The science is in! A daily skincare routine is critical to healthy-looking, fresh skin.
Implementing a basic skincare routine keeps your skin young, clean, fresh, firm, and healthy and will pay in the long run.
However, a study by CeraVe® shows that 80% of people get the simplest step of any skincare routine – washing their face – wrong!
In this article, with the help of leading dermatologists, we’ve put together the BEST and SIMPLEST skincare routine ever.
Formulated in only three steps – CLEANSE, TREAT, and PROTECT – this skincare routine is flawless for protecting your body’s largest organ (the skin).
Each skincare step is well explained and augmented with examples of the best skincare products for each step.
Skincare Routine in 3 Steps
Apart from makeup, environmental pollutants like dust, smoke, and toxic chemicals land on your skin daily.
Of all skincare products found in a good skincare routine, cleansers are vital in removing impurities and excess oils that could end up clogging pores.
Cleansers are to be used twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
And, no matter what, never use bar soap to clean your face but dedicated skin cleansers.
That’s because when used in a daily skincare routine, bars of soap suppress oil glands and lead to premature aging.
How to Use Cleansers
Apply the cleanser to a cotton pad and wipe off your skin gently, without stripping off healthy oils.
People with dry or sensitive skin should be extra careful, cleansing every other day.
On alternate days, it is best to rinse your face with cool water.
Ideal morning cleansers have hydrating ingredients like ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and salicylic acid.
Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser (5.07 oz)
ELEMIS Balancing Lime Blossom Cleanser (6.8 oz)
Caudalie Vinoclean Micellar Cleansing Water (6.7 oz)
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant Cleanser (2.6 oz)
While you can use the same morning cleanser, it is recommended to use milder facial cleansers in the evening.
Best evening cleansers contain botanical oils for the face, skin nourishing, and relaxing properties.
Able to retain the skin’s natural barrier, oil-based evening cleansers are also great for all ages and skin types.
And regardless of gender, sex, age, or skin color, everyone should avoid cleansers with chemical exfoliants or alcohol.
Soy pH-Balanced Hydrating Face Wash (5.0 oz)
CeraVe Acne Control Face Cleanser, 2% Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment (8.0 oz)
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser Conditioning Face Wash (6.0 oz)
Skin Regimen Cleansing Cream (5.07 oz)
The second stage of your skincare routine is the “Treatment” phase.
Comprised of three products, the “treatment” is a critical part of the skincare routine.
- Eye cream
All three products are to be applied in the morning and evening.
All these elixirs contain concentrated doses of active ingredients designed to reduce dark spots, eye bags, dead skin cells, and wrinkles.
Toners are water-based skincare liquids that must be applied right after the cleansing routine.
Toners deliver rich nutrients to the skin, help the following products absorb better, and balance the overall complexion.
Think of your morning toner as a boost of supplements that hydrate and feed your skin while protecting the outer layer.
Some of the best morning toners contain complexion-purifying and skin-boosting/brightening ingredients.
Savor Beauty Hydrating Toning Mist (4.0 oz)
Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum (5.0 oz)
Renée Rouleau Elderberry Soothing Toner (6.0 oz)
Avène Eau Thermale Gentle Toning Lotion (6.7 oz)
Some of the most recommended nighttime toners are those with alpha and beta hydroxy acids.
These ingredients gently remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, improve sun-damaged skin appearance, and minimize dullness.
Toners with hyaluronic acid are also great for boosting hydration, sealing in dewiness, plumping skin, and treating fine lines.
Toners with rose water, green tea, and Vitamin E or C are ideal for calming irritation.
Moreover, these ingredients reduce redness and fight daily exposure to free radicals that age skin.
Pixi Glow Tonic Exfoliating and Brightening Toner (8.5 oz)
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Exfoliating Toning Solution (8.0 oz)
Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner (6.4 oz)
Kate Somerville Liquid ExfoliKate® Triple Acid Resurfacing Treatment (4.0 oz)
Serums tackle the formation of wrinkles, dark spots, and complexion issues by delivering concentrated amounts of potent ingredients.
Dermatologists insist that everyone should use a morning serum with high levels of antioxidants such as Vit C.
Vitamin C serums are excellent for minimizing pores, smoothing textures, and brightening skin.
Also found in acne patches, vitamin C is an incredible ingredient for spot treatment and acne treatment support.
For best results, include internal and external antioxidants as part of your skincare routine and lessen aging signs.
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum (1.0 oz)
BeautyBio The Daily Vitamin C Day Serum with Antioxidant Complex (1.0 oz)
Paula’s Choice Clinical Discoloration Repair Serum (1.0 oz)
FaceGym Hydro-Bound Hyaluronic Acid + Niacinamide Serum (1.0 oz)
Night Serum Treatment
Best evening serums contain alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid or retinol.
These serums are ideal for removing dead skin cells, stimulating cell turnover, sealing in hydration, and preventing moisture loss.
People treating hyperpigmentation should alternate between hydroquinone (a spot-fading active ingredient) and a retinoid.
Able to stimulate collagen and elastin production, serums with retinol, vitamin B3, and peptides are also great for the skin.
Evening serums also prevent the formation of thin lines and skin sagging by strengthening the skin’s top layer.
Finally, serums with colloidal sulfur and niacinamide are excellent night-time applications, given their redness-calming and irritation-decreasing properties.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex Serum (1.0 oz)
Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum (1.0 oz)
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% Exfoliating Serum (1.0 oz)
Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Serum Max (1.3 oz)
Morning Eye Creams
Eye creams are critical in combating fine lines, wrinkles, lack of firmness, dark circles, and undereye bags.
Formulated for the delicate area around the eye, eye creams are not to be confused with face creams.
That’s because the delicate area around the eye ages faster than the rest of the face, hence the need for special creams.
Best morning eye creams contain niacinamide, vitamin C, or blends of plant sterols with caffeine.
Eye cream formulas with peptides and retinol – also great in the morning – are ideal for preventing wrinkles and sag.
People with dry skin can also use hyaluronic acid eye creams for extra hydration and, in case of dark undereye circles, eye creams with Vit K.
The Ordinary Caffeine 5% + ECGC Depuffing Eye Serum (1.0 oz)
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream (0.5 oz)
Colorescience Total Eye™ 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35 (0.23 oz)
Night Eye Cream Treatment
Evening eye creams are a must for those seeking to prevent the formation of dark circles.
Dark circles are veins and capillaries that become visible around the eye, combined with skin discoloration.
Best night eye creams for dark circles contain brightening ingredients like vitamin C, Kojic acid – a fungi extract – and niacinamide.
Those susceptible to eye irritations should avoid eye creams with retinol (stings and create redness) in the evening.
Also, people with specific skin concerns such as hyperpigmentation, dryness, or puffiness should also use evening eye creams with collagen peptides.
RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Eye Cream (0.5 oz)
Dermalogica BioLumin-C Eye Serum (0.5 oz)
Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 MAX Night Eye Cream (0.5 oz)
Advanced Night Repair Eye Supercharged Complex (x oz)
The sun is the number one reason skin ages prematurely.
Sun damage is more than just cosmetic; even people of color get skin cancer.
The best way to protect your skin from damage is by wearing sunscreens and keeping it hydrated during the day.
Daytime Skincare Moisturizers
As hydration is crucial to youthful and healthy skin, dermatologists insist that everyone should use a moisturizer, ideally, all year round.
However, people with oily (or acne-prone) skin should opt for lighter moisturizers during the daytime, such as lotions or gels that soak in quickly and won’t pill under makeup.
People with dry skin and similar skin concerns should use thick moisturizers with a cream-like consistency.
Face moisturizers are necessary to strengthen the skin’s protective barrier while keeping it soft and hydrated.
Augustinus Bader The Cream Face Moisturizer (1.7 oz)
Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer (1.7 oz)
Origins GinZing Oil-Free Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer (1.7 oz)
Origins GinZing Oil-Free Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer (1.69 oz)
Daytime Sun Protection
The last step in a morning-to-day skincare routine, broad-spectrum SPF 30 (or even higher), is ideal for the face.
The best sunscreens right now are made from non-toxic ingredients and designed to complement your skincare routine and makeup.
Supergoop Play 100% Mineral Lotion SPF 50 with Green Algae (x oz)
Murad Correct & Protect Serum Broad Spectrum SPF 45 (1.0 oz)
SkinMedica Total Defense + Repair Broad Spectrum SPF 34 (2.3 oz)
Burt’s Bees Renewal Firming Day Lotion with SPF 30 (1.8 oz)
Night Moisturizing Cream
Designed to repair sun damage and eliminate dead cells, night moisturizers are not to be confused with day ones.
Whereas day moisturizers create a natural moisture barrier, night moisturizers contain active ingredients that enhance and repair the skin.
Night moisturizers complement the natural, protective skin oils and other building blocks within the skin, such as ceramides.
As the skin loses the ability to retain moisture as we age, doctors recommend using nighttime moisturizing cream all year round for all skin types.
EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer (1.7 oz)
CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream (1.7 oz)
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Moisturiser for Dry Skin (1.7 oz)
Eve Lom Time Retreat Intensive Night Cream (1.6 oz)
Daily stressors, pollution, sweat and grime, and UV rays – all cause havoc on your skin.
While a good skincare routine helps, sleep is the only natural remedy that brings everything to baseline.
During sleep, the body produces growth hormones that repair acne and scars and ensure the skin is tight and bouncy.
The skin is five times more receptive to active ingredients and healthy products at night.
Also, while sleeping, the skin produces three times more collagen, a key ingredient to keep the skin plump and smooth.
Getting your beauty sleep is not a joke but honest, expert dermatologist advice.
The lack of sleep increases cortisol levels (the stress hormone), putting the skin in a pro-inflammatory state.
An inflammatory state means sullen-looking skin and puffiness around the eyes, compromising overall skin health.
Regardless of age, gender, sex, or skin color, you must sleep at least eight hours per night.
Eight hours of sleep will decrease your cortisol levels, prevent skin inflammation, and regenerate skin cells.
Sleep is also why most anti-aging products are applied at night – skin absorption triples at night.
ZIMASILK 100% Mulberry Silk Pillowcase for Skin Health
Saatva Weighted Silk Eye Mask
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Eye Treatment Mas
Skincare Routine FAQs
What Are the Best Steps in Skincare?
These are the most critical skincare routine steps you must perform daily to protect and nourish your skin.
- Step 1: Use a skin cleanser in the morning and before bed.
- Step 2: Use specific toners for day and night.
- Step 3: Use different function serums for morning and night.
- Step 4: Use sunscreen during the day.
- Step 4: Use eye creams morning and before bed.
- Step 5: Apply moisturizer at all times.
- Step 6: Use a face mask – at least once a week.
What Should Be the Daily Routine for Face Care?
- Every night, use a makeup remover to clean your face and eliminate impurities, oil, and makeup.
- Every morning and evening, use a good face cleanser.
- Every morning and before bed, use a hydrating eye cream.
- Every morning and evening, use a nutrient-rich face toner.
- Every morning and evening, apply serum to your face.
- Every morning, evening, and even during the day, apply face moisturizer.
Sun exposure, pollution, dry skin, oily skin, and blue light are some of the daily elements your skin is exposed to.
An antioxidant serum and a daily moisturizer are critical to keeping your skin hydrated and avoiding unexpected skin issues.
A daily routine focusing on achieving clean skin with warm water and a regular moisturizer is critical for those with inflamed skin.
Everyday cleansing reduces sweating, dark spots, dry patches, clogged pores, flaky skin, and UV damage.
A day and night skincare routine is critical to provide your skin with a clean, nutritious environment safe against detrimental environmental factors.
In the long run, a well-implemented skincare routine will form a healthy skin barrier and keep your complexion in tip-top shape.
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Now it’s your turn…
Which of these steps will you try next in your skincare routine and why?
Which skincare routine do you think we’ve missed and should include in our next article update?
Please leave your comments below; we always appreciate your comments and use them to learn, improve, and update these articles.
At the forefront of science and clinical research in the area of skin beauty and nutrition, Paula Simpson is a sought-after expert and contributor to TV shows like E! News, Entertainment Tonight, MSNBC, Good Morning America, KTLA, ABC, and Fox News and magazines with Allure, The VOU, Huffington Post, InStyle, PopSugar, Readers Digest, Refinery 29, Rodale Organic Life, Alternative Medicine, and Mindbodygreen.