I’ll give you one better, and answer for both daytime and night time routines.
When it comes to building your routine, simplicity, consistency and specify are key. I know it’s incredibly easy to start your own bathroom cabinet hoard of serums, moisturisers and other assorted goodies, but you really don’t need an army. Skincare is exciting, but finding the one(s) is far more rewarding.
We’ll start at the end, in the evening… (Or keep scrolling for a visual guide for building your routine below)
Our basics are cleanse, tone, serum, and moisturise. The products you use at night should clean, balance, and repair your skin.
The obvious first step, cleaning your face. Remove all the excess oils, dirt and other pollutants with your favourite cleanser. Look for something gentle.
If you’re a makeup wearer, the best way to make sure you’re not going to bed with anything left on your face is to double cleanse first with an oil cleanser.
Toners were once formulated to rebalance your skin after a harsh face wash, but now deliver far more benefits. Good for removing any lingering bits, the right one will help hydrate and calm your skin, and even skin tone.
Now you get to be a little more specific with your skin woes. Without going overboard, all you need is one or two serums which target things like dryness, breakouts and signs of ageing.
A good moisturiser, or night cream, will lock in the previous products and protect them (and their effects) whilst you sleep, ensuring the best chance at reaping their benefits and waking up with repaired, soft skin.
The basics, easy! If you’re just starting out, or just know you’ll pick sleep over skincare 6 nights out of 7, these are the steps not to miss. But now the fun part...
Who doesn’t love a good face mask? Whether its your biweekly treat, or a regular application, the best time to put on a mask is after cleansing. Using it first is just going to trap all the day’s grime underneath it, which will then block the actives from doing their jobs. Waiting until later poses the risk of removing your toner, serums etc. from your skin when you wash it off.
As a general rule of thumb, don't use a mask more than two or three times per week, as to not irritate your skin.
Let’s not forget about our eyes! After a long day it’s nice to not look completely bedraggled. Best applied in between Toning and your serums, they act as a protector for your delicate under eye area, as well as whatever other benefits it boasts. They’ll make sure any actives a little too intense for that skin aren’t going to do any damage.
This is an either/or kind of product, unless you have particularly dry skin, or are using it to target specific areas. Packing a strong hydration punch, an oil can give your skin a more intense boost than your regular moisturiser.
Another moisturiser alternative you might use is an overnight face mask.
Excellent! You’ve now had a beautiful night’s sleep, and are awake and ready to start the day…
No need to double up this time, a simple cleanse or micellar water can help remove any dirt or oil accumulated during the night, or an overnight mask, before you lock them in with your morning products.
You know the drill now, let’s balance out your skin and keep it clear for the next step.
Keep your skin moisturised and happy, with a light product. Look out for ingredients that have pollution-protection, to help keep your skin safe from daily damage. One like, say, the Ginger Root Daily Moisturiser?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, use SPF! UV rays can damage your skin from just being outside, whether or not the sun is shining. If you have a moisturiser with an SPF factor, great! Otherwise you’ll want to layer them; a light layer of moisturiser, give it time to properly absorb, and then your sunscreen over the top.
And of course there are morning extras as well!
If you wake up feeling your eyes are looking a bit dark or heavy, you might want to perk them up with something before you can get to a coffee. Because it’s such a delicate area, make sure your skin is not becoming agitated by too much product.
You might like to use a serum in the morning as well, if you feel your woes need a double targeting. For normal and sensitive skin types, this is probably not as pertinent, however many serums do also act as a great base for makeup.
Last but not least…
In the morning, you might ask? Well, okay, this errs more on the side of personal preference. There is no real consensus on which time of day is better, but rather depends on your skin type, and the other products you are using.
If you wear makeup, exfoliating at night might be the better choice for you, as another way to make sure your skin is completely clear when you go to bed. However, if you use more powerful products at night, exfoliation could increase skin irritation. If you use Retinol, steer very clear from exfoliating at the same time.
If you feel you wake up to dull, or oily, skin, the morning might be the golden hour to remove any dead skin to start your day fresh. You might find makeup application smoother after exfoliating. Whichever you pick, make sure the exfoliants are gentle, with no large and potentially jagged particles that could damage your skin.
If you prefer chemical exfoliants, please only use it at night. They can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays, which is obviously not good as you’re about to tackle the day!
And you’re ready to head out the door! But that was a large chunk of information, so let’s recap...
Some of you use up to ten products in your routine, and colour me impressed! I prefer to keep it as simple as possible.
Want more specific recommendations to your skin type? All you have to do is ask! Our team at Q+A cover the spectrum of skin types and skin woes so we can give you personal suggestions based on our experiences. Pop over to our Instagram and Lucy, our social media extraordinaire, is at the ready for all your comments and questions.
Think we missed a vital step? I'd love to hear it!
Happy routine building,
Amy @ Team Q+A
Online community coordinator at Q+A and recovering skincare stockpiler