I only did these 3 skin care steps, but my skin has never been better





For many of us, skin care is never easy. It's hard not to feel overwhelmed when you're strolling down the aisles of Boots and seeing everything from AHAs to antioxidant serums, and don't even get me started on retinols, retinaldehydes and retinoids. 

Since I'm a beauty writer, I signed up to delve into the ins and outs of each ingredient. But no matter how many products I choose and try, I always end up choosing variations of the same three products.
Enter: CSA. 

What is a CSA Skin Care Routine? The CSA skincare philosophy is championed by skincare brand Medik8, and in my opinion, it’s the perfect daily routine. It revolves around the use of vitamin C, SPF, and vitamin A (also known as retinol), hence the abbreviation CSA. 

However, CSA skin care routines are nothing new. Medik8 first introduced this method in 2009 and have been using it ever since, making skin care easier for many people. So far, it seems to be working. 

"These three steps show how important it is to reduce the amount of skin care products you buy and take a more practical approach to skin care," explains dermatologist Sonia Khorana. According to No7, 75% of women only use one third of their skincare routine, which is good for our faces and our finances. 

“I often talk about the benefits of ‘skinism’ and how you don’t need a 10-step skincare routine to see the benefits,” adds Dr. Sonia added, and I have to agree. 

My bathroom shelves may be overflowing with lotions and potions (many of which are great), but my must-haves make up a small percentage and almost always fall into those three letters. 

Vitamin C: Vitamin C was bought by my desert island beauty. “First and foremost, it’s a powerful antioxidant,” explains Daniel Isaacs, director of research at Medik8. 

Daniel explains that vitamin C neutralizes harmful free radicals from the sun and the environment, preventing them from attacking skin cells and causing signs of skin damage. 

Since using a few drops of Medik8 C-Tetra Luxe (£59) every morning for about a year, my face has never looked brighter, smoother or even-toned. This makes sense because Dr. Sonia explains that vitamin C "helps improve pigmentation, uneven skin tone, rebuilds collagen, and protects skin from environmental stress and damage." 

Used together, it can even enhance the effectiveness of sunscreen. SPF: We've all realized the importance of sunscreen, so it's certainly the most important step in any skincare routine. “Sunscreen should be worn every day to protect against UV rays,” Daniel explains. 

"UVA rays, in particular, are available year-round and can penetrate clouds and glass." So, yes, even if you're sitting at a desk by a window, you might want to consider investing in a high-SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen. Apply spectrum sunscreen. 

Personally, my sunscreen application needs work. If you're spending your day indoors, whether working from home or taking the subway to the office, it may seem like a pointless step. But experts suggest that's not the case. 

So it's important to find one that's really interesting. excellent! Mattescreen, £34, is my favourite, but I usually replace it after every use. Also try Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Dewy Sunscreen SPF30, £14.99, and Medik8 Advanced Day Ultimate Protect SPF50 PA++++, £59. 

Vitamin A: The third and final step in the CSA concept is vitamin A, also known as retinol, which Dr. Sonya describes as a “skin superhero that can help rebuild collagen, lighten pigmentation, address texture irregularities and [improve] Oil control.” 

People's love for this ingredient seems endless, but it also has some drawbacks. Puffy skin (in the form of breakouts), redness, and dry skin are all side effects of retinol. But Medik8 has options for almost every skin type, even the most sensitive ones. Full instructions can be found here. 

“Medik8’s motto is: take your time, take your time,” says Daniel, who recommends using a low concentration of retinal. Retinaldehyde belongs to the retinoid family and works faster than the classic form of retinol. 

"There is a wealth of published research supporting its effectiveness," Daniel says, recognizing retinaldehyde's collagen-boosting properties, adding that it renews the skin, giving it a more even tone and texture. 

Daniel compares this to prescription skin care that can only be obtained from a dermatologist. Work the ingredients into your skin slowly so as not to overwhelm it. Daniel recommends using an encapsulated retinal, such as Medik8 0.03% Crystal Retinal, £49. 

Encapsulation usually means that the retinaldehyde is wrapped in moisturizing ingredients like skin-loving oils, making it a better choice for those with sensitive skin. Medik8 also means that retinal is not affected by the environment and therefore is more effective. 

Use twice a week in the evening for the first two weeks, then every other night for the next two weeks while preparing for nighttime use. Once your skin accepts the molecule without any irritation, you can switch to a higher strength to maximize results. 

Following advice from about six months ago, I now use Medik8 0.06% Crystal Retinal, £66, twice a week and my skin has never looked better. The fine lines that were starting to appear have diminished, uneven texture has been smoothed, and my pores are less noticeable than before. 

While I could probably tolerate a higher ratio and use it more often, my skin seems very happy with this routine and ultimately a good skin care routine is what works best for you. If you're on a budget, try CeraVe Resurfaceing Retinol Serum, £21.
final thoughts
It's taken me years to find a skincare routine that not only works, but takes less than five minutes morning and night, and I think I've finally nailed it with this three-step process. The only products not included in the CSA method are cleansers and night creams (I'm currently using the new No7 Future Renew Night Cream, £34) or eye creams. 

If you want to include the latter, it could definitely fall under the vitamin C or even retinol category, especially if you're fully committed to the cause. Of course, any skin care brand will do, no matter your budget.
What about other skin care products? Well, you don’t have to throw away your hyaluronic acid serum just yet. “In my opinion, these three ingredients (CSA) are absolute must-haves for any skincare routine, and you can build on them based on your specific skin concerns,” explains Dr. Sonia.
"If someone has acne-prone skin, they may need to add a toner or salicylic acid product to address their issues," she adds. 

Likewise, people with very dry skin may need to use a rich moisturizer before applying SPF or after applying retinol. “People with rosacea-prone skin may need lower levels of vitamin A,” adds Dr. Sonia, for dull skin, some people may want to use a glycolic acid product instead of retinol. This explains how to tailor the three-step process to your needs.
If a simple yet effective skin care routine is on your wish list this season, it's a sign that sometimes less is more.
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