How to build a daily skincare routine: The ultimate 9-step guide to glowing skin

Skincare routine. Pic: Shutterstock

When it comes to skincare it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With the complexity of long listed skincare routines, the abundance of different products on store shelves, and influencers who are naturally blessed with flawless skin claiming ways to a perfect complexion (despite them probably having a dermatologist on speed-dial), it makes you wonder where to even start.

You might even question the use of a toner, what even is it? Is it necessary? What does it even do?

If you’re a bit clueless on anything skincare or you’re simply looking to change your skincare routine to best suit you, you’ve come to the right place. These minimal steps can help you achieve the ultimate dream complexion of glowing skin. 


Find out your skin type (and knowing the basics)

Finding your skin type. Pic: Getty Images

Before you introduce any products to your skincare routine, you need to figure out what kind of skin type you have. Don’t fear though, it’s not anywhere near as complex as it sounds! Once you start using products best suited for your skin type, you will instantly see improvements. The five main categories are oily, combination, sensitive, normal, and dry. But which category best fits your skin?

Have you got dry cheeks which require constant hydration? Do you find that your foundation moves around during the day? Or that you have a combination situation going on? Just know that whatever it is, knowing your skin type will help you find the best routine.

If you’re unsure on your skin type, why not try the NIVEA test or the skin type quiz from UNCOVERTHEGLOW to help you determine what skincare category best fits you.

STEP 2 –

First Cleanse/ Make-up Removal


It’s important to remove your makeup and wash your face before even thinking about going in with your skincare products. This is what’s known as a first cleanse. Not only will skincare ingredients not absorb into your skin, but your makeup won’t sit flush if it’s not make-up free beforehand. Avoiding this step could leave you facing with breakouts.

If you haven’t been wearing make-up then you can skip this step, but if you’ve been wearing SPF, then a primary cleanse is an essential regardless. SPF tends to clings to your skin like glue and if you don’t remove it correctly, you could end up encouraging unwanted spells of acne. No, thank you.

Despite popular beliefs, makeup and cleansing wipes don’t remove all makeup. Opting for a cleansing oil or balm can help melt the makeup and clears out your pores, all without stripping your skin.

Your cleansing oil or balm should be massaged onto dry skin, using your hands for at least thirty seconds. Once applied to your face, combine with water to help emulsify the solution for a further thirty seconds. When the cleanser has emulsified you are going to need a wet flannel to wipe away the cleanser and grime left on your face. As recommended by skincare guru, Caroline Hirons, you’ll need at least eight flannels – one for each day of the week plus another for laundry day.

STEP 3 –

Second Cleanse 

Cleansing your face. Pic: Getty Images

For your second cleanse, otherwise known as ‘skin cleanse’, you’ll want to go for a gentle gel-based cleanser no matter what your skin type is. This is the chance to really get in contact with the skin. The ingredients you use in your second cleanse are important as they help target your skin concerns.

There are a range of different cleansers on the market with different key ingredients, all suited for different skin types, so it’s important to know what type of skin you’re dealing with.

If you have oily acne-prone skin, a key ingredient to look for is salicylic acid as this helps to reduce acne by gently exfoliating the skin and keeping pores clear.

Your second cleanser is best applied with your hands as it allows you to use your fingertips to softly massage the formula into your skin without being too harsh. However, if you’re feeling boujee, you can always use a cleansing brush but make sure you’re using one fitted with a soft brush head or it can be too aggressive on the skin. An example of a great alternative are the FOREO facial cleansing devices, as they provide you with a more gentle cleanse with their silicone touch points.

After cleansing, make sure your face remains damp before you proceed to the next step. Skincare products are absorbed better when the skin is wet.

STEP 4 –

Toner and Exfoliation


If you struggle with acne, look for a toner that has BHA (Beta hydroxy acid, such as Salicylic acid), AHA (Alpha hydroxy acid, such as lactic acid or most common glycolic acid) or PHA (Polyhydroxy acids). These are known as exfoliating toners which work to unclog pores, prevent breakouts and dissolve blackheads over time. 

You should slowly build up your skin’s tolerance when using AHA and BHA based products. Gradually introduce the products to your routine, by starting to use them once a week, then twice a week, then eventually every other day. Products that contain PHAs are gentler and can be used daily. In the evenings, if you’re using a retinol, save your exfoliation step for the next evening.

If you have any other skin types such as dry, normal, sensitive or combination skin, opt for a hydrating toner. This will help to reintroduce any water your skin barrier has lost after cleansing your skin. You can do this every morning and night.

STEP 5 –


Serums. Pic: Getty Images

It’s easy to think of toners as orange squash, and a serum as orange concentrate. Serums usually have a concentrated main ingredient used to target a particular skin concern.

In the morning, Vitamin C serum is great to use. This essentially protects your skin from developing inflammation and damage during the day, whilst also brightening your skin and lightening dark spots. If you are applying Vitamin C, using SPF based products will increase the effectiveness of the serum and expose you to less UV damage.

These serum can be strong so if your skin is sensitive use it every other day, rather than daily.

In the evening, it’s recommended to use a serum with hyaluronic acid, as it draws in water from the air to your skin to keep it hydrated and plump overnight. If you have acne-prone skin, hyaluronic acid can be paired with a niacinamide serum as it helps to minimise pore appearance, redness, regulates sebum production and helps to treat dark spots.

STEP 6 –

Spot Treatments


Applying treatments to spots and scarring is best in the evening, as this is when your body is working at its hardest to repair itself. If you’re planning to use a retinol that night, use a spot treatment in the morning to help lower risk of irritation.

Regardless of the time of day, you should apply the treatments before using a moisturiser so it can best penetrate your skin.

Treatments such as niacinamide, can be used daily to gently brighten dark spots over time, without the cause of irritation. For pimples, products such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are effective, but should not be used together. Benzoyl peroxide kills acne-causing bacteria particularly for classic whiteheads, whereas salicylic acid helps to dissolve oil and skin cells. 

STEP 7 –



Every skincare routine needs a moisturiser. It doesn’t matter if your skin is very oily, combination, or even acne-prone. Moisturiser, otherwise known as the saving grace for healthy looking skin, is the essential in repairing and protecting your skin.

In the morning, try to use a light, hyaluronic-based moisturiser. It will keep your skin hydrated without it feeling heavy and greasy on the skin. You can combine your moisturiser and SPF by using a moisturiser with at least SPF 30 in it.

In the evening, whilst your skin is in its repair mode, it’s best to use a thicker and more inclusive moisturiser, filled with hyaluronic acid. It’s full of the essentials in helping your skin repair its moisture barrier. 

STEP 8 –



Retinol penetrate your skin to speed up cell turnover, causing your body to create smoother, fresher, less wrinkled looking skin over time. According to dermatologists, you’ll start to notice differences in the appearance of your skin, within four to six weeks of consistent use.

Retinols should be eased in slowly to your evening routine as it can cause sensitivity. A pea-sized amount should be used once a week in order to build up tolerance, then two nights a week, then three, then every other night. If you have sensitive skin, apply a layer of moisturiser after applying your retinol, as this dilutes the strength and minimises the risk of sensitivities.

STEP 9 –


Sunscreen. Pic: Getty Images

Finally, is SPF. SPF should be used whenever you step foot outside. No matter the season, whether we’re in summer or winter. SPF is essential. It should be applied during your morning routine as the last step to protect your face as it essentially acts as a shield against the outside world.

Before you question whether you even need SPF, or thinking that your foundation that contents SPF 15 is more than good enough, just know that dermatologists stress that the minimum SPF you need daily on your face is SPF 30. This is to help combat premature ageing and further damage to your skin concerns. No one wants worsened acne scars or premature ageing.

There it is! You’ve learned the necessities into the realm of skincare. You may now refer to yourself as a mini dermatologist (but maybe don’t say this in front of any doctors). Now you can create your skincare routine with all this knowledge you now have.

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