upcoming post some to consider are retinol, antioxidants, growth factors and peptides.

+ A Moisturizer
When skin is properly hydrated it looks more plump and healthy, repairs itself better and shows fewer signs of aging. Moisturizing consistently can also reduce the chance of developing extreme dryness or oiliness which can both lead to skin conditions like acne. For skin that leans towards the oily side, choose a lighter weight lotion or hydrating gel that draws water into the skin. Dryer skin types will benefit from both water and oil based hydration. Moisturizers can also pull double duty if they incorporate active ingredients like those in serums (although they would normally be in lower concentration in your moisturizer than in a serum.)

+ Sunscreen
This is absolutely non-negotiable. Sunscreen is important even if you are just going to and from the office or school AND even if it’s cloudy. UV rays from the sun are responsible skin aging and wrinkles, age spots and other hyperpigmentation. They are also responsible for both non-invasive skin cancers and deadly melanoma. Make sure your sunscreen contains the physical sunblock zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These ingredients offer the best protection against both UVA and UVB rays. The higher the concentration of these ingredients, the better. And, please don’t just choose the highest SPF. SPF only tells you the protection against UVB rays. The quality and concentration of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are much more important.

+ An Eye cream
The delicate skin around the eyes is the first area to show the signs of aging so we definitely don’t want to neglect it. It doesn’t produce much oil at all so it requires hydration. And, it’s much thinner and more sensitive than the rest of your face so you can’t use the same products on both areas. An eye cream that includes active ingredients like retinol, antioxidants and growth factors plus hydration but is delicate enough for this sensitive area is an absolute must.

? Maybe: Neck cream
The skin on the neck has very few oil glands (which is why it’s very rare to break out on your neck) and is thinner and much more delicate than the skin on most of your body. It is most similar to the skin on your eye lids. It is also affected by muscle movements and, the more recent development: tech neck. Constantly leaning over your phone or computer screen can lead to horizontal creases and fine lines on your neck. To combat this, we must make sure that our neck is well-hydrated, is being treated with active ingredients that stimulate collagen production and skin cell turnover and is being protected from UV rays. If your skin isn’t super sensitive, patch test your face products on your neck. Or, even better, opt for a product that is specifically formulated for this delicate and often neglected area.