Skin care regimes can be as simple as 3 basic budget products or as complicated as a 10-step routine using dizzyingly expensive creations.

However, whether you spend the absolute minimum or blow your budget, if you don’t follow it in the right order, you won’t be getting the best out of your investment.

The important thing is that the routine is consistent morning after morning, night after night. Being realistic about what you’ll keep up with is probably the best indicator of how many steps your skin care routine should have because it needs to be something that you’ll stick to. An unwaveringly consistent routine using 3 basic products is better than a 10-step routine using eye-wateringly expensive products now and then.

Traditionally, the 3 basics of a skin care routine have been cleansing, toning, and moisturising. Nowadays, people might, for example, prefer cleansing, moisturising, and applying sunscreen, and see toning as an added extra – highlighting the difference between day time and night time because obviously there’s no point applying sunscreen just before you go to sleep.

A routine should always perform the basic functions of removing dirt and adding moisture. Beyond that there are a myriad of options, and it can take time to work out what feels best depending on your budget, skin type, age, and aims.

Once you’ve established your basic routine of however many steps and stick to it without fail, you can add or subtract as you like. For example, once or twice a week you might exfoliate, or you might add a retinol product. This way, you can add products for specific benefits on a rotating basis without the commitment of using them all the time.

The order of your skincare routine matters. Washing the face, whether it’s with makeup remover before cleansing at night or cleansing straight away in the morning should come first, and a rule of thumb is to progress from thinnest product through to thickest (although sunscreen for the face may well be thinner than the preceding moisturiser).

An effective morning routine could comprise of cleanser, followed by toner, followed by a serum and/or moisturiser and then ending with the all-important 30 factor or more sunscreen.

An effective evening routine could consist of makeup removal first, then cleanser (some people like to double cleanse), exfoliation if you feel like it, serum if you’re using it and moisturiser (preferably including dedicated eye-cream).

Targeted treatments for specific conditions might include spot or acne products, hydrating masks, or wrinkle-minimising creams and serums.

Ultimately, finding a skincare routine that works for you, that you will stick to, is the most important rule of all.