A dedicated skin care routine is important to keep your skin looking and feeling healthy. You can use products geared toward your specific skin concerns to protect your skin from future damage, but skin care doesn't have to be complicated to get the best results—especially if you're just starting out on your skin care journey.

If washing your face is as far as your daily skin care goes, and you're wondering how to start a skin care routine that's right for you, just know that it's never too late to start. Follow these tips and tricks and soon you'll have a routine you can depend on.

Identify Your Skin Type

The first step in developing a skin care routine is figuring out what category your skin falls into. Identifying your skin type is fairly easy to do. There are certain signs to look out for and signal what skin type you might have. They are broken down as the following:

  • Oily skin: Acne, shininess, or makeup sliding off your face are indicators that you have oily skin. Oily skin is caused when oil glands produce an excess amount of oil and cause some of these skin concerns, usually around your T-zone.
  • Dry skin: In contrast to oily skin, dry skin occurs when your skin isn't producing enough oil. If your skin feels too tight, has a rough texture, itches, flakes, or your makeup looks cakey, you have dry skin.
  • Sensitive skin: If you find your skin gets irritated easily—whether from products or environmental factors—your skin might be sensitive. Be cognizant of any burning and stinging sensations, the appearance of rashes, bumps, and redness, peeling, or itchiness.
  • Mature skin: The appearance of fine lines or sagginess in the skin is a sign that your skin's collagen production is slowing down as you age.
  • Combination skin: This means you have more than one skin type and, ultimately, a combination of the skin types mentioned above.

Start Simple

A well-regimented skin care routine can be daunting if you're just starting out—but no need to jump straight into a 10-step one if you're not ready. You only need the basics when starting out: a cleanser, a serum, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen during the day. EltaMD's Elyse Chat Bot can help you build a custom regimen based on your skin profile.

You should layer products based on consistency, from thinnest to thickest, so that each product can seep into the skin to properly do its job. First, wash your face with a cleanser to remove dirt and debris, then apply your serum. Serums are super products packed with active ingredients that target your most pressing skin concerns—redness, breakouts, fine lines, and more. The moisturizer comes next to not only hydrate skin, but to lock in all of your products. For your daytime routine, always use a sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.

Choose the Right Ingredients for Your Skin Type

When it comes to picking the right products, you'll want to use ingredients that cater to your skin type. Generally, these are the ingredients you should be using if you have:

  • Oily skin: Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol control acne and curb excess oil production.
  • Dry skin: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides add and lock in moisture.
  • Sensitive skin: Niacinamide and ceramides have soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Mature skin: Retinol and growth factors stimulate collagen production.
  • Combination skin: Address each area separately based on the skin concern.

Proper skin care can be a bit of trial and error, so once you land on a basic routine, you can start incorporating more products or switching ones out.

Always Use Sunscreen

Wearing sunscreen every day is the golden rule of beauty. The benefits are plenty in keeping your skin healthy and supporting your overall well-being.

Just look at these statistics: wearing sunscreen reduces the risk of getting squamous cell carcinoma—which is the second most common form of skin cancer—by about 40 percent, and also lowers the risk of getting melanoma by 50 percent, according to studies done by the Skin Cancer Foundation,

Skin care-wise, wearing sunscreen can help with a lot of skin concerns, such as reducing signs of fine lines and dark spots and preventing hyperpigmentation and acne scars. So, don't skip the sunscreen and your skin will thank you for it.

Consult a Dermatologist

If you're still unsure how to start a skin care routine, remember that a Dermatologist can help. Board-certified Dermatologists are experts when it comes to skin care ingredients and can guide you toward the perfect products for your skin type. However you decide to move forward, remember to make your skin a priority and a key part of better well-being.


  • Audrey Noble

    Audrey Noble is a New York City-based reporter specializing in features, celebrity profiles, and beauty topics. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR, Allure, Vanity Fair, Refinery29, and more. She is a University of Southern California alumna with bachelor's degrees in print journalism and creative writing.