building your skin care routine: basic

Last week I helped my 18-year-old sister create a skin care routine, while she can out do me on hair and makeup any day she had no idea what to do to take care of her skin. This made me think of all my friends who probably don’t have a set skincare routine and are still struggling to figure out why they have skin issues. So today I thought I’d share how to build yourself a skincare routine, starting with the basics.

products – morning

daytime basic skincare routine- Cosmetic Composition

Starting with the absolute bare minimum there are 4 products you should be using on your face every morning.

  1. cleanser – This can be oil-based, water-based, foaming, gel, oil, micellar water, etc. Choosing your cleanser will be easiest if you base it off your skin type and/or season. Typically using an oil cleanser in winter will help with the dry air while using a gel cleanser in the summer can help keep your pore clear of all extra sweat and sebum. If you have acne prone skin a face wash with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide might be a good choice, dry skin may want to go with an oil cleanser, etc. Doing your research on your skin type will definitely be beneficial in this step.
  2. toner – An often very overlook, but an extremely important step is the use of toner after washing your face. In general, toner is used to rebalance our skin’s acid mantel. Cleansers tend to be quite alkaline on the pH scale, and since our skin likes to stay at a pH of around 5.5, an acidic toner helps restore this balance. Don’t worry about finding a toner that has a certain acidity, they’re all formulated to be somewhat acidic. As the industry has progressed, so have toners. Many companies now create toners that include ingredients such as aloe vera extra, essential oils, alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids. It’s now possible to get toners that balance pH, moisturize, and chemically exfoliate our skin all-in-one. The biggest thing to watch for is toners containing alcohol (denatured alcohol is safe though) because they can be drying towards the skin.
  3. serum –  This step is optional, especially for those who are younger. Serums are great for adding an extra boost of treatment for your skin. Serums come in many forms and can treat a variety of concerns. Personally, I used a salicylic acid treatment daily to help keep my acne under control. Vitamin C is a great addition because of  its anti-oxidant properties and skin brightening abilities. Retinol is great for helping with wrinkles, overall skin appearance, and even acne. Hydrating serums can be used during the winter or daily, those with dry skin, or those living in a dry climate. The serum market is really expanding right now so it’s a great time to do some research into the possibilities!
  4. moisturizer – The most important thing about your morning moisturizer, aside from it actually being a moisturizer, is the addition of SPF. Wearing sunscreen daily is an absolute must and the easiest way to prevent signs of aging. If you’re absolutely in love with a moisturizer that doesn’t contain SPF, no worries, just make sure you layer a face-friendly sunscreen on top of that.

Did you notice anything about this product order? Yep, the order matters. Remember that products should be applied from the lightest to heaviest formulas in order for them to properly penetrate and treat.

products – evening

nighttime basic skincare routine - Cosmetic Composition

Since this is the basic’s skin care routine the night time line up is very similar, with one exception.

  1. makeup remover – Just like sunscreen, taking off your makeup should be a daily habit. Not taking off face makeup can contribute to a variety of skin issues such as breakouts, irritation, and aging. Not taking off eye makeup can lead to infections, irritation and possibly worse, especially for us contact wearers. If you’re only going to do one thing every night this should be it. For non-makeup wearers, it won’t hurt to use a makeup remover wipe or micellar water before washing your face as an extra cleansing step.
  2. cleanser – This cleanser can be the same one that you use in the morning or it can be something completely different. This step is definitely where personal preference and skin types should be explored, you’ll learn what’s best for your skin slowly.
  3. toner – gotta rebalance that pH acid mantel at night also
  4. serum – One possible option would be to only use a serum at night. Many are highly concentrated and daytime use could increase your chance for sunburns. (Tip: if you want to use vitamin C and retinol, don’t mix! Using vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night is the best way to make them effective)
  5. moisturizer – Nighttime moisturizers don’t have to be, but are usually a bit heavier. This is because your skin has more time to absorb the ingredients while you’re sleeping. There is absolutely no need to use a moisturizer with SPF in it at night, search for lotions with hydrating ingredients and good skin nutrients instead.

final tips

Embracing a skincare routine can feel a lot at first especially when you don’t see results immediately. It’s important to keep it up because long term results will happen. Experimenting with new products is a great way to keep yourself excited about these daily routines. If you’re starting from the absolute beginning I would suggest completing as much research as you can before buying a product. If you’re spending your hard earned dollars on a product you want to make sure it’s up to your preferences. Still feeling lost on what to get? Start with classic cult products that have been proven to work, they’re classic for a reason.

Please share any comments and questions you may have below!

12 thoughts on “building your skin care routine: basic

  1. Eileen says:

    For reference, I have dry, mature, sensitive skin. I use two different cleansers because my a.m. cleansing needs are marketedly different from my p.m. cleansing needs and I think that is true of most women. In the morning, all I need is a gentle cleanser like Cetaphil. In the evening; however, I need to remove not only the usual gunk that collects on the skin, but also my makeup and SPF. For that, I use a makeup removing cleansing oil like Tatcha’s. It has been specifically formulated for the task. It gently and thoroughly removes all the makeup and debris and rinses off easily–no second cleansing needed.

    I think it is also helpful to remind women who use a dedicated C serum (typically 15%) and a retinoid (prescription strength or one of the heavy hitting cosmeceutical brands like SkinMedica, SkinCeuticles, etc.) that they should use the C in the a.m. and the retinoid in the p.m.

    BTW, I found your blog via The Beauty Brains. Aren’t they the greatest? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paige DeGarmo says:

      thank you so much for your reply Eileen! I’m so glad you heard about my blog from The Beauty Brains 🙂
      It sounds like you have a pretty solid routine worked out, especially for your skin type. I would absolutely love to try out the Tatcha’s cleansing oil, however my college student budget doesn’t quite allow for that kind of spending just quite yet haha. The vitamin C and retinol combination is something that I have been seeing all over the place and hear great things about it.
      Thanks for reading!


    • Paige DeGarmo says:

      Thank you! Many people don’t know what toner’s for, truth be told I didn’t either until I did the research but it made me glad that I had been using it!


  2. notesbynani says:

    Love this post! This is my exact skincare routine as well; morning and night 🙂

    Love the point about toner being overlooked but shouldn’t be since it is what balances out your skin’s pH level! Many people don’t know that.

    Thanks for sharing!! Xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Paige DeGarmo says:

    Hi Alan, great question! I did a little digging and found out that much like medicines, serums can act as sunburn boosters. While serums are not medicines, they do sometimes act as cosmeceuticals. Essentially, you’re really only at an increased risk of sunburns after using a concentrated serum if you’re normally sensitive to the sun. It’s still very important to wear sunscreen daily however, you shouldn’t have to worry about an increased risk for sunburns if you don’t burn much normally. I found a great article that explains this in more detail:
    (as you can see the ingredients listed under AHA and BHA on the 4th page are most commonly the ingredients found in serums) Hope this helps!


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