How to start a skincare routine from scratch on a budget


How to cultivate a quality routine without the hefty price tag.

If you’re anything like me, the world of skincare can be utterly overwhelming. There are cleansers and toners, and acids that are good for your skin (despite them conjuring up images to the contrary). There are price points that confuse you (why is skincare so costly!) and an abundance of information that scares, rather than inspires.

As I stared at my cupboard of products recently, draining the final strains of skincare that I (a) still wasn’t entirely sure worked, and (b) could no longer afford given new budget constraints, I decided I needed a change.

Looking for more skincare recommendations? Head over to our Beauty section.

But instead of purchasing the same highbrow (and confusing) products I had forever assumed worked due to their exorbitant price tag, I challenged myself to do things differently. Was it possible to build a high-performing skincare routine at a low cost? What products were actually essential, and not just sold to me as essential?

Enter Mecca Max’s new skin range. A range that has been basically created for skincare neophytes like me. The answer to the ‘I don’t know where to start’ phrase so often uttered in stores, the range was developed by Mecca store teams, who are on the ground daily, responding to any and every skin concern.

As you can imagine, it’s everything you want in skincare products. Vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free and with no nasties (which we novices hear is a good thing). Incredibly, prices start at $10. (Yes, you read that correctly).

I wanted to learn more. Enlisting help from the very best – Lucy Shaw, Skincare Education Manager at Mecca Brands – I wanted her to give it to me straight and keep it stupidly simple. So, whether you are beginning your skincare journey, wanting to streamline your routine, or simply, seeking to demystify the confounding world of skincare, here is what you need to know.


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The foundation of a skincare routine involves three core products

The foundation of a skincare routine is all about skin maintenance. “This means, selecting the products your skin needs every single day in order to function properly,” Lucy explains. “These products will help to manage your skin type and help your skin do its all-important job of providing a protective barrier to keeping the bad things out and good things (like hydration) in.”

As for the three products that make up these building blocks? “A good cleanser that you love the texture of and will enjoy using daily, an exfoliator that you can commit to using regularly, and a barrier-boosting moisturiser,” reveals Lucy.

Use masks, serums and treatments to target specific concerns

‘Treatment’ products like masks, serums and treatments address specific skin concerns. Skin concerns – like dehydration, breakouts and pigmentation – arise from a multitude of factors, including changes in season and life stages. As such, the ‘treatment’ products used in your routine will often change, too.

“For example, [if] the weather has turned super cold, this is the time to boost hydration with something like the Watercooler Calming Hydration Serum, so your skin can deal with the all-day heating. Or [if] you’re going through a stressful breakup and suddenly you have pimples on your jawline, grab X-Zit Strategy Clarifying Mask to use on a Sunday with your girlfriends, or Spot Dots Blemish Busting Patches that you can apply each evening before bed,” says Lucy. Simple enough.

You don’t need to break the bank in order to create a skincare routine that actually works

There is no ‘right’ amount to spend on skincare, as like most things, it’s an entirely individual process. But I was comforted to know it is possible to build a skincare routine on a budget, taking into account some key factors.

As Lucy explains, “Focus your funds on the products that you will be using every single day”. These are the products that build up your foundational routine, like cleansers and moisturisers. As for the rest – like masks and treatments – the recommendation from Lucy is that they don’t need to be super luxe or expensive. “After all, you will be washing them off after 10 minutes.”

While skincare can involve lots of really scientific terms, there are four ingredients to look for

Niacinamide, otherwise known as vitamin B3, is a champion ingredient when it comes to brightening and calming redness. In fact, there is nothing that this ingredient can’t do (hence why it’s found in over half of the Mecca Max Skin range).

Glycolic acid (present in the Clean Sweep Gentle Exfoliating & Brightening Toner) is a tiny molecular-size acid derived from sugar, its tiny size allowing for deeper exfoliation than the typical AHA acid.

Lactic acid – Lucy’s personal favourite and present in the Clean Sweep Gentle Exfoliating & Brightening Toner and X-Zit Strategy Clarifying Mask – is the largest size molecule and works on the surface layers to buff and exfoliate, while locking moisture into the skin.

And lastly, salicylic acid is a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) with a superpower. It exfoliates inside the hair follicle, which is where pores get blocked with oil, targeting blemishes and blackheads. It’s a key ingredient that’s present in The Break-Up Blemish Busting Serum and Clean Sweep Gentle Exfoliating & Brightening Toner.

Whatever you do, routine is key

“Your skin loves routine,” Lucy tells me. “Whatever routine you decide to build, keep it simple and commit to using your products regularly, keep them sitting on your bathroom counter or next to your bed, in a place that will remind you to use them. This will allow you to achieve results and keep your skin happy.”

To begin building your own skincare routine, start with the Mecca Max Skin line here.

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