What skincare products do you find unnecessary in your routine?

I don’t use any toner! I think everything else serves a valid purpose, though – I found this one hard to answer beyond toner!

— Christine
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Mariella Avatar

A lot of that “new” stuff – essences, pre-essences, pre-serums….I honestly don’t know what the heck they are or they’re supposed to do. It seems that essences (or maybe “pre-essences”) are basically toners with a different name. I rarely use toners but in summer, they are a nice product to add because it’s humid here and they feel refreshing. And because I have some of those other products I mentioned from GWPs or value set purchases, I do use them and enjoy them but only because they’re already here. I like serums but because I often use facial oils, serums seem like a bit of “overkill” and I’m never sure what to use first (some of my oils say “first step” but so do the serums so I just end up confuddled). Who ever thought skincare was so fraught with confusion?

Seraphine Avatar

I don’t feel like I need special creams that claim to moisturize very specific parts of the body, like neck cream. I don’t use any oils at all. I find very expensive (La Mer, etc.) creams, serums, and lotions to be an unnecessary waste of money. I don’t use makeup remover because it all comes off with cleanser (as confirmed by the toner-soaked cotton ball I use after washing). I don’t use masks or peels…though maybe I should. I never use any kind of self tanners because I like my natural color.

I never used to use a toner, but a few years ago I got a sample of Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion 2. I don’t know if it actually makes that much of a difference on my skin, but I love love love how it feels so cool and bright at the end of the day after I wash my face.

Carolann Avatar

I love skincare! I pretty much use everything with the exception of traditional cream moisturizers. I have super oily skin and just feel like a slime ball when I use moisturizers. Lately I’ve been experimenting with gel and water-based moisturizers but even those are sometimes too much for my skin (especially in hot, humid Georgia).

xamyx Avatar

It’s easier to say what *is* necessary, as I keep my routine extremely simple, and at 44, my skin looks the best it has since High School… Plus, it’s really inexpensive!

Morning: Konjac sponge with water, witch hazel, facial oil, sunscreen.

Night: Oil cleanse and/or soap-free cleanser, witch hazel, facial oil and/or oil-free/fragrance-free moisturizer. I also use a brush to exfoliate, so scrubs are rarely used.

I also use masks a few times a year, generally when we have extreme shifts in temperature.

I buy most of my skincare products at natural grocery stores, and everything is chemical-free. I’ve used the fancy, expensive, “luxury” products for years, with multiple-step routines, but I was never happy with the results. Nothing helped with texture/pores or drier skin; if anything, those “luxury” made things worse…

Zbignieva Avatar


Just one small point, everything is a chemical. Water is a chemical.

A chemical is any substance consisting of matter. This includes any liquid, solid, or gas. A chemical is any pure substance (an element) or any mixture (a solution, compound, or gas).

Chemicals occur naturally and can be made artificially.

I think you mean an artificially made chemical, however if it is a product that is being used on humans, it will still have been through some sort of extraction or purification and preservation process.

kjh Avatar

Used to think toner was totally unnecessary, but now can’t live without Cosrx aha/bha. It’s for pH balancing, in the K tradition. I find numerous steps can be foregone, and s.t. that products targeted as one thing can be used as s.t. else. I could use an ’emulsion’ as a moisturizer, bec I’m oily/dehydrated. In fact, many times the moisturizer can be the thing left out, if the serum or other product has enough. Tried an all liquid 4 step at one time that actually worked. I also like toner…galactomyces or centella, to be specific, as freshening sprays. Hydration without much oil is the name of the game. The most bang for the buck ingredients in the lightest texture possible. And the fewer steps the better, as long as I can hit all the major ingredients my skin likes.

Wednesday Avatar

The word toner also relates to acid toners. I use them, think they are an imoortant part of my skincare program. Without getting into deets of various acid toners and essences, they do serve as a ph balancer which allows your other face products a friendlier base.

I use the whole enchilada.. serums, toners, oils, moisturizers, eye cream, anti-aging

I do not use masks very often.. found one

Deborah S. Avatar

I think I pretty much use it all. I started a new process this spring to test new products and determine what direction to take my skin care. We all know that it takes awhile to evaluate skin care and determine whether it is working for you. Sometimes I would loose track of when I had purchased the product and when I had started using it. I also didn’t have any definitive way to measure progress. At my age, 63, I don’t have years to determine the most effective skin care regimen for me. So, as I add a product to my skin care I date the package. I take a baseline photo and if after two bottles, tubes, whatever, if I don’t see any sign of progress, I eliminate that product and try something else. I am open to revisiting that product if it turns out that there was progress that I didn’t recognize. Case in point, I had been using Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic And Retinol Eye Gel for about 5 months and felt like I was going through the little bottle very quickly and it isn’t cheap, $68 for 0.5 mls. I order this online and when I ran out without a backup I decided to just eliminate it from my routine. As we were on our vacay I noticed the skin under my eyes and the texture on my lids seemed to be worse. I compared a picture I had taken before using the gel, during and after and it was clear by the after pictures that progress was being made. I ordered two more bottles!!
In short I usually throw anything and everything at my face hoping something will work!!!

Nancy T Avatar

Not so sure I can call these items “unnecessary”, but I have a tendency towards *forgetting* to use my witch hazel toner, as well as using my masks. Strange, as my bottle of witch hazel is right there on my makeup area! I do use it after tweezing my brows or stache. At which point, I will use it on my entire t-zone. Yet most days, I forget. And I shouldn’t. Same goes for masks :my skin NEEDS!

Alice20c Avatar

I’m skeptical about the need for separate moisturizers for day and night. Other than that, it depends on where I am and how humid the climate is. My skin is very dry, so most products need to change as the humidity does. I like toner in the summer, when I’ve been doing physical work, but not the rest of the year.

Sk Avatar

Separate night cream is something I never needed, most are greasy on my oily combo skin. I would rather use hydrating serums and light moisturizer.

KuƔvsui Avatar

Facials oils – I’m not someone who really needs any, and I haven’t even found one (1) that I actually want to try. Otherwise I use almost everything – cleanser, toner, acid exfoliant, serums and treatments and a light moisturizer every day twice a day (except exfoliant only once), plus weekly clay masks and acid peels, and a sheet mask every now and then. I don’t cut corners and I don’t pack light even when I travel. I use less SPF than I probably should but then the UV index rarely exceeds 3 where I live, except during high summer, and there is very little pollution to worry about thankfully.

Jessica Avatar

I don’t use a separate moisturizer after my treatment oils am/pm. I’m super oily, and i also use eye cream and sunscreen, so I don’t need it.When i have used it, i was more oily anyway.

Lesley Avatar

I think all of it is necessary although I make seasonal adjustments. I use micellar water as a toner plus an essence, several different serums (CE Ferulic, different peptides, caffeine, niacinamide, BHA, hyaluronic acid), sun screen, moisturizer, facial oil, Retin A, nightly and weekly glycolics, charcoal mask, undereye firming mask, a Dr. Brandt needles no more lotion that relaxes wrinkles., the Clarisonic, etc. etc. etc. I had severe acne and became a skin care junkie before I hit my teens. But if a younger person asks me about anti-aging, the simple answer is sun screen early and often.

Rachel R. Avatar

I have sensitive, oily skin. It’s easier to say what is necessary: Face wash, toner, moisturizer for oily skin, clay mask, zit cream when necessary. Acids make my skin itch and burn. I have yet to find an eye cream or serum that makes any difference. The serums I’ve tried don’t seem to make any difference. A lot of products either bother my skin or eyes.

Helena Avatar

Since I’m the laziest person ever, I don’t use the vast majority of products that many people do, let alone a ten-step nightly routine a la East Asian beauty ? I don’t use any serums, essences, oils, creams, what have you extra moisturizers and hydrators. Just Cerave. I don’t use any “anti-aging” products (anything good for your skin will prevent premature aging, really, but I don’t use anything that claims to erase wrinkles, for example). I also have no gadgets! Just my hands, cloths, and cotton.

Robin Avatar

In the morning I just wash, moisturizen then go to primer and make-up. I don’t bother with serums, under eye cream etc. I’m always running seriously late in the AM.

In the evenings I do the full routine – wash and tone or mask, eye serum, face serum, then eye and face moisturizers. No wonder my husband wonders why it takes so long for my PM routine !

Lulle Avatar

Scrubs. I use chemical exfoliants only (aha/bha/retinol) and a Clarisonic a couple times a week. Staying away from face scrubs was a suggestion from a facialist I really trusted, and indeed my skin’s been less crazy since I gave up the scratchy stuff (no more areas that were oily and peeling at the same time, clearer skin, less redness).

Susan Dowman Nevling Avatar

I agree with your answer. I almost never use toner. The exception would be when I have a sample to see if anything changed in toner world.

Miska Avatar

Eye cream. Everything else is fair game! But why waste $ on a seperate cream for my eye area? Think companies are just trying to get us to spend more. I’m big on reading ingredients. If it’s not listed in the top 4 or 5 in the ingredient list (at least in the U.S….other countries may not have to list ingredients in order from high to low) then I figure there are just trace amounts of stuff. Think companies have a lot of nerve to make claims of “special” ingredients in their lotions and potions when in reality, it’s such a small amount that it won’t make a difference anyway. Really pisses me of to tell you all the truth. It’s false advertising! In the past couple of years, I’ve really gotten into A/K-beauty and it’s changed my skin for the better. I’ve also figured out alot of what ingredients break me out/give me a rash/just plain aggravate my skin and I stay away. And I think the pH of products plays an enormous roll in how our skin, especially our faces, react to products.

Lea Avatar

The only thing I could come up with is micellar water. I use everything else on my face and the results are for the better and well worth the time and money I invest.

Brenda C Avatar

I pretty well use every thing. After I wash my face I use a toner to balance the ph. Then an essence, serum, oil, moisturizer, eye cream and neck cream. Something must be working, people think I’m 10 years younger than I am. I hope this keeps up!

zeezee Avatar

not unnecessary but have not found a good sunscreen that doesnt break me out. im sensitive to titanium dioxide, silicones, squalane etc etc. just couldnt find a formulation that suits me and i can see visible melasma on my cheeks. oh well.

lisa Avatar

I use oil to cleanse, dhc mild soap as a followup, toner sometimes, serums, retin A an anti-aging moisturizer (mid priced), eye cream and a sleeping cream at night, and lip moisturizer. Day is Glycolic wash or another AHA/BHA wash, toner, serum, oils, antiaging moisturizer, lip, hand, face sunblocks. I use masks and a nu-face device several times a week. I find these products keep fine lines at bay and my skin hydrated.

Erica Avatar

Eye cream and face masks. Other than extra pampering, they aren’t all that beneficial

I get what I need from a bha lotion, toner, and serums. I have oily skin so a well formulated toner is essential for me!

Terry Avatar

I’ve come to the conclusion less is more. Am: cereve foam cleanse, PC bha, serum and sunscreen PM: cleanse, tone, bha, serum, moisturizer twice a week I swap the night bha for retinal in summer My serum can be just enough no moisturizer in winter I may add a drop of oil to moisturize in summer a clay mask every other week. All these boosters and essences are nothing that you can’t find in well formulated basic products.

bibi Avatar

Toner- know it’s supposed to normalize the pH of my skin but I use gentle & pH balanced products to cleanse my face so don’t think it’s necessary. I’ve heard beauty & skin care gurus say toners ‘close’ your pores but that’s not possible.
Essences- My skin is too dry, I need something more ‘heavy-duty’ than a watery essence.

Any highly scented or perfumed products I avoid also.

Lisa Avatar

Funny because toners are one thing I’ve tried without for a while, but I always feel something is missing. I don’t use one that claims to do much, but I love how it feels after I cleanse..

Now onto something I do feel unnecessary.. Asian skincare is a huge trend thing and as others have pointed out, essences. Or as I’ve seen other brands have is a pre serum serum? To help your other skincare do it’s job better? Can someone explain?

After toner (and before moisturizer), i try to limit my skincare to 2 products. Anymore than that I feel unnecessary. If I want a serum with exfoliating properties, I’ll swap that out a different day.

Phoebe Avatar

I struggle to know what to use with skincare, there seems to be a billion different products and I find it’s too confusing, I have a limited budget for skincare and wish I knew the best routine for my skin. I guess I don’t use serums or oils or toners, but have tried quite a few and just get bored, if I don’t notice my skin looking better, or makeup applying better, then it feels like a waste of money for me.

DVa Avatar

Funny, I love toner.
I’m a distance runner and I use a witch hazel toner once per day after my runs. Even after using my clairsonic mia in the shower, I run a cotton pad soaked in witch hazel over my face and voila, even more sweat/grime and sunscreen comes off, visibly. I would never feel my skin is clean enough without it.
I don’t believe in spending $$$ on skin care either, I’ve never seen the benefit and I’ve tried a lot.
I don’t bother with under eye creams, whenever I get samples I try them, but ultimately find my day cream does just as well. Same as night cream, I use the same day and night.

Silvia Avatar

Toner have never used. Tried primers and never again I don’t see much difference other than breaking out and also setting spray. Too much hassle and no great results why bother. I like to keep it minimum. Best for my skin.

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