Skincare Routine: The Perfect Order for Perfect Skin

Creating a skincare routine that is perfect for your needs can be frustrating work. After some simple research your brain may be whirling with all the different advice: “do I put the toner on after or before? Moisturize in the morning or at night? Both? Morning cream vs. night cream? This YouTuber told me something else… Do I even need toner?” In this article I will lay out a reliable order to your skincare routine so you don’t get lost in the weeds of the internet. 

For myself, I’ve been in and out of a dermatologists office about a hundred times. From acne to dry-skin, I have tried so many products to help with these symptoms and irritations. After countless trial and error, I have learned that the most important aspect is sticking to a routine. Consistency is key and a surefire way to get the results you want.

Morning Routine in 7 Steps

Cleanser.

Clean, clean, clean. You want a fresh base without any dirt and oils blocking your treatments. Pro tip: use one that works with your skin type. Ex: If you have sensitive skin use something like this Neutrogena oil-free redness soothing acne face wash.

Toner.

There’s a lot of controversy over the effectiveness of toners, so I recommend making this decision based on your own results. If your skin is feeling oily after washing, try it out, and if you don’t see a difference, don’t use them. It’s up to you and your skin and what feels right. Looking for a toner? Try a natural witch hazel formula. Be weary of alcohols in toners which can actually dry out the skin.

Serums.

Serums will be the first thing to sink into your skin because they are  dense and usually nutrient-based.  Doing this after a nice wash ensures that your pores are ready to absorb the nutrients. 

Eye Cream. 

If you use eye cream, applying it before steps 5,6, and 7 is important in order to  . protect your eyes.  Eye cream can serve as an effective and soothing barrier and avoid any possible irritation. 

Acne spot treatment. 

Spot treatments use common chemicals like benzoyl peroxide to help dry out and clear acne spots. Any cream that comes in contact with the spot before this will probably inhibit the effectiveness of the spot treatment. 

Moisturizer.

Even for oily skin, a moisturizer can help to retain and protect the skin’s delicate barrier. Applying moisturizer daily helps  maintain a protective coating that  keeps out infections and harsh outside conditions. Also, your skin can  always use some extra hydration!  Apply your moisturizer  on damp skin. Most professionals believe that when the moisturizer absorbs into the skin, it pulls moisture from the water  into the skin with it. 

Sunscreen.

Using sunscreen is the  most important step for lifelong healthy skin! All dermatologists highly recommend daily application of sunscreen or makeup or moisturizer with SPF. This is a key step to prevent future skin problems and although it is the last step, it most certainly is not the least!

Night Routine in 7 Steps

Make-up remover. 

Removing any potential makeup is key to having a totally cleansed surface. Not all people wear heavy makeup products, but even  microbes from just mascara can be  difficult to remove completely. If you are looking for a reliable product, a personal favorite is Garnier’s gentle micellar water

Cleanser.

Clean, clean, clean. Get rid of the day’s dirt, grime, or any makeup residue left on the skin that could cause inflammation or bacteria growth overnight. This is a key step if you have acne-prone skin!

Toner. Essences. Boosters. 

Again, toner is a personal choice, but can help balance your skin’s PH. Toner always follows the cleansing step. Then,  use the essences and boosters as localized topicals to deliver a focused hydration treatment.  Be careful of alcohol-based toners. 

Eye Cream. 

Use eye cream before the next treatments to protect your eyes from potentially irritating products. If you’re focused on the anti-aging properties of skin care definitely look into this step of your routine. Protect your eyelids over time by using eye-specific creams

Acne spot treatment. 

Spot treatments use common chemicals like benzoyl peroxide to help dry out and clear those acne spots. Any cream that comes in contact with the spot before this will probably inhibit the effectiveness of the spot treatment.

Treatments, serums, and peels. 

Again, serums are nutrient-dense treatments in small molecules with heightened and concentrated benefits. Be sure to closely follow the product’s directions for optimal results. Anything that is going to seep into your skin at a prescription or strong level should be close to the skin.  Personally, my dermatologist recommends I use a prescription strength retinoid to pull in the added benefits deep below the surface of my skin. Any retinol, exfoliating treatments, anti-aging products, salicylic acid pads, etc should be in this step. 

Moisturizer.

Even for oily skin, a moisturizer can be essential to retain and protect the skin’s delicate barrier. As we sleep, the skin regenerates and repairs, so moisturizer application is key before bed.  If you use a heavier cream, the extra weight encourages more water retention as you sleep. Moisturizers create such a strong barrier so this is the perfect final step to protect and enhance your skin!

Your routine may not look like this, and that's okay.

Keep in mind that the routine I spelled out only includes topicals. This list does not include acne medications, facial masks, or ingestibles. Consult your doctor or dermatologist about your routine and what would be best for your skin. Not everybody has every product above in their routine, but if you begin to incorporate these products into your routine, follow the order above for ultimate absorption!