We consider ourselves quite the skincare fanatics here at Byrdie HQ-it's hard not to be when our desks look like they could be featured in an episode of Hoarders: Skincare Edition (currently in the process of pitching that idea to A&E). However, we are well aware that our plight is a unique one and that the average woman is more concerned about what to use on her face rather than where to store her eighth cleanser of the week.
Thus, we present to you our guide to a daily skincare routine for every skin type. With the expertise of skin guru and esthetician RenГ©e Rouleau, we've put together the exact types of products (plus our best product picks, of course!) you should be looking for based on your particular skin type.
Meet the Expert
RenГ©e Rouleau is a celebrity esthetician based in Austin, TX. She is also the founder and creator of her eponymous skincare line.
Most people should be using a cleanser, a toner, and a moisturizer day (with SPF) and night (a creamier, richer one). For some of you, you'll be sprinkling some serums in there, too-antioxidants for day and retinol while you sleep. And everyone gets some extra Г la carte options, because indulgent skin care is the best kind, in our humble opinion.
We're hoping to help you take the guesswork out of your a.m. and p.m. skin routines and explain why those with dry skin should use a cleansing milk or why anyone with sensitive skin should try a gel-based mask (serious game changer, by the way).
Curious? Keep scrolling for the best skincare routine for every skin type.Imaxtree
Your skin can be classified as normal if it isn't particularly oily or dry, and if anti-aging, acne, and sensitivity aren't concerns on your radar-in other words, the skin type all of us wish we had. This is the best skincare routine for normal skin.В
Cleanser (Morning/Night):В A sulfate-free cleanser with a gentle lather, like RenГ©e Rouleau'sВ Purifying Face WashВ ($36) or FreshВ Soy Face CleanserВ ($38), will help keep your skin blemish-free.
Toner (Morning/Night):В Avoid ingredients likeВ SD alcohol 40, denatured alcohol, ethanol,В andВ isopropyl alcohol. вЂњThese ingredients are commonly found in toners and should be avoided,вЂќ Rouleau cautions. Try CremorlabВ Mineral Treatment Essence ($48) for a boost of energizing, brightening hydration.
Moisturizer With SPF (Morning):В вЂњWhen you moisturize, do two applications, one on the face and one on the neck," Rouleau says. She adds, "Sun protection isn't just about the number-it's about how generously you apply it.вЂќ A light moisturizer like OriginsВ A Perfect World SPF 25 Age Defense Moisturizer With White TeaВ ($45) will protect your skin from the sun and hydrate without clogging your pores. Rouleau suggests looking for ingredients likeВ dimethicone, panthenol, and sodium hyaluronateВ (also known as hyaluronic acid).
Antioxidant Serum (Night):В Rouleau suggests looking for an antioxidant serum with brightening ingredients likeВ vitamin CВ andВ algae extract, as well as naturally revitalizing ingredients likeВ rosemaryВ andВ peppermint. We're fans of Caudalie Reveratrol Lift Firming Serum ($82).
Moisturizer (Night):В At night, you can go with a creamier moisturizer, sans SPF, to nourish your skin while you sleep. Try Tatcha's The Water Cream ($68).
Your Г La Carte ExtraDr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel $88Shop
When it comes to keeping your normal skin normal, Rouleau suggests incorporatingВ glycolic acidВ into your routine a few times a week. вЂњThis is an alpha-hydroxy acid that is favored because it has the smallest molecular structure and can absorb deeper within the skin,вЂќ Rouleau explains. вЂњThis helps to dissolve surface dry skin cells to encourage brighter, more even-toned, smoother skin.вЂќ Try Dr. Dennis GrossВ Alpha Beta PeelВ ($88) for easy, on-the-go smoothing and brightening.
(ReadВ more of Rouleau's advice on serums.)
The best skincare routine for dry skin typically contains products that keep skin hydrated. вЂњDry skin has a damaged moisture barrier,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњYour skin has invisible cracks in it and it allows moisture to escape and irritants to get in more easily.вЂќ
Cleansing Lotion (Morning/Night):В вЂњA no-foam, no-lather, super-mild cleansing lotion is best for those with dry skin,вЂќ Rouleau says. Try her line'sВ Calming Chamomile CleanserВ ($36) or ClarinsВ Cleansing Milk With Alpine HerbsВ ($49).
Toner (Morning/Night): To rebalance your skin's pH level, restore moisture, and protect against environmental stress, try Indie Lee COQ-10 Toner ($34).
Antioxidant Serum (Morning):В Rouleau recommends using a highly potent antioxidant serum (look for vitamins E, A, and C) during the daytime to help prevent collagen breakdown-just make sure to follow with SPF. We love Skin Inc Supplement BarВ Vitamin A SerumВ ($35).
Moisturizer With SPF (Morning):В A hydrating moisturizer with SPF is the final step in your a.m. skin routine. Try Josie MaranВ Argan Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 ($34), which contains hydrating ingredients to help your skin retain moisture while guarding against UVA/UVB rays.
Retinol Serum (Night):В Rouleau recommends incorporating an over-the-counter retinol serum into your regimen five nights a week. вЂњI prefer serums over creams because they have smaller molecules and can better penetrate the skin,вЂќ she says. Some of our favorite retinol serums for dry skin include Peter Thomas RothВ Retinol Fusion PMВ ($65) and ChantecailleВ Retinol Intense+В ($140).
Eye Cream (Night):В вЂњLook for an eye serum with peptides because they're good for boosting collagen activity,вЂќ Rouleau says. Try Youth to the People Superfood Peptide Eye Cream ($35).
Hydrating Moisturizer (Night):В вЂњSome ingredients I recommend to look for in moisturizers are rose hip seed oil, evening primrose oil, borage oil, phospholipids, cranberry oil, sweet almond oil, and jojoba oil,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњAll of these ingredients mimic the natural lipids in your skin and do a better job of repairing your skin's moisture barrier.вЂќ TryВ Perricone MDВ Nourishing Moisturizer ($69) or Intraceuticals Rejuvenate Moisture Binding CreamВ ($75) for a big dose of moisture that doesn't feel greasy.
Your Г La Carte ExtrasRenГ©e Rouleau Triple Berry Smoothing Peel $86Shop
вЂњDry skin responds well to gentle exfoliation,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњIf your skin is dry, it means you have dead skin cell buildup-if you try to hydrate dried skin cells that are expired, it makes no sense.вЂќ She says that dry skin has invisible вЂњcracks,вЂќ so you should avoid using a facial scrub with sharp edges. вЂњChemical exfoliants do a better job of dissolving dead skin cells without tearing at your skin,вЂќ she says. Try her line'sВ Triple Berry Smoothing Peel ($86) or AmorePacificВ Treatment Enzyme Peel ($60).
If your skin is extremely dry, you can swap your p.m. moisturizer for a nourishing face oil like Shiva Rose Face OilВ ($120) or MunВ Brightening Youth Serum ($38), both of which are 100-percent organic and full of hydrating natural oils.
вЂњOily skin has larger oil glands and a high sebum content,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњThis is genetic. Oily skinned women have built-in oil, so the goal is to lessen the oil activity by keeping your skin cells lightly hydrated.вЂќ The skincare routine for oily skin contains ingredients that help control excess oil production.В
Cleansing Gel (Morning/Night):В вЂњIn the case of oily skin, oil breeds bacteria, and bacteria leads to breakouts,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњWash your skin three times a day if possible. The more oil, the more breeding ground for blemishes.вЂќ She recommends using a gel or foam cleanser that's free of sulfates. вЂњYou want agents that will cut the oil but you don't want to dry your skin out with too many detergents,вЂќ she says. We loveВ The Organic PharmacyВ Peppermint, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus Face WashВ ($67).
Toner (Morning/Night):В Rouleau says to look for an alcohol-free toner that has ingredients likeВ sodium PCAВ (a humectant to hold water to your skin),В geraniumВ (an essential oil good for cutting oil), andВ witch hazelВ (a natural astringent without the drying effects of alcohol).
Oil-Free Moisturizer (Morning/Night):В Lest you think your skin's oil production warrants skipping moisturizer, know this: Your skin can actually getВ oilierВ when it's dehydrated, by overcompensating. With this in mind, choose a light, oil-free moisturizer with sodium PCA and glycerin in the ingredient list-they're humectants that will help your skin retain moisture. Our oily-skinned editor reaches for IntraceuticalsВ Hydration Gel ($89).
Zinc Oxide Sunscreen (Morning):В вЂњOily skinned ladies are the least likely to use sunscreen because they can't find one compatible to their skin type,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњDefinitely look for zinc oxide sunscreens because those will leave a more matte finish to your skin. Plus, it's a natural antibacterial and ideal for people prone to breakouts.вЂќ Try Rouleau's Weightless Protection SPF 30 ($56). If you can't find an SPF that works for you, try a mineral-based powder like Colorscience Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-On Shield SPF 50В ($65) to act as your sunscreen.
AHA/BHA Serum (Night):В Any serum withВ alpha-hydroxy acidsВ orВ beta-hydroxy acidsВ will help reduce the appearance of large pores as well as brighten dull spots. If you're acne-prone, look for ingredients likeВ salicylic acid andВ tea tree oilВ to keep your skin clear. Try Ren Radiance Perfection SerumВ ($56).В
Retinol Serum (Night):В вЂњRetinol is good for oily skin because it helps your pores look smaller with continued use,вЂќ Rouleau says. Try Verso Super Facial Serum ($130) or RoC'sВ Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum ($25).Colorescience Mineral Powder Sun Protection SPF 30 $65ShopRoc Deep Wrinkle Serum $25Shop
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Rouleau recommends indulging in a gentle clay mask once a week. вЂњMake sure your clay mask doesn't dry too much before rinsing it off,вЂќ she warns. вЂњIf you smile and it cracks into 10,000 pieces, you've waited too long and it's gotten too dry-this can actually dehydrate your skin.вЂќMara Universal Face Oil $72Shop
Face oil and oily skin might seem a strange pair, but Rouleau says it's a good product to have on hand in super-dry environments like airplanes. вЂњUse one drop of oil over moisturizer every hour you're flying to prevent dryness and extra oil production, but I wouldn't recommend using it as part of your daily routine,вЂќ Rouleau says.
The skincare routine for combination skin contains ingredients that treat a wide range of skin concerns. вЂњThe concept of combination skin is that you're oily in some places and dry in others,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњYou don't necessarily want to use two different routines, but instead find one in the middle of the road.вЂќ
Cleansing Gel (Morning/Night):В Start with a cleansing gel like Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel ($14). If your skin starts getting too dry, you can switch to a cleansing lotion like OSEA Ocean Cleansing Milk ($54).
Toner (Morning/Night):В Try a simple balancingВ witch hazelВ toner like Thayer's Witch Hazel Rose Petal Facial Toner ($9).
Lightweight Moisturizer (Morning/Night):В вЂњCombination skin doesn't need an oil-free moisturizer, but it does need a lightweight one,вЂќ Rouleau says. Try Fresh Peony Brightening Moisture Face CreamВ ($73) for a silky texture and a dose of hyaluronic acid.
Zinc Oxide Sunscreen (Morning):В Just like with oily skin, zinc oxide sunscreens are great for combo skin, thanks to the matte finish. Try Drunk ElephantВ Umbra Sheer Physical Defense SPF 30В ($34).
AHA/BHA Serum (Night):В AHAs and BHAs minimize pores and brighten up dull skin. If you're acne-prone, look for ingredients likeВ salicylic acidВ andВ tea-tree oilВ to keep your skin clear. Caudalie Vinopure Natural Salicylic Acid Pore Minimizing Serum ($49) is fine like wine.В
Retinol Serum (Night): A retinol serum is pretty much a friend to all skin types, and combination skin is no exception. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane ($14) is super affordable, yet potent. You'll wake up with practically brand new skin.
Your Г La Carte ExtrasFresh Umbrian Clay Pore Purifying Face Mask $23Shop
Since combination skin only tends to get oily around the T-zone, focus on that area alone when using a clay mask.Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil $72Shop
Face oils can do wonders for combination skin-save them for nighttime, however, to avoid an overly dewy face in the a.m.
The skincare routine for sensitive skin needs to be nonirritating. вЂњA lot of people think of sensitive skin as acne-prone, but I think of it as skin that gets red and irritated easily,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњIt's more delicate skin that you can't be aggressive with.вЂќ
Cleansing Lotion (Morning/Night): A gentle, sulfate-free cleansing lotion like Peet Rivko Gentle Skin Cleanser ($28) will get rid of your makeup and any impurities without disrupting your skin's natural barrier.
Alcohol-Free Toner (Morning/Night): Ingredients like white tea extract, green tea, chamomile, and bisabolol are all calming, anti-inflammatory ingredients to look for in toners and moisturizers. Rouleau also says beta-glucan is an ingredient that helps support your skin's immune system to make it less sensitive over time. Try Origins A Perfect World Age-Defense Treatment Lotion With White Tea ($25.
Fragrance-Free Moisturizer (Morning/Night): When it comes to choosing a moisturizer, make sure to find one that doesn't contain synthetic fragrances, which can cause irritation and allergic reactions. Avoid alcohol and synthetic dyes as well if your skin gets irritated easily. We love SimpleВ Protecting Light Moisturizer SPF 15В ($10).
Zinc Oxide SPF (Morning): вЂњZinc oxide sunscreens are the least likely to irritate sensitive skin,вЂќ Rouleau says. вЂњTitanium dioxide sunscreens are good, but not as compatible with medium and darker skin tones because they can leave a white cast.вЂќ Try CeraVe Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 50В ($12) or SupergoopВ Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40 ($28).Simple Protecting Light Moisturizer SPF 15 $10Shop
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A gel-based mask has a naturally cooler temperature, which makes it perfect for irritated, inflamed skin. вЂњIt helps to put out the fire and delivers water-based hydration,вЂќ Rouleau says. We love her line's Bio Calm Repair MasqueВ ($50) as well as Skin IncВ Pure Deepsea Hydration Mask ($75), one of our favoriteВ overnight masks.Goldfaden MD Fresh A Peel Multi Acid Resurfacing Peel $85Shop
Just because you have sensitive skin doesn't mean you can skip exfoliating. If glycolic acid is too harsh, try a lactic acid serum like Goldfaden MDВ Fresh A PeelВ ($85) instead-it's milder and better for sensitive skin. Rouleau suggests using a lactic acid-based serum twice a week.
Finally, for a skincare routine for older skin,В your main goal is to plump up wrinkles, banish dark spots, and lift sagging. Rouleau says that your skin regimen will be similar to that of those with dry skin, with a few small differences.
Cleansing Lotion (Morning/Night): For aging skin specifically, Rouleau says to remember your neck when it comes to cleansing, treating, and sunscreen-it's a secret spot that often shows the first sign of aging. Try Elemis Pro-Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm ($64)
Toner (Morning/Night): Some toners have AHAs and BHAs in them, like MizonВ AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner ($23), which helps gently brighten mature skin.
Antioxidant Serum (Morning): Rouleau suggests looking for an antioxidant serum with brightening ingredients like licorice and vitamin C, to fade dark spots and discoloration. KorresВ Black Pine 3D Sculpting, Firming & Lifting Face SerumВ ($75) will brighten as well as plump fine lines and wrinkles with peptides, hyaluronic acid, and resveratrol.
Moisturizer With SPF (Morning): For moisture and sun protection with an antioxidant kick, try Paula's Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturizer SPF 30 ($29).
Physical Exfoliator (Night): Skin gets more delicate as it ages, which is why Rouleau says a gentle physical exfoliator with round beads works best on aging skin-especially on your neck.
Retinol Serum (Night): Depending on the severity of your wrinkles, you may want to visit a dermatologist for a prescription retinol. Confused about the difference?В Check out our ultimate guide to retinol.
Eye Cream (Night): Look for an eye cream with peptides that absorbs easily, like Skin LaundryВ Wrinkle Release Eye CreamВ ($30).
Hydrating Moisturizer (Night): A moisturizer with retinol, like Verso Day Cream ($110), will smooth fine lines and prevent future ones from forming.Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner $23ShopSkin Laundry Wrinkle Release Eye Cream With Peptides $30Shop
Your Г La Carte ExtrasSK-II Genoptics Spot Essence Serum $225Shop
If dark spots and hyperpigmentation are your main concerns, try a brightening serum like SK-IIВ GenOptics Spot EssenceВ ($225).Sunday Riley Juno Antioxidant + Superfood Face Oil $72Shop
Your skin gets drier as it ages, so consider incorporating a nourishing face oil with anti-aging ingredients, like Sunday RileyВ Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil ($72), into your p.m. skin regimen a few times a week.Ren Clean Skincare Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask $56Shop
A weekly glycolic peel likeВ Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance MaskВ ($56) will reveal fresh, clear skin and leave your complexion looking polished.
Up next, find out what happened when our editor tried a dragon's blood serum.