do morning and evening skincare routine have to be different

Do your morning and evening skincare routine have to be different?

Ok, it’s kind of a given you shouldn’t use sunscreen once the sun goes down. But can you just save a few bucks and use the same products – and in the same order – morning and night?

If you’re a teen without acne, yes. All you need is a basic cleanser, moisturiser and sunscreen. Seriously, don’t worry about anti-aging. If you wear sunscreen religiously from a young age, your skin won’t get wrinkles for a looooong time.

But what if your needs are a little more complex? Then, following a slightly different regimen morning and night makes sense.

Don’t worry. It’s not going to cost you a fortune. You can use a lot of the same products in both your morning and evening skincare routine. 😉

Morning Skincare Routine

Your morning skincare routine is all about sun protection. The goal here is to protect your skin from the UV rays that make you age that much faster. While you’re at it, safeguard it from pollutants, harsh winds and all the other shebang that threatens it.

The trick here is to keep your morning skincare routine AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE.

Here’s the deal: when determining the SPF of your sunscreens, researchers slather them on clean, freshly-cleansed skin with no other product in between.

Think about it: anything that you apply on your skin before sunscreen could potentially make it harder to spread and get an uneven application. That’s why Michelle from LabMuffin only uses cleanser and sunscreen in the morning.

I’m not that drastic. I like to add a CEF serum (vitamin C + E + ferulic acid) in between as this combo is proven to boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen.

If your skin is very dry, dehydrated or acne-prone, you may want to add a hyaluronic acid or spot-treatment into the mix. The point here is to use ONLY what your skin CAN’T absolutely do without.

Remove toner, essence and all the other layers you’re doing just because Allure tells you you must. It’s not about using all the ingredients/products. It’s about giving your skin WHAT it needs WHEN it needs it.

Here’s what a good morning skincare routine looks like (this is what I do):

  1. Cleanser: choose one that’s suitable for your skin type. If it leaves your skin feeling tight afterwards, it’s too harsh for you. Check this post to find out the best cleanser for your skin type.
  2. CEF Serum: studies show that vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid boost one another’s effectiveness and provide enhanced sun protection. You’re missing out if you don’t use this combo in the morning. Check out my fave CEF serums here.
  3. Moisturising sunscreen: wear it every day, rain or shine. UV rays penetrate through clouds and windows and are even reflected on snow. Until the sun goes down, your skin is NOT safe from UV harm.

Related: How To Find The Right Cleanser For Your Skin Type

Dry skin? Tweak it like this:

  1. Cleanser: choose a cream or oil-based cleanser that replenishes your skin’s natural oils as they’re cleansed away. I’ve shared my fave picks in this post.
  2. CEF Serum: see above.
  3. Hyaluronic acid serum or lightweight moisturizer: if you find your skin feels a little tight or dry during the day, add a hylauronic acid serum or lightweight moisturiser to boost hydration. You can find my fave hyaluronic acid serums here.
  4. Moisturising sunscreen: see above.

Related: How To Care For Dry Skin

Oily skin? Here’s your tweak:

  1. Cleanser: choose a low pH foaming cleanser that removes excess oil without disrupting your skin’s protective barrier. You can check out my faves here.
  2. CEF Serum: see above.
  3. Benzoyl peroxide: only as spot treatment and only if you’re using retinol or salicylic acid at night. BP kills the bacteria that give you acne but it’s harsh so it’s best to alternate it with other harsher antiaging actives like retinol. Check out my fave picks here.
  4. Lightweight sunscreen: your skin needs sunscreen too. Just go with a lightweight formula that doesn’t leave your skin a greasy mess. I’ve shared my fave picks in this post.


Related: What Are The Best Sunscreens For Oily Skin?

Evening Skincare Routine

Your evening skincare routine is all about repair. You see, no matter how much you protect it during the day, your skin will still suffer a little damage.

Even the best sunscreens protect you only from 99% of UV rays (and that’s only if you reapply them regularly) so the remaining 1% will hurt your skin a little.

Harsh winter weather or hot blaming summers aren’t ideal for your skin either. If you live in a big city, you also need to worry about all the pollution and toxins that get in contact with your skin every time you leave the house.

Your evening skincare routine is the perfect opportunity to use ingredients that help the skin repair itself and boost collagen production, like retinol and copper peptides.

It’s also the time for those actives that make your skin more susceptible to sun damage, like retinoids and exfoliating acids.

Everything else you can’t fit into your morning skincare routine, add it to your evening skincare routine. Just not all at once.   I like to alternate my actives so my skin gets everything it needs without the irritation (even the best ingredients can backfire if you go overboard).

Here’s what a good evening skincare routine looks like:

  1. Double cleansing: if you’re wearing makeup, use an oil-based cleanser to melt everything off your face. If it leaves a greasy residue behind, use a water-based cleanser to rinse it away. No makeup? Your morning cleanser will do.
  2. Retinol: if you’re 25+, use retinol 3 or 4 times a night to boost collagen production and fight wrinkles. You can find my fave retinol products here.
  3. Glycolic acid: on nights when you’re not using retinol, exfoliate with glycolic acid. It dissolves the “glue” that holds skin cells together so they can slough off and hydrates your skin too. You can check out my fave glycolic acid exfoliants here.
  4. Moisturizer: seal everything in with a good moisturiser. The best ones are loaded with antioxidants and soothing ingredients that help you destroy the free radicals the sun, pollution etc generated into your skin.


Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol: What It Is, Where to Find It And How To Use It

Dry skin? Tweak your evening skincare routine like this:

  1. Double cleansing: see above.
  2. Retinol: see above.
  3. Glycolic acid: see above.
  4. Hyaluronic acid: it boosts hydration while your skin is sleeping.
  5. Moisturiser or oil: oils are a great alternative to moisturiser for your skin type at night. They’re very moisturising and have their fair share of antioxidants, too.


Related: The Complete Guide To Glycolic Acid: What It Is, Where To Find It And How To Use It

Oily skin? Here’s how to tweak your evening skincare routine:

  1. Double cleansing: see above.
  2. Clay mask: use them only two or three times a week to remove excess oil.
  3. Salicylic acid: this exfoliant removes dead cells, unclogs the pores to get rid of pimples and blackheads and soothes redness. For your skin type, it’s probably gentle enough to be used daily, even with retinol. But if you’ve never used it before, alternate it with retinol, just to be on the safe side. You can check out my fave salicylic acid exfoliants here.
  4. Retinol: see above.
  5. Oil-free moisturiser: oil-free moisturisers have lightweight textures that hydrate skin without adding more oil to it. Check out my fave oil-free moisturisers here.


Related: Why Salicylic Acid Is The Key To Spot-Free Skin

Want To Add More Products To Your Evening Skincare Routine?

Wait, what if you have a toner, copper peptide serum or anything else you want to add to your evening skincare routine? You can totally use add it. Just follow these rules:

  • Texture rule: apply products from the lightest-textured to the heaviest-textured. The heavier the texture, the more difficult it is for other skincare products to get through:
  • Penetration rule: the closer to clean skin you apply something, the higher the chances it’ll penetrate it deeply – and be more effective. After cleansing (and exfoliation, when applicable), apply the active that matters to you the most. If you’re concerned with antiaging, apply retinol. For skin-brightening, it’s hydroquinone.
  • Keep it short: if you want to add quite a few skincare products, alternate them. You see, every new product you add to your skincare routine may cause an irritation, especially when paired with powerful actives like glycolic acid or retinol. By alternating your products, you ensure your skin gets everything it needs without irritation. Plus, the less stuff you apply, the higher the chances that what you do apply does penetrate your skin.

Related: What’s The Correct Order To Apply Your Skincare Products?

The Bottom Line

Your morning skincare routine is for sun protection. Your evening skincare routine is for repair. In both cases, keep it short. More products don’t equal better results. Usually, they just up the chances of irritation!

Are your morning and evening skincare routines different? Share yours in the comments below.