The Fix: Morning Skin Care Tips

Of course you want glowing skin, but your mornings feel like The Amazing Race. Dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD, has a doable 3-step skin care routine that even the busiest woman can manage. Spoiler alert: It starts with washing your face.

woman washing her face

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

Step 1: Prep

Start with a gentle cleanser—it doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. Bonus points if you use a soft washcloth to remove it, as you’ll get gentle exfoliation without stripping the skin’s moisture barrier. If washing your face feels like a lot of effort, Henry says a cotton pad soaked in micellar water, like Bioré Baking Soda Cleansing Micellar Water (drugstores, $7), is just as effective as a traditional cleanser. 

Step 2: Prime

After cleansing, apply a serum all over your face and upper chest. What exactly is a serum, and why do you need it? It’s a lightweight skin care treatment that has small but powerful active ingredients that penetrate the skin quickly. While serums can hydrate skin, they don’t replace moisturizers. Serums are particularly good at targeting specific skin care concerns, like breakouts or dryness—see below to choose the one that’s right for you.

Quick tip: A little serum goes a long way, so apply sparingly.

Step 3: Protect

Apply a moisturizer with (at least) SPF 30 sunscreen. If your skin gets shiny later in the day, layer on a tinted sunscreen powder to absorb oil and add an extra boost of protection. We know you’ve heard it before, but we’d be remiss not to remind you: Using sunscreen is the number one way to prevent wrinkles. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, an estimated 90% of skin aging is caused by the sun. 

morning skin care

Photo by The Morrisons

Photo by The Morrisons

Cleanser: Cetaphil Gentle Foaming Cleanser, walmart.com, $8. Serum: No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum (good for smoothing fine lines), target.com, $34. Moisturizer CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion, amazon.com, $15

All serums are not alike. Look for the right one for your skin’s needs.

Oily/acne-prone: salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Mario Badescu Skin Care Anti Acne Serum, mariobadescu.com, $20 

Dull, uneven: glycolic acid. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Serum, laroche-posay.us, $45

Super dry: ceramides or hyaluronic acid. Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum, pestleandmortar.com, $69 

Sensitive: niacinamide. Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum, paulaschoice.com, $38