The skincare world can feel like an overwhelming place. There are countless bottles, tubes and tubs, each with unique formulations and uses for specific skin types. Adding “morning versus evening” into the mix may just make your head spin, but we’re here to tell you to not stress it — skincare should be effective, but also part of a relaxing ritual you use to bookend your day. And once you break down the basics, it’s actually pretty straightforward. Below we’ve equipped you with essential knowledge of how to build a skincare routine, plus examples of when to use some of our most beloved skincare formulas.
Is It Really That Important to Divide Your Skincare into AM and PM?
The first question from any minimalist is whether you really, truly need to split your morning and evening routines. The short answer is yes (as you probably guessed), but you don’t have to alter that much.
“The important differences between your morning and night routines will be the sun protection needed in the morning versus the overnight treatment and repair you obtain while sleeping,” says Blass Laner, who oversees global education here at bareMinerals. “During the day, your skin is in its defense mode, protecting itself from pollution, stress, aggressors and the environment.” Conversely, evening is prime time for your skin to repair itself both naturally and via product application. Yep, while you’re catching all those zzzs, your skin is actually working overtime — something that’s called chronobiology. According to Lee Etheridge, our Executive Director of Global Education & Consumer Experience, this is the scientific theory that your skin is better able to repair itself in the evening, and it’s defined by a few certain biological functions: “To begin, skin temperature goes up half a degree, creating a spa-like environment for your skin at night. Also, cellular renewal occurs twice as frequently while sleeping than while awake and your lymphatic drainage system turns on at night, which purges toxins and waste from your skin,” she notes. “Given all this, research shows that skin is more receptive to repair treatments in the evening.”
What Your Best Morning Skincare Routine Should Look Like
Your morning routine ought to begin with a gentle facial cleanser to remove overnight sweat, excess sebum, lingering product and dead skin cells.
“Because your skin has been working overnight, you’ll want to be gentle in the morning,” says Blass. “Choose a lighter formula, steering clear from exfoliators or anything harsh.”
Our pick: PURE PLUSH Gentle Deep Cleansing Foam, a creamy cleanser that lathers without stripping your skin.
After toning to rebalance the pH levels of your skin, apply moisturizing products, including both serums and creams. Go for something that contains antioxidants, which protect your skin from free radical damage caused by environmental pollutants and the sun.
Our picks: SKINLONGEVITY Long Life Herb Serum is formulated with a unique herb from Okinawa, Japan that helps to strengthen skin’s barrier, so it can better resist damage. It also has antioxidant-rich California Poppy and can be applied on any skin type before the SPF moisturizer of your choice. Pair it with SKINLONGEVITY Long Life Herb Eye Cream for an extra hydration boost around the dry, delicate eye area.
The most important morning skincare product you should apply is a broad-spectrum SPF. This protects your skin from burning, sun-related damage (such as spots, wrinkles, and sagging), and, most importantly, skin cancer. About a dime-sized amount for your face is recommended, and it should go on underneath any cosmetics. (You still need to apply a separate SPF even if your makeup contains SPF. The amount of makeup you apply is simply too small for adequate coverage).
Our pick: SKINLONGEVITY Vital Power Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 is so light you won’t even notice it’s there, shielding you from those potent UV rays while doubling as your daily moisturizer.
Your Morning Routine Cheat Sheet:
- Gentle cleanser
- Hydration with antioxidants
- Eye cream
What Your Best Evening Skincare Routine Should Include
This evening regimen is a bit more involved, but your skin will thank you for going the extra mile. Besides, what’s better than decompressing with a few minutes of skincare TLC and alone time?
At night, we recommend starting with a pre-cleansing product that removes grime, sebum and makeup.
Our pick: SMOOTHNESS Hydrating Cleansing Oil, which takes off even waterproof eye makeup, without stripping skin.
After pre-cleansing, cleanse again with a richer formula.
Our picks: That PURE PLUSH Cleanser from your morning routine is a great option. If you have oily skin, try CLAY CHAMELEON Transforming Purifying Cleanser.
After cleansing and following up with a toner, you can address specific skin concerns with any treatments, applying pre-serum because this will allow the product to be as close to your skin as possible, which means it can better penetrate and work its magic. A dermatologist favorite is retinol, which not only helps clarify the skin, but has been scientifically shown to reduce and prevent signs of aging when used consistently. You can find over-the-counter retinol products, or your dermatologist can prescribe a retinoic acid if you want something stronger. If you’ve tried retinol but can’t get the results you want because of irritation, Phyto-Retinol could be the answer. This unique plant-based alternative gives you all those great retinol results, without the harsh side effects, and the 10% Concentrate is ideal as a night treatment. Another example of a treatment is a chemical exfoliator, which is typically formulated with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). Of note: you should never apply retinol and another active treatment on the same night; alternating evenings is essential.
Following your treatment, apply your non-active serum of choice for added radiance.
Our picks: That morning SKINLONGEVITY Long Life Herb Serum is great for all around skin TLC.
“Eye cream is next, as you want to build up products from lightest consistency to heaviest,” notes Blass.
Our picks: Minimalists, go for that morning SKINLONGEVITY Eye Cream. For something a bit richer, double up on your Phyto-Retinol with AGELESS Phyto-Retinol Eye Cream.
Like the morning, you’ll want to follow up with an all-over facial moisture. Blass says “You can use something with more substance at night” — remember, it’s all about overnight restoration here.
Our picks: BUTTER DRENCH Restorative Rich Cream is as luxurious as it sounds; it’s ideal for skin types craving some serious hydration.
Your Evening Routine Cheat Sheet:
- Pre-cleanser and cleanser
- Eye cream
Skincare routines? They’re easy! We hope you’ll enjoy more glow-y skin days in your future.