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How to build a skincare routine: the correct order of products

Last Updated on November 30, 2021

How to build a skincare routine: the correct order of products

Calling all skincare newbies!

These days it seems everybody with gorgeous skin has a 24-step skincare routine that they swear by. If you wondering how you can build a skincare routine that is tailored to you, then you’ve come to the right place.

There is an abundance of skincare products out there, and you might have a few in your collection already. From anti aging serums to moisturizing facial oils and cleansing toners, what should you be using and in what order?

Check this out.

I am going to be taking you through how to build a skincare routine that is simple, but effective. I’m going to show you which products you should be including for your skin type, as well as how to incorporate them into your routine.

Here’s a tip- Find out what your skin type is and any specific skin concerns you wish to target. This is going to help you narrow down which products you need so that they all work cohesively to produce the desired result.


Why should you have a skincare routine?

If you’ve been thinking about starting a skincare routine but haven’t yet decided, here are a few benefits that make it worthwhile having one.

Tailored to you– When you build your own skincare routine, you’ll be able to buy products specific to your skin type and build a routine that suits your lifestyle. This means you’ll get an accessible routine that does everything you want it to!

Looks after your skin consistently- When you have a skincare routine, you never need to think about the last time you used that serum. You know you’ll be regularly cleansing and looking after your skin every day without having to think about it.

Target skin concerns- You can build your own skincare routine to include treatments for your skin, for example, anti-aging creams, acne-fighting products, brightening serums, and others so you can work on your skin concerns.

Reduce premature aging/future problems– Trust me, in a few year’s time you will notice who has been looking after their skin consistently versus who slaps on some moisturizer now and then. When you look after your skin, it will glow now, but in the future, you are a lot less likely to get damaged skin or premature wrinkles. If you want youthful-looking skin, start straight away!

If you give me ten minutes I’m sure I can come up with a dozen more reasons why you should be doing a skincare routine, but this should be enough to convince you to give it a go!

How to build a basic skincare routine

When it comes to making your own skincare routine, there’s not much to it. You need to know what you would like to target, your skin type, and be realistic about the number of products you want to include.

You also need to have a daytime routine and a nighttime routine. That’s because the goal in the daytime is to provide lightweight protection for your skin, but nighttime is a good opportunity to nourish your skin and even use heavier cream that will absorb over a longer period of time.

Daytime skincare routine

Goal- To prep your skin for the day ahead and protect it

Your morning skincare routine should have as a goal to look after your skin and provide a layer of protection against the day ahead. The key to a good skincare routine is to make realistic skincare routine steps. For a daytime routine, it has to be something you can do every morning before going to work, so it’s not worth making it too long. The order of skincare routine is also important.

Step 1- Cleanser

Why include this– To clean your face and break down bacteria or unclog pores from the night

How to use it – When you wake up in the morning, wash your face with a cleanser to get rid of bacteria and to wake you up. Use warm water and gently wash your face in circular motions. Finish off with a clean towel so you don’t transfer bacteria to your face, and pat dry without rubbing. This is going to help prevent premature wrinkles.

Which product to use- Don’t use hand soap or your regular shower gel. Go for a cleanser suited to your skin type, for example, a hydrating facial cleanser if you have dry skin, and a cleanser with salicylic acid if you have oily or acne-prone skin. The key is that it is a gentle cleanser you can use daily, it shouldn’t have any exfoliating particles or irritating ingredients in it at all.

Step 2 – Toner

Why include this- Brightens and deep cleans your face

How to use it –This is an optional step, some people prefer to use it only in the evening to reduce sun sensitivity. Toners help to regulate the skin’s ph after cleansing and help to prevent breakouts. Simply take a cotton pad, and put some toner on it. You can swipe the pad all over your face particularly your T-zone. That’s it, no need to rinse or rub it off.

Which product to use-If you want to treat a skin issue as you can buy a toner specifically for your skin type. You can buy a toner containing glycolic acid, and this will help to brighten dull skin. Most people have healthy skin after cleansing and don’t need toner in the morning at all.

Step 3 – Serum

Why include this- Provide additional moisture or essential vitamins your skin needs for the day ahead.

How to use it –In the morning it’s best to use non-oil serums, save those for the evening routine. When using a serum, simply take the dropper and squeeze it while inside the bottle. Then you can squeeze a couple of drops onto your fingertips or face. The key is to not let the dropper touch your skin, so you don’t transfer any bacteria into your bottle. Then lightly spread and tap the product into your face so it gets absorbed easily. As they have so much good stuff for your skin, it’s best to put it on early in the skincare routine, after cleansing your face, so your skin can absorb it all.

Which product to use- Serums such as alpha arbutin, niacinamide, vitamin c serum, or hyaluronic acid are great for the skin and lightweight, so you can use them in your morning routine very easily. They help to minimize pores, brighten skin, and lock in moisture. Serums are concentrated and full of nutrients so you can buy one specifically for your needs for example anti aging or acne.

Step 4 – Cream

Why include this-Target wrinkles or acne or treat problem areas

How to use it –No, I’m not talking about moisturizer yet. This is where you apply your eye cream, or spot treatment cream, or anything else that has a cream like consistency. If you often wake up with bags under your eyes or dark circles, an eye cream can help a lot, but since it’s thicker than serums, you need to use it after. If you suffer from acne, this is the time to apply your spot treatment cream. Simply use a small amount on clean fingertips and tap it into the area. This does not need to go all over your face. Remember, if it has active ingredients you may want to use it in the evening so your skin doesn’t become sensitive to sunlight.

Which product to use-You can also use azelaic acid cream or vitamin c cream to brighten your complexion and reduce dark spots. For acne treatments use benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid, or a prescription cream.

Step 5 – Moisturizer

Why include this-To hydrate your skin and seal in moisture

How to use it –Every skin type needs moisturizer, even oily skin or acne-prone skin. In fact, it can help to balance out the oil production. When going through the day, your skin will come into contact with wind, rain, pollution, chemicals, and all sorts, so having a protective barrier of hydration is going to prevent it from drying out too much. The best way to put on moisturizer is on damp skin, so it’s a good idea to get through the serums quickly so your skin is still damp from washing it earlier, to lock in moisture. Simply put a few dabs around your face and smooth into your skin in circular motions

Which product to use-You can choose a moisturizer with ingredients that suit your skin type for example with hyaluronic acid for hydration for dry skin, or ingredients that fight fine lines and wrinkles with anti-aging properties too. Go for an oil-free moisturizer that has water as its main ingredient for oily skin, or an oil-based cream moisturizer for very dry skin.

Step 6- SPF

Why include this-Protect your skin against harmful UV rays and free radicals

How to use it –The last step is actually the most important one in a morning skincare routine, even though many people forget. This is not only going to significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer, but it protects your skin cells by proving a layer of protection. This is key to your health and beauty, so don’t skip it! All skin types should use sunscreen, but it is especially important if you have sensitive skin. Simply apply around your face and on your neck, chest, ears, and hands. You should be generous when applying, and bring it with you to reapply later on.

Which product to use-If you buy sunscreen, ensure you buy a facial sunscreen as this will be easier to absorb and won’t leave a white cast either. Experts recommend using sunscreen with SPF 30 or more on your face every day, no matter the weather.

You don’t need to be a board certified dermatologist to make your daytime routine tailored to your habits and skin needs. It can include every single one of these steps, or just the cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. When you follow this order of application, your skin will be getting the most of these products.

Nighttime skincare routine

At nighttime, the skincare routine order rule of thumb for skin care products is thinnest to thickest. You may be able to include more products or heavier creams and serums to treat skin conditions. Since your skin has all night to absorb them, you can make the most of it and have a more detailed night regimen. It’s also the best time to exfoliate or use a stronger treatment such as retinol or acne treatments in your nighttime skincare routine as your skin will not be exposed to sunlight during the night.

Step 1 – Cleanser

Why include this-Get rid of bacteria and dirt accumulated during the day

How to use it -Start with a gentle face wash. It’s even better to do a double cleanse in the evening using an oil-based cleansing oil and a water-based cleanser to ensure they get all the dirt and bacteria from the day off of their face. This is a really good option if you have acne prone skin. First, remove your makeup with an oil cleanser then wash your face with a regular cleanser. Ideally, you should be cleansing twice a day, to remove excess oil and makeup so you don’t clog pores but be careful around the eye area.

Which product to use-You can use the same cleanser as in the morning, or go for an oil based makeup remover and a gentle water-based cleanser to double cleanse. If you have dry skin it might be best to simply use a hydrating cleanser. Go for one with salicylic acid if you have acne prone skin.

Step 2 – Exfoliate

Why include this- Get rid of dead skin cells and brighten dark spots.

How to use it – You can exfoliate at this step using a gentle chemical exfoliating serum with acids. This will help to remove dead skin cells and also improve cell turnover. It’s best to do this at night to reduce skin sensitivity, but exfoliating should only be done twice a week maximum. Simply apply it to your face using the dropper, spread it with your fingers, and then leave for the amount of time on the bottle. This is anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes. You can then wash it off and dry your face.

Which product to use- Go for a serum with exfoliating acids, do not use a scrub with particles in. These can be too abrasive on your skin, and acids are much gentler.

Step 3- Toner and serums

Why include this-To brighten skin and hydrate the skin and provide nourishment.

How to use it –This is also a good time to tone and deep clean your skin by using a toner such as a glycolic acid toner when not exfoliating. This will help to minimize pores and brighten your skin overall. You can also include face oils and serums to lock in hydration and provide a boost of vitamins. These serums or essences can be oil based or waterbased, aiming to nourish your skin. Since toner is about cleaning your skin, it’s best to use a toner first then your serum or essence.

Which product to use-You can also use serums with active ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, or face mists to boost your skin and nourish it after the day. You can use alpha hydroxy toners as well to brighten dark spots. If you are using a face oil serum or a cream such as vitamin c, you can put this on after the water-based products.

Step 4 – Cream and treatment

Why include this-Target wrinkles or acne or treat problem areas

How to use it –Apply any eye creams or acne cream to the specific areas of your face that need attention. It’s ideal for treating fine lines such as crows feet and the skin around the eyes. For acne, you can use stronger spot treatments with active ingredients to treat your skin while you sleep. Whatever skin treatment you use, ensure you don’t use them all at once. It’s better to use one a few times a week and then a different one on other days, so your skin is able to absorb them fully. Don’t feel you have to include treatments, go based on what your skin needs at that moment, even if it is a simple cleanse and moisturize.

Which product to use- Since it is night, you can use a richer, thicker cream to restore hydration to your eye area. Use retinol if you have mature skin to rejuvenate your skin and get a smooth complexion. Vitamin C is good to brighten scars.

Step 5- Moisturizer

Why include this-Lock in hydration and seal in moisture

How to use it –This is great as the last step, to seal in all the nutrients so your skin can absorb them. Simply dab a richer, heavier cream all over your entire face and neck, and smooth it out. At night, it is best if you can use a night cream to moisturize. They are usually much more hydrating and won’t clog your pores. You’ll be waking up with smooth skin after applying a hydrating night cream, as they are made to be absorbed over various hours. You can still use the same moisturizer as in the morning, however. Using a moisturizer at night means you can prevent eater evaporating at night which will keep your skin in good health of your skin overnight.

Which product to use- You should use a richer night cream or one specific for your skin type such as your normal morning moisturizer.

Final Thoughts

Skin care doesn’t have to be complicated a simple skincare routine is enough. The key is to go from thinnest to thickest, remembering to cleanse and moisturize your face. Once you’re comfortable with a basic routine to can start to add specific products to target skin concerns such as retinol for fine lines and wrinkles, a vitamin c serum ect.

If you are wondering what should my skincare routine be, then find out what your skin type is so you can build the best skincare routine for sensitive skin or best skincare routine for combination skin or oily skincare routine. This will help you to choose the right skincare products for you.

What does your skincare routine look like?

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