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Do You Really Need a Separate Skincare Routine for Morning and Night?

If you’ve spent time looking for skincare tips online you know that there’s a lot of information out there. It can get pretty overwhelming and sometimes contradictory. 

One thing that holds true is the need for a morning skincare routine and an evening (before bed) skincare routine. Seems simple enough, right?

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Then come the tips on how many times a week to exfoliate, which time of day is best for serums, or when to apply a face mask. Some beauty blogs suggest only using serums at night and only applying toner in the morning. Others tell you how your morning and evening routines can vary in order to get the most out of your products. 

All of these suggestions on optimal skincare product use can become seriously time-consuming and take more brainpower than many of us want to spend on skincare. This begs the question, do we really need separate skincare routines for morning and evening? 

In the simplest form, we should be cleansing our skin twice a day; in the morning and at night. We know when we cleanse, our skin can become dry so we have to apply a moisturizer. So, at the very minimum, we are washing our face and applying moisturizer twice a day. But is that enough? Can we keep a simple routine like this for the morning and night? 

The short answer is: yes. But it's a little more complicated than that.

Not everyone needs a super extensive morning and evening skincare routine to achieve their healthiest skin. However, you have to stick to a pretty clean diet (remember skin is affected from the inside out), regular exercise, plenty of sleep and water, and of course SPF daily.

What many of us struggle with is the junk we like to put into our bodies. We’re talking about excess sugar, alcohol, nicotine, and processed foods. All of these contribute to how our skin looks and feels.

When you want to indulge in these unhealthy activities, your skin may take a toll - unless you have amazing (and unfair!) genes. The majority of us need to rely on products to supplement the lifestyle choices we make.

For example, if you notice dark circles under your eyes are more prevalent, you could use an under-eye corrector serum. If you’re wanting to target fine lines and wrinkles, you could use a resveratrol or vitamin A product. 

The bottom line is, if you want to start using these products to balance your lifestyle and skin health, it doesn’t have to be as complicated as many beauty blogs and brands make it seem. 

The importance of a gentle cleanser

Let's start with the basics. The most important first step in a skincare routine is cleansing. Cleansing preps your skin for serums, exfoliants, and masks. A cleanser removes dirt and debris from your pores allowing a fresh canvas for other products to penetrate deep and do the hard work.

You don't want your cleanser to contain too harsh of chemicals because a cleanser will naturally dry your skin out already. If your cleanser contains too strong of ingredients, it may result in skin irritation.

Another thing about finding a gentle daily cleanser is that they typically work on all skin types. So whether you have oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, or combination skin, you can always rely on a gentle cleanser.

Once your skin is clean, you can buff away dead skin cells with exfoliants, target dark circles with eye cream, or brighten your ton with vitamin c serum. There's a product for just about everything.

The point is, your routine can evolve and change depending on your needs, but you'll always need to cleanse the skin first.

The difference between daytime skincare vs. nighttime skincare

Say you've just purchased a ton of new products and you're ready to start your skincare journey. You've done the research on your skin type, and found the products that work for you. Now, you just need to know when to use them.

For most products, twice a day is the recommended use which is why many people find it easy to build routines around the times they wake up and the times they go to bed.

A morning routine can be thought of as a time to prep the skin for the day. You want to apply products that will protect your skin from sun exposure, dirt, pollution, and allergens.

A nighttime routine can be thought of as a time to address skin issues before a regenerative night of sleep. In other words, this is your time to target your concerns and allow products to work overnight.

Let's get into a little more about what a daytime and nighttime routine might look like and what products to use during each.

What should a morning routine look like?

Your morning skincare routine for healthy skin should first include a cleanser of course. Though you've probably cleansed your skin the night before, washing it again in the morning lifts any dust that might have settled on your pillow or excess oil that may have been produced overnight.

Also, it ultimately preps your skin for other daytime products that you may want to use. First of all, SPF is a must-wear for every skin type. Protection from the sun, even on the cloudiest of days, is essential for skin health. Skin burns are not only painful, but they can lead to major health concerns down the road.

After cleansing, applying an exfoliator in the morning once or twice a week creates smoother skin by buffing away dead skin cells. This will also contribute to your other product's ability to penetrate deep.

Next, you will apply your serums, acne spot treatments, and/or eye creams. Apply from thinnest to thickest in texture. With the cleansing and exfoliating steps out of the way, your products have a great canvas to work with.

Finally, finish your morning skincare routine with a moisturizer and SPF. This can be a moisturizer that includes a broad-spectrum SPF, or you may just apply your lightweight moisturizer and then the SPF.

What should an evening routine look like?

Your nighttime skincare routine might look a little different. If you wear makeup throughout the day, you'll need to remove it before cleansing.

Your cleanser will take off some of the makeup debris, but you'll want to really make sure you are getting it all off before you hit the hay. Simply using a makeup remover wipe to take off makeup is not a substitute for a cleanser.

Once your makeup is removed and your skin is cleansed, you may exfoliate. Most exfoliant products recommend only using once or twice a week, but you'll know if you need to use more or less based on how your skin looks and feels.

You've removed makeup, cleansed, and exfoliated now and it's time to address those areas of concern. Again this is the step to apply your acne products, cc serums, and eye creams depending on what products you own and what concerns you want to target.

Moisturizing before bed is so important! This is the final step to your evening skincare routine. As we sleep our skin loses moisture, so applying moisturizer before you go to bed is absolutely essential!

An overnight mask is also a great addition to add after your complete nighttime regimen. You can apply it, fall asleep, and wash it off in the morning. How great is that!

Summary: Your skincare routine is custom to you.

Your skincare routine can be as simple as cleansing and moisturizing in the morning and evening, or as extensive as a 7 step process. It depends what you want to work on and how much time you're willing to spend on your skin.

Obviously, if you complete more steps with more targeting products, you will likely see better results. However, knowing your skin and what it needs can take time and a lot of trial and error.

As far as the time of day goes, skincare routines make the most sense to be completed each morning and evening. However, it's really up to you as to how often you want to practice skincare.

Your morning and evening routines don't have to be identical, but they don't have to be completely different by any means. Try out different variations of products and pay attention to the results you see.