Simple Steps to the Best Daily Skincare Routine, According to Dermatologists

 How to build the perfect at-home regimen for your skin type

Skincare Routine,

When it comes to skincare, you've got a few questions: Exactly how many skincare products do you need to have on hand? Which one should you use based on your skin type? The best way to use these products is in the following order: What are the products used for?

To reap the most benefits from your daily skincare routine, regardless of skin type, there are three simple steps you should follow: Ashley Magovern, M.D., a dermatologist and founder of Manhattan Dermatology in Manhattan Beach, recommends cleansing, treating, and moisturizing your skin. "treating" your skin is a term you've probably heard before, but what does it mean?

When it comes to skincare, this means using serums or creams packed with ingredients like vitamin C and retinol as well as alpha-hydroxy acids, depending on your skin type and desired results. It is critical, according to Dr. Magovern, to include a step in between cleansing and moisturizing. In terms of skin health, appearance, and aging, "it can make an enormous difference over time."

If you have oily, dry, combination, or acne-prone skin, here is a dermatologist-approved daily skincare routine for morning and night, including the essential steps that should be included in every at-home regimen (we've included the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab's top-tested product picks for each step, too).

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This is what you do for your skin first thing in the morning:

To begin with, there's the cleanser.

The first step in any skincare regimen should be a thorough face wash to remove dirt and oil that can clog pores and leave the skin looking dull. Nonetheless, be a little more empathetic. Too many people cleanse too often, with a harsh cleanser, or both, according to Dr. Magovern, causing damage to the skin's natural protective layer in the process. Try only washing your face at night and rinsing it with water in the morning if you have dry or sensitive skin.

Second, the use of toner

Dr. Magovern recommends swiping a toner on to freshen the skin, remove any remaining debris, and balance pH. Look for a toner with salicylic acid in it if you have acne-prone skin to prevent breakouts. Look for an alcohol-free, moisturizing toner or essence with components like glycerin and hyaluronic acid to relieve dry or sensitive skin.

3. serum 

A serum suited to your skin's specific needs can both treat and protect your skin at the same time. Antioxidants, such as the highest quality vitamin C, are what you're looking for. Dr. Magovern recommends that everyone, regardless of age, take vitamin C supplements. A lot of the skin damage we suffer from exposure to the sun and pollution can be reversed with this product." Dermatologist and CEO of Skin & Scripts Virtual Dermatology Dr. Jennifer David, D.O., advises that applying a vitamin C serum in the morning can help reduce black spots on darker skin.

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Eye Cream

Similarly, eye creams fall under the "treat" category, as well. If you want to prevent damaging the delicate skin around your eyes, use your ring finger (which is the weakest of your four fingers) to lightly tap on an eye-specific product.

Skin-care product 

Moisturizers, which keep skin hydrated and reinforce its barrier, are the next step. If you don't have dry skin, try a lightweight moisturizer like a lotion or gel that absorbs fast and doesn't pill when applied over makeup during the day. Try a thicker formula like a cream if your skin is dry. Ceramides and hyaluronic acid are the building blocks of the skin's ability to retain moisture, says Dr. David.

The use of sunscreen

For all skin types and ages, this is the most critical phase in any skincare regimen. According to Dr. Magovern: "If you don't apply sunscreen, then you shouldn't take any of the other levels.". Skin premature aging is most commonly caused by exposure to the sun, according to research. Regardless of your skin tone, the harm isn't just superficial: People of color can and do acquire skin cancer, according to Dr. David. It's like making two steps ahead and one step backward in the fight against hyperpigmentation if you don't wear SPF every day.

Face sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher should be applied to your entire face, including your neck and the backs of your hands. Even if you're spending most of your time indoors, you still need to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays.

Skincare for the Night

Not just because you don't need SPF at night, but for a variety of other reasons as well. Since your skin regenerates and repairs itself while you sleep, Dr. Magovern recommends a nighttime skincare routine that includes as many nutrients and active ingredients as possible (hence the term "beauty sleep"). Even though you'll still do the same things in the morning, your nighttime routine will be a little different.


Remove all of your makeup and grime from the day before. If necessary, use a separate makeup remover to remove any remaining makeup. According to GH Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann: "Cleansers are not necessarily designed to dissolve makeup, particularly on eyes, and haven't done so effectively in our testing.". She recommends using the same cleanser you used in the morning, working from the inside of the face-up, then out and down along the hairline and perimeter to just below the chi

Tissues and Toners

Use a toner in the same manner as you would in the morning. For toners to be absorbed, they should be applied before heavier formulas like serums and moisturizers.

Injectables or Topical Solutions

Dr. Magovern recommends using alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid or retinol at night to slough off dead skin cells or stimulate cell turnover while you sleep. These have a silky texture, brighten the skin, and reduce pores. (Some serums can be used throughout the day and at night, depending on the product's packaging.) As Dr. David advises for treating hyperpigmentation, you should switch between retinoid creams and hydroquinone, a spot-fading agent.

 Cream for the Eyes

Your face serum or treatment, or an eye cream if you use one in the morning as well, can be dabbed around your eyes for an extra dose of nourishment. You don't need to use much, but Dr. Magovern says that you'll notice better results if you gradually teach your skin to tolerate more active ingredients around the eye.

Treatment of Acne

Apply an acne treatment if you currently have blemishes (or a few). Dr. Magovern recommends treating pimples as soon as they appear rather than waiting for them to appear. According to her, "If your skin is blocked, the place will get pimples right next to it." You're experiencing breakouts because oil is piling up on your face, so stick to your skincare routine to keep pores clear. It's best to wait until your skin has adjusted to retinoid use before utilizing acne medications like salicylic acid).


At night, it's especially important to moisturize since it provides a barrier that keeps skin's natural moisture in while also locking in any active elements that could help offset moisture loss as you sleep. Non-SPF moisturizers for the day are OK, but a night-specific solution can provide additional anti-aging and other specialized advantages.

Face Oilas a bonus

Applying a facial oil overnight will help lock in moisture if your skin is still feeling dehydrated. As Dr. Magovern adds, "a lot of people fear that if they have acne or oily skin that they will break out with an oil." "It is effective in softening the skin." Pat on a facial oil as a final step after all of your other leave-on skincare products have dried for an extra dose of hydration.

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