Ever walk into a beauty store and just feel overwhelmed by all the skin care products available? Serums, face oils and cleansers—oh my!—and as you’re trying to nail down your moisturizer options, you see another unfamiliar product and think to yourself, “Do I really need that?”
Nailing down your skin care routine could seem as complicated as rocket science, especially with the array of products and ingredients available to us. And with so much variety, it could be easy to forget what the main purpose should be for your day and night beauty routines. So to break it down, we spoke to dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D., dermatologist and author of Skin Rules, to explain the proper differences between your daily skin care routine and nighttime routine and to tell you what you need to get started.
The primary focus of your daily skin care routine is protection. “The main goals of a daytime skin routine is to block the skin from the sun and UV damage,” Jaliman explains, along with any other bacteria formed by environmental pollutants.
With those factors in mind, here are some great products to kick off your daytime regimen:
“This cleanser by Éminence contains salicylic acid and lactic acid to unclog pores and get rid of bacteria,” says Jaliman. Ingredients like tea tree oil and cucumber juice work to prevent breakouts and provide a cooling effect.
Jaliman suggests applying this antioxidant-packed serum right after you wash your face, but before you add sunscreen or moisturizer. “The active ingredients in the serum penetrate into the skin better before you put on sunscreen to protect your skin from UV damage,” says Jaliman.
This cream contains glycerin, hyaluronic acid and ceramides for excellent hydration, says Jaliman. But what really makes this moisturizer good is the ceramides. “Ceramides help lock in moisture and protect your skin barrier from environmental pollutants as well as bacteria,” notes Jaliman.
As previously mentioned, the main goal for your daytime regimen should be protecting your skin from the sun. “UV damage will age your skin—causing lines, uneven discoloration, brown spots and broken blood vessels,” says Jaliman. This sunscreen by ELTA MD contains niacinamide, which has a calming effect on acne-prone skin, so those who are afraid of breaking out should feel at ease slathering this on.
At night, your biggest focus should be stimulating your skin’s collagen production, says Jaliman. It’s also the right opportunity to give your skin the right ingredients to repair itself while you sleep.
Here are the essential nighttime products that’ll give your skin a boost:
Having two different cleansers for morning and night sounds unnecessary, but Jaliman says it’s good to mix it up. “You can use a salicylic acid–based cleanser in the morning to unclog pores and avoid acne and a glycolic acid–based cleanser at night to exfoliate your skin and get rid of dead skin cells,” notes Jailman. Using a cleanser with glycolic acid can help stimulate collagen growth and because of its exfoliating texture, it will help break off layers of dead skin cells, revealing a smoother complexion. This gel cleanser is right on target with its alpha hydroxy acids to help wash away your skin cells and promote cellular generation.
The great thing about this serum is that it has retinol along with hyaluronic acid, explains Jaliman. “Since retinol is drying, hyaluronic acid will help lock in moisture to keep skin hydrated and balanced.”
To finish off your PM routine, you’ll want to use a product that will help your skin repair itself from pollutants and other aggressors that it could have encountered during the day. This moisturizer has a formula of evening primrose oil and emollient silicones that strengthen the skin, making it less sensitive to environmental aggressors.