If you’re like us, most days your morning skin care routine consists of splashing water on your face and running out the door. It’s hard to find the time to do much more than that. But having some sort of a morning skincare routine is an important way to hydrate, nourish and protect mature skin, says Ashley Magovern, MD, board certified dermatologist and medical advisor for DermStore. “As we age, the skin thins, and production of collagen and elastin naturally reduces,” explains Dr. Magovern. “To combat these natural signs of aging, consistent use of key anti-aging ingredients will help strengthen the skin barrier, reduce hyperpigmentation and prevent further damage from environmental stressors.” The good news? You don’t need to build in more than a few extra minutes for a morning skin care routine. Keep scrolling for Dr. Magovern’s smart tips to making it work for you in a flash!
What’s the importance of a morning skin care routine?
Dermatologists say that having a morning skin care routine is just as important as, say, brushing your teeth in the morning. Whether your skin is oily, dry or a combination of both, implementing a few products into your morning ritual can make a huge difference. “A consistent morning skincare routine is important in order to replenish moisture from overnight water loss,” says Dr. Magovern. It also protects your skin from the environmental stressors that you’ll face during the day like pollution, harmful sun rays, harsh winds and tobacco smoke, to name a few.
Why is it especially important for mature skin?
As we age, we produce less collagen, our hormones fluctuate, our skin loses elasticity, our dark spots multiply, our eyelids begin to droop and we develop more fine lines and wrinkles. A morning skincare routine that incorporates ingredients like vitamin C, ceramides, niacinamide and SPF can combat all of these changes and help prevent them from getting worse, affirms Dr. Magovern.
The best morning skin care routine for anyone
Thankfully, most skin care products are now infused with a plethora of potent ingredients that fight multiple issues at once, ensuring your morning skin care routine won’t require a ton of steps or products. So you can get ready for the day in no time and without breaking the bank. Simply follow this easy 4-step routine:
Morning skin care routine step 1: Cleanser
As you sleep, your skin picks up residue from your pillow, grime from your hair/hair products or sweat from hot flashes, so cleaning it off first thing is key.
For dry skin
One cleanser we love, especially for dry skin? La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser (Buy from DermStore, $16.99). It gently cleanses dry skin without stripping it of its natural oils while also replenishing that lost moisture from sleep.
For oily skin
If you lean more on the oily side, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Purifying Foaming Cleanser (Buy from DermStore, $16.99) is made with antioxidants, ceramides and niacinamide, all of which help to stabilize oil production, ensuring your skin is not producing too much or too little oil. Plus, cleansers that foam are great for oily skin because of their pore-penetrating capabilities, says Dr. Magovern.
For sensitive skin
Skin get irritated easily? Dr. Magovern recommends a gentle cleanser like Dermalogica’s UltraCalming Cleanser (Buy from DermStore, $42). “It’s an extremely gentle face wash that calms skin and guards against future inflammation.”
Morning skin care routine step 2: Toner
The good thing about this step? Not everyone needs it, so if you’re pressed for time, it’s a good one to skip. But why use toner at all? For one, it rids skin of any excess oil or grime you may have missed in step one. Also, since cleansers can sometimes disrupt the skin’s natural pH balance, a good toner can help to restore those levels, which is important for maintaining healthy skin. Plus, toner preps the skin for the next steps in your morning skincare routine. It creates a smooth canvas for the application of serums, moisturizers and other products.
Ingredients in toners vary, explains Dr. Magovern, but most contain at least some or all of the following:
- Water (Aqua): The base of many toners is water, which provides a liquid consistency.
- Humectants: These are ingredients that help attract and retain moisture. Common humectants in toners include glycerin and hyaluronic acid.
- Botanical extracts: Toners often contain plant extracts such as chamomile, aloe vera or calendula. These can have soothing and calming effects on the skin.
- Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHAs/BHAs): Some toners may include exfoliating acids like glycolic acid (AHA) or salicylic acid (BHA) to help remove dead skin cells and promote skin renewal.
- Antioxidants: Ingredients like vitamin C or green tea extract may be added for their antioxidant properties, which can help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.
- Alcohol or witch hazel: These are astringents that help to tighten pores. However, these ingredients can be drying for some individuals, so alcohol-free options are also available.
“If you have dry skin, I recommend using an astringent toner once a week at most, perhaps even every other week or once a month. These powerful BHAs and AHAs can strip skin and cause further irritation if used on dry skin types,” explains Dr. Magovern. “Even for oily skin types, I recommend these one to two times a week max.”
Toner for dry skin
“A good, affordable toner for dry skin is CeraVe’s Hydrating Toner for Face (Buy from Amazon, $9.86). This drugstore gem is made with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and ceramides — and it’s great for sensitive skin,” says Dr. Magovern.
Toner for oily skin
An astringent toner that reduces oil and unclogs pores by exfoliating skin? Kiehl’s Blue Astringent Herbal Lotion Toner (Buy from Ulta, $25). It also balances areas on the face that are more prone to oil production.
Morning skin care routine step 3: Serum
This is where you can really focus on your skin’s particular needs. Serums contain a high concentration of active ingredients like antioxidants, vitamins, peptides and hyaluronic acid. This allows for more effective and targeted treatment of specific skin issues. Plus, they are lightweight, which allows them to be quickly absorbed by the skin. This ensures that the active ingredients penetrate deeply into the skin, delivering their benefits efficiently
Serum for dull skin
Brighten up your complexion with a vitamin C-infused serum like ITK Brightening Vitamin Serum with Vitamin C (Buy from Walmart, $14.97). “Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that, beyond its brightening benefits, protects and repairs against environmental damage. It tackles fine lines, wrinkles, texture issue and more.” says Dr. Magovern.
Serum for dry skin
Dr. Magovern says, “Hydration is necessary to keep the skin clear and healthy, especially when using exfoliating products and toners in your routine.” The best ingredient to do that? Hyaluronic acid because “they provide a lightweight hydration that won’t clog pores.” One to try: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 Hydrating Serum (Buy from Sephora, $8.90). Skin will feel soft and look plump and supple after use.
Serum for dark spots
Struggle with discoloration from dark spots, acne scars, melasma or sun damage? Look for a serum containing tranexamic acid. The anti-inflammatory ingredient helps fade hyperpigmentation. One to try: Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum (Buy from Ulta, $12).
Serum for fine lines
Target fine lines and wrinkles with a serum made with peptides like The INKEY List
Collagen Booster Firming Peptide Serum (Buy from Sephora, $16). Its two key ingredients are collagen and peptides, both of which are essential for youthful skin. Peptides promote collagen production which help build skin’s elasticity.
Morning skin care routine step 4: Moisturize
Replenish and rehydrate skin in the morning with a moisturizer. Dr. Magovern advises using one that has SPF in it, so you have one less step in your morning skin care routine.
Moisturizer with SPF for oily skin
If you’re worried about moisturizer with sunscreen making your skin look greasy and even more oily, fear not. Differin’s Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30 (Buy from Ulta, $15.99) does exactly what it claims: absorbs oil while leaving your skin sufficiently hydrated.
Moisturizer with SPF for dry skin
For dry skin, Dr. Magovern recommends a moisturizer with “humectants, including glycerin, hyaluronic acid and lactic acid, which retain and draw moisture to the top layer of skin.” The Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Hyaluronic Cloud Moisturizer (Buy from Amazon, $31.95) is made with hyaluronic acid for all-day hydration and SPF 45 for UVA and UVB protection.
Have an extra minute to spare? Add these steps
Apply an eye cream
Applying a cream under the eye is an important (though not essential) step. It can help depuff, reverse discoloration and rehydrate the skin under the eyes. One we like? ITK’s Day + Night Eye Cream Duo (Buy from Walmart, $14.97), which does double duty since it has a cream made for night time use too.
Apply a lip balm
Swiping on a hydrating lip balm can help soothe dry, cracked lips and give your pout some shine and volume.
One we like: Aquaphor Lip Repair (Buy from Amazon, $7.83 for 2-pack) because it’s made with shea butter, vitamins and chamomile essence, all of which nourish dry lips. For an added bonus, you can even swipe a bit of Aquaphor on eyelashes for a dewy, natural eye look.
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