Beginning a regular skincare routine can be challenging. The wide range of options available in stores can be overwhelming, and the advice found on TikTok can be contradictory. Additionally, there are countless skincare product reviews to sift through. It’s important to consider that everyone has unique skin types, preferences for formulas, and different schedules and lifestyles. While there isn’t a single correct approach to skincare, we consulted expert dermatologists who can provide valuable guidance on how to begin and what factors to consider when creating the best daily skincare routine.
How to Start a Daily Skincare Routine?
To ensure you get the most out of your daily skincare routine, regardless of your skin type, follow these three simple steps recommended by Dr. Ashley Magovern, a dermatologist and the owner of Manhattan Dermatology in Manhattan Beach, California:
- Cleanse: This means washing your face to keep it clean and fresh.
- Treat: Besides maintaining a healthy complexion, a good skincare routine should also address specific issues. Treating involves using serums that contain beneficial skincare ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, and alpha hydroxy acids. The specific ingredients you choose will depend on your skin type and the results you desire. Adding this step between cleansing and moisturizing is crucial, as it can significantly improve the health, appearance, and aging of your skin over time.
- Moisturize: Hydrating your skin by applying moisturizer is an essential step to keep it nourished and hydrated.
By following these three steps consistently, you can establish a daily skincare routine that will help you achieve and maintain healthy, beautiful skin.
Morning Skincare Routine Steps
The first step in any skincare routine is cleaning your face. This helps to remove dirt and excess oil that can clog your pores and make your skin look dull. However, it’s important to be gentle. Dermatologists advise against cleansing too often or using a harsh cleanser that can damage your skin’s protective barrier. If you have dry or sensitive skin, it may be best to wash your face only at night and rinse it with water in the morning.
When choosing a cleanser, look for formulas that are gentle and won’t strip away your skin’s healthy oils. A good facial cleanser should be pH-balanced and free from sulfates and soap. According to Dr. Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist and author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin, for everyday cleansing, consider the following based on your skin type:
- Oily skin: Use a foaming or gel cleanser to effectively remove excess dirt and oil. Ingredients like niacinamide and salicylic acid can help regulate and eliminate excess oil.
- Acne-prone skin: Opt for a gentle foaming cleanser that contains acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur.
- Dry skin: Look for a lotion, cream, or balm cleanser with hydrating ingredients like ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and botanical oils.
- Sensitive skin: Consider using a micellar water cleanser, which is very gentle and contains tiny particles called micelles that trap impurities and remove them without drying out your skin.
Step 2. Toner
Toners are liquid skincare products that you apply to your dry skin after cleansing, using your fingers, a cotton ball, or cloth. It’s done before using other skincare treatments like serums and moisturizers. A good toner helps ensure your skin is completely clean and free from dirt. It also provides additional active ingredients to benefit your skin.
While using a toner is not necessary, it can be a great way to refresh your skin, remove any remaining debris, and balance its pH levels. Today’s toners offer more advanced benefits compared to the drying alcohol-based formulas of the past. They are packed with skin-nourishing ingredients that can leave your skin looking radiant. Here are the ingredients you should look for based on your skin type:
- If you have acne-prone skin, choose a toner with hydroxy acids like salicylic acid and lactic acid, as they help increase cell turnover.
- For dry or sensitive skin, look for a hydrating toner or essence without drying alcohol. Ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid can help soothe your skin.
- If you have combination skin, go for gentle exfoliants, moisture-boosting ingredients, and antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and green tea. These can fight against free radicals and prevent skin damage.
- For oily skin, opt for astringents like alcohols or witch hazel, which can help tighten your pores.
Step 3: Serum
A serum is a special skincare product that is customized to target specific skin concerns. It can treat and protect your skin by delivering powerful ingredients in concentrated amounts. Serums can address various complexion issues, such as wrinkles and dark spots. If you have multiple concerns, you can use different serum formulas. Make sure to read the labels carefully because some serums are best used in the morning, while others are more suitable for nighttime.
One serum that everyone can benefit from using in the morning is an antioxidant serum. It helps prevent the formation of free radicals and reduces signs of aging over time. Vitamin C is known as the best antioxidant. Dermatologists recommend using vitamin C regardless of age because it helps reverse skin damage caused by the sun and pollution. For people with darker skin tones who often experience hyperpigmentation, using a vitamin C serum in the morning can also help minimize dark spots.
Apart from antioxidant serums, there are other types of serums you can try to address specific concerns like wrinkles and fine lines:
- Hyaluronic acid serums: These serums attract moisture into the skin, combating dryness and dullness while also plumping the skin.
- Niacinamide: It’s a form of vitamin B3 that brightens and evens out skin tone, boosts collagen production, and reduces inflammation.
- Retinoids: These stimulate cell turnover, increasing collagen production and reducing wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. Retinol is best used at night.
- Peptides: They are made up of amino acids and serve as the building blocks of collagen. Peptides can boost collagen production, smoothing lines and increasing the firmness of the skin.
Step 4: Eye Cream
Eye creams are different from face creams because they are specially made for the delicate skin around your eyes. This area tends to age faster than the rest of your face, so it needs extra care. If you’re worried about fine lines, wrinkles, lack of firmness, dark circles, or bags under your eyes, using an eye treatment product is a good idea.
To reduce dark circles, look for eye creams with niacinamide or vitamin C. If you have puffiness, choose a formula that contains caffeine, according to Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, a dermatologist in New York City. To address wrinkles and sagging, opt for eye creams with peptides and retinol. Additionally, Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, a dermatologist in Westport, CT, suggests that vitamin K can brighten dark circles, and hyaluronic acid can hydrate dry skin. If you have multiple concerns around your eyes, look for an eye cream that combines these ingredients to target your specific needs.
When applying eye cream in the morning and at night, gently tap it onto your eye area using your ring finger (which is the weakest finger). This helps to avoid pulling or damaging the delicate skin around your eyes.
Step 5: Moisturizer
Face moisturizers are important for keeping your skin soft, hydrated, and protecting its barrier. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, choose a lighter moisturizer for daytime use, like a lotion or gel that absorbs quickly and doesn’t create clumps under makeup. If your skin is dry, go for a thicker formula, such as a cream. Dermatologists recommend moisturizers for all skin types throughout the year because hydration is essential for maintaining youthful and healthy skin. Dr. David suggests looking for ingredients like ceramides or hyaluronic acid since they help retain moisture in the skin.
Expert tip: While applying moisturizer, massage it into your skin. This will improve its absorption, effectiveness, and enhance circulation.
Here’s how to select a moisturizer based on your skin type:
- Dry skin: Choose a rich cream that contains emollients, humectants, ceramides, and occlusives to deeply moisturize your skin.
- Oily or acne-prone skin: Opt for light lotions or gel-based formulas that are labeled “non-comedogenic” or “oil-free.”
- Sensitive skin: Look for hypoallergenic formulas that are free from potential irritants like fragrance and alcohol.
Step 6: Sunscreen
Sunscreen is the most important step in taking care of your skin, no matter your skin type or age. According to Dr. Magovern, if you skip wearing sunscreen, all the other skincare steps won’t be as effective. The sun is the main reason why skin ages prematurely. It’s not just about looks either – people of all skin colors can get skin cancer. If you’re treating hyperpigmentation but not using SPF daily, it’s like making progress and then losing some.
Remember, even if you spend most of your time indoors, it’s still crucial to protect your skin from the sun since UV rays can go through windows.
Apply a nickel-sized amount of broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen on your face as the last step in your morning skincare routine. Don’t forget to apply it on your neck and the backs of your hands too. Do this 30 minutes before going outside. If you want to keep your routine simple, you can use a daily moisturizer with SPF instead of using a separate moisturizer and sunscreen.
There are two main types of sunscreen:
- Chemical sunscreens: These contain ingredients like avobenzone and homosalate, which absorb the UV light when it touches your skin.
- Physical sunscreens (also called mineral sunscreens): These contain minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which reflect the UV light away from your skin.
Some sunscreens have a combination of chemical and physical ingredients. If you have sensitive skin, it’s generally recommended to use mineral sunscreens with pure zinc oxide. However, many chemical sunscreens have been tested and found to be non-irritating. If you have oily skin, look for non-comedogenic, oil-free gel formulas. If you have dry skin, avoid alcohol-based spray or gel sunscreens. People with darker skin tones might prefer chemical sunscreens to avoid the white residue that some physical sunscreens can leave. However, there are now mineral sunscreens available that don’t leave a chalky appearance.
In conclusion, establishing a daily skincare routine tailored to your skin’s specific needs is essential for achieving and maintaining healthy, beautiful skin. Following expert-recommended steps can simplify the overwhelming array of skincare products and advice available. Start with a gentle cleanser suitable for your skin type to remove dirt and excess oil. Then, use a serum containing beneficial ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, or alpha hydroxy acids to address specific concerns and improve skin health.
Moisturize with a product that suits your skin type, and consider incorporating a toner and eye cream into your routine for additional benefits. Apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher sunscreen daily to protect against UV rays. Remember to consider your unique skin type, concerns, and preferences when selecting products, and adjust your routine based on how your skin responds. By following these steps consistently, you can establish a skincare routine that promotes healthy, radiant skin and boosts your confidence.