Looking for the perfect day and night skin care routine? There are a few basic guidelines that anyone can follow and adapt to their own needs. First, understand that your skin has different needs in the morning than it does at night.
Read on for a step-by-step guide on perfecting your skincare routine for both day and night.
The Perfect Morning Routine
In the morning, your skincare routine will focus on setting the stage for the day ahead.
Step One: Cleanse
After you hop out of bed in the morning, your first step will be to wash your face with a cleanser. Using a high-quality cleanser will help you wash away any pollutants your skin came across on your pillowcase or in bed the night before.1
Indoor air pollution particles are smaller than your pores. Their tiny size makes it easy for them to infiltrate the top layer of your skin, which can cause irritation, dehydration, and loss of elasticity.2,3 A good cleanser will help give your face a clean slate for the day.
Your gentle cleanser should be able to:
- Gently remove dirt and buildup on the skin’s surface
- Exfoliate dead skin cells with active ingredients like fruit enzymes
- Retain moisture with an active ingredient like hyaluronic acid
- Contain antioxidants to help protect skin from daily damage
Step Two: Tone
A good toner can help exfoliate, remove deal cells, refine, and brighten the appearance of your skin. Glycolic acid is a popular, effective active ingredient in skin toners. It’s an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), that can also have strong anti-aging properties.4
When shopping for a toner to add to your skincare routine, be aware that alcohol-based toners can dry your skin out.5 To avoid this, reach for a hydrating toner that will help you balance your skin but won’t leave you dry.
To apply your toner, pour some out on a cotton pad and gently swipe over clean, dry skin in a circular motion.
Step Three: Treat
Your face deals with a lot in the course of one day. Things like cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes from traffic, the sun, and your dirty phone screen can all potentially cause damage. In the morning, you’ll want to give your skin a hand by applying a serum or special treatment that can help protect it throughout the day.
Including a daily serum in your skincare routine can also target skin damage that has already occurred. Look for a serum that:
- Protects your skin against environmental damage and oxidative stress
- Contains peptides to help give you healthy-looking skin
Apply your serum with clean fingertips, using upward circular motions. Be sure not to pull or tug at your skin.
Step Four: Moisturize
Once your serum or facial treatment has fully absorbed, you’ll want to apply a moisturizer.
To apply moisturizer, spread a thin layer over your face and neck using upward circular motions.
Step Five: Apply Sunscreen
Last but not least, don’t forget your sunscreen. No matter the season, slathering on SPF is an important step in your skincare routine.
Look for a mineral sunscreen that uses titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as its active ingredients – they are better for your skin. Mineral sunscreens sit on top of your skin and reflect sunlight. Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays after they’ve already penetrated the skin.6
- A mineral, not chemical sunscreen
- At least SPF 30
- Active ingredients that fight against wrinkles, dark spots, and sagging
If you tend to forget to apply sunscreen, you can also look for face makeup or moisturizer that contains SPF. That way, you’ll be more likely to apply it, especially if you wear makeup every day.
Bonus: Gently Exfoliate
For clear skin that glows, you’ll want to exfoliate. This is a great way to help slough off dead skin cells and reveal your newer, brighter skin. You can use a chemical peel with alpha-hydroxy acids, retinol, or a soft scrub.7
The Perfect Evening Skincare Routine
Your skin works hard to repair itself all day long. At night, it works even harder and switches into recovery mode. While you sleep, your skin’s regeneration process works up to three times faster than it does during the day.8 Your night skin care routine should take advantage of this.
The evening is a great time to layer products that address skin concerns like wrinkles, dark circles, dehydration, and fine lines. It’s also a strategic time to use skin-care products with retinol. Look for a specially-formulated night time serum. Keep in mind, these products can make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure. So, if you do use them in the morning, be sure to apply your sunscreen.9
Step One: Cleanse
Cleansing your skin at the end of the day is so important. Your facial cleanser will remove dirt, makeup, dead skin cells, and pollutants that have been sitting on your face throughout the day.10
If you wear heavy makeup, make sure you remove it entirely before you go to sleep. For help with this, try using micellar water, or makeup remover along with your cleanser. Double cleansing, which is popular in a Korean skin care routine, can also help ensure your makeup is completely removed.
If at all possible, try to avoid sleeping in your makeup, even if you’re exhausted.11
Step Two: Use A Serum
It’s a good idea to target issues like breakouts or aging at night. Many of the active ingredients that address these issues can cause the skin to be more sensitive to the sun.
To keep your skin looking young, seek out an anti-aging serum that contains collagen-boosting peptides. These peptides can plump up your skin, reduce the visibility of wrinkles, and help give your skin a youthful glow.12
Step Three: Apply Eye Cream
To brighten your eye area and help reduce the appearance of fine lines and dark circles, reach for an eye cream. Eye creams are specially formulated to work on the thin skin around your eyes. This area can be sensitive or delicate. A high-quality eye cream can deliver active ingredients in doses that won’t irritate your eyes.13
Step Four: Moisturize
At night, reach for a hydrating cream that’s richer than the moisturizer you use during the day. Your skin is more permeable at night, which means that it might be more receptive to skincare products you apply (yay). But it also means that it will lose moisture while you sleep (boo).14 A high-quality moisturizer can help counteract this.
Look for a night cream that repairs your skin barrier and helps rejuvenate your skin. You’ve got an entirely new day ahead of you tomorrow.
Bonus: Add A Mask
To give your skin an extra boost, consider adding a face mask to your routine a few times a week. Applying a mask is not only a relaxing self-care ritual – it’s also a great option for people who want to balance dry or oily skin.15,16
If you opt to use a mask, remove your makeup and cleanse your face first. Gently apply the mask with your fingertips and leave it on for the specified time. Remove the mask and continue on with your serum, eye cream, and moisturizer.
The perfect day and night skin care routine doesn’t have to be overly complicated. In general, remember that you want to cleanse, protect, and moisturize your skin before you put on your makeup. If you have skin concerns, speak with your dermatologist to make a plan that’s right for you.
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