Your skin care routine can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. If you’re new to the world of skin care or are lucky enough to have naturally good skin, you might prefer a skin care routine with only a . But if you have specific concerns you want to address, like acne, sun damage, or a dull complexion, you might be questioning how to build your own skin care routine that will address those issues. This article will detail exactly how to make the best skin care routine for you.
What Is The Best Skin Care Routine?
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering: What should my skin care routine be?
Remember that the best skin care routine is the one that’s personalized for you, so take some time getting to know your skin and what it needs to thrive.
Another crucial aspect of creating the perfect skin care routine is learning the appropriate order of application for your skin care products.
The good news is no matter your concerns - whether you’re looking for an anti-aging skin care routine or are wondering how to create a skin care routine for oily skin - the basic steps of all skin care routines are the same.
Let’s get started!
Skin Care Routine Steps
Basic skincare routines might only use one product for each step, but as you start to address more targeted concerns and add in more products, it’s important to learn the proper order to apply these steps. If you apply products in the incorrect order, you diminish their effectiveness - not good for your skin, and not good for your wallet.
TIP: When applying products, remember to apply your products in order of thinnest to thickest because thinner products can’t penetrate products with thicker formulations.
Here’s your basic first step, and one that everyone should be doing at least twice a day - in the morning and before bed. If you exercise, you’ll want to wash the sweat and oil off your face afterward as well, to prevent acne.
Throughout the day, our skin comes into contact with dirt, environmental pollutants, and other elements that can negatively impact the health and appearance of our skin, so it’s crucial that you don’t skip this step.
Be sure to take your skin type into consideration when choosing a cleanser. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, it can be tempting to look for a harsh cleanser that will strip your skin of oil, but this could actually be causing your skin to overproduce oil. The important thing is to prioritize the health of your skin barrier, and harsh cleansers can do some damage to it.
Be extremely gentle with your skin when you wash your face, and avoid tugging or pulling motions. The skin on our face is thinner than the rest of our body and is more prone to wrinkling, so take precautions to avoid premature wrinkling.
Toner is not an essential step in your skin care routine, but most experts agree that it’s a useful step. In the past, toner was usually alcohol-based and used to strip your skin of any last bits of oil, and could leave your skin with stinging, tight sensation.
Modern versions of toner are more like nutrient baths for your skin. They can help the other products in your routine absorb better and balance your complexion.
Depending on your skin concerns, you can choose toners that are hydrating (try a toner with hyaluronic acid), brightening (look for a toner with alpha and beta hydroxy acids), or fight exposure to free radicals that cause premature aging (find a toner with Vitamins E and C).
Regardless of which toner you choose, New York City aesthetician Jordana Mattioli recommends changing up the application method. Instead of using a cotton pad to apply toner to your face, try simply splashing a few drops on your palms and pat it gently on your face.
How to Create an Anti-aging Skin Care Routine
If you want to create an anti-aging skin care routine, serums are a great product to add in.
Serum comes after your toner, and is a great way to deliver active ingredients to target your major skin care concerns. Try using a serum packed with antioxidants in your morning skin care routine to help neutralize free radicals your skin comes in contact with on a daily basis.
Dr. Kelly Reed, a board-certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas, explains how free radicals affect our skin: “Free radicals can cause skin conditions including rashes and skin cancers, as well as [premature] aging.”
In addition to eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables, getting adequate sleep and drinking enough water, antioxidant serums are an extra tool in your anti-aging skin care arsenal.
The evening is a good time to use a moisturizing serum, since the moisture levels in our skin naturally decrease at night. A serum that contains hyaluronic acid is a good bet in this case, and can help offset the drying effects of other products, like retinol or anti-acne treatment.
There are countless serum formulas you can choose from to address whatever your skin concerns are. Regardless of which formula you choose, remember that water-based serums should be applied underneath your moisturizer, while oil-based formulas can be applied after moisturizer.
4. Eye cream
Eye cream is the next product you’ll apply, and are another great tool to combat signs of pre-mature aging.
Eye creams tend to be thinner than overall facial moisturizers, so for this reason, you’ll want to make sure you apply moisturizer after your eye cream.
Be extremely gentle when applying eye cream, as the skin around your eyes is incredibly fragile. Experts recommend using your ring finger to gently dab on eye cream (it’s the weakest, and least likely to cause pulling around your eye).
You can also try leaving your eye cream in the fridge and apply it with a metal roller-ball to help decrease puffiness.
What Is a Good Skin Care Routine for Oily Skin?
5. Spot treatment
If you’ve got oily skin, you might want to add in spot treatment for acne.
Try using acne treatments at night, when your body has time to rest and repair. Be cautious when using acne treatments containing ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide if you also use a retinoid, as this combination can lead to irritation.
Moisturizers lock in all the other layers of products you’ve applied, leaving your skin hydrated and feeling smooth and supple. Choose a moisturizer based on your skin type. If you have oily skin, it might be tempting to think you can skip moisturizing, but this is a big mistake and can actually leave to your skin overproducing oil to try and overcorrect.
If oily skin is a concern for you, look for gel moisturizers, which absorb faster and are lighter on your skin . Regardless of your skin type, bonus points if you find a moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher - this lets you skip applying a dedicated sunscreen later in your routine.
At night (or if you have dry skin), choose a thicker formula (like a balm or a cream) to help keep your skin barrier hydrated and healthy.
Retinoids, which are derived from the vitamin A family, have powerful anti-aging properties. They help fight wrinkles, dark spots, and breakouts by increasing skin-cell turnover.
Many experts agree that retinoids are a staple product in the anti-aging arsenal. (And they’re great for excessively oily skin, too!).
Nazanin Saedi, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist at Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Saedi says, “If you're going to use one thing, it should be some form of retinoid.”
As highly recommended as they are, retinoids can be irritating and should be used with care. Dermatologist Mona Gohara recommends following the 1-2-3 rule when you begin using retinoids: apply retinoids one time in the first week, two times in the second week, and three times in the third week.
This helps your skin adjust to the retinoid formula and can help prevent excessive drying and irritation. If your skin starts to feel irritated at any point in the process, you can simply reduce the number of times you’re applying retinoid each week - think of it as a marathon, not a sprint.
If you’re new to using retinoids or find the formula is too intense for your taste, you can try using retinol, which is essentially a weaker version of retinoids, and can be purchased at many drugstores.
Retinoids are best used as part of your evening skin care routine.
“Sunlight can deactivate retinoic acid, so it's best to use it at night,” Saedi says.
8. Face oil
Face oils are not essential, but if your skin is still feeling dry after moisturizer, a face oil can help lock in moisture while you sleep. Other products won’t be able to penetrate the oil, so be sure to apply this after your other leave-on skin care products.
The last step, and most essential, is to apply sunscreen. Experts agree that this is the one step that everyone should take before leaving their house for the day, and warn that any other anti-aging treatments you use are pointless without this step.
“Daily and consistent sunscreen use helps to prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles, textural imperfections, and changes in the appearance of pores over time. More importantly, daily sunscreen use can help to prevent the formation of certain skin cancers, “ says Dr. Carlos Charles, a New York City based dermatologist.
Look for broad-spectrum SPF, which protects against both UVA and UVB protection.