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Morning vs. Night Skincare Routine: Dermatologist Approved Secrets to Healthy Skin

By :STELLA BULENGO MD 0 comments
Morning vs. Night Skincare Routine: Dermatologist Approved Secrets to Healthy Skin

Having navigated the intricate corridors of dermatology for over three decades, I present a meticulously crafted guide delineating the contrast between morning vs. night skincare routine. Here is my expert opinion on the AM vs. PM skincare routine order:

Your Morning Skincare Routine

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner or Masque (see below)
  3. Targeted collagen booster/antioxidant
  4. Moisturizer (you can combine 3, 4 & 6 a holistic approach)
  5. Eye Cream  
  6. Sunscreen

1. Cleanser

A gentle, hydrating cleanser is the cornerstone for those with dry or combination skin. If your skin gravitates towards acne, consider a non-oily cleanser. Those applying Retin A (Tretinoin/Retinol) should gravitate towards mild cleansers like the Cerave hydrating cleanser, Vanicream Free & Clear cleanser, or RE-JUV® Hydrating Vitamin C Cleanser.

2. Toner

Though toners have historically played a role in skincare, their utility in modern routines is debatable, especially with advancements in cleanser formulations. A toner/toning is not necessary for healthy skin care. Toners were originally developed to remove the sticky residue (scum) left on the face from washing with lye-based soaps combined with hard water. We now use mild cleansers and no-lye soaps. If your chosen cleanser, like the RE-JUV® Hydrating Vitamin C Cleanser, is adept at hydrating and gently exfoliating, the need for a toner becomes redundant.

A toner can be used if the face is not washed with a cleanser and water to remove makeup, oil, dirt and impurities and should not strip the skin of its natural moisture or pH. A hydrating toner is sometimes used to hydrate the skin as part of the daily routine.

Additionally, with a perfect cleanser that hydrates and gently exfoliates to remove impurities from the skin, i.e., RE-JUV® Hydrating Vitamin C Cleanser, combined with a unique mask like RE-JUV® Age-defying Bamboo Charcoal Masque, that gently exfoliates, removes deep impurities, unclogs and minimizes pores, while it simultaneously hydrates, brightens and softens the skin, used 2-3 times per week for 10 minutes- there is no need for a toner.

Try the RE-JUV® Age-Defying Bamboo Charcoal Pore Minimizing Masque & Super Vitamin C Crème for gently cleansing and hydrating am & pm skincare routines.

Try the RE-JUV® Age-Defying Bamboo Charcoal Pore Minimizing Masque & Super Vitamin C Crème for gently cleansing and hydrating am & pm skincare routines.

3. Targeted Collagen Stimulator/Antioxidant

It is important to include a collagen stimulator or booster that is an antioxidant in your morning regimen  Antioxidants protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. This can be Vitamin C serum, lotion, gel, cream or other anti-oxidant or collagen stimulator such as Nicotinamide or Peptides and can be used in the morning underneath makeup. I do not recommend applying Retinol during the day unless there is no sun exposure since Retinoids are photosensitizers and make the skin susceptible to sunburn. I do recommend Retinol with the night time regimen for rejuvenation.

4. Moisturizer

Unless grappling with exceptionally dry skin, you may sidestep this step. A holistic sunscreen with moisturizing properties suffices. Brands such as Elta MD, Cetaphil, or Neutrogena offer commendable non-comedogenic options for dry or sensitive skin, combination, or oily skin.

5. Eye Cream

While conventionally reserved for nighttime, integrating it into your morning ritual can bolster the eye region's vitality. I recommend it for nighttime use, but if you have time, use it in the morning to keep the eye area looking its best and prevent damage.

6. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is indispensable for any morning routine. Aim for mineral-based blocks like those containing Zinc, Titanium, and Iron (tinted sunblocks.) Remember, re-application every two hours is crucial under prolonged sun exposure.

Given the variables of skin type and specific concerns (e.g., acne, rosacea), one must adapt the aforementioned regimen accordingly. Individuals with rosacea, for example, cannot tolerate toners and have sensitive skin. Additionally, oily or acne-prone skin may necessitate a toner or prescription topical antibiotic wipes (which can be in place of a toner.) Also, gels or lotions may be included in their skincare regimen.

Your Nighttime Skincare Routine

  1. Cleanse Once or Double Cleanse
  2. Toner vs Masque
  3. Targeted collagen stimulator/antioxidant
  4. Moisturizer (you can skip if 3 is a moisturizer)
  5. Eye Cream
  6. Retinol for rejuvenation

1. Double Cleanse

While this may appear excessive because you don't want to strip the skin of its natural oils and moisture, it's viable for those exposed to heavy makeup or environmental impurities and have been sweating. There is a perfect solution for you: wash your face with RE-JUV® Hydrating Vitamin C Cleanser and follow with pampering yourself with RE-JUV® Age-defying Bamboo Charcoal Masque for 5-10 minutes and experience the deep cleaning, gentle exfoliation, minimized pores leaving the skin smooth, hydrated and a brighter complexion.

2. Toner

As mentioned above. Although some individuals feel they have to tone to remove oils and heavy make up. If so, use a hydrating toner that does not strip the skin of its pH and moisture.

3. Targeted Collagen Stimulator/Antioxidant

Night serums, lotions, creams are invaluable, particularly those enriched with Vitamin C, like the RE-JUV® Super Vitamin C Creme. Peptides, AHA/BHA, or a combination therein can be integrated for amplified results.

4. Moisturizer

Most anti-aging products are inherently hydrating, so a separate moisturizer might be superfluous. Moisturize at night only if the skin feels dry. If you do, I recommend our RE-JUV® Super Vitamin C Creme, as it is enriched with botanical oils that hydrate, rejuvenate, brighten dark spots and blemishes, and improve fine lines and wrinkles.

5. Eye Cream

Definitely use eye cream in your evening skincare routine, as it boosts your collagen around the eyes. The delicate eye region necessitates nightly nourishment. A potent age-defying hydrating cream can mitigate the impacts of age and environmental stressors.

6. Retinol

As a board certified dermatologist, I highly recommend Retinol or prescription strength Retinoid. I studied Retinoids and published their benefits in medical journals, including anti-aging and improving hyperpigmentation. Remember, Retinoids can cause dryness and irritation; therefore, a pea-size amount 2-3 times a week is all you need. Moderation is key. I combine it with every other night RE-JUV® Super Vitamin C Creme or a topical collagen stimulator of your choice, i.e., a Peptide, AHA/BHA, etc.

Simplified Morning vs. Night Skincare Routine

Now that you have my secret am vs. pm skincare routine, I would like to share a simplified routine for those without acne or other skin problems.

Simplified Morning Skincare Routine

  1. Cleanse. Use a gentle cleanser such as RE-JUV® Hydrating Vitamin C Cleanser.
  2. Vitamin C. Boost collagen with Vitamin C (an antioxidant, protects the skin from the harmful effects of the sun) or can use a collagen stimulator such as Nicotinamide, Peptide, or Alphahydroxy Acid (AHA).  Alternatively you can skip 2 & 3 and use a sunscreen with Vitamin C or another antioxidant and you are good to go.
  3. Sunscreen or sunblock - can opt to skip 2.
  4. Foundation/makeup. Apply this last. Some people want to skip sunscreen since their foundation has sunscreen. Make sure the SPF is 30 or above. Most foundations have low SPF, although the recent tinted foundations may have high SPF due to iron-adding sunblock protection. Always read the ingredients.

Simplified Evening Skincare Routine

  1. Cleanse twice per day. You can use a mask for a deep cleanse 2-3 times per week. Try our RE-JUV® Age-defying Bamboo Charcoal Masque to cleanse deep and remove impurities while brightening and producing smoother, supple skin.
  2. Use Vitamin C serum, cream, or lotion for the face, neck, décolleté, and hands. You can apply on alternate days, switching with Retinol on the face, or alternate with another collagen stimulator. You can now find over-the-counter combination creams, lotions, serums, and gels with two or more collagen stimulators, i.e., Retinol, Niacinamide, AHA, etc. Consult your dermatologist or plastic surgeon for prescription-strength Retinoids and compound mixtures/blends with other collagen stimulators.
  3. Use an eye cream. However, this product cannot compete with a good night's rest/sleep.

Frequently Asked About About AM vs PM Skincare Routines

Many patients ask me questions about their am and pm skincare routines. I've decided to reveal some of my expertise below:

What should my am skincare routine be?

Your AM skincare routine should prioritize cleansing, hydration, and sun protection.

What is AM and PM skincare?

AM skincare focuses on protection for the day ahead, while PM skincare emphasizes repair and rejuvenation at night.

What skincare should be done in the morning?

Morning skincare should encompass cleansing, applying an antioxidant serum, moisturizing, and sunscreen or sunblock.

How do I make AM-PM skincare routine?

To craft an AM-PM skincare routine, delineate products for daytime protection and nighttime repair, ensuring consistency and addressing individual skin concerns.

Why am I still breaking out with a good skincare routine?

Even with an optimal skincare routine, factors like sun exposure, hormonal changes, diet, stress, and underlying medical conditions can contribute to breakouts.

In summation, the quality of skincare, your morning vs. night skincare routine lies in understanding and adapting to your skincare needs. It's not just about layering products but making informed choices that resonate with individual needs. Don't forget to drink water, stay hydrated, stay informed, and always prioritize consultation with your dermatologist for advice.

Stella M. Bulengo, MD, FAAD, FASDP

Board-certified in Dermatology & Dermatopathology


Photo credit: NAMYNOT Inc.

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