12 Simple Skin Care Routine & Products 2021: A Beginner's Guide

12 Simple Skin Care Products For People Who Suck At Skincare

February 7, 2018 Updated September 29, 2021

Simple Skincare Feature
Ulta Beauty / Freck Beauty / Amazon / VERSED Skin / BeautyCounter

With combination skin, I’ve dabbled in many (many) different skincare products over the years. Skincare products made specifically for oily skin, sensitive skin, from drugstore brands to luxury brands, and all of the cult following skincare products in between, — you name it and I’ve probably tried it. At the end of the day, I always go back to the basics. Simple skincare products that are easy, effective, and can still make the daily ritual fun for me. When you’re just starting your new skincare journey and learning what works for you, you may want to ease into it with the basics too.

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Luckily, now there are tons of great options in simple and easy skincare. You can use clean, natural, AND uncomplicated products without spending a fortune or wasting an hour. Even VERSED Skin‘s Senior Product Development Director, Tamerri Ater thinks so — and she’s a legit pro. Her first big tip to those just starting to learn about skincare is to know when to save your money and when to splurge.

“A good general [rule] of thumb is to skimp on wash-off products like cleansers since they’re only on the skin for a short period of time,” Ater said. “Investing more on leave-on treatments like serums makes more sense as they are usually highly concentrated with active ingredients and stay on your skin for an extended period of time.”

What to look for (and avoid) in skincare products

Knowing your skin type is the first step in finding the perfect and easiest skincare product for you. With this info in your back pocket, you’ll be able to scope out products that are made specifically for skin like yours (i.e. a hydrating gel moisturizer for dry skin or an unscented serum for sensitive skin.) When shopping for new skincare products, make sure to read the descriptions and ingredients!

“Look for the main ‘marketing’ ingredients that are featured on the front or back of the package and/or in the product name,” Ater added. “If that ingredient is towards the beginning of the ingredient list, it is probably being used at a percentage that is actually beneficial for the skin and intended to meet the claim of the product.”

Ater also gave a list of the beneficial ingredients you do want to see when reading these products. “Ingredients with lots of general clinical data are always good to look for in drugstore products – retinols, alpha and beta hydroxy acids, vitamin c, and peptides to name a few,” she said. “Many of these ingredients are proven to work and are great additions to functional ingredients that are commonly used in product formula bases.”

As for what to avoid: parabens, phthalates, hydroquinone, artificial fragrances, artificial colors, silicones, micro-beads, and SO much more. See VERSED’s full ‘No List’ here.

What are the correct steps in a skincare routine?

Applying your skin care products in the correct order makes a difference too. Some products you wash off and some are buildable, and you don’t want to ruin the effects or benefits of anything you take time to put on. The correct order is: cleanser, toner (optional but highly encouraged), face mask (around twice a week), serum, moisturizer, and eye treatment (optional).

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While you certainly don’t need all of those things for a simple skincare routine, you’ll want to try a few things to find what works for you. If you’re struggling to keep up with anything even remotely resembling a skincare routine, the simple skincare products below are a good place to start. From personal experience, it’s easy to slip into a multi-step skincare routine pretty fast, so beware! Your bathroom counter might soon be overtaken by serums and face masks like mine has.

We’ve rounded up the easiest skincare products for folks who…well…suck at skincare. But you’re on your way to learning, Mama! Check out the list below for the easiest and most simple skincare products for beginners.

RELATED: 9 Sheet Masks For The Busy Mom Who Needs A Little R&R

Simple Skin Care Products

Facial Cleaners

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

The self-described “milky” cleanser comes in normal to oily or normal to dry skin (my skin tends toward dry), and free from allergens and parabens and all that other gunk you don’t want on your skin. Bonus: it’s reasonably priced.

“A beautiful gentle, non fragranced, non irritating, non foaming, non-stripping cleanser. It’s very mild and doesn’t leave skin tight or stripped.” one reviewer raved. “[My skin] feels more balanced than ever. I have no need to reach for my other (harsher) cleansers.”

$11.99 AMAZON

Clinique Jumbo All About Clean Liquid Facial Soap Mild

A fan favorite from Ulta Beauty and for good reason. This facial soap from Clinique is specifically for those with dry and combination skin. It’s dermatologist-developed to be a gentle and effective cleanser that removes all environmental impurities that have touched your face throughout the day. It leaves your skin feelings super soft to the touch. This 13.5 oz bottle is the jumbo option, if you want to start small there’s a 6.7 oz bottle too.


Facial Toners

THAYERS Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Facial Toner

I know earlier I said that facial toner was optional, but after trying this guy I think you’ll understand why it’s still highly recommended. The purpose of toners are to balance the pH levels of your skin. This will help uneven skin tones, dark spots, etc. This facial toner from THAYERS in particular, does that and more. It gives your face an extra cleanse, moisturizes, hydrates, and helps control acne. OMG all that in one! No wonder it made this list.

$10.95 AT AMAZON

Freck Beauty Cactus Water Cleansing Lactic Acid Toner

Did you see that Lactic Acid ingredient in the title? This toner from Freck has the highly coveted ingredient for sensitive skin. This Cactus Water Toner is looks like water, but acts as your best friend when trying to gently eliminate dark spots and balance your skin. Customers are obsessed with this toner and it’s quickly gaining a cult following!


Face Masks

beyou Variety Face Masks (set of 6)

I admit, face masks can be a lot. They can take a lot of time and get a little messy depending on the texture and ingredients. But with sheet masks, it’s as easy as on — relax — and off. This particular set from beyou works great because each one has different benefits. The Pineapple Extra + Glycolic Acid with leave your skin insanely smooth, the Peach + Hyaluronic Acid will leave your refreshed, and don’t get me started on how good the Seaweed + Pearl mask smells! This set is perfect for beginners that want to dip their toe in world of face masks.


BeautyCounter Counter+ Charcoal Facial Mask

Okay, I know this seems like a splurge for a face mask, but if there’s one thing I know even skincare beginners have heard, it’s that charcoal face masks work wonders! BeautyCounter’s facial mask is among the best of the best — so why not start with something that thousands are obsessed with. “The charcoal mask is amazing!” said one reviewer. “You can literally see it pulling the oils out of your skin! It makes my skin feel so soft after!”



VERSED Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum

As VERSED’s Senior Product Development Director mentioned, retinol is an ingredient you want in your skincare products. The product’s description says that this creamy serum is made especially “for sensitive skin and first-time retinol users.” See — beginner proof! Use this cleaner every evening after cleansing and before moisturizing for the right effect. One reviewer said, “I bought this a little hesitant because I have very sensitive acne prone skin and this has been a game changer. I wake up with smoother skin than ever. Thank you!!”


L'Oreal Paris Skincare Revitalift Serum

This serum from L’Oreal comes highly recommended from Tamerri Ater and has nearly 5,000 reviews on Amazon! It contains 10% pure Glyolic Acid which is an awesome exfoliating ingredient. It helps reduce wrinkles and even tone, too. “This is THE ONE!” said one Amazon reviewer. “I’m a fair skinned young at heart woman in my early 50s. You know those unsightly, freckly blotches that come up? This product erases them. I have found my new holy Grail and couldn’t be happier – after just a week. I’m already ordering a new bottle to have on hand. I do use it on my décolletage and hands as well. Thank you, L’Oréal!”

$21.47 AT AMAZON


Alder New York Everyday Face Moisterizer

Don’t forget the moisturizer! This step is just as important as the others, and the Everyday Face Moisturizer from Alder NY makes it easy to fall into routine. It’s light (love), gentle (LOVE), and leaves your skin feeling insanely smooth (you know where we’re going here). You’ve got your choice between the mini 1 oz bottle that’s great for first time users, but you’ll quickly find yourself subscribing to that full size bottle in no time.


Knours. Your Only Meditation Gel Cream

As far as affordable, quality skincare goes, Knours. is tops. With an emphasis on creating clean skincare products that won’t disrupt hormones (yep, it’s safe for pregnant and newly-postpartum mamas, too), the brand’s newest product gets top marks. The gel cream formula feels cool and refreshing, sinks in without feeling sticky, and hydrates for all-day, non-greasy moisture. It’s suitable for all skin types and can calm volatile and temperamental skin. Feel the zen.


Eye Treatments

RoC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Eye Cream Treatment

Because the skin around your eyes has the least amount of elasticity (WHYYY), this area can seemingly age faster than the rest of your face. Thankfully, this eye cream is like IRL FaceTune, thanks to the formula that plumps, smoothes, and brightens to create a gorgeously clean canvas. Meaning: the baseball cap and bedhead may be a dead giveaway as to your quality of sleep last night, but at least your face looks awake, right?!

$16.58 AT AMAZON

Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado

The Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado is best selling fan favorite. With ingredients like shea butter and avocado oil, it refreshes and moisturizes the under eye area. Perfect to help you out with the long days of keeping the house running. Among the 600+ raving reviews on UltaBeauty.com, one new mama said, “I used it immediately after washing my face and was shocked at how it instantly brightened under my eyes. Almost like magic, literally. I just gave birth a week ago and haven’t been getting much sleep so this is a lifesaver!”


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stroke red
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentl...
THAYERS Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Ha...
L'Oreal Paris Skincare Revitalift Serum
Clinique Jumbo All About Clean Liquid F...
VERSED Press Restart Gentle Retinol Seru...
Freck Beauty Cactus Water Cleansing Lact...
Alder New York Everyday Face Moisterizer
beyou Variety Face Masks (set of 6)
BeautyCounter Counter+ Charcoal Facial M...
Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocad...
RoC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Eye Cre...
Knours. Your Only Meditation Gel Cream