How To Build a Skin Care Routine With These Easy Steps

Key Points

  • Your skincare routine depends on your skin type, goals, budget, and other factors. 

  • Building a skincare routine involves selecting the right products and ingredients for your unique skin.

  • As you create your skincare routine, consider five important moisturizing options. 

Creating and maintaining a skincare routine is more challenging than it sounds. It’s not only about using skincare products but also about selecting the right ones for your skin and applying them in the proper order. Learning how to build a skincare routine requires some effort. 

Woman cleansing skin

It’s tempting to follow skincare routines you read on the internet or are approved by skin experts, but some might not work for your skin. You risk irritating or damaging your skin if you use products that are too harsh for your specific skin type. With the simple steps below, learn how to build a skincare routine personalized to fit your skin's needs. 

What Are the Basics in a 5-Step Skincare Routine? 

There isn’t a hard-set rule that says there are only five steps to skincare – even if many beauty bloggers claim this is the case. If you want a skincare routine with just five steps, try sticking to the basics. Skincare basics include cleansing, toning, exfoliating, moisturizing, and applying sun protection. Skip exfoliation and toning if you prefer a shorter skincare routine.

7-Step Skincare Routines

If you want to go beyond protective measures, consider adding skin treatments to your daily beauty routine. For instance, people suffering from acne should try building a skincare routine with acne treatments. 

If you’re in your twenties, now is the time to use skincare products that slow the skin's aging process and keep you looking younger for longer. Use daily skincare treatments to reverse some of the damage caused by the sun, aging, and skin conditions. 

Woman with skin care jar

Here are the basics:

  1. Remove makeup

  2. Cleanse your face and neck

  3. Exfoliate

  4. Skin treatment

  5. Eye cream 

  6. Hydrate and moisturize 

  7. Slather on a broad-spectrum sunscreen 

This list is a typical seven-step routine. Some people apply a toner after cleansing. Others apply lip balm with SPF as the last step of their beauty routine. You make your personalized routine as many steps as you like!

What Is the Proper Skincare Routine Order?

A good rule of thumb is to layer your skincare products from the lightest to the heaviest consistencies (or thinnest to thickest). Of course, the correct beauty routine order also depends on your skincare products and skin type. 

It makes sense for first-time retinol users to apply moisturizer before retinol to minimize irritation and dryness. Others with ultra-sensitive skin moisturize before and after applying retinol to lessen retinol’s irritating effects while locking in moisture to keep the skin supple. This double moisturizing method is known as “the retinol sandwich.”

Depending on how often you want to apply your skincare products, you may have more or fewer skincare steps to follow. 

In short, your beauty routine is unique to your skin type and needs, so don’t copy others’ routines unless you know their needs and skin type match your own.

Moisturizing Products To Add to Your Routine

Moisturizers are vital in skincare, as they keep your skin looking supple and combat dryness. To find the best moisturizers for your skin, start testing some out until you find the best one. Then, check out the five options below for top-rated products.

Girl applying skin care

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

With the help of glycerin and niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3), this moisturizer instantly relieves dry skin by improving hydration. It’s also made with ceramide 3 to maintain the skin’s moisture barrier. 

La Roche-Posay Prebiotic Thermal Water is another key ingredient in this moisturizer’s formula. A study suggests this ingredient helps reduce dryness and itchiness caused by inflammatory skin diseases like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. 

This skin-soothing product is free of drying alcohol, parabens, oil, and fragrance, making it suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. 

Satisfied customers of this moisturizer reported this product is light but effective on their skin. It hydrates skin without leaving a greasy feel. Reviewers also shared they had soft and smooth skin after using this product. 

Some reviewers didn’t find it moisturizing enough and said the product pilled on their skin. To prevent the product from balling up on the face, the La Roche-Posay consumer care center recommends waiting until your first skincare products have completely dried and fully absorbed into your skin before applying this moisturizer.

Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Water Gel with Hyaluronic Acid

This gel includes hyaluronic acid to retain moisture in the skin and helps hydrate the epidermis. In short, hyaluronic acid is an effective and popular skincare ingredient that results in plumper, younger-looking skin. 

This product’s gel-like formula soaks into the skin quickly to replenish dry skin. This product also reinforces the skin’s moisture barrier to help maintain a supple, quenched complexion. This oil-free formula is suitable for acne-prone skin types. 

Girl doing skin care routine

Neutrogena users shared that this formula hydrates and moisturizes the skin without leaving it oily or greasy. They also love the smooth and refreshing effect it has on their skin. 

Some reviewers said the product caused their skin to break out. Others said it dried their skin instead of moisturizing it and caused unpleasant reactions and irritation on their sensitive skin. Neutrogena also has a fragrance-free gel-cream product, which might be friendlier to sensitive skin. 

Coppertone Pure and Simple Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

This lotion is free of fragrance, dyes, parabens, alcohol, and other potentially irritating ingredients. Happy customers said this product effectively protected their face and body from the sun as they didn’t get burned skin. Some reviewers mentioned that it doesn’t leave the skin feeling greasy or sticky. And they love that it worked for their kids, too.

Woman with sunscreen

Others were not fond of the smell. People who didn’t enjoy the product found it difficult to lather it onto their skin and struggled to take it off. Some said the product stained their clothes and left a white cast on their skin. Some also experienced skin reactions from this product. 

This two-in-one product includes botanical extracts that nourish the skin. However, botanical extracts potentially irritate the skin as they have many chemicals. In short, natural ingredients may trigger allergic reactions and irritation, according to Houston-based dermatologist Dr. Dray. To ensure your skin is not sensitive to this product, consider doing a patch test on your arm first. 

The zinc oxide in this moisturizer shields the skin from sun damage by blocking UVA and UVB rays. Besides its sun-protecting abilities of SPF 50, the product is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. 

Many skincare products like this include sunscreen, but if you don’t apply enough to your skin, you may not get adequate sun protection, so apply a good amount of the product to the entire face to get enough coverage. 

Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Muneeb Shah recommends applying “the same amount that you would apply a sunscreen which is that quarter teaspoon amount which for a lot of people ends up being two finger lengths amount.” However, you may need more depending on the size of your face. Also, don’t forget to coat the ears, lips, neck, and eyelids. A good rule of thumb is to reapply sunscreen every two hours!

EltaMD AM Therapy Facial Moisturizer

Suitable for normal to oily skin types, this moisturizer is made with niacinamide to lighten the skin while reducing redness and inflammation. This product also uses caffeine, an antioxidant that reduces puffiness and protects against oxidative stress. Another key ingredient is hyaluronic acid, which retains moisture and provides supple skin.  

This moisturizer is free of oil, parabens, and fragrance, making it friendly to sensitive and acne-prone skin. 

Reviewers like how light the formula feels on their skin and note that it doesn't leave behind a greasy or sticky film. They also note how quickly the product absorbs into their skin while effectively moisturizing their face. Other satisfied users boast about the product’s refreshing effect and how well it rests under their makeup. Unfortunately, this product is a little pricey for some people’s budget. 

Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel

Clinique designed this gel for combination and oily skin types. This moisturizer delivers humectants to keep your skin hydrated for up to eight hours. It easily glides onto the skin while fortifying the skin’s moisture barrier. 

This yellow-colored gel doesn't contain parabens, oil, sulfates, phthalates, and other potential skin irritants. 

Woman applying moisturizer

While some Clinique users experience an oil-free finish, others feel the product is greasy. Some report the product absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel heavy on their skin. Others find it smoothening, refreshing, and very moisturizing on their skin. 

Build Your Skincare Routine 

Before building a skincare routine, consider your skin type, the skin issue you want to address, and your budget. After you’ve got this down, select the right products for your skin. 

Skincare brands sometimes change the formulas of their products, and people aren’t always fond of the changes in ingredients. 

It may take them a while to update the product’s ingredient list on their website. Always check the product packaging to ensure the product information on a website is up-to-date and that you’re getting the formula that best suits your skin. 

If you need more skincare product recommendations, explore other moisturizers promising for sensitive skin. Test out these products to give your skin the tender, loving care it needs!

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