Beauty, Skincare

Starting an Evening Skincare Routine

How To Build An Evening Skincare Routine

Like I mentioned in the Morning Routine post, a morning routine is about preparing for the day, and the nighttime routine is about removing the day.  So stop using just the bar soap in the shower and say hello to luminous skin. The absolute basic skincare routine focuses just on cleansing and maintaining healthy skin. If you have problem areas or specific skin concerns you will be adding certain products to target those into this routine, but a skincare routine doesn’t have to take an hour or a small fortune to be effective. If you’re interested in achieving healthy skin or want to start taking better of your first impression, here’s where to start!


When should you do your evening routine? Preferably as soon as you know you’re not going anywhere else for the day. You can cleanse your skin right after you get home from work or right before you go to sleep after hitting happy hour with friends. Even if you work graveyard shifts, an “evening” skincare routine is just the routine you do before hitting the hay for (hopefully!) 7 hours. Evening skincare focuses on hydration, active ingredients and letting your skin renew and repair itself while you’re sleeping. It’s so important to make sure you go to sleep with a clean slate – so, ladies never go to sleep without removing your make-up. 

Evening Skincare Routine

  1. Remove Sunscreen and Make-Up
  2. Cleanse
  3. Toner
  4. Exfoliate
  5. Moisturize
  6. Active Ingredients


Step One: Remove Sunscreen and Make-up

You can use a cleanser that is chosen especially for removing make-up or you could use a cleansing oil, which are amazing at breaking up and removing oil-based make-up or products. Even if you don’t wear make-up, you should be wearing a sunscreen everyday (more on sun damage coming soon). American sunscreens especially are pretty thick and contain a lot of pore-clogging ingredients that can cause acne, dull skin or rough skin down the line, so it’s important to remove it before sleeping. As I said in my morning skincare routine post, you should be wearing sunscreen, and if you are wearing sunscreen you should remove it every night.
My favorite sunscreen and make-up remover is simple old baby oil (mineral oil). It glides even the toughest waterproof eye makeup off and is not drying or harsh on the skin. It might leave a greasy film behind, but the next step (cleansing) solves that. But, if you don’t wear a lot of make-up or products – and you really trust your cleanser – you might get away with just using one cleanser to remove sunscreen, oil and dirt all in one step and won’t need a two-step process.

If you like using make-up removing wipes, remember to at least splash your skin with water afterwards. While make-up removing wipes are a godsend at the end of a exhausting day or for quickly removing make-up in one step, they often leave behind residue or miss make-up that can still clog pores or cause dull skin. Next time you use a make-up wipe, follow it with a cotton pad soaked in toner to see how much the make-up wipe left behind. You’d be surprised. It’s like laundry – there has to be a rinse cycle.

Products you can use here:

  • make-up removing wipes or baby wipes
  • cleansing oil
  • make-up remover
  • cleansing balm

Step Two: Cleanse

A facial cleanse is to remove any dirt, debris or make-up from the day, any excess sebum/oil on our skin and to remove the dead skin cells to leave you with a clean slate at the end of the day before you hit the pillows.

If you choose to use a separate make-up remover (step one) before cleansing, this is called a second cleanse. A  second cleanse is really common in Asian or Eastern skincare routines and is becoming more popular in Western countries. Think of it as vacuuming before mopping –  you’re breaking up the dirt and grime to get a better clean than just mopping alone.

If you don’t want a two-step cleanse and want to make sure you have completely cleansed and removed the day from your face, use a cotton pad soaked in toner or a baby wipe on your skin to see if anything has been missed or left behind. If you didn’t cleanse well enough, the cotton pad or baby wipe might look grey or brown – it has picked up everything your cleanser left behind.

The best cleanser to pick is one specifically designed for your skin type (determine your skin type HERE) and that is a very gentle formulation. You want one that won’t dry out your skin, that won’t strip it of too much natural oil, a product that has taken the skins natural pH of 5.5 in mind, and one that does not leave your skin feeling “squeaky clean” and dry afterwards. If it hurts to smile your cleanser is too harsh and can cause skin problems down the line.

Products to use here:

  • a cleansing oil
  • a cleansing balm
  • a medicated cleanser
  • gel cleanser
  • cream cleanser
  • oil-free pH friendly soap (preferably not bar soap or alkaline soap)


Step Three: Toner

A toner seems to mean different things depending on where you live. It could be a lotion, a liquid or an acid. When I was young, toners were very drying, alcohol-based liquids that you used after cleansing to clean out and “tighten pores”. They made my eyes burn and my skin tight and dry. Nowadays you can find toners that are alcohol free – usually based off witch hazel – and are actually very hydrating to the skin without feeling greasy. I don’t know much about the lotion-like toners and I only have experience with liquid toners so those are what I am referring to in my posts.

I use a toner after cleansing to remove anything left behind from my cleanser, to neutralize my skins pH level, to remove any hard water from my skin (when I’m in England, the hard water reeks havoc on my skin and a gentle toner will bring my skin back to normal pH levels. You can also just cleanse with this if you don’t have safe or usable water on hand) or to refresh my tired skin.

A toner is optional – you don’t HAVE to use a toner. I think it is a great step for checking and making sure your cleanser left your skin completely clean. A toner can wipe away from leftover residue and it it can hydrate or neutralize your skin. If you suffer from very sensitive and dry skin, a toner is a great addition to your routine.


Step Four: Exfoliate

(When should you use a chemical exfoliant?)

Cleansers, as amazing as they are at removing dirt and oil, are not the best at removing dead skin cells. This is where an exfoliant comes in. Removing dead skin cells is key to avoiding acne, clogged pores, dull skin and to achieving softer and healthier looking skin.

There are several different types of exfoliants, detailed in THIS post. But the best form of daily exfoliation, that can be used along with everything else in the basic skincare routine, are chemical exfoliants. You can buy chemical exfoliants as pre-soaked pads or wipes or as a liquid that you then soak onto a cotton pad before applying to the skin. There are two types of chemical exfoliants, BHA(good for acne) and AHA(good for aging concerns and dry skin), and you’d be surprised to discover how easy they are to find and buy in any store. Chemical exfoliants work by breaking up the “glue” that holds the dead skin cells in the epidermis together, so they slough off on their own throughout the day or the next time you cleanse. Chemical exfoliants look and act like water and will dry on the skin within 5 to 10 minutes, and there is no need to rinse. Once your skin is dry you can just apply moisturizer and be on your way!

Physical and manual exfoliants can vary in severity to the skin – a manual exfoliant like a washcloth can be gentle and not cause irritation for example – but should be used carefully and sparingly. You might feel like your skin needs more exfoliation than others, so a good hard scrub might leave you with skin you want. Physical exfoliants are best to be used at most twice a week, or once a week. Why not save your favorite facial scrub for the end of the week, when you can also do a nice face mask or oil massage as well? Chemical exfoliants aren’t that bad – they’re quick, easy and gentle!

Step Five: Moisturize

Time to pack on the hydration for your skin to enjoy uninterrupted . Evening moisturizers can be luxurious or simple. Night time is the best time to use a thick and heavy cream packed with active ingredients.  A nighttime moisturizer should not have any SPF in it. Why would you need SPF after sunset right before you jump into bed? All SPF might do for you after twilight is clog your pores and give you something to remove in the morning. Look for a thick moisturizer that doesn’t have SPF but does contain great ingredients like hyalauronic acid, ceramides, niamicin and glycerin that give your skin an extra boost while you’re catching some zzz’s.

If you have oily skin and are worried about moisturizing, I would suggest you focus on moisturizing at night. This gives your skin time to absorb it’s much needed moisture while you sleep and let’s it get oily at night instead of ruining your day. Use thicker, heavier creams at night and skip a lotion in the morning or count your sunscreen as your moisturizer. Oily skin, just like all skin types, need moisture too – and you might actually be oily because you’re neglecting your skins hydration levels. By using the lotion at night you don’t have to deprive your skin and you can look your best during the day, too.


Step Six: Active Ingredients

Active ingredients are any product, medication or ingredient that is intended to treat a particular skin concern. Whether it be spot treatments for acne, or serums and ointments for anti-aging. If you’re on a prescribed topical medication from your doctor, this would be the time to apply that. Depending on the topical, you might need to wait up to an hour after moisturizing, though (hello, Retinols!). Even over-the-counter actives and spot treatments, like benzoyl peroxide, tea tree oil or sulfur, are applied after moisturizing. Using these spot treatments or actives at night lets your skin fully enjoy them all night long and you don’t have to worry about layering under make-up or any changes in appearance they might cause. No one’s going to see you when you’re sleeping!

Do not apply anything occlusive, like Vaseline(petroleum jelly) or Aquaphor, to your skin before you put on actives. You can apply a thin layer of Vaseline after your spot treatments or active ingredients to seal your moisture in.

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