In my last blog post, I highlighted a few basic rules that should form the foundation of your daily skincare routine. Here, we’ll take the discussion to a more granular level. I’ll outline what an effective skincare regimen looks like in the morning and at night.
But first, it’s important to note that regardless of which products you use, you need to use them consistently in order for them to work. With that in mind, the routines below are designed to be simple above all else, because a complicated routine with lots of steps, however specific they may be to your skin type and skin concerns, isn’t likely to have the same staying power.
MORNING SKINCARE ROUTINE
Cleanser. Before you do anything else, wash your face. Generally, simple, gentle cleansers work the best. Any cleanser you use isn’t going to spend that much time on your face, so it’s not that important for it to have a bunch of different active ingredients.
Medicated products. As I noted in the last blog post, medicated products – that includes both over-the-counter spot treatments and prescription medications – need to be applied to clean skin in order to work. Make sure you follow the instructions on the package. Some products need to be used twice daily.
Eye cream. The skin around your eyes has special needs, so a dedicated eye cream is worth the investment. Really, it should be the only product applied around your eyes.
Antioxidant serum. This step is optional. Serums can provide an extra layer of defense, protecting your skin from the likes of the sun and air pollution. Because skincare products should be applied from lightest to thickest, use a serum before moisturizer because it’s much more lightweight. They also contain a higher concentration of active ingredients.
Moisturizer and sunscreen. A physical sunscreen contains minerals which deflect UVA and UVB rays. In order to do so, the sunscreen needs to sit on top of your skin and not be covered up by other products. So, apply your moisturizer first and then finish with sunscreen. Chemical sunscreens act more like a sponge, absorbing UV light. They can be applied before the moisturizer and still be effective.
NIGHTTIME SKINCARE ROUTINE
Cleanser. Washing your face at night is critical. In doing so, you’re not only removing the makeup, dirt, and oil that have built up during the day, to prevent clogged pores, you’re also priming your skin for the products that will follow.
Medicated products. Benzoyl peroxide, a common active ingredient in both over-the-counter and prescription acne-fighting products, can stain pillowcases and pajamas. So maybe limit its use to the morning.
Eye cream. It’s most effective when used in both the morning and at night.
Retinoid / anti-aging treatments. At night, your skin is in a naturally regenerative mode, which will help it to take full advantage of any active ingredients. Retinoids, in particular, are the gold standard for undoing damage caused by the sun and other environmental pollutants, as well as the early signs of aging. And they’re always best reserved for nighttime use. Just make sure your skin is completely dry first. Applying it to wet skin can increase irritation.
Moisturizer. Applying a moisturizer last will effectively lock in the other products you’ve just applied and help keep moisture from escaping from your skin overnight.