Wondering how to craft the best skincare routine for you but don't know where to begin? You aren't alone.
The skincare world can be overwhelming, but with four essential products — cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen — you can create a great morning and night routine that's perfect for your skin.
In this guide, we walk you through everything from layering products to the ideal steps for oily, dry, and acne-prone skin to skin cycling.
Best Skincare Routine: How to Layer Products the Right Way
Layering is the first important consideration when you're just starting your skincare journey. Luckily, it's also the easiest part to get right!
All you need to remember is this — start with the lightest formula and end with the heaviest.
Regardless of your skin type, you should generally apply products in this order:
- Toner or essence
- Treatment or mask
- Eye cream
- SPF (sunscreen)
Sunscreen is always the final step. The only products you should layer over SPF are foundation, powder, and concealer.
Your Beginner-Friendly Skincare Routine
You understand layering now, but that won't help you create a routine perfect for your skin. So, let's look at the products and steps necessary for oily, dry, and acne-prone skin.
Morning Routine Steps
The steps outlined below should happen in the morning. You'll notice that each routine includes sunscreen to ensure you stay protected from UV rays no matter where you go.
For Oily Skin
- Cleanse — Choose an oil-control cleanser (foams work best) to wash away excess oil and prevent overt secretion throughout the day.
- Mist — Use a hydrating mist containing green tea to further control oil production. Just because your skin is oily doesn’t mean it cannot be dry. In fact, a lack of moisture can cause your skin to produce extra oil.
- Moisturize — Lightweight, water-based moisturizers are best for oily skin. For even greater results, find one containing glycerin or hyaluronic acid. Serums are a great alternative to thicker moisturizers that will cause you to produce more oil.
- Apply sunscreen — A matte-look daily sunblock is usually best for oily skin as it dampens the otherwise overly shiny look.
For Dry Skin
- Cleanse — You need a hydrating cleanser that will remove dirt without disrupting your sensitive outer skin layer. Hyaluronic acid is a good ingredient for dry skin cleansers.
- Moisturize — Make sure the moisturizer you pick is suitable for dry skin and is face-specific. It should be nourishing yet leaves your pores clear. Ideally, find one that says "non-comedogenic" on the packaging.
- Apply sunscreen — Choose a sunscreen containing hyaluronic acid, ceramides, or glycerin to ensure it hydrates rather than dries your skin.
If you also have dry skin on the rest of your body consider using body butters and body oils to layer on top of your moisturizer to lock in moisture. We have specially formulated body butters and body oils to help your skin stay moisturized and soft.
For Acne-Prone Skin
Acne prone skin is the most challenging skin type and requires a good understanding of your acne type and root cause. The strategy to use when trying to find products that will work for you is to use cleansers, toners, serums, lotions and moisturizers with the least amount of ingredients and composed of extracts or actives that are proven to be effective. You want to avoid making your acne worse and causing more flare-ups and new problems.
- Cleanse — Avoid cleansers with harsh chemicals or alcohol. Otherwise, your skin will feel dry and tight. Those containing lanolin or ceramides are best.
- Tone — Choose an alcohol-free toner containing alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) to leave your skin glowing. Toners with extract are a good option
- Apply serum — Apply a soothing serum to calm your stressed skin. A lightweight product packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals will work wonders.
- Moisturize — Find one with aloe vera to further calm your skin and prevent breakouts.
- Apply sunscreen — Pick a non-comedogenic and light sunscreen to avoid flare-ups. If you want to reduce redness, find one containing niacinamide too.
Nighttime Routine Steps
Beginner nighttime skincare routines use the same products to keep things ultra-simple. After all, consistency is critical. So, when you're starting, it must be easy enough to do twice a day.
The main differences? Don't apply SPF, and always remove your makeup before beginning your nighttime skincare regime!
For Oily Skin
Some people like to apply a clay-based mask once or twice a week as part of their nightly routine. But you can ignore this and simply redo your AM skincare steps for similar results. You can also use a light non pore clogging after washing your face to rebalance your skin. This step is also great to remove makeup residue after washing your face.
For Dry Skin
Remove dead skin cells at night once or twice a week using a moisturizing face scrub. But otherwise, follow your morning routine. Nighttime is the best time to apply a thicker extra moisturizing product to hydrate your skin.
For Acne-Prone Skin
We recommend double-cleansing at night for acne-prone skin to ensure the day's grime doesn't cause breakouts overnight. Use a facial brush or facial sponge with any cleanser for gentle exfoliation. If your skin can tolerate Retinols, incorporate it into your night routine. Make sure you get prescription-strength Retinol for the most effective routine.
Your Advanced Skincare Routine
As you dive deeper into the skincare world, you'll come across routines with around seven steps. These advanced routines include different AM and PM moisturizers, serums, and leave-on exfoliants containing AHA or BHA, extract or active ingredients.
If you want to incorporate the latter, do so after your toner and before your serum.
What Is Skin Cycling?
Skin cycling is relatively new, but it's here to stay. The routine involves rotating your skincare products across four days to avoid over-exfoliating your skin.
Dark spots, oily skin, and acne-prone skin can benefit from skin cycling, which works like this:
- Night one — After cleansing, apply a leave-on exfoliant like Lactic Acid, AHA, or BHA. Add a lightweight, fragrance-free moisturizer on top.
- Night two — After washing, apply retinol to increase skin cell turnover. It's a standard treatment for acne-prone skin but only use a pea-sized amount to avoid irritation.
- Nights three and four — These are recovery nights (no retinoids or exfoliating acids). Just follow your general routine for oily or acne-prone skin. During these days you can also use nourishing or treatment products with vitamins or plant extracts.
Once you've completed the cycle, repeat the steps! Remember — skin cycling is a nighttime-only ritual.
Ultimately, you have four steps to remember as a skincare routine beginner — cleanse, tone/mist, moisturize, and apply SPF. As you gain confidence, you can begin adding more products that suit your skin to get glowing results.