Toner. Cleanser. Moisturizer. Mask.
Serums. Eye cream. And exfoliant should probably go in there somewhere, right?
Sometimes it feels like there are so many elements to a skin care routine that it’s confusing to know what to do first, next, and after that.
I get it!
I wanted to chime in and make it easy for you. I want to walk you through each step of your skin care routine, explain what each product does, and most of all, WHY you should do it in that order so you can build your own ultimate skin care routine.
Knowledge is power, and when you understand the purpose of each part of your routine, it’s far easier to take the best possible care of your skin. Each product does something different for your skin and if you don’t understand what each little bottle is for, of course you’ll get confused.
Now, this may seem like a huge routine, and I want you to know that you definitely don’t have to use ALL of these. This list is just to help you know when to use the products you do have, and if you decide to pick up a fun new product, you’ll know exactly where to fit it into your routine.
These are also my recommendations for a nighttime skin care routine. A morning routine can be much more simple with just a cleanser, moisturizer, and of course, sunscreen. (I will NEVER stop preaching the benefits of sunscreen!)
The Ultimate Skin Care Routine, Step-by-Step
Cleaning your skin is the first and most basic step of your routine. You want to get dirt, makeup, bacteria, and other yucky stuff off your skin before you do anything else.
Now, the purpose of cleansing is not necessarily to remove oil. (I hear this misconception a lot!) Natural oil isn’t bad for your skin. Your skin produces it for a reason, and it’s only a problem when your pores become clogged with other gunk like bacteria and makeup. That’s when you break out!
So before you do anything else, you want to start with a clean slate.
In my experience, this is the most misunderstood step in your skin care routine, and the most skipped!
Most people don’t understand what toner does, so here’s the quick and dirty explanation: toner balances your skin’s PH levels.
What does that mean for you?
Basically, overly alkaline skin will suffer from dryness and premature aging. Overly acidic skin will be more likely to suffer from breakouts.
The purpose of toner is to goal BALANCE out the acid mantle to avoid angry breakouts on one end or premature aging on the other!
While exfoliation isn’t an everyday thing, it’s still a very important part of any skin care routine.
Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and other buildup from your skin, which can prevent acne and wrinkles. This also softens the skin and promotes a brighter, more youthful appearance.
There are a few different kinds of exfoliants: acid, enzyme, and physical. This might include scrubs, a serum or peel at home, or a professional facial. I recommend exfoliating once a week, and if your skin approves, experimenting with twice a week.
Learn more about exfoliating products and how they work here.
4: Treatment Mask
Masks are amazing tools for targeting specific skin conditions, and they’re lots of fun!
I recommend selecting a mask tailored to your skin goals and using it twice per week. I like to do this AFTER exfoliating, because you’ve just removed a lot of crud from your skin, which allows the mask to penetrate deeper and be even more effective.
Note: If you use a mask, I recommend toning AFTERWARD. This throws off the order of steps in your routine a little bit, so on exfoliating/mask days, simply cleanse, exfoliate, do your mask, THEN tone.
A mask can also serve as an exfoliant, so take that into account when selecting your products. The LAST thing you want to do is over-exfoliate and irritate your skin.
Serums are like super moisturizers!
They’re typically packed with yummy ingredients with fewer fillers than your average moisture cream. You want this to hit your skin first (before regular moisture cream) so that these powerful particles can penetrate and do their business, which ranges from brightening, acne prevention and anti-aging to name just a few!
These can typically be used AM and PM depending on the serum.
7: Moisture Cream
The first rule of skincare is this: hydrated skin = healthy skin.
A good moisture cream is a critical part of ANY skin care routine, whether you want to stick with the basics or go all out. Moisture cream prevents signs of aging and balances oil production, which prevents breakouts, so don’t skimp on the moisturizer!
Use moisturizer morning and night. In the morning, you can blend this with SPF or apply sunscreen on top. In the evening, go for a night cream or a more intense moisturizer to give your skin a chance to hydrate overnight.
Our MOST popular moisture cream is our Hella Hydration since it targets most skin types, but our Plant Power comes in a close 2nd and targets anti-aging and brightening. Take a look here.
8: Eye Cream
Eye cream? Seriously? Isn’t that just for aging skin?
I’ve got news for you: All skin is aging skin. I recommend using eye cream starting in your mid-late 20s.
Sure, you could just use moisturizer around your eyes, but eye creams are specifically designed to target wrinkles, are packed with anti-aging ingredients, and are also more gentle on your delicate eye area.
Even if you have no wrinkles, you’ll want to use eye cream to make sure it stays that way as long as possible.
9. Balms and Salves
If you have a targeted skin care balm, I recommend putting it on top of your moisture cream. It helps to seal in the benefits of everything that you put on before and provides a nice protective barrier.
I find myself doing this a lot more in the winter as the air is cooler, the wind is stronger, and forced heat more present.
If you haven’t tried a balm before, give it a try! This is the skin care product you never knew you needed, trust me. I love having that extra layer of protection, especially when my environment isn’t conducive to healthy skin!
Make Your Skin Care Routine Work for YOU
Again, these products aren’t all required for healthy skin! Each element of this skin care routine serves a different purpose, so pick and choose what you need based on your unique skin.
If you’re looking for something more basic, read about our perfect simple skin care routine here.
Enjoy your beautiful skin!