Building Your Best Skin Care Routine

Starting and maintaining an effective facial skin care routine is essential to looking and feeling your best, as well as ensuring your skin is functioning the way it’s supposed to.

But it is somewhat complex, and it’s easy to want to cut corners to save time by skipping steps or mixing products together.

You get much more benefit from your skin care products by letting each one be absorbed before going on to the next. It generally takes around a minute for each product to be absorbed for a total time investment of about 10 minutes, depending on how many layers you apply. It’s a worthwhile investment into your self-care.

It’s also important to know your skin type, which determines the cleansers and moisturizers that will do the most good for your normal, dry, oily, combination or sensitive skin.

Your dermatologist or other skin care professional may have additional advice, but this is the most widely recommended skin care regimen. Do in this order in the morning and again before going to bed — except for step No.5, obviously!

Step 1: Cleansing
Washing your face removes all the dirt, dust and sweat that’s accumulated, along with any makeup. This unclogs your pores, maintains your radiance and helps prevent acne and blackheads.

A good cleanser can do all of this without removing healthy oils and moisture and drying out the skin. Exfoliants excel at removing layers of dead skin at the surface but should not be used daily because they can irritate and damage the skin.

Step 2: Toner
Applying one of these products after cleansing is considered optional by many experts, but they do benefit your skin by adding nutrients that balance your skin’s composition and make it more absorbent for the layers to come. Toners can perform many different functions, depending on their ingredients.

Step 3: Serum
Containing powerful doses of active ingredients, serums can be used to address specific issues, such as dark spots, or to infuse a substance that provides a general benefit, such as additional antioxidants.

Step 4: Moisturizer
This is a critical step to more fully hydrate the skin after cleansing and other daily activities and becomes more important the older we get as we lose our ability to retain moisture. Many also include some level of UV ray protection.

Step 5: Sunscreen
The most essential of all skin care products, sunscreen protects your skin from all the nasty things UV rays can cause for your skin from premature aging, through fine lines and wrinkles, to skin cancer.

You need to apply it to your skin and neck if your moisturizer doesn’t have an SPF of at least 30 and apply to all other exposed areas of your skin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend applying sunscreen every morning before you leave the house and then every two hours or after exercising or perspiring.