Here’s An Easy 5-Step Skin Care Routine That You Won’t Skip

Skin care doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s an easy routine you can actually stick to.

As a young adult, it is all too easy to ignore skin care, much like self care. Most of us will put on sunscreen in the summer (um, okay, most of the time), and occasionally use moisturizer and lotion when our skin is visibly dry and crusty in the winter or we feel moisture-zapped after a shower. But the idea of a skin care routine? That sounds like something for older ladies trying to reclaim their youth.

Sure, we all have those friends who have their practically sacred skin care routines. The ones who use a cacophony of bottles and jars of sweet (and not-so-sweet)-smelling liquids, lotions, and potions. But if you’re reading this article, you’ve probably woken up to the reality that a solid skin care routine is essential. Like, brushing-your-teeth-level essential. So stop treating it like flossing!
Skin Care Routine - moisturizer

Why do I need a skin care routine?

According to Steven Nwe, a dermatologist at Northwestern Medicine, “Investing early in the health of your skin, with regular skin care, will not only better protect it from the harsh effects of winter, but also keep you looking and feeling your best throughout the year.”

We found this sentiment echoed throughout dozens of articles and studies written by experts in skin health. It’s not that surprising, really. Your skin is your body’s largest organ. So it’s time to start investing in the longevity and health of it. Okay? Okay.
Skin Care Routine - skin care products

How to Figure Out the Best Skin Care Routine For You

If you’re anything like us, the biggest factor in sticking to a skin care routine is making it quick and easy. Otherwise, you probably won’t continue to incorporate it into your everyday life.

Here’s the most important thing when it comes to finding a skin care routine that you actually stick to: skin care is not one-size-fits-all. It is important to evaluate what type of skin you have (i.e. dry, oily, normal, combination, sensitive) before you dive into the product hunt. Don’t know your skin type? Check out this article by Tatcha to learn how to do just that.

Skin care is highly personal based on your unique skin chemistry. Do your research and see a dermatologist if you want professional advice. But every skin care routine will include the same basic elements. Most experts recommend doing these steps as a morning routine and again at night, but do what works best for you. It’s better to do it once a day than never. Your thirsty skin will thank you.
Skin Care Routine - skincare tools

5-Step Skin Care Routine

1. Cleanser

Start your skin care routine with a cleanser. Cleanser does what it sounds like: it cleans the day (or night) off your skin, loosens up your pores, and allows any dirt, makeup residue, or gunk to exit stage left. If you have sensitive skin, make sure to use something that’s gentle and fragrance free.

How-to: Apply a generous amount of cleanser to a clean cotton round, and then rub it all over your face in gentle, circular motions. The most satisfying part is once you’ve finished and you can see the cotton round turn brown from all the residue you just got off your face. Yup, you’re nasty. Don’t worry; we all are.
Skin Care Routine - CeraVe Facial CleanserAvailable on Amazon.

2. Toner

Toner evens skin tone, reduces redness, and calms skin. Toners have lots of wonderful ingredients that can restore nutrients to your skin and should be included in every skin care routine. A hydrating toner is great if you have dry skin, and one with salicylic acid is perfect if you’re constantly dealing with breakouts.

Often, a little extra dirt will come off the skin with toner that didn’t with cleanser. That’s because toner and cleanser have different active ingredients that target different elements of your skin. Using both ensures a clean, even-toned face.

How-to: Apply toner in the same fashion as cleanser – clean cotton round, circular motion. Ogle at the residue.
Skin Care Routine - Thayers Facial TonerAvailable on Amazon.

3. Oils & Essences

You don’t always have to include this step, but a couple times a week, your skin could benefit from some extra moisture and more. If your skin is on the dry side, face oils help moisturize and provide specific nutrients that your skin is lacking. People with oily skin might prefer to steer clear of this step.

How-To: Dab a small amount of oil on your skin – we recommend one dot on your forehead and one on each cheek – then rub it in with freshly washed hands. Again, be sure to use gentle, circular motions.
Skin Care Routine - TruSkin Vitamin C SerumAvailable on Amazon.

4. Sheet Mask (Optional)

This is another optional step that you might not feel inclined to do every night, but for best results, try to use masks at least once or twice per week. Sheet masks can target a variety of areas, including moisture, skin tone, and brightness.

How-to: Simply remove the mask from the package with clean, dry hands, and press it onto your face. Follow the instructions as every mask is slightly different, but you’ll typically leave it on for 10-15 minutes. Remove and immediately follow up with moisturizer.
Skin Care Routine - sheet masksAvailable on Amazon.

5. Moisturizer

This is the *most* essential step, and if you do nothing else after reading this article, please do yourself a favor and invest in a good moisturizer. Keeping your skin hydrated is absolutely essential for your long-term skin health and that youthful glow. Moisturizer is like magic: it helps fight fine lines and wrinkles when used on a consistent basis, and it keeps your skin feeling soft, smooth and touchable.

Hyaluronic Acid is the key ingredient you should look for in a high-quality moisturizer. Our skin actually produces it naturally as our body’s way of self-moisturizing. We recommend a product like Neutrogena Hydro Boost water-gel moisturizer because it is non-comedogenic (translation: it won’t clog your pores), so it feels light on the skin, but still provides deep moisture, and it is oil-free for any oily-skinned gals.

Go for a water or gel-based formula in the summer when your skin doesn’t need as much TLC, and a gel or cream-based formula in the winter when you need deeper hydration.

How-to: Dot moisturizer on your face. Don’t forget all the areas, including your forehead, cheeks, nose, and neck. Gently rub it in using circular motions (with clean hands – duh).
Skin Care Routine - Neutrogena Hydro Boost moisturizerAvailable on Amazon.

A Note on Exfoliator

Exfoliator helps get rid of dead skin and is especially helpful for any dry-skinned folks. We don’t recommend including it in your regular everyday skin care routine, as over-exfoliating can be extremely harmful to your skin, causing breakouts and inflammation.

However, exfoliating your skin once or a few times a week is generally good practice. Feel it out and see how your skin reacts to exfoliation before making it a regular part of your skin care routine.
Skin Care Routine - Paula's Choice ExfoliatorAvailable on Amazon.

Final Thoughts on Skin Care Routines

Just like any daily routine, your skin care routine will work best if you practice it… uhh, daily. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss your routine for a few days here and there, but remember that you probably won’t end up with the results you’re looking for if you just buy these products and never use them. Which is coincidentally the same advice our personal trainer gave us regarding that Peloton we bought a few months ago.

Try out different products but do so slowly. Skin care is delicate, and if something isn’t reacting well with your skin, it’s probably best on someone with a different skin type. Adding one product to your routine at a time will allow you to more easily identify the culprit of any pesky breakouts that may occur when you first start your skin care.


By Laura Davis

Laura was born at the beach in New Jersey, but she'd be the first to tell you her childhood was nothing like Jersey Shore. Sadly. When she's not writing, you can find her reading on her beloved Kindle, listening to true crime podcasts, or looking up adoptable cats.

Outside of her 9-5 as a writer, Laura is the owner of Looks by Laura, an online thrifted clothing boutique. She's the co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast and lifestyle website about navigating that challenging space between adolescence and adulthood. And she makes a mean eggplant parm.

One reply on “Here’s An Easy 5-Step Skin Care Routine That You Won’t Skip”

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