Morning and Night Skincare Routine For All Skin Types

April 12, 2024 by L'Oréal
By: by L'Oréal | by L'Oréal
A person with clean, bare skin smiling and holding a towel up to their face

With so many products to choose from, starting a skincare routine from scratch can feel a bit overwhelming. You may know the basic skincare steps to follow, but finding the right products for the job isn’t always as cut-and-dry—especially if you’re unsure what skin type you have. And once you do find products that work well for your skin, you need to figure out what order to apply them in and how much of each to use.

We’re here to help take the guesswork out of the process. Ahead, you’ll find a simple morning skincare routine and an easy nighttime skincare routine ideal for skincare newbies. We’ll also introduce you to some of our favorite made-for-all skincare products that you can stock your shelf with. Your skincare journey starts now.

Skincare Routine Basics

According to Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, board-certified dermatologist and expert, when starting a skincare routine for the first time, less is more. “If you have more than five products, stop,” he says. Using too many products can lead to skin concerns like dryness, irritation, or even acne. A good skincare routine doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.

We know how tempting it can be to stock up on exciting products like face masks, essences, and ampoules—but give it some time. Dr. Bhanusali advises sticking to the basics (namely, a cleanser, serum, mosturizer, and SPF) to start. In terms of skincare order, you typically want to apply your products by weight, with the lightest products going first and the heaviest last. In the daytime, however, sunscreen should always be last—even if it’s lighter than your moisturizer.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of your core regimen, you can experiment with adding other products into your skincare routine. But for now, read on to learn more about the basics.

Step-By-Step Morning Skincare Routine For All Skin Types

Step 1: Cleanse

Throughout the day (or night), impurities like dirt and oil can accumulate on your skin. If not removed with a gentle cleanser, these impurities can clog your pores or even contribute to skin concerns like dullness and irritation. As such, Dr. Bhanusali says you’ll want to start your skincare routine with a mild facial cleanser. Cleansing “removes debris from the skin’s surface, cleans pores, and primes the skin to absorb topical products (like moisturizers and serums) better,” he says.

Here Are The Skincare Steps You Should Follow Every Morning and Night

Try: CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Face Wash for Balanced to Dry Skin

Start your routine off strong with this beloved facial cleanser from CeraVe. The creamy formula emulsifies with water to create a light foam that removes dirt, oil, and other impurities (without stripping away essential moisture). The ceramide-infused cleanser also helps restore the skin’s moisture barrier—the integrity of which is essential for healthy-looking (and -feeling!) skin. We recommend applying it to damp skin and massaging it onto your face for a full minute before rinsing with lukewarm water.

Step 2: Apply serum

After cleansing, Dr. Bhanusali recommends reaching for a facial serum. You can think of a serum as a multivitamin for your face, delivering key ingredients to help address specific concerns like dryness or dullness. While there are plenty of powerful serums out there, we suggest keeping it simple with a gentle hydrating serum—at least for now.

Here Are The Skincare Steps You Should Follow Every Morning and Night

Try: Vichy Minéral 89

All skin types can benefit from the intense hydration Vichy’s iconic serum provides. The lightweight formula stars hyaluronic acid, a humectant moisturizer that helps hydrate, plump, and smooth the skin. The gentle, fragrance-free serum also helps strengthen the skin barrier and makes the skin more resistant to visible skin aging caused by exposure to environmental stressors like UV radiation and air pollution. To use it, dispense two drops onto clean fingertips and lightly spread it over your face before moving to the next step in your routine.

Step 3: Moisturize

After applying serum, you can move on to the next skincare step: moisturizing. No matter what type of skin you have, or what issues you’re looking to address, moisturizer is essential for healthy-feeling, hydrated skin. While moisturizers come in an array of formats—from lightweight gels to rich creams—we recommend opting for a non-comedogenic lotion that hydrates without weighing the skin down.

Here Are The Skincare Steps You Should Follow Every Morning and Night

Try: CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Body and Face Lotion for Balanced to Dry Skin

This multipurpose lotion is packed with skin-friendly ingredients, including hyaluronic acid and the brand’s signature ceramides. It has a lightweight feel and absorbs quickly, providing all-day hydration without leaving behind a greasy or sticky feel. Best of all, it’s suitable for use on your face and body—so you don’t have to worry about stocking your shelves with a ton of different products to keep your skin feeling soft, smooth, and hydrated.

Step 4: Apply sunscreen

No morning skincare routine would be complete without sunscreen. As Dr. Bhanusali says, “It’s imperative to wear sunscreen each day and utilize products with formulas rich in antioxidants to help protect our skin from environmental aggressors such as pollution.” The United States Food and Drug Administration advises using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every single day (rain, snow, or shine). You’ll also want to reapply your SPF every two hours, or after sweating or swimming, to help keep your skin protected against damaging UV rays.

Here Are The Skincare Steps You Should Follow Every Morning and Night

Try: Kiehl’s Better Screen UV Serum SPF 50+ Facial Sunscreen with Collagen Peptide

Amp up your skin’s natural glow while protecting it from the sun with this ultra-light sunscreen serum. The unique formula provides broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays, boosts radiance, and helps improve the appearance of skin texture and tone. It boasts an invisible finish—no white cast!—and blends seamlessly across a wide range of skin tones. You’ll want to apply a quarter-sized dollop of the anti-aging formula to your face and neck at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors to give the sunscreen plenty of time to work. And remember, regular reapplication is a must for keeping your skin protected.

Step-By-Step Nighttime Skincare Routine For All Skin Types

Step 1: Cleanse

As Dr. Bhanusali mentioned, cleansing is a crucial first step in both your morning and nighttime skincare routines. No matter what your skin concerns are, cleansing is just as important at night as it is in the morning to remove dirt, oil, and other debris, as well as any makeup you may be wearing.

Here Are The Skincare Steps You Should Follow Every Morning and Night

Try: Thayer’s Hydrating Milky Cleanser with Snow Mushroom and Hyaluronic Acid

Melt away the day with this gentle, non-stripping facial cleanser. The alcohol-free formula helps hydrate as it removes makeup and other impurities, leaving your skin feeling soft, smooth, and cushioned. Again, we recommend lathering your face for at least one full minute to ensure you’re getting a complete cleanse.

Step 2: Tone

You may be familiar with double cleansing, a skincare technique that involves—as the name suggests—washing your face twice for a super thorough cleanse. While we’re big advocates of the technique, you can ease yourself into the concept by reaching for a cleansing toner after washing your face. The toner will help remove any residue left behind after cleansing and help prepare your skin for the rest of your routine (and it takes hardly any time to do).

Here Are The Skincare Steps You Should Follow Every Morning and Night

Try: Thayer’s Hydrating Milky Toner with Snow Mushroom and Hyaluronic Acid

Like the coordinating cleanser, this gentle toner contains snow mushroom and hyaluronic acid and helps hydrate while it removes impurities. The pH-balanced formula has a light, milky texture, and it nourishes the skin with up to 48 hours of moisture. Plus, it’s suitable for all skin types from dry to oily (and everything in between). You can either pat it directly onto your face or soak a clean cotton round in the toning formula and sweep it over your face and neck.

Step 3: Apply serum

Many serums are designed to be used twice a day, though you may want to switch between formulas that target different issues. At night, we’re particularly fond of using our serum step to incorporate anti-aging ingredients into our skincare routines.

Here Are The Skincare Steps You Should Follow Every Morning and Night

[H4] Try: Youth to the People Retinal + Niacinamide Youth Serum

This anti-aging serum contains retinaldehyde (the most powerful non-prescription retinoid), niacinamide, ceramides, and adaptogens. It helps smooth skin’s texture and even tone while working over time to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other age-related skin concerns. We suggest applying a pea-sized amount to your face and neck, avoiding the skin directly around your eye area.

Keep in mind that retinoids can take some time to adapt to, so we suggest starting with once-weekly usage and gradually increasing the frequency until your skin acclimates.

Editor’s note: Retinoids can also make your skin especially sensitive to the sun, which means your morning sunscreen step (and reapplication throughout the day) is extra important.

Step 4: Moisturize

At night, Dr. Bhanusali suggests ending your regimen with a night cream formula that is rich in antioxidants. During the night, your skin goes through a natural process of repair, so it's important to help it do its job effectively with the added boost of a good moisturizer.

Here Are The Skincare Steps You Should Follow Every Morning and Night

Try: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal Midnight Cream

Cap off your nighttime skincare routine with this revitalizing night cream, which contains lipo-hydroxy acid and Natecium DHC (a potent antioxidant). The rich yet non-greasy formula hydrates and helps stimulate surface cell renewal to reveal a smoother, more youthful appearance over time. We recommend applying a thin, even layer to your face and neck before hitting the sheets for nourished, healthy-feeling skin.

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