Your Daytime Skin Routine
So you want to start a skincare routine, but you have some questions: How many products do you have to use? Which ones are right for your skin? In what order should you be applying these products? And what do those products even do?
To get the most benefit out of regular skincare regimen, Dr. Ashley Magovern, board-certified dermatologist and owner and founder of Manhattan Dermatology, says to follow three simple steps: cleanse, treat, and moisturize. You're probably already familiar with cleansing and moisturizing, but what does "treating" your skin involve?
According to Dr. Magovern, it means using serums or creams packed full of skincare superheroes like vitamin C, retinol, alpha hydroxy acid, and more. "I think that adding a middle step in between the cleansing and moisturizing components is really important," says Dr. Magovern. "It can make a huge difference over time and in the health of your skin and just in the appearance and the aging of your skin."
Below, Dr. Magovern offers a basic step-by-step skincare routine to use as a blueprint for your own regimen, with product recommendations tested by the GH Beauty Lab, dermatologist favorites, and best-selling online picks. Of course, everyone's skin is different, so adjust based on what works for your age and skin type.
Your Daytime Skincare Routine
Cleansing is the first step of any good skincare routine. The type of cleanser you use matters more than you think it does — gentle face washes are the way to go, particularly if you plan on using more active ingredients down the line. "Too many people cleanse too much or too often or with a cleanser that's too harsh, and it will actually break down your skin barrier," warns Dr. Mag
Toner is an optional step, but if you have a toner you like, you should absolutely use it. Dr. Magovern says that toner can be a great way to balance your skin's pH. If you have acne-prone skin, look for a toner with ingredients like salicylic acid to calm breakouts. If you have dry or sensitive skin, opt for a hydrating toner to soothe.
3. Vitamin C Serum
When it comes to serums, Dr. Magovern recommends using a vitamin C serum during the day. "I feel like everybody should use vitamin C, no matter what your age, even starting in your 20s," says Dr. Magovern. "It helps reverse a lot of the damage that we get from the sun and pollution." When using a vitamin C serum, look for one that contains a stable form of vitamin C, so that the molecule will actually be able to soak into your skin.
4. Eye Cream
Eye creams fall into the "treat" category. Dab on eye cream using your ring finger (your weakest finger) so you don't unintentionally cause damage to your eye area.
After you've treated your skin, it's time to moisturize. Moisturizer keeps your skin hydrated and helps strengthen your skin barrier. For daytime use, opt for a lighter moisturizer that will soak in quickly and won't cause pilling under makeup.
This is the most important step in your skincare routine. "If you don't wear sunscreen, it's like you might as well not do any of those other steps," says Dr. Magovern. "The sun is the number one reason why people's skin will age prematurely." Heads up: Protecting your skin from the sun is important even if you're spending your days indoors, as UV rays can still come in through the windows.