How To Find A Skincare Routine That Works For You

By Joey Cupelli

Ever feel like your current skincare regimen isn't what it used to be, or that you aren't seeing the results you hoped for? Chances are, if you've been sticking with it for over a month (excluding prescriptions) and your skin isn't where you want to be, it's time to change up your routine. Below you'll find a step-by-step guide for optimizing your skincare regimen, with a few recommendations to help you get the glowing skin you've been dreaming about.

Image via Darja Barannik

Step 1: Get To Know Your Skin

If you don't already know your skin type, and have been purchasing products based solely on reviews, it's time for a major change. Everyone's skin is different, and knowing things like how your skin distributes oil, reacts to chemicals in products, and deals with the climate you live in, is of utmost importance. This diagram will help you determine your skin type:

Diagram via It's All G Blog

Step 2: Do You Have Sensitive Skin?

Now that you know your skin type, you need to figure out whether or not you have sensitive skin to determine the maximum intensity of your skincare routine. A quick test to determine if you actually have sensitive skin, according to celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas, is to "brush your fingers across the side of your face with light to medium pressure. If the skin turns red, it's sensitive." If you have a darker complexion, you'll be able to tell if most skincare products you use sting or cause redness.

Read more: How to Know, Once and For All, Whether You Have Sensitive Skin

Image via Studded Hearts

Step 3: Hey Skin, What's Your Deal?

What skin issues are you dealing with (if any)? Do you have acne, the occasional pimple, rosacea, dry/flakey skin, or just seeking a general face wash for issue-free skin? Determining what you're trying to work against is crucial prior to hunting for products. For example, if you have cystic acne, benzoyl peroxide (deep oxygen-based bacteria eliminator) is your most effective option, whereas with more superficial acne, salicylic acid (light exfoliator) and general cleansers will get the job done. Conversely, if you're seeking products for general everyday care, a non-abrasive cleanser like CeraVe or Kiehl's are ideal to prep your skin for further steps.

Image via Bullet Magazine on Instagram

Step 4: Find A Cleanser

Now that you have a fundamental knowledge of your skin, it's time to choose step one of your routine – a cleanser. Various cleansers suit different skin issues, so it's important that you find one that works for you. If you have non-sensitive acne-prone skin, benzoyl peroxide is a major life saver. I personally have gone through just about every drugstore product, and benzoyl peroxide is the only thing that has ever worked for me (I have acne-prone, combination skin). I use Topix's 5% benzoyl peroxide wash. Shop cleansers:


Step 5: Tone Like You've Never Toned Before

A good toner is one of, if not the most important step in your routine. After washing your face, your skin's natural oils are stripped, leaving your pH balance all out of whack. Without toning, your skin will do its best to rectify the issue, and that could mean producing more oil to counteract your product(s). When you use a skin-identical toner, balance is restored to your face. Do note, different toners suit different skin types (see step 1 above), and using the wrong one will leave your skin either too oily, or too dry. I use Clinique's Even Better Essence Lotion for Combination Oily‎. Shop toners:


Step 6: Do You Need A Moisturizer?

Contrary to popular belief, a moisturizer is not always required in your skincare routine; It all really comes down to your skin type, the products in your regimen, and the time of day. For example, my toner is balancing enough for my face, and my daily sunscreen indirectly moisturizes and mattifies my skin. At night, however, I do apply a skin-repairing moisturizer since I don't use sunscreen before bed. If you have dry skin though, a moisturizer is crucial, depending on how emollient your sunscreen is. It's always best to search for a non-comedogenic moisturizer that is optimized for your skin type. Just like a toner, the wrong moisturizer will leave your face looking oily and poses the risk of increased breakouts. Shop moisturizers:



Sunscreen is something many people take for granted, but regardless of how cloudy your neck of the woods is, you need to wear one. Not only will you prevent sun damage and scars because of it, but you'll also keep your skin looking younger longer. I use Clinique's Super City Block SPF 40Shop sunscreens:


Side note: my favorite website for researching skincare products is Paula's Choice Beautypedia. She has a huge index of beauty product reviews, and you can filter based on your skin type, the type of product you're looking for and more. I recommend sorting products by rating (descending order) and working your way down from there. It's all a matter of trial and error until you find your go-to routine!

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