A solid skin care routine is an essential part of grooming and skin health. Whether you’re new to the skincare game or you just need a reboot, read on. Get back to the basics of why you need to establish the right skin care regimen regardless of your skin tone or skin type. And, learn how to build a basic skin-care routine that’s perfectly suited to your skin needs.
Do You Really Need A Skin Care Routine?
In a word: Yes. After all, your skin is your body’s largest organ — and it takes quite a beating day in and day out being exposed to the elements. A good skincare routine makes use of the best possible combination of skincare products that suit your specific skin concern, helping keep skin as healthy as possible.1
The right skin care routine can support:
- A reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- A healthy, moisturized skin barrier
- A confidence boost
- And much more2
How To Build A Skin Care Routine: Finding The Right Products
It can be easy to get overwhelmed when you see a long line of skincare products on the market. Start by laying the foundation of your personal skincare routine with just a few basic products that serve specific functions: Cleansing the skin, keeping it moisturized, and protecting it from the sun.3
These three steps are the cornerstone of your skincare routine and remain true whether you have dry skin, oily skin, or sensitive skin. You’ll rely on these products daily, so it’s in your skin’s best interest to select high-quality skincare products that’ll do the job well. Once you get the hang of using these three products consistently, you’ll want to look into other products that are able to address specific skin concerns(more on this in a bit).
Step 1: Find Your Facial Cleanser
Finding the perfect facial cleanser is the first major step in establishing a great skin care regimen. You’ll need a gentle cleanser that can lift off and wash away the day’s dirt, sweat, and makeup product residue, as well as gently slough off dead skin cells hampering your skin’s natural renewal process. And the cleanser must do all of this without being overly drying or harsh on your skin — bonus points for a cleanser that can aid the anti-aging process.4
Step 2: Harness The Magic Of Moisturizer
Moisturizer helps to ensure that your skin is optimally hydrated. This is especially important because parched skin can lead to irritation and a host of other skin problems you’ll want to avoid. Even if you feel you have oily skin or blemish-prone skin, don’t skip this key step.
Whether you’re looking at creamy moisturizers or facial oils, read the label carefully. It’s handy for your product to have an active ingredient (or two) that’s proven to help keep skin hydrated and healthy. Be on the lookout for these:
- Hyaluronic Acid: This natural humectant helps restore moisture and keep skin looking bouncy and youthful-looking.
- Vitamin C: A Vitamin C serum or vitamin C-enriched night cream or night moisturizer may help improve the appearance of skin with the help of natural antioxidants.5
- Alpha hydroxy acid (or glycolic acid): A powerful chemical exfoliant, this ingredient may help nudge along cell turnover and renewal to help reveal healthier, younger-looking skin.6
Step 3: Protect With SPF
All your cleansing and moisturizing efforts will go to waste if you don’t protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.7
A good rule of thumb is to choose a sunscreen that offers at least SPF 30, along with UVA and UVB protection.8 Your best bet is to find a lightweight, mineral SPF that is less likely to irritate sensitive skin and aggravate any skin problems you might already have. Look for one formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both effective mineral-based sun shields.9
What About Night Time? Should Your Skin Care Routine Change?
Your evening skincare regimen should be slightly different from your morning routine. You do still need to cleanse and moisturize, but you can swap out certain products like SPF for a different step.
At night, it pays to be more judicious in choosing a hard-working night cream that can do its work while you sleep. In addition to making sure you remove your makeup well with a non-irritating product, you should consider a separate moisturizer packed with anti-aging benefits, like the aforementioned AHAs, salicylic acid, or even retinol (a form of vitamin A).10
Leveling Up? Consider Adding These Other Skincare Essentials To Your Regimen
If you’ve gotten your bearings with your basic 3-step daily and nightly routine, it’s time to add a couple of other products into the mix. These specialized treatments target super specific skin concerns and can help take your skincare routine to the next level (especially if you have anti-aging on your mind). Once you have the basics covered, make room in your medicine cabinet for these:
- An exfoliating product: While your moisturizer may already contain a chemical exfoliant, some masks and spot treatments contain more of these beneficial ingredients in concentrated doses. These can help resurface fresh and healthy skin cells. You can apply these very potent products weekly.11
- Eye cream: Since the skin underneath your eyes is much thinner and more delicate compared to the rest of your face, it has its own set of special needs that a differently-formulated eye cream can address.You can also consider eye masks or eye treatments that target crow’s feet and fine lines.12
- Anti-Aging Serums and night treatments: Since your skin can repair itself more efficiently at night (and you don’t have to worry about exposure to the elements and sun damage), it’s a good opportunity to layer on special skincare products that can help delay or resolve signs of aging, like dullness and fine lines. Consider products that contain retinol and other skin-restoring ingredients.
The Best Order To Apply Skin-Care Products
Once you’ve carefully selected your cleanser, moisturizing products for day and night, and SPF, it’s time to figure out the best way to maximize your results. The order in which you apply your skin care products is important, as is the need to allow your skin to absorb each layer of product you’ve just applied.
Here’s a good rule of thumb to follow: After you’ve cleaned and dried your face, apply the next products from thinnest to thickest in terms of consistency. This means oils and lighter serums go first, and thicker creams or gels come after. SPF always comes in last.13
Similarly, watery or water-based products need to go on first before oil-based ones. Basic science dictates these two don’t mix well. Giving your skin a chance to absorb the actives in your water-based products first before massaging on your oily or creamy moisturizers is a good call.14
How Long Should You Wait Between Applying Skin-Care Products?
No one has the time or energy to stand around staring at the mirror (both on busy mornings or exhausted evenings). But you shouldn’t rush the process, either. While well-formulated skincare products probably won’t react adversely if you mix them together, it’s still a good idea to give your skin a second or two to absorb the product before layering on the next one. This is especially true for sunscreen — give it time to set if you’re going to pile some makeup on top of it.
Need More Insight Into Your Skin? Consult A Dermatologist
Each person’s skin is unique, and your needs may extend past the basics. While it’s good to nail these basic steps, you may want to take it to the next level and address any concerns you may have. A dermatologist can help give you clearer insight into your skin and recommend the right products for you to use, making establishing an effective skincare routine that much easier.