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If you're anything like me, you love hearing beauty gurus divulge their skincare routines from top to bottom. I may have a bare-minimum two-part regimen in my own life, but I'm sort of fascinated by those people who use a seemingly endless stream of serums, devices, and essences. Don't get me wrong, these gurus have stunning skin to show for their involved routines, but I always find myself wondering….do they really need all those steps?

I chatted with Dr. Sejal Shah, a dermatologist and Real Self contributor, to get the scoop on the products women really should be using…and the ones they don't necessarily need. She has some great tips, so check them out below!

The essentials


It's usually the first step in a skincare routine, and according to Dr. Shah, it's one of the most important. “You want to make sure you're cleansing your skin, ideally twice a day,” she said. “Whatever cleanser you're using, make sure it's removing your makeup — but you don't need a harsh cleanser.” She pointed out that you should seek out a cleanser that's meant to address your particular skin type and concerns.


You can't hear this enough times: Sunscreen is something everyone needs to use everyday. “Even if you feel that your skin is oily, there are sunscreens that are made for oily skin. Sunscreen is a step that cannot be missed at all.” You heard it here: Seeking out protection from the sun is crucial if you want to avoid sun damage, skin cancer, and wrinkles (you do).

Things you should probably be using


“I like most people to use an antioxidant serum. I think it's a very well-tolerated treatment. I prefer a vitamin C serum. I find that most people are able to tolerate them,” Dr. Shah said.

An exfoliant

Dr. Shah believes most people should be using a product that promotes cell turnover, whether it's an alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acid. This step will help keep your skin looking fresh and radiant. This, plus the antioxidant serum, will help with anti-aging too.

Things that are nice to use but not totally necessary


“Most people don't really need a toner,” Dr. Shah said. “Some people like them because it feels like their skin is getting cleaner, especially if you wear makeup and you use a toner, you can see the makeup coming off.” Very oily skin can benefit from toning, according to Dr. Shah, but people with dry or sensitive skin should be careful with it.

Hyaluronic acid serums

While Dr. Shah conceded that these can be great in dry, cold climates, it's not totally necessary — and if you're overwhelmed when trying to build your routine out, you can probably overlook this step.

Night cream/eye cream

“I do think that as you get older there are benefits to adding in night cream,” Dr. Shah said. She explained that your skin will probably dry out as you age, but if you're in your 20s, you may not need deep moisture. As for eye cream, you can probably use your regular moisturizer in that area.

So basically, cleaners and sunscreen are must-haves. Serums and exfoliants are nice and helpful, while toners, hyaluronic acid serums, and night creams aren't all that necessary. So if you wanna treat your skin to some tender, love, and care, invest in cleansers and SPF!