How to Build a Skincare Routine That Works for You

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Skincare. We all need it. But where do we even start? Do we follow the latest TikTok trends?  Subscribe to YouTube health and beauty channels? Make expensive and time-consuming trips to the dermatologist? It can be overwhelming to develop a good skincare routine that is truly effective while staying convenient enough to maintain.

Skincare is essentially an individual adventure. Copying the latest influencer’s routine may or may not work for your skin’s specific needs. The idea that if you do what they do, you’ll get what they get does not apply in skincare. It’s important to understand your skin type as well as the distinct hurdles between you and your best face.

Before building your routine, it is helpful to pick one or two definitive skincare goals. These might involve evening out skin tone or texture, identifying effective acne treatment, correcting pigmentation issues, or treating dry skin. This way you can be sure you are targeting your complexion’s unique needs while crafting your routine.

In this article, we’ll discuss the fundamentals of creating a basic skincare routine that works for you.


Every day, your face comes into contact with dirt, bacteria, and pollutants that can clog pores, lead to breakouts, and increase the signs of aging. Washing your face in the morning and at night is essential to any skincare routine.

When selecting a cleanser, less can be more. Gentle cleansers are a safe choice for all skin types and won’t strip or damage the skin. Look for noncomedogenic products, which just means these products shouldn’t clog pores or cause more acne. After cleansing, your face should be clean without feeling squeaky or taut.

If you have especially oily skin or wear makeup, a double cleanse might be necessary. It may sound counterintuitive, but begin with an oil-based cleanser, followed by a second wash with a water-based cleanser. Avoid scrubbing your face vigorously, as this will cause additional damage to your skin.


While not considered necessary by everyone, toners can do much to brighten and balance your complexion. A toner’s job is to refresh skin after cleansing and prepare it for the rest of your skincare regimen.

Harsh “astringent” toners are a thing of the past. Today’s toners are made for every skin type and are designed to hydrate the skin, leaving it dewy and glowing. Avoid products with alcohol, fragrances, or colors, as these can irritate and overdry your skin. Some ingredients to look for when choosing a toner are alpha and beta hydroxy acids, vitamins E and C, and hyaluronic acid.

Treatments and Serums

This step is where your particular skin goals really come into play. Treatments and serums are products containing specific active ingredients (or “actives”) that are used to manage and clear up concerning skin issues.

This is probably the most confusing part of building a personalized skincare routine. Consequently, it’s easy to make the costly mistake of buying products that you’re not sure when or how to use. Or worse, you may purchase products that do nothing to treat your actual skin problems.

If you’re hoping to clear up acne, look for serums and treatments that contain retinoids, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and/or azelaic acid. Those wishing to correct or stave off the signs of aging should seek products that include retinoids, vitamin C, niacinamide, and/or high-strength exfoliants. Serums that incorporate retinoids, vitamin C, hydroquinone, and/or azaleic acid as actives are well suited for treating discoloration or hyperpigmentation. By identifying actives aimed at addressing your particular skin issues, you’ll avoid choosing products that do your face no good.


As most people know, moisturizers are used to hydrate skin. They also lock in residual moisture from other skincare products, such as your cleanser. It is beneficial to use a moisturizer every day, all year round. Skin naturally loses moisture throughout the day, and this phenomenon tends to get more pronounced as we age.

This is another area where basic is better. You can use a light moisturizer with an SPF in the mornings and a heavier moisturizer for extra skin repair at night. However, if you have especially dry skin, there is nothing wrong with using a thicker moisturizer twice daily.

As with other skincare products, moisturizers can be customized to assist with your personal skincare goals. There are moisturizers with salicylic acid to help with acne or those with retinol and hyaluronic acid to reduce lines and wrinkles.


There are as many varieties of sunscreen as there are people who use them. But the best sunscreen is the one that you are willing to use every day. UV rays are responsible for skin cancer as well as many signs of aging. Look for SPFs of at least 30 and labels noting “broad spectrum” coverage to be sure you are getting adequate protection from the sun.

Even if your moisturizer contains an SPF, it is still recommended to apply sunscreen whenever you’re spending time outdoors. Both chemical and mineral sunscreens do a great job of protecting your skin, with only minor differences in application and action.

Chemical sunscreens need 20 minutes to be effective, so more planning will be required with this option. These types of sunscreens are absorbed into the skin and typically require less product for good coverage. Mineral sunscreens, on the other hand, rest on top of the skin and start working immediately. The downsides are these products leave a visible white film and will need to be applied more frequently.

The most important part of choosing your sunscreen is not to skip it! Protecting your skin should be a top priority to ensure all of your previous skincare efforts were not wasted.

Whether you’re starting a skincare routine for the first time or just refreshing current practices, it’s important to give your skin time to adjust. Consistency is key, and most skincare specialists recommend sticking to a routine for at least six weeks before making changes. However, if you experience an allergic or otherwise negative reaction to a product, you should discontinue its use immediately.

Our skin is our largest organ, and there’s no doubt that we should be giving it the daily attention it needs. That means keeping it clean, nourished, and protected. With a good skincare routine tailored to your needs, you can be sure you’ll be putting your best face forward!

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Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

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