The Ultimate Guide to Building a Skincare Routine: Step By Step

skincare routine

If you’re lucky enough to have perfect, clear, glowy skin, consider yourself fortunate. But even with good skin genes, it’s crucial to follow a proper skincare routine.

Without one, your skin might miss out on essential nutrients and vitamins.

With so many skincare products available today, figuring out what a good routine should include can be overwhelming.

A well-rounded skincare routine doesn’t need to be complicated. It should be tailored to your skin type and specific needs.

What works for one skin type might not be suitable for another.

To get the most out of my products, I apply them from lightest and thinnest to thickest for better absorption.

No matter how simple or complex my skincare routine is, these are the essential steps it should include.

First Know Your Skin Type

First Know Your Skin Type

Which skin type do you have?

  • Dry Skin: Feels tight, rough, and sometimes flaky.
  • Oily Skin: Feels oily, greasy, and may have visible pores.
  • Normal Skin: Feels clear and balanced.
  • Combination Skin: Feels dry in some areas (cheeks) and oily in others (forehead, nose, and chin).
  • Sensitive Skin: Burns or reacts with the application of certain skincare or makeup products.

Skincare Routine

Skincare Routine

A good skincare routine should be easy, quick, and effective.

I’m here to help you find the right routine for your skin.

1. Cleansing for Different Skin Types

Cleansing is the first and most crucial step in any skincare routine. It removes dirt, dust, makeup residue, and excess oil, preparing your skin for the next steps.

An ideal cleanser should be:

  • Gentle: Avoid cleansers with a lot of foaming ingredients, as they can disrupt your skin’s natural pH and cause damage. A mildly foaming cleanser is usually gentler on your skin.
  • Moisture Restoring: Your skin should feel clean and fresh, but not dry and tight. Choose a cleanser that retains moisture.
  • Deep Cleansing (Not Over Cleansing): A good cleanser removes dirt and debris without stripping your skin of its natural oils, which can disrupt the skin’s natural barrier and lead to infections.

Cleansers for Different Skin Types:

Skin Type Ideal Cleanser
Dry Skin Look for hydrating ingredients like glycerine and essential oils.
Oily Skin Choose non-comedogenic ingredients like aloe vera, green tea, citric acid, grapeseed oil, charcoal, and neem oil to control sebum levels and avoid clogged pores.
Sensitive Skin Opt for mild, fragrance-free, sulfate-free cleansers. Ingredients like soy protein, glycerin, aloe vera, and cucumber are soothing and moisturizing.
Normal/Combination Any cleanser without a high pH and that doesn’t strip oils will work.

2. Toning

Toning balances your skin and is the second step after cleansing. It restores your skin’s pH balance and prepares it for other products and makeup.

Oraphan Anurukvorakun says that facial toners are utilized as cosmeceutical products and have several functions, for example rehydrating the skin, balancing the skin’s pH, tightening skin pores, relieving irritation, and antisepsis. [1]

Instead of using cotton pads, apply toner with clean hands to avoid wasting the product.

Simply take a few drops and spread them evenly on your face.

Ingredients to Look for in a Toner:

  • Alpha and beta hydroxy acids: Exfoliate the skin
  • Hyaluronic acid: Provides hydration
  • Vitamin E and C: Slow down the aging process
  • Rose water and green tea: Soothe the skin

3. Serum for Skin Issues

Serums contain concentrated doses of active ingredients to address specific skin concerns, like dark spots, wrinkles, tan, and acne. Even if you don’t have any specific issues, an antioxidant serum can protect your skin from daily damage.

Aurora Garre says that serums protect against oxidative damage and dermal protein loss caused by photo- and chronological aging in human skin explants. [2]

  • Skin Lightening Serum: Targets skin tan with ingredients like licorice, niacinamide, and vitamin C.
  • Dark Spot Control Serum: Reduces discoloration with alpha arbutin, niacinamide, kojic dipalmitate, and propanediol.
  • Acne Control Serum: Combats acne with ingredients like azelaic acid to control sebum, unclog pores, and prevent bacterial growth.
  • Anti-Aging Serum: Uses retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives) to increase collagen production and rejuvenate skin cells.

4. Moisturizing

Skin Type Ideal Moisturizer
Dry Skin Creams
Oily Skin Serums
Normal Skin Lotions
Normal to Dry Skin Gels
Normal to Oily Skin Serums

For sensitive skin, consider day and night moisturizers.

Night moisturizers are typically thicker and designed to be absorbed over several hours.

5. Sunscreen

I use sunscreen daily to protect my skin from sun damage, which can lead to wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, and skin cancer.

Yu Chul Jung  says that proper application of sunscreen is important to ensure the protection of the skin against ultraviolet (UV) damage.[3]

I choose a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30, apply it 30 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply every two hours.

6. Eye Cream

Eye creams are helpful for addressing dryness, puffiness, and hyperpigmentation around my eyes.

I use it as part of my nightcare routine, along with cleansing, treating, and moisturizing.

7. Exfoliate

I exfoliate weekly to remove dead skin cells and reveal new, youthful-looking skin.

I like using fruit scrubs, coffee scrubs, sugar scrubs, and other options for smooth skin.

8. Facial Masks

I choose from clay, charcoal, mud, and honey masks, applying an even layer to clean, dry skin.

Mohammad Ali Nilforoushzadeh says that Facial cosmetics keep skin moist and remove sebum to maintain proper skin health. Using suitable cosmetics according to the facial skin type results in healthy skin. Facial masks are the most prevalent cosmetic products utilized for skin rejuvenation. Facial masks are divided into four groups: (a) sheet masks; (b) peel-off masks; (c) rinse-off masks; and (d) hydrogels.[4]

After leaving it on for 10-15 minutes, I rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.

Dos and Dont’s

Dos and Don'ts


  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Engage in physical activity or exercise
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Remove your makeup before sleeping
  • Cover yourself with stoles, hats, and sunglasses when out in the sun
  • Use clean pillowcases


  • Use the wrong skincare products
  • Stress
  • Keep touching your face
  • Take hot showers
  • Squeeze pimples

How to Layer Skincare Products

Besides timing and consistency, layering your skincare products correctly is crucial.

Applying products in the right order ensures your skin gets the full benefits of each one.

The correct order is:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Apply serum
  4. Moisturize
  5. Put on sunscreen


  1. MDPI and ACS Style,Anurukvorakun, O.; Numnim, S. Development and Clinical Efficacy Evaluation of Facial Toner Containing Houttuynia cordata Thunb. Cosmetics 202310, 133., AMA Style, Anurukvorakun O, Numnim S. Development and Clinical Efficacy Evaluation of Facial Toner Containing Houttuynia cordata Thunb. Cosmetics. 2023; 10(5):133., Chicago/Turabian Style, Anurukvorakun, Oraphan, and Sarunpat Numnim. 2023. “Development and Clinical Efficacy Evaluation of Facial Toner Containing Houttuynia cordata Thunb” Cosmetics 10, no. 5: 133.
  2. Garre A, Narda M, Valderas-Martinez P, Piquero J, Granger C. Antiaging effects of a novel facial serum containing L-Ascorbic acid, proteoglycans, and proteoglycan-stimulating tripeptide: ex vivo skin explant studies and in vivo clinical studies in women. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018 May 29;11:253-263. doi: 10.2147/CCID.S161352. PMID: 29881301; PMCID: PMC5985795.
  3. Kim MA, Jung YC, Bae J, Ha J, Kim E. Layering sunscreen with facial makeup enhances its sun protection factor under real-use conditions. Skin Res Technol. 2021 Sep;27(5):751-757. doi: 10.1111/srt.13010. Epub 2021 Mar 3. PMID: 33660348.
  4. Nilforoushzadeh MA, Amirkhani MA, Zarrintaj P, Salehi Moghaddam A, Mehrabi T, Alavi S, Mollapour Sisakht M. Skin care and rejuvenation by cosmeceutical facial mask. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Oct;17(5):693-702. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12730. Epub 2018 Aug 21. PMID: 30133135.

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