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What is the best skin care routine to follow?

In most cases, the best way to take care of your  skin is to wash it, tone it, or exfoliate it, and then apply products in a light to heavy progression. This aids the skin's absorption of the active components.


It makes a difference what sequence you apply your skin care products in, whether you like a quick 3-step routine in the morning or a more involved 10-step treatment at night.

Which Order Is Best for My Skin Care Regimen?



Why? If your skin care products aren't able to enter your skin, your regimen will be for nothing.

Here you will find detailed information on how to layer your makeup for the best results, as well as shortcuts, recommended products, and more.

Brief instructions

For the morning, what product is recommended?

Prevention and protection should be the tenets of your morning skin care regimen. Since your face will be exposed to the outdoors environment, vital preparations include moisturizer and sunscreen.

Step 1: Oil-based cleaner

  • What is it? Cleansing products products are available in two types: water- and based on oils. The latter dissolves oils generated by your skin.

  • How to utilize it: Some oil-based cleansers work best on moist skin, while others are better on dry skin. Read the directions before applying a little quantity. Massage in and rinse completely with water before drying with a clean towel.

  • Skip this step if: Your cleanser just includes oil instead of a mix of oil, surfactants, and emulsifiers, or if you have combination or oily skin. Cleansing oils may cause oiliness.

  • Be careful to: Do a patch test in a small area on your skin for a few days and observe how it responds. If you develop cystic acne, check with a specialist before switching to an oil-based cleanser.

  • Pros: Oil cleansers offer a stronger cleaning abilityTrusted Source. They may clear pores and remove waterproof makeup. A little 2019 studyTrusted Source shows oil cleansers may remove waterproof sunscreen better than other techniques.

  • Cons: Anecdotal evidence reveals there may be an initial 1- to 2-week “purging” period during which you may experience breakouts as old oil on your skin is cleansed.

Step 2: Water-based cleaner

  • What is it? These cleansers generally include surfactants, which enable water to rinse away grime and perspiration. They may also eliminate oils gathered by an oil-based cleaner.

  • How to utilize it: Massage into damp skin and rinse with water before drying.

  • Skip this step if: You don’t want to double cleanse or if your oil-based cleanser includes surfactants that properly remove dirt and debris.

  • Be sure to: Look for a cleanser with a neutral pH, as a 2021 studyTrusted Source shows they may be less irritating to your skin.

  • Pros: Mild water-based cleansers may help prevent breakouts in persons with acne-prone or oily skin.

  • Cons: Harsher surfactants might dry your skin and may harm your skin’s natural barrier.

Step 3: Toner or astringent

  • What is it? Toners refresh skin via hydration and eliminate dead cells and debris left behind after cleaning. An astringent is an alcohol-based product that eliminates excess oil.

  • How to utilize it: Straight after cleaning, either tap straight into the skin or a cotton pad and swipe over the face in an outward motion.

  • Skip the astringent if: You have dry skindry skin.

  • Be cautious to: Avoid toners strong in alcohol since they might irritate your skin.

  • Pros: Toners and astringents may help decrease the appearance of pores and eliminate impurities left behind after washing.

  • Cons: Overuse of alcohol-based toners might cause irritation.

Step 4: Antioxidant serum

  • What is it? Serums contain a high concentration of particular substances. Free radicals, which are unstable chemicals, may harm skin. This is prevented by using an antioxidant-based serum. Vitamins C and E are popular antioxidants used to enhance smoothness and hardness. Others to watch out for include green tea, resveratrol, and caffeine.

  • How to utilize it: Pat a few drops over your face and neck.

  • Be careful to: Test a new product in a tiny area to evaluate how it performs on your skin and with the other items in your regimen.

  • Pros: Antioxidant serums can decrease redness, wrinkles, and skin damage.

  • Cons: Some serums, such as those that include acids, may cause irritation when coupled with other acid-containing skin care products.

Step 5: Spot treatment

  • What is it? If you have a blemish with a head, first seek for an anti-inflammatory product to eliminate it, then turn to a spot-drying treatment to clean up the remainder. Anything beneath the skin is categorized as a cyst and will need a treatment that addresses the illness on the inside.

  • How to utilize it: Use a moist cotton swab to remove any skin care products from the location. Apply a tiny quantity of the therapy and let to dry.

  • Skip this step if: You have no spots or wish to let nature take its course.

  • Be careful to: Avoid applying spot therapy on open pimples.

  • Pros: Acne treatments help lessen inflammation, redness, and discomfort.
  • Cons: Skin responses may occur, particularly with creams containing stronger chemicals. Always introduce a new product cautiously and watch your skin.

Step 6: Eye cream

  • What is it? The skin surrounding your eyes tends to be thinner and more sensitive. It’s also prone to indications of aging, including fine wrinkles, puffiness, and darkness. A decent eye cream may brighten, smooth, and tighten up the region, but it won’t totally erase concerns.

  • How to utilize it: Dab a tiny quantity onto the eye region with your ring finger.

  • Skip this step if: Your moisturizer and serum are acceptable for the eye region, include an effective formula, and are fragrance-free.

  • Be careful to: Use just a tiny quantity and cleanse well. Not removing product accumulation from this delicate region may block pores.

  • Pros: Eye creams developed for the delicate skin around your eyes may help minimize indications of aging, such as wrinkles and discolouration.

  • Cons: Getting your eye creameye cream into your eye may cause discomfort.

Step 7: Lighter face oil

  • What is it? The lighter the product, the sooner you should apply it. Because they are lightweight and easily absorbed, oils need to be used before moisturizer. They’re particularly effective if your skin’s displaying indications of dryness, flakiness, or dehydration.

  • How to utilize it: Squeeze a few drops onto your fingers. Rub them together slightly to warm the oil before delicately dabbing over your face.

  • Skip this step if: You prefer a maintenance regimen. More often than not, you’ll have to test various oils to determine which works best for your skin.

  • Be careful to: Let your oil seep in entirely before applying sunscreen. Some facial oils may dissolve your sunscreen.

  • Pros: Face oils help seal in water, keeping your face hydrated.

  • Cons: Oils may induce breakouts in persons with oily skin.

Step 8: Moisturizer

  • What is it? A moisturizer calms and softens skin. If you have dry skin, go for a cream or balm. Thicker creams work best for normal or mixed skin, whereas fluids and gels are advised for oilier kinds. Effective components include glycerine, ceramides, antioxidants, and peptides.

  • How to utilize it: Take a little bigger-than-pea-size quantity and warm it in your palms. Apply to cheeks first, then the rest of the face, using upward strokes.

  • Skip this step if: Your toner or serum offers you adequate moisture. This is particularly true for persons with oily skin.

  • Be careful to: Apply moisturizer with clean hands, particularly if you’re applying it from a container that you dip your fingers into. If you use filthy hands, you may be introducing dirt and germs to your moisturizer.

  • Pros: Regular moisturizing may help prevent acne and other skin concerns by preserving the skin barrier.

  • Cons: Using a moisturizer that’s too thick without thorough washing may result in development milia, which are little white lumps.

Step 9: Heavier face oil

  • What is it? Oils that take some time to absorb or just feel thick come into the heavy category. Best suited for dry skin types, use them after moisturizer to lock in all the benefits.

  • How to utilize it: Follow the same technique as applying lighter oils.

  • Refrain from doing this if: Denser oils block your pores. Trial and error is crucial here.

  • Be sure to: Fully wash your face at the end of the day, since thicker skin oils may contribute to blocking pores.

  • Pros: These oils hydrate your skin and lock in moisture from previous phases in your skin care process.

  • Cons: Heavier oils may lead to breakouts in acne-prone skin.

Step 10: Sunscreen

  • What is it? Sunscreen is a key last step in your morning skin care regimen. By filtering harmful UV rays, it may minimize your risk of skin cancer and prevent indications of aging. The American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater that protects against UVA and UVB rays.

  • How to utilize it: Spread freely on your face and rub in. Make careful to apply it 15 to 30 minutes before heading outdoors. Never add skin care products on top, since this might dilute the sunscreen.
  • Be careful to: Reapply sunscreen to your face and body every 2 hours when spending time in the sun.

  • Pros: Using sunscreen and following other measures, such as wearing a hat and being in the shade, will help minimize your risk for skin cancer.

  • Cons: Some sunscreens sunscreens may cause skin sensitivities, thus it is vital to test in a small area before applying it to the complete body. Other formulae may not be safe for marine life, such as the coral reef, if you will be swimming in ocean water. Be careful to read the label to choose the right product for your requirements. 

Step 11: Foundation or other basic makeup

  • What is it? If you wish to apply makeup, a foundation layer will give you a smooth, even complexion. Choose from tinted moisturizers or BB cream, or go for foundation, which is available in cream, liquid, or powder form.

  • How to utilize it: Use a brush or sponge to apply makeup. Start in the middle of the face and blend outward. To flawlessly merge the edges, use a moist sponge.

  • Skip this step if: You wish to go au naturel.

  • Be careful to: Check your foundation’s expiry date. Many endure for 6 to 12 months from the day you first open them.

  • Pros: Foundations give light to substantial coverage for imperfections, uneven tone, and more.

  • Cons: Covering skin with cosmetics might trigger outbreaks in some individuals.

  • Which Order Is Best for My Skin Care Regimen?

What should I use at night?

Focus on restoring the damage done throughout the day using heavier products at night. This is also the time to utilize anything that renders skin sensitive to sunlight, including manual exfoliants and chemical peels.

Step 1: Oil-based makeup remover

  • What is it? An oil-based cleanser may dissolve natural skin oils and break down greasy makeup elements.

  • How to utilize it: Follow the exact product directions. They may suggest you to use the makeup remover on moist or dry skin. Wash your skin with water after massaging the product in until it is clean.

  • If you would rather use a water-based product, have oily skin, or don't wear makeup, skip this step.

  • Be careful to: Read the directions on your oil-based makeup remover, as some may tell you to follow this step with another kind of cleanser or micellar water to remove residue.

  • Pros: Using a makeup remover helps remove makeup residue and pollutants from your skin.

  • Cons: Not entirely eliminating extra oil from your skin may block pores. 

Step 2: Water-based cleaner

  • What is it? Water-based cleansers react with makeup and grime on the skin, enabling everything to be washed away with water.

  • How to utilize it: Follow the instructions. Usually, you’ll apply it to damp skin, massage, and rinse off.

  • Skip this step if: Double cleansing isn’t for you.

  • Be careful to: Choose a moderate formula with a neutral pH. These assist preserve the health of your skin’s natural barrier. Avoid washing your face too aggressively while cleaning. Using too much power will irritate your skin.

  • Pros: Double cleaning might help remove any residue left behind by your makeup remover or oil cleanser.

  • Cons: Some formulations may include chemicals chemicals that might dry up your skin. If you feel dryness or irritation, turn to another product. 

Step 3: Exfoliator or clay mask

  • What is it? Exfoliation eliminates dead skin cells while cleaning pores. Clay masks help to clear pores, but may also absorb excess oil. These masks are best worn at night to eliminate remaining grime and help the skin absorb up other products.

  • How to utilize it: Exfoliators have varying application techniques, so follow package directions. Use clay masks once or twice each week, whether all over your face or on particular problem areas. Leave it on for the indicated time, then rinse it with warm water and pat dry.

  • Skip exfoliating if: Your skin is already inflamed.

  • Be careful to: Avoid misuse of manual and chemical exfoliators, particularly if you have sensitive skin. Stop usage if any irritation develops. Exfoliators may alter your sun sensitivity, so be careful to apply sunscreen throughout the day after exfoliating.

  • Pros: Exfoliation eliminates dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. Some chemical exfoliators may help eliminate impurities from deeper into your skin and prevent outbreaks.

  • Cons: Some physical exfoliators, such as those containing coarse sugar or salt, may be harsh on delicate skin and cause discomfort. If a product leaves your skin inflamed, halt usage and change it out for another choice after your skin has recovered.

Step 4: Hydrating spray or toner

  • What is it? A moisturizing spray or toner signals the conclusion of your overnight cleaning procedure. Look for humectant components, such as lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, and glycerine, to give skin a hydration boost.

  • How to utilize it: Spritz mists over your face. For toners, put the product on a cotton pad and swipe over the skin.

  • Be careful to: Avoid overusing toners with high amounts of alcohol, since they may cause irritation or damage to your skin’s barrier.

  • Pros: Toners may help remove residual residue from earlier stages in your process and balance your skin’s pH.

  • Cons: Alcohol-based products may cause irritation in those with sensitive skin. 

Step 5: Acid therapy

  • What is it? Facial acid treatments may stimulate cell turnover. Beginners may wish to try glycolic acid. Other alternatives include acne-busting salicylic acid and hydrating hyaluronic acid. Over time, you should see a brighter and more even complexion.

  • How to utilize it: Start once every week, with the objective of using it every night. Do a patch test at least 24 hours before first usage. Add a few drops of the solution to a cotton pad and brush around the face, avoiding the eye region.

  • Skip this step if: You have especially sensitive skin or have a response to a certain acid.

  • Be careful to: Choose an acid treatment that meets your skin’s requirements.

  • Pros: According to 2021 study, acids may help minimize fine lines, wrinkles, scars, and acne and help level your skin tone.

  • Cons: Acids may make your skin more susceptible to the sun. Be careful to wear sunscreen throughout the day after application of an acid treatment.

Step 6: Serums and essences

  • What is it? Serums offer strong chemicals straight to the skin. An essence is essentially a watered-down form. Vitamin E is beneficial for dry skin, while antioxidants like green tea extract may assist dull complexions. If you’re prone to breakouts, consider retinol or vitamin C.

  • How to utilize it: Carry out a patch test 24 hours before utilizing a new serum or essence. If the skin appears excellent, dispense the product into your palm and push it into your skin. You may overlay numerous goods. Just apply water-based ones before oil-based ones and wait roughly 30 seconds between each.

  • Be sure to: Choose a serum that gives the advantages your skin requires, such as pro-aging support, hydrating, brightening, or spot reduction.

  • Pros: Serums give extremely concentrated skin benefits. Because of their formula kind, more of the product penetrates your skin’s surface.

  • Cons: Some serums might be costly, but you can typically find more cost-effective options. And remember, compared to moisturizer, you only need a little bit of serum, so a little goes a long way. 

Step 7: Spot treatment

  • What is it? Anti-inflammatory medications are for blemishes with heads. Follow with a spot-drying treatment. Ones that dry noticeably are perfect for overnight usage.

  • How to utilize it: Make sure your skin is clean. Apply a tiny quantity of product and let to dry.

  • Skip this step if: You’re spot-free.

  • Be cautious to: Avoid popping pimples, blemishes, and whiteheads yourself. The AAD warns this may cause scarring, introduce infection, and push pus farther beneath the skin. If you don’t observe progress in 4 to 6 weeks, consider visiting with a dermatologist.

  • Pros: Healing products may make a visible change, sometimes even overnight.

  • Cons: Peeling, redness, or irritation might occur, particularly if you have sensitive skin.

Step 8: Hydrating serum or mask

  • What is it? Hydrating serums offer moisture without blocking pores.

  • How to utilize it: These potent hydrators may come in numerous forms. others are serums, some are heavier masks, and others may be kept on overnight. If this is the case, use it at the conclusion of your regimen. Simply follow the kit's instructions.

  • Be careful to: Try refrigerating a sheet mask before applying it and get some extra anti-inflammatory effects.

  • Pros: A mask retains healthy and moisturizing substances in close touch with your skin and helps eliminate excess sebum.

  • Cons: since with any new beauty care products, try masks on a tiny area of skin before applying, since they may include substances that irritate your skin. 

Step 9: Eye cream

  • What is it? A richer bedtime eye cream might assist alleviate appearance-related concerns including weariness and fine wrinkles. A high peptide and antioxidant content is what you want.

  • How to utilize it: Apply a tiny quantity of cream to the eye region and dab in.

  • Skip this step if: Your moisturizer or serum can be safely and efficiently applied beneath your eyes.

  • Be careful to: Apply eye cream with clean hands or a clean applicator and gently put it on the skin rather than rubbing it, which may add to skin aging and damage.

  • Pros: Applying overnight provides the product a chance to permeate your skin. Plus, some products may help enhance collagen synthesis and prevent the indications of aging.

  • Cons: Dedicated eye creams might be pricey. However, cheaper choices are available that may also help your skin.

Step 10: Face oil

  • What is it? A bedtime oil is beneficial for dry or parched skin. The evening is the optimum time to apply heavier oils that may result in an undesirable glossy complexion.

  • How to utilize it: Pat a few drops into the skin. For the greatest effects, avoid using additional products on top.

  • Be careful to: Cleanse thoroughly the next morning to eliminate residue from heavier products.

  • Pros: Oils may modify the efficacy of your sunscreen throughout the day, therefore evening use may be ideal for some brands.

  • Cons: A thicker oil may not be the greatest choice for individuals with oily skin or acne. Everyone’s skin is different, so choose a product that works for you.

Step 11: Night cream or sleep mask

  • What is it? Night creams are an optional final step, although they may be useful. While day creams protect the skin, these rich moisturizers aid cell repair. Sleep masks, however, lock in all your other treatments and provide moisturizing components gentle enough to be left on overnight.

  • How to utilize it: Warm a little quantity of product in your palms before applying it evenly on your face.

  • Skip this step if: Your skin already looks and feels its finest.

  • Be careful to: Test a tiny quantity before an overnight application to observe how your skin responds.

  • Pros: Applying a night cream or sleep mask gives the substance time to penetrate the skin barrier.

  • Cons: Some folks may not appreciate the sensation of sleeping with heavier things on. If that’s the case, you may try a more lightweight recipe. 

Frequently asked questions

What regimen should I follow for dry skin?

If your skin is dry, concentrate your regimen on hydration and developing a healthy skin barrier. Follow the instructions above, but change out products that may be overly harsh or acidic for ones that give moisture to your skin and help it keep that moisture.

What is a basic skin care routine?

A simple skin careskin care regimen contains fewer steps than an enlarged one yet maintains your skin clean and healthy. The steps may depend on your requirements and the amount of time you have. Usually, a simple regimen comprises removing makeup, cleaning your face, administering a spot treatment for any blemishes, wearing sunscreen throughout the day, and putting on moisturizer at night.

What age is best to begin a skin care regimen?

It’s never too early or late to start a skin care regimen. Even youngsters may practice caring for their skin by washing their faces when they get up and before bed and applying sunscreen throughout the day.

However, pick the stages and particular items in your program suited for your skin conditions and age. Adolescents, for example, may require a regimen centered on items to assist control acne and greasy skin. Adults may concentrate more on items that support their skin as it matures. Build a regimen that’s perfect for you.

The bottom line

Not everyone enjoys a 10-step regimen, so don’t feel obliged to include every step in the aforementioned lists.

For many individuals, a useful rule of thumb is to apply items thinnest to thickest, for whatever many products that may be, as they proceed through their skin care regimens.

The most essential thing is establishing a skin care program that works for you and one you’ll follow. Have fun experimenting, whether it entails the full shebang or a simpler process.

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