How to Create the Perfect Morning Skin Care Routine

Aside from an obligatory cup of coffee and blood-pumping a.m. sweat session, a skin care regimen may be the cornerstone of any morning routine. The goal is to protect against environmental stressors and address your skin type and concerns. You need not adopt a 10-step Korean routine or spend an entire paycheck to see results. Let’s get into it.

What Is a Good Skin Care Routine?

Research suggests that a skin care routine with multi-steps delivers optimal benefits, which means you may have to put in a little more effort than a basic “wash and go” if you want to maintain your skin’s health. Understanding your skin type and goals (anti-aging, acne-fighting, etc.) is vital. It’s also beneficial to tweak your routine with age, seasons, and climate changes when you take that next vacation. 

Skin Type

Do you know your skin type? Here are the basics. 

  • Normal: Not too oily, not too dry. Skin tone appears even and is blemish-free; pores are almost non-visible, and it has a radiant, healthy appearance.
  • Dry: The skin lacks oil (sebum), which causes a lack of hydrating lipids that protect against aggressors like UV rays, climate changes, and environmental pollutants. Dry skin often feels itchy and tight and is rough to the touch. It can also be accompanied by redness. 
  • Oily: This challenging skin type produces more oil than usual and goes hand in hand with blackheads, whiteheads, enlarged pores, and pimples. Since it’s not uncommon for the skin to appear oily as soon as 20-30 minutes after washing your face, it can be challenging to keep makeup on throughout the day.
  • Combination: Combo skin can also be frustrating because you’re battling an oily T-zone (forehead and nose area), but the rest of your face is on the dryer side — it can also be normal if you’re lucky. It takes a bit of trial and error to nail the perfect skin care routine since you have to cater to two different skin types. 

Skin Concerns

When choosing skin care products, consider what your concerns and goals are. For example, anti-aging, acne, sensitivity, oiliness, fine lines and wrinkles, and loss of tone and elasticity.


If you have a big budget to blow on a pricey skin care routine, go for it. However, being more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean more effective. The key is investing in formulas made with safe and effective ingredients. Don’t become a victim of marketing hype. Do your due diligence by educating yourself and reading product labels before purchasing. As a general rule of thumb, the ingredients at the top of the list are the largest in quantity, and the bottom are the least.

Personal Beliefs

You may have explicit beliefs such as products only formulated with clean ingredients, are all-natural, cruelty-free, sustainable, etc. The good news is it’s easier than ever to find skin care that hits these notes.

How to Layer Skincare Products

The easiest way to remember the order of your skin care products (after cleansing, which is obviously first) is to think about texture. You want to apply them from the lightest to the heaviest to ensure those vital ingredients effectively penetrate the skin. In short, water-based products come first and are followed by oil-dominant products. 

  • Pro tip: Wait approximately 30-60 seconds between each skin care step before applying the next product so each one can effectively absorb into the skin. Some products, such as an acne treatment or retinol, take a few hours to work and can cause a reaction with the sun, so they’re best applied at night without other formulas interfering with the results or causing sensitivity. 

Skin Care Routine Steps

Keep in mind that these are just the steps for a morning routine. While the order remains relatively the same at night, the main difference is the types of treatment products used. 


Washing your face in the morning is important because your skin comes into contact with bacteria during the night, whether from unintentionally touching your face, sleeping habits, oily or product-rich hair, and your pillowcase — all the more reason to wash it regularly. 


Toners help restore the skin’s pH balance after cleansing while creating the perfect canvas for the remaining products in your routine. They often get a bad rap because they’re associated with formulas like the stringent Sea Breeze of the past. However, modern-day toners can address everything from excessive oiliness to dryness without stripping the skin of its natural oils.


Serums are ultra-concentrated, ingredient-dense treatments that address specific concerns. Thanks to their tiny molecular structure, serums can penetrate deeper than moisturizers, which is why they’re applied first. This is the step where you want to pack in vital ingredients like hyaluronic acid, peptides, and antioxidants to protect the skin from free radicals (environmental pollutants, sun exposure, etc.) that you come in contact with during the day. 

Eye Cream

The skin around the eyes is thinner and more delicate than other areas of your face. The best eye cream will address puffiness, fine lines, wrinkles, and dark circles. In the morning, you should reach for a gel versus a cream to address A.M. puffiness. 


A moisturizer is one of the core components of a skincare routine, regardless of skin type. It helps hydrate the skin's surface layers to lock in moisture and vital nutrients while warding off environmental aggressors. 


When you apply your SPF in your skin care routine depends on what type of formula you’re using. Chemical sunscreen must be applied before your moisturizer to penetrate the skin and provide adequate protection. Physical (aka mineral) should be applied after.

Putting together the perfect skin care routine doesn’t have to be complicated. Make sure you understand your skin type before choosing the best products to help you address your goals and concerns.

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