Your Complete Guide on How to Start a Basic Skincare Routine

If you’ve never been a skincare junkie, starting a skincare routine can be overwhelming and confusing. I get it. Before I worked in the skincare industry, I was pretty clueless on how to build a basic skincare routine, and I wasn’t consistent with my products or even washing my face. 

Building a solid skincare routine can do wonders for your skin, but it also provides you with a few minutes of essential *self-care* every morning and night. And we love our self-care over here at Charmed by Camille!

Although everyone has specific skin concerns, the steps of a basic skincare routine are generally the same across the board. Whether you’re a newbie to the skincare world or just looking to get back to the essentials, here’s how to build a basic skincare routine that works for every skin type

How To Start a Basic Skincare Routine

How to Start a Basic Skincare Routine

Figure out Your Skin Type

Before you purchase any skin care products for your routine, you need to know your skin type so that you can invest in the right products.

Your skin changes as you age, or even with the seasons, so your acne prone skin as a teenager may not be your same skin today. I recommend seeing a dermatologist or esthetician for a professional skin analysis, but here are a few simple tips to determine your skin type on your own:

  • Dry skin often looks dull and feels tight. You may be prone to more fine lines, and your skin can sometimes feel irritated (or dehydrated).
  • Oily skin’s appearance is generally shiny, and you can tend to feel greasy through your chin, nose, and forehead. Because your skin produces excess oil, you may be prone to breakouts.
  • Normal skin is balanced skin. This means that your skin doesn’t feel tight and dry or oily. People with normal skin typically have minimal to no breakouts, with smooth texture and small pores.
  • Combination skin is very common, and just like the name suggests, is a mix of dry and oily areas.

Although sensitive skin is commonly referred to as a skin type, your skin can be sensitive and dry, or sensitive and oily, etc. Your skin may be red or itchy, and things like dyes, fragrances, and even the weather can irritate it.

Keep It Simple

Once you figure out the above, you can purchase the right products based on your skin type.

And no, you don’t have to invest in a complicated 10-step routine. A basic skincare routine consists to three main steps: washing your face, applying moisturizer, and wearing sunscreen.

Stay Consistent

The best skin care routine is the one that you stick to, even if it’s not perfect. Skin care results are never instant, so you need to be patient with your products. Unless something immediately irritates your skin, stay consistent with your basic skincare routine.

As you add in additional items, you’ll also need to be patient. On average it takes about 30 days for your skin cells to turn over, at which you’ll start to finally see some results.

Basic Skincare Routine Steps

Step 1: Cleanse

The first step in both morning and nighttime skincare routines is cleansing your face.

If you have combination or oily skin, opt for a foaming cleanser. These cleansers tend to be a bit drying, so they’re best for people whose skin produces more oil. I have combination skin and recently starting using Avene Gel Cleanser; it cleanses without being overly drying.

If you have dry skin or sensitive skin, skip the foaming cleanser, and look for a creamy one instead (like this Tatcha cleanser or this cleanser from La Roche-Posay). Although cream cleansers won’t get sudsy, they’re gentler and less drying. 

PRO TIP: If you wear heavy makeup, try an oil-based cleanser like Dermalogica PreCleanse prior to using your other cleanser. This is called double cleansing. Oil attracts oil, so it absorbs any makeup and impurities, leaving your skin ready for a deeper cleanse. (Look for something that’s non-comedogenic so you won’t end up with clogged pores.)

Step 2: Moisturize

Once your skin is nice and clean, it’s time to moisturize. Moisturizers add back any hydration that was potentially removed during the cleansing process and provide a layer to help protect your skin’s barrier from irritation. I like to rotate between Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrate when my skin is dehydrated and Lancer Nourish on other days.

Applying moisturizer morning and night, daily, will improve the overall hydration levels of your skin, and help prevent fine lines over time.

Step 3: Protect 

Using sunscreen every single morning after you moisturize is THE key to preventing signs of aging, dark spots, and skin cancers. Most sunscreen these days are broad-spectrum, meaning that they protect from both UVA rays (responsible for wrinkles) and UVB rays (responsible for sunburns). 

There are also two kinds of sunscreens: chemical and mineral. However, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose, it just needs to be one you like and use daily.

My favorite everyday facial sunscreen is Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen because it also acts as a makeup primer. On days when I don’t wear makeup, EltaMD UV Clear Tinted provides sun protection and subtle color for an even complexion. Both are oil-free.

At nighttime, you can skip applying SPF, but you may want to add some other products into your routine. Keep reading for more, and when you should apply them.

Other Products May Want to Add to Your Skincare Routine 

Once you have a consistent habit with the basic skincare routine above, consider adding some of these products into your regimen.

An Exfoliant

Unless you have naturally smooth skin, you may want to add an exfoliant into your skincare routine. 

Our skin naturally exfoliates itself, but sometimes it could use a little help. If your skin looks dull, bumpy, or feels clogged, exfoliating helps to remove excess dead skin cells for smoother, brighter-looking skin. Lancer The Polish is one of my all-time favorite skincare products and it has single-handedly changed the overall texture of my skin.

WHEN TO APPLY: In the morning, after cleansing

Everyone’s skin is different, so talk to your dermatologist or esthetician for advice on how often to exfoliate. Over-exfoliating can lead to redness, irritation, and even breakouts.


Serums have a high concentration of active ingredients and/or vitamins to help target specific skin care concerns like wrinkles, extra dryness, dark spots, etc.

WHEN TO APPLY: Morning or night depending on the product, after cleansing, right before you apply moisturizer

I love Sunday Riley serums. In the morning I use CEO Vitamin C Serum to help brighten my dark spots and overall complexion. At night I use A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum to combat fine lines.

If you’re using a retinol or retinoid serum, make sure you only use this product at night.

Face Masks 

Similar to serums, face masks also have a high concentration of active ingredients and using a face mask weekly can deliver an extra boost to whatever skin care concern you’re trying to address. You should use a face mask no more than 1-2 times per week.

WHEN TO APPLY: Morning or night depending on the product, after cleansing

I like Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask if I need a boost of hydration. If my skin feels clogged and needs a detox, I reach for Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Minimizing Cleansing Clay Mask or Summer Fridays Overtime Mask. Sephora’s house brand also makes great, affordable sheet masks for a variety of skincare concerns.

Remember, a skincare routine doesn’t need to be complicated, but you do need to be consistent.

When in doubt start with the basics. Cleanse, moisturize – and if it’s the morning – be sure to apply sunscreen.

As you become consistent with your routine, then consider adding some additional products like serums or an exfoliant. And once you’re a skincare routine pro, consider giving yourself an at-home facial for an extra dose of self care and relaxation!

Nice to Meet You

Hi, I'm Camille! I'm a bi-coastal blogger splitting my time between LA and NYC and sharing elevated, yet relatable ideas so that you can achieve your most stylish life.

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