Basic Skin Care Routine

I have a few friends who have made it their 2021 goal to take care of their skin and asked me how to start. How do I even create a skincare routine? What are the most essential skin care products I need? I love skincare, learning and testing products, but I know that can be overwhelming to many. Most people don’t know the basics of skincare. So here is the most basic, simple skin care routine for beginners. Three steps in the morning, four in the evening to create your daily skin care routine.

If you have this down and are looking for additional product recommendations, you can always check out my skincare favorites page, which I update frequently. If you want to add more products, here’s the full order to apply skincare.

The skincare essentials for a basic skin care routine

Basic Morning Routine

Wash your Face // I use the Revision Brightening face wash. Others I have regularly used are the Elemis Pro Cleansing Balm, and the Tula Face Cleanser. If you need a drugstore face wash, I used the Aveeno Foaming cleanser, at a recommendation of a dermatologist and still think it’s great. If there is any place to save money on your daily skin care routine, cleanser is where you can get the most basic drugstore option and be fine. 

Elemis pro collagen naked cleansing balm

Vitamin C Serum // Even in the most basic of skin care routines, vitamin C is essential. Do not skip this daily step. Vitamin C helps with brightness, reduces redness and hyperpigmentation, promotes collagen production, helps your skin stay hydrated & helps your sunscreen work better. True story. Again, don’t skip this step. Invest in a good Vitamin C. I like Obagi and Skinceuticals. If you would like a natural Vitamin C, Beautycounter has a good option.

Skinceuticals vitamin C for your basic skin care routine

Sunscreen // Never leave home without sunscreen. Even in the winter. I love EltaMD and Barefaced Skin Shop. Both these are essentially sunscreen and primer in one, killing two birds with one stone. I’ve also used SuperGoop Unseen and I like that one in the summer.

10 Best Sunscreens of 2019: Sunscreens for Face
Jordan Haper Barefaced sunscreen

Simple Evening Skin Care Routine

Wash your Face // Wash the day away. Try to use the same face cleanser as the AM, not just a face wipe. 

Exfoliate // Some people call this step toner, but you need to exfoliate the skin to make any treatments work. You don’t want a bunch of dead skin trapping new pretty skin. I like to use chemical exfoliants with AHA + BHA. AHA resurfaces the top of the skin & BHA deep cleans pores. Pads are easy to use. I love Barefaced Skin toning pads or the M61 pads. If you have sensitive skin, the Tula pads work. 

Jordan Harper Barefaced Toning Pads

Retinoid // Retinol promotes cell turnover, bringing new pretty skin to the surface. Ease into retinol, using every other night to start. I have been using a retin-a since I was 22 and it is essential to my skin care routine. I use RX tretinoin .1%. Retivance by Obagi or Revision’s retinol are good over-the-counter retinols, but you’re going to need a derm or an NP to prescribe you the real deal. Adding retinol to your routine is really how you take care of your skin long term. 

Tretinoin Cream is prescription retinoid.

Moisturize and Apply Eye Cream // Don’t forget the last step of this basic routine. I really love the Biossance and Beautycounter eye creams. For moisturizer, you know I’m going to say Elemis. I’ve rambled extensively on my blog about Elemis and I’ll say it again, moisturizer is essential no matter how oily your skin is. 

Biossance Eye Cream for a daily eye cream
Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream for a daily moisturizer

More Skin Care Advice

If you want to up your skin care beyond the basics, I suggest following my full routine here. My friend and medical professional, Jordan Harper, answered a ton of skincare questions in this blog post. Of course, keep following on the blog and Instagram as I’m always on the lookout for products to help take care of your skin.

Cristin Cooper Skincare and Beauty Favorites