Beauty, Skincare

Starting A Morning Skincare Routine


Do you wash your face every morning? Or do you just use whatever you keep in your shower before running out the door? Do you even sunscreen, bro??

A morning skincare routine (also commonly called an “AM Routine”) can be so different from a nighttime skincare routine. A nighttime routine focuses on removing the day, whereas a morning routine focuses on preparing for the day. With a morning skincare routine, you’re not only removing the residue from your sleeping habits, but you also should be adding in sun protection and you’re most likely putting on a layer of make-up and hair products on top of that!

A morning routine and an evening routine can look completely different from one another, even if the products are the same.

Morning Skincare Routine

  1. Cleanse or Rinse
  2. Exfoliate
  3. Moisturize
  4. Sun Protection

Step One: Cleanse or Rinse 

You wanna know something cool? Using a dedicated skin cleanser in the morning is completely optional. If you did your evening routine properly the night before then there shouldn’t really be anything you need to remove. Unless you drool or sweat a lot in your sleep using a dedicated cleanser isn’t necessary right when you wake-up. Most people only need to splash with water or swipe with an alcohol-free toner to refresh their skin and help wake themselves up.*

Lesson being – if you sweat, drool, sleep on a sweaty SO or have really dirty bed linens, maybe using an actual cleanser in the morning is for you. If you wake up feeling just as clean and refreshed as when you went to sleep, all you really need to do is splash some water on your face.


Step Two: Exfoliate

Learn more about the different types of exfoliants HERE.

If you use chemical exfoliants in your routines, you can use them in the morning. Most people use them at night because of wait times and sun sensitivity (photosensitivity) but if you want to pack the most punch with chemical exfoliants you can use them twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. (Just to recap: Chemical exfoliants are just a gentler way to exfoliate to reveal smooth skin, clear hair follicles and prevent acne. Chemical exfoliants should be used instead of, not alongside, physical scrubs.)

The best to use during the AM is salicylic acid, or BHA (beta-hydroxy-acid), because AHA’s (alpha-hydroxy-acids) cause photosensitivity(sensitivity to the sun) and raise your risk of sunburn or UV damage. If you use an AHA and go out into the sun, your skin can burn and receive damage from the UV rays. If you choose to use an AHA in your daily routines, always make sure you practice proper sun safety and wear the correct amount of sunscreen or else you might be doing your skin more harm than good. Salicylic acid (BHA), though, has not been shown to cause your skin to be more sensitive to sunlight, and therefore is a better choice to use in the morning.

If you want to use chemical exfoliants twice a day, please be sure to gradually build up to it. Learn more about chemical exfoliants HERE and how to gradually build up usage HERE. Once you’ve graduated to twice a day, a popular choice is to use a BHA in the morning and an AHA at night.

If you do not use chemical exfoliants and still want to gently exfoliate in the morning, use a cleanser with a gentle manual exfoliant like a washcloth or a konjac sponge. This also kills two birds with one stone and can cut down on the length of your morning skincare routine.


Step Three: Moisturize 

A day moisturizer should just moisturize your skin enough to last through the day without causing excess oil or dry and flaky skin. A good daytime moisturizer should have SPF in it, but SPF is not necessary if you promise to use a sunscreen as well.

If you really like your evening moisturizer and have a separate sunscreen to use, use your evening moisturizer. A common problem with using an evening moisturizer during the day is that most night moisturizers are thicker than a day time lotion, and can make skin more oily and make up application more difficult. Or, if you live in very humid area, a nighttime moisturizer or cream with hyalauronic acid or humectants will cause your face to sweat and become slick during the day.

I like my morning moisturizer to be lighter than my nighttime moisturizer, and for it to have at least SPF 20. (A nighttime moisturizer should not have SPF in it. What’s the point?) If you are sensitive to common SPF ingredients, then forgo a generic SPF moisturizer and make sure to find a sunscreen that does work for you to layer on top. (I promise you, there is a perfect sunscreen for you out there.)

I like a good daily moisutrizer to act as a skin primer for every thing else that’s going on it for the day. Look for daily moisturizers that are made specifically for your skin type with an SPF between 15-35.

Things to look for in a daytime moisturizer:

  • Light weight and easily absorbed
  • SPF 15-35
  • Alcohol-free


Step Four: Sunscreen

Learn more about sun protections and sun safety HERE.

Even if you are using a daily moisturizer with SPF in it, you should be using a sunscreen as well. Even if your makeup contains SPF, you would need to put on a layer of make-up like… an inch thick to benefit from the SPF in it. The SPF in your make-up is practically worthless. 

Why sunscreen? Why everyday? UVB rays on a bright and sunny day penetrate your epidermis and cause sunburns, which are painful, unsightly and can cause peeling. UVA rays can slice through clouds, windows and overcast skies to penetrate deeper into your dermis to damage your structural layer. (remember, from this post?) Damage caused by UVA rays to your dermis take 20 to 30 years to appear. That’s right – those wrinkles on your face are from that day you didn’t wear sunscreen when you were 10. 

Those with darker skin tones (and thus higher melanin) do have more natural protection from sun damage than those with less melanin. But – that does not exempt them from sun damage at all. If anyone wants to keep their young, youthful and bouncy skin, you should be wearing a sunscreen and reapplying it every 2 hours.

Sun damage caused by UV rays can cause skin cancer, wrinkles, sagging skin, crows feet, freckles, uneven skin tone, longer lasting PIH(post-inflammatory pigmentation or dark acne scars) and sun burns. You should wear proper sun protection to reduce your risk of any of these things.


Step Five: Make-Up

And if you wear make-up, this is where the magic happens.

A morning routine doesn’t have to take 30 minutes or use 15 different products. Once you get your AM and PM routine down pat, they both go by in a breeze. And hopefully you’ll soon get the dream skin you want so you can skip the make-up and just head out of the house after slapping on some sunscreen (and waiting 20 minutes. Its part of the SPF deal…more on that later)




* A good example of do as I say, not as I do. I have a bit of a weird habit. I like to use a physical exfoliant scrub in the morning, because I have a tendency to sleep with my face all squished up and smashed into my pillow or resting on my sweating fiance’s chest. Not only do most skincare enthusiasts hate using physical exfoliants at all, they insist you do not need to use one daily. My reasoning is that I need to exfoliate to prevent or clear any blocked follicles that result from smashing my shedding skin cells back into my pores while I’m sleeping. I like to use a gentle cream cleanser at night to remove the day, and a gentle physical scrub in the morning to remove the night. If it doesn’t make sense to you, that is fine – because according to science, I just might be a little bit insane. There are no studies or papers that have given me this idea, but it’s something I do that seems to work well for me.


Miss C xoxo

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