How To Create a Skincare Routine, What To Use & When.

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How to create a skincare regimen? How to decide what you really need and when. Feeling overwhelmed with the bazillion product lines available. My first rule will be: do not impulse shop skincare products on social media…but that seems unrealistic in this digital world – I mean heck you’re reading this online. I get it, it’s hard to know who to trust let alone diagnose your own skin condition or needs.

As a practicing skin therapist for more than 10 years I am often confronted with clients explaining that they have “product confusion”. Meaning they are confused on what to use,  when and in which order. 

Can you relate to this confusion? It’s okay – I’m here to help with a few easy rules.

I believe in the power of ingredients and science to create change in the skin. Perhaps you are someone who is dedicated to an all organic skincare approach. I respect that. I love organic foods and materials as well. My approach to skincare however is a happy marriage of nature + science. If this sounds like you then stick around. While there are sooo many ingredients that contribute to great skincare, it’s important not to simply pick out a product because it’s trending or seems to promise the fountain of youth in a bottle. Manufactures sometimes have a tricky, yet smart, way of selling certain ingredients that may deliver less than satisfying results. One of my top important rules is: Keep It Simple.

Keep It Simple

I can’t generalize here because everyone’s skin is different all of the time. I myself can be dry, sometimes more dry depending on seasons or environmental elements or intrinsic factors so I typically use more hydrating ingredients. I also am prone to breakouts but that doesnt mean I am going to use a salicylic acid cleanser daily. I keep it simple with these 5 products in this order of usage:

  1. Cleanser
  2. Exfoliant
  3. Serum
  4. Moisturizer
  5. SPF

You have to love all of your products, otherwise you’ll find yourself not using them. 


It may seem obvious that cleanser is the first step but I have been asked that question before, and when to cleanse? The rule of thumb here is 2/day morning and night with night being 100% the most important. It’s not uncommon to use 2 different cleansers for morning vs night if you are a bit more savvy or have a condition, let’s say acne. But I thought you said keep it simple? Well yes if you have normal skin with minimal skin concerns/conditions. When acne is present it might be necessary to use a salicylic acid wash 1 – 4 times a week therefore needing something gentler the other days. Ingredients are fun and complex but rarely does one cover it all. 


Exfoliating or resurfacing your skin is important to reveal healthy new skin. Several types of exfoliating ingredients and products exist. From scrubs to leave-on and gentle to chemical peels. When exfoliating your skin at home the rule is keep it gentle and less is more. It is very easy to over-exfoliate your skin because you may love the way your skin feels and looks after polishing it with an alpha hydroxy acid but our delicate barrier is far more important in maintaining that fresh and bright appearance. This is probably one of the hardest products to choose in my opinion because they have active ingredients that must be used in a specific way. Please never attempt to give yourself a chemical peel without proper instruction and better yet leave it to the professionals to administer one. Exfoliating your skin 2-3 times a week is a safe amount with a gentle resurfacing medium. Morning or night is optional but I prefer night and I like to dedicate specific days of the week so that I stay consistent.


My absolute favorite products to use in my own personal routine are my serum(s). Yes I love to use 1, 2 or even sometimes 3. But when just starting out 1 is a good way to amp up results. I like to say serums are the muscles of skincare. Again, serums come in different forms but are all usually concentrated to provide quality ingredients and maximum results. However, know this…most of your serums are not one and done. Once you finish your bottle of serum be prepared to purchase another and keep that cycle going. So I bet you’re asking, “but which serum do I choose?” Here are my 2 most favorite ingredients that should be used as serums. Vitamin C and Vitamin A:  both of these also come in several forms therefore researching or seeking professional advice is highly recommended. I won’t get into the varying forms here but stick around for future posts. I will however explain why these are my favorite and why they should be yours too. 

Vitamin C is the mecca of skin protection, it’s the anti-scurvy of aging. What the heck is scurvy!? Well, it’s basically a disease from lack of vitamin C. It is an essential vitamin that our body requires. So why not supplement it? Well it’s not as easy as simply applying a vitamin C oil topically to your skin to truly receive the benefits. The skin, an organ, requires a certain delivery method or penetration and therefore formulation is important. There a many forms; some more effective than others and for specific skin conditions. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects skin cells from damaging, inhibits melanin production which helps to lighten visible hyperpigmentation, brown spots and even out skin tone. Vitamin C should be used daily in the a.m. as it naturally contains sun protection and helps the skin to feel more hydrated and appear glowing. I LOVE Vitamin C!

Vitamin A is a superstar nutrient important for cell growth. With so many benefits for anti-aging as well as its ability to fight acne, vitamin A – found in retinol/retinoic acid is a must in anyone’s skin health routine. Our body actually is designed with retinol receptors to welcome this ingredient in and upregulate its benefits to fight wrinkles, discoloration and even acne. There are rules with vitamin A as well, skincare products can be found with many different derivatives or formulations so if you are unsure how to read the ingredients then again I recommend seeking out professional advice for an effective retinol product. In most cases vitamin A/retinol should be applied in the p.m. and always complimented with SPF in the a.m.


Moisturizers are a huge must in a routine and that includes both morning and night. Not all moisturizers are created equally. I have heard many clients explain their dislike for moisturizers and in all cases it’s because it wasn’t right for their specific skin type or condition. I like to say moisturizers are like clothes or even a coat for our body. Their main purpose is to protect. They are typically thicker and therefore go on last. Yet again with all products, moisturizers are available with many different types of ingredients and viscosity. I like to keep my moisturizer simple and appropriate for my needs. Since my skin tends to be dry, I like a medium to heavy moisturizer that hydrates. In the summer I may switch to something of a gel consistency for the daytime. Without moisturizers your skin is more susceptible to free radicals and environmental pollutants and irritants. You don’t go out without your pants so don’t go out without your moisturizer.

Ok that leads me to SPF – the final step before makeup (if wearing). I am not the first nor will I be the last to lecture about the importance of wearing SPF EVERYDAY! Please do not argue that you work inside or rarely spend time outside. Everyday exposure to even a small amount of UV adds up. Inside lights may have electrons that are harmful to the skin. Do you have houseplants that thrive indoors? Then sunlight is getting in! Finding an SPF that you like will help you to wear it. Most people don’t love SPF that is chalky or leaves a white hue, those are physical and while they have great benefits, there are so many options for SPF available.  SPF is such an important tool against aging and when I meet people concerned with aging that say they do not wear SPF, well I can’t help but think, ” I told you so”.  SPF should be worn daily in the morning and reapplied as needed with outdoor activity. Not sure how much SPF, 15, 30 or 100 to use? Ask a professional because those numbers actually have a scientific purpose.

If you are wondering about other products such as eye creams, masks, toners, oils, etc…There are places for those products as well. My recommendation is get into a habit of those top 5 first and slowly add in others as needed. If your primary concern is undereye puffiness or darkness, then absolutely add an eye solution otherwise it’s not a dire necessity. 

Want to learn more about skincare ingredients and geek out with me? Schedule a consultation at Amazing Face Spa. Leave your comments and questions below.

article post written by Angela Miles. copyright Angela Miles – All Rights Reserved