How to Build Your Skincare Routine

I’m just going to say it: skincare is overwhelming. There are so many products on the market that claim to be the key to gorgeous skin, but the truth is that it’s a lot more complex than that. Our skin is impacted by diet, hydration, genetics, pollution, stress, hormones, and more! It would be crazy to think any one product could work for everyone. So, how do we get the skin of our dreams?

In this post, I’m sharing some of the basics of building a skincare routine, my current routine, and a template for you to build your own! This really only scratches the surface of skincare, but will give you a great starting point if you want to learn more.

Besides the products themselves, the key components of a skincare routine are timing, frequency, order of application, and a fair dose of trial and error.

  • Products – should be chosen based on your skin type and goals
  • Timing – depends on the products themselves, your skin goals, and your skin’s tolerance. Some products should be used in the morning, at night, or both
  • Frequency – some products are gentle enough for daily use, while others should be used weekly or monthly for best results
  • Order of Application – putting your products on in a certain order allows them to penetrate and work together optimally. The rule of thumb is to layer thinnest to thickest!
  • Trial and Error – unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet. Skincare is a game of chance (your genetics) and a big science experiment with a lot of variables. There is a high probability that some products just won’t work for you. However, weeding them out will get you closer to finding your ~holy grail~ products!

The main products in a skincare routine are:

  • Cleansers – wash the skin to remove impurities
  • Moisturizers – restore the moisture barrier and hydrate the skin
  • “Actives” – products that change the skin, usually for acne or anti-aging purposes
  • SPF – sun protection is mandatory, y’all. If you can see outside without a flashlight, you should be wearing sunscreen.


Choose a cleanser that works best for your skin type: creamy for dry skin, foaming for oily skin. Avoid scrubs or anything with exfoliating beads. Exfoliating is an important part of the routine, but should be kept separate from cleansing. Massage your cleanser into your skin for a whole minute before rinsing.


For oily skin, opt for a gel or lotion. For dry skin, choose a lotion or a cream. You may want to have two different moisturizers for day and night: a lighter option for day-wear and a richer product to repair your skin overnight.

Choosing Actives

Actives are an optional component of your routine, but are popular for targeting certain conditions, like acne or fine lines, or perfecting skin texture and brightness. If your skin is inflamed and sensitive, it’s best to keep it simple and stick to cleansers and moisturizers only until you find a combination that calms your skin. If your skin is in decent condition but you have a few areas you’d like to improve, you could introduce serums to perfect your skin.


The best sunscreen is whichever one you will wear every single day, so it’s a very personal choice. My absolute favorite is the Japanese Biore UV Aqua Rich sunscreen (Amazon, $24.70 for a pack of two) and it seems to be suitable for all skin types. I don’t like reapplying sunscreen after I’ve applied makeup, so I use a spray SPF if I need to touch up throughout the day. My favorite is Supergoop! Setting Mist (Sephora, $12) because it doesn’t disturb my makeup (in fact, it sets it!), it smells nice, and it comes in a perfect travel size.

Seasonal Skincare

The winter months tend to be dryer and harsher on our skin. To combat this, you may want to:

  • opt for thicker, richer moisturizers
  • add a facial oil to your routine
  • use cream makeup in place of powders
  • carry a facial spray to hydrate on the go

My Current Routine

The graphic below details my current skincare routine. I have dry skin with some oiliness in the t-zone area. Because my skin is dry, I usually cleanse once at night and just splash with water in the morning. I use Caffeine Solution (Sephora, $6.70) under my eyes and Matrixyl peptide solution (Sephora, $11.50) all over as my morning actives. I use Curology at night only, because tretinoin breaks down in sunlight. To combat winter dryness, I have incorporated maracuja oil morning and night, I use hyaluronic acid sheet masks more frequently, and I carry Mario Badescu facial spray with me to spritz as soon as my skin starts to feel tight.

skincare routine template

Your Routine!

You can use the template below to document your current routine and tweak it to perfection! The template assumes that eye makeup has been removed prior to cleansing, because 1) you should be removing your makeup daily; and 2) cleansers alone probably won’t be able to remove it all.

If you are just starting a dedicated skincare routine, I would recommend printing this template, filling it out and including the date you’re starting the routine, and taping it to your mirror. This will keep you accountable as well as keep track of how long you’ve been using your routine, which makes it easier to track changes as you figure out which products are working for you and which you want to replace.

skincare routine template (1)

Thanks for reading! I hope this was helpful to you. If it was, please share this post with a friend!

2 thoughts on “How to Build Your Skincare Routine”

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