Step by Step Guide to Skin Care

Posted 06/24/2019 | By HealthCorps

By Jessica Cho, HealthCorps Summer Intern 2019

Many things in this world can be confusing. English grammar, calculus, navigating the New York subway system for the first time…skincare. Yes, skincare. Do I need a special face cleanser or can I use soap? Do I need to wear sunscreen every day? Is moisturizer or face oil necessary even if I naturally have oily skin? The questions go on and on. But don’t fret. Here is a step by step guide on how to approach your skin care routine both day and night.  

Daytime Routine

Ahh, Good morning! You’ve just woken up and are ready to begin your day. Maybe you’ve stretched out in bed, opened the blinds, and got yourself a glass of water. So now you should be ready to hit the bathroom for some skin care! You have a busy day ahead, so the main priority should be to protect your skin from the sun and environmental pollutants.  

1. Cleanser– Wake your face up with a splash! Use a cleanser to help turn your face into a soft, clean blank canvas in preparation for the following products to settle into your skin.  

2. TonerSo what exactly does this stuff do? At first, toners were created to help return the skin’s pH to normal after using harsh, basic soaps. But nowadays, face cleansers are made to be much more balanced. Most toners now primarily work to help remove any excess oil or makeup left over from the night before while cleaning and closing pores.  

3. Serum– Use this to target specific skincare concerns. Serums are concentrated, nutrient-dense treatments that deliver nourishment by penetrating deep into the skin since they are made of smaller molecules. Depending on the type, serums can work to control your skin’s inflammatory response, neutralize damage from UV rays and pollutants, or deliver antioxidants and various vitamins to your skin. Don’t shy away from using a serum because they seem too fancy or an unnecessary part of your routine. Give them a proper try and you might see some major improvements to your skin’s overall glow.  

4. Eye CreamAre you a fan of fine lines and wrinkles? Me neither. Apply an eye cream to keep the skin around your eye area firm and elastic. Using an eye cream can help prevent premature signs of aging and can almost instantly brighten undereye bags. This is personally one of my favorite steps.  

5. Spot Treatment– If you struggle with those annoying, unwanted acne pop-ups, invest in a spot treatment to combat blemishes first thing in the morning. Remember to only apply to areas where needed, otherwise you may run the risk of seriously drying out your skin. Bye-bye, zits!  

6. MoisturizerYes! You made it to one of the best and final steps. Use a moisturizer that works for your skin type to lock in maximum hydration throughout the day. And yes folks, you should definitely use a moisturizer even if you have oily skin! When your skin is overly dry, it will likely overcompensate by producing excess oil, which can clog pores (and make you look slick with shine). Using a moisturizer can actually prevent you from having a greasy-looking face! Plus, not all moisturizers need to be heavy. Like fish in the sea, there are plenty of moisturizer types out there for you. 

7. Sunscreen– This is arguably the most important step, even during the colder months. The sun’s UV rays are everywhere and quite frankly, they can’t be completely avoided. Use a physical sunscreen with zinc to achieve the broadest protection form UVA and UVB rays. This goes last because you want it to sit on top of the skin to create a strong barrier against the sun. And remember, not all sunscreen is greasy and sticky. An array of face sunscreens exist that are lightweight and barely even noticeable on your skin. Sunscreen is key to preserving your skin’s natural beauty and vitality as you age. (Tip: If you’re a little self-conscious about acne scars or marks, use a tinted sunscreen for protection and coverage!) 

Nighttime Routine

You finally made it to the end of the day! You’re just about ready to dive into bed and get some zzz’s. Your skin works to naturally repair itself over night. There’s a reason it’s called beauty sleep! So now is the time to give your skin all the treatment it needs to deeply renourish, replenish, and refresh!   

1. Cleansing oil or makeup remover– This should always be the very first step! And don’t try to skip it! You’ll regret it later. Makeup, if left on your face, can clog pores, making it hard for your skin to breathe. This may ultimately lead to acne breakouts, everyone’s least favorite surprise. When choosing between the two, definitely go for a cleansing oil over a makeup remover wipe. I know, I know…but wipes are so much easier and faster to use! What most people don’t know, however, is that makeup wipes often smear oil, dirt, and bacteria around your face, almost guaranteeing that there will be leftover residue. Oils really melt into the skin, dissolving makeup in hard to reach areas and they do a more effective job of eliminating residual buildup.  

2. Cleanser– Follow up with using a normal cleanser that works for your skin type. This step helps wash away any remaining dirt and makeup loosened in the previous step.  

3. Toners, Essences, BoostersNow we’re getting to the fun stuff! See this step as an opportunity to really start giving your skin exactly what it needs (but only if you truly need it! Sometimes adding too many steps can increase the risk of irritating your skin). Use lightweight mists or water-based essences to reward your skin with additional hydration. Apply products from thinnest to thickest consistency. 

4. Eye creamLike in the morning, add a touch of eye cream to your undereye area to help prevent wrinkles and to lighten those dark circles that may have developed from a long, tiring day. Set yourself up to wake up the next morning bright-eyed and bushy tailed.

5. Treatment serums and creams– Again, choose treatments that truly speak to what your skin needs at the current moment. Don’t feel like you need to use a special treatment every night if your skin is feeling on point. But if its dryness, redness, or dullness you’re looking to combat, there’s certainly a treatment out there for you! Exfoliate sparingly. Only 1-3 times per week. Apply a detoxifying or clay mask just once a week. This is plenty. 

6. Moisturizer or night cream– Just as you did in the morning, apply a moisturizer to your face and neck. Night creams are usually thicker than day creams because they are specifically made to create a protective barrier on your skin and retain moisture for the hours you remain asleep.  

7. Retinol– Retinoids is the term for vitamin-A derivatives. Skip this step if you use a night cream that already has retinoids. Incorporating a retinol product into your nighttime routine can boost collagen production, fade dark spots, smooth scars, and brighten skin. If you’re looking to smooth out your skin tone, don’t skip this step! However, retinol can be a powerful product and may not necessarily be for everyone. Consult a dermatologist to see if its right for you.  

8. Face oil– Now don’t fear at the thought of oil. This could be the step you’ve been missing! Oils aren’t just helpful for dry skin types. In fact, they can actually decrease overproduction of natural face oils in acne prone skin. Many oils are highly moisturizing and help create a protective barrier against toxins. Go for one that is lightweight and remember that a small amount goes a long way! Face oils should be applied last because none of the other products can penetrate it.  


So, there you have it! A full skincare routine from the moment you wake up to the time you go to bed. Remember that every individual has a unique skin type. It’s important to choose the products that work best for you and your skin’s needs. And for those of you who aren’t too keen on having an extensive skincare routine, don’t be intimidated. This isn’t a rulebook, it’s a guideline. Listen to what your skin needs and focus on that. Once you have these steps down, the process can be quite easy and even relaxing to go through. But for more information on skincare (especially for personal inquiries) it is best to seek guidance and advice from a dermatologist. When you’re feeling lazy, remember that your skin deserves to be taken good care of, especially since it endures a lot of wear and tear. All good things take time and effort, but you’ll be thanking yourself for years to come.   

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