One of the questions I get on repeat is, “I’m confused by all the products and how to use them; what is the best skincare routine for me?” My answer? It depends. It depends on skin type, skin goals, budget and…commitment. That’s right, are you ready to Say Yes To The
Dress Skincare Routine?! Download our skincare schedule template and use this guide to curate a routine that’s perfect for you!
Thank you to Pacific Resources International for partially sponsoring this post. As always, The New Knew only works with brands who we trust are making the world a better place.
Whether you have sensitive skin, normal skin, dry skin or acne-prone skin, we are detailing out picks for each skin type. The TNK team has tried and tested all of these recs so you are in good hands here.
But regardless of how great our recommendations are and how awesome this skincare schedule is, it won’t make an impact without your commitment and consistency. Consistency is key when we’re talking about achieving that glow factor.
In other words, it’s time to retire that habit of going to bed without washing your face—girl, you are better than that! I mean, it’s fine if you skip here and there (like 2x a month or something), but it can’t be the other way around where you are skipping your evening skincare routine 25 days a month and expecting results.
IN THIS POST:
- A best skincare routine overview
- Morning routine tips + product recs
- Evening routine tips + product recs
- Weekly skincare routine treatment tips + product recs
- Get your free weekly skincare template!
And I get it, not everyone’s got the time or bandwidth to strategically plan out their best skincare routine. That’s why today’s blog includes a downloadable Weekly Skincare Schedule, which includes a template you can fill in for yourself to create your own best-fit routine. I’m making it simple so you can level up your skincare game, no matter your skin type.
Best skincare routine overview: A few key notes to keep in mind
Ultimately, the best skincare routine is personalized. It takes into account your skin type, what sensitivities or allergies you have, how much time you’re willing to dedicate to your routine and what outcome you’re looking for. That said, we’re here to help. 👊
We’ve separated this routine out by day and night. You can absolutely use the same products you use during the day…at night. PSA: We’re not recommending you buy a 15-step skincare routine. But, there are some nuances between morning and nighttime skincare, if you want to get into the nitty-gritty. And that’s what we’re going to do, so get ready to dive in.
Protective-focused skincare is typically more effective during the day, while restorative skincare is better for night. What do those mean?
- Protective skincare: Generally speaking, this is skincare that’s formulated to help protect against environmental aggressors like UV rays, free radicals, pollution, etc. I.e. vitamin C, antioxidants, sunscreen.
- Restorative skincare: These are formulas that offer reparative benefits through ingredients designed to encourage cell turnover, boost hydration (which dips at night), strengthen connective tissue and counteract things like free radical damage. I.e. retinol, bakuchiol, rosehip seed oil, hyaluronic acid.
RELATED: What’s the deal with retinol in organic skincare? and my current anti-aging skincare routine.
Pro tip: With any skincare product, order of application matters. Apply from thinnest to thickest (cleanser, toner, serum, oil, moisturizer, for example).
Weekly Skincare Schedule: Morning
Lymphatic treatments like gua sha can offer what Wildling Beauty co-founder Britta Plug calls “an intensified re-patterning of habits in muscles and tissue, helping to remove metabolic waste, environmental pollution and chemicals that may have entered into the body through conventional beauty products (1), tap water (2), or overuse of plastic (3).”
I have normal skin and I use all four of the methods we are recommending below. Deciding which one to use is a personal knee jerk and just depends on my mood (I love them all). We are breaking these down into skin type recs, but feel free to play around with different methods until you find one that works best for you. I personally think manual face massage is a great place to start for everyone because you don’t need any tools, it’s free and it’s super effective.
Want proof? Check out my mind-blowing before & after gua sha + manual face massage from Modern Holistic. Also, watch this to see how gua sha can help with hyperpigmentation too!
“Product” recommendations for lymphatic treatments:
- For sensitive skin: Use clean hands and a light touch with a manual face massage.
- For normal skin: Try facial dry brushing, which also exfoliates and helps tone.
- For dehydrated skin: Using gua sha which can help your serums/oils penetrate more easily, making this a great treatment for dry skin.
- For acne-prone skin: Use clean hands and a light touch with a manual face massage.
- For mature skin: Use facial cupping to help lift, plump, stimulate circulation and tone (watch here).
Oil cleansing is a skincare revolution IMO. Oils leave skin supple, unstripped, moisturized and glowing. And they are super effective at taking off makeup. If you’ve never tried to cleanse with an oil before—girl, do yourself a favor! More here, if you need extra guidance.
Product recommendations for oil cleansers:
- For sensitive skin: Pai Light Work, a super lightweight, gentle cleanser that takes care of skin while getting the job done.
- For normal skin: Leahlani’s Pamplemousse Cleansing Oil is brightening, and contains exfoliating enzymes to promote a daily glow.
- For dehydrated skin: LOVINAH’s Vitamin C Cleansing Balm is viscous with a balm-to-oil-to-milk consistency that hydrates while it cleanses.
- For acne-prone skin: True Botanicals Clear Nourishing Cleanser—read about my FULL experience with the Clear line here. It’s chock-full of blemish-busters, without being stripping.
These aren’t your mama’s mists. Contrary to what 90s marketing would have us believe, a toner applied after cleansing should help hydrate and soothe, not dry out and sting. These are meant to replenish skin and prep your complexion for treatments and moisturizers.
Product recommendations for toners / mists:
- For sensitive skin: Laurel Single Farm Calendula Hydrosol is soothing, anti-inflammatory and all-around a rockstar for reactive skin.
- For normal skin: Maya Chia’s The Optimist, a hydrating brightener that functions like an essence as much as a mist.
- For dehydrated skin: BLÜH ALCHEMY’s Toning Elixir uses hibiscus and hyaluronic acid to seal in moisture.
- For acne-prone skin: Graydon Skincare’s Face Food Mineral Mist contains zinc, which can help mattify oily skin, and help reduce breakouts.
Vitamin C Serum
A daytime necessity for even-toned, clear, plump skin. These concentrated treatments target age spots and acne scars to promote a clearer, calmer, brighter, firmer complexion. Plus vitamin C is a great protectant to enhance skin’s resilience.
Product recommendations for vitamin C serums:
- For sensitive skin: Blissoma’s Aura Aura Phyto Brightening serum – a lightweight, botanical-packed serum without common allergens, in a base of soothing rosewater.
- For normal skin: Maya Chia’s The Super Lift Vitamin C-More Treatment. We can’t get enough. Believe it or not, this formula has a temporary tightening/ smoothing effect that you can actually FEEL taking place after you apply it.
- For dehydrated skin: LILFOX’s HAUTE C Serum not only blends the botanical power of kaduku plum with camu camu, but its double dose of hyaluronic acid make it skin-plumping for multiple reasons.
- For acne-prone skin: Free + True’s Bright Side packs a one-two punch against breakouts and dark spots with niacinamide and two types of vitamin C.
Daytime moisture is key to keeping skin healthy and fresh-looking. These layer well with our vitamin C recs, and contain the protective ingredients your skin needs to combat environmental stressors—but won’t leave you looking like you’ve slathered Vaseline all over your face.
Product recommendations for daytime moisture:
- For sensitive skin: Blissoma’s Pure Sensitive Skin Complex is not too heavy and not too light, but full of vitamins, skin calmers and antioxidants for hydration and daytime protection.
- For normal skin: BLUH ALCHEMY Antioxidant Oil – kind of the definition of protective skincare with 18 nutrient-dense oils to firm, plump and hydrate.
- For dehydrated skin: OSEA Malibu’s Advanced Protection Cream – it’s a little lighter than our rec for nighttime moisture, but it still hydrates deeply, with seaweed extract and squalene. If this isn’t enough for you, layer KHUS KHUS’s The Fix underneath or over for a balm boost.
- For acne-prone skin: True Botanicals’ Clear Pure Radiance Oil – A clarifying yet moisturizing oil that helps address and prevent bothersome breakouts while minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Kinda a win-win. And I loved it.
Do we really need to get into why you need a daily SPF in your routine? I hope not, but let me say this: It’s your best protection against sun damage, dehydration, age spots, discoloration and pretty much all the things you want to avoid. Choose a mineral based SPF (read more about why here) for best results.
Product recommendations for SPF:
- For sensitive skin: Pratima Neem Rose Sunscreen – with so few ingredients, including a focus on soothing rose, this is a dream for reactive skin. Super light, soaks in fast, no white cast.
- For normal skin: Honua’s MALU – soaks in beautifully without feeling too heavy for everyday wear—and it’s even (dare I say) moisturizing.
- For dehydrated skin: Kari Gran’s Essential SPF 28 is a juggernaut for keeping skin moisturized while protecting against UVA rays. Organic beeswax helps keep hydration in with its humectant nature. Another rec? We haven’t tried it yet, but we’ve got our eyes on the Le Prunier Plumscreen, which bases its formula on the much-loved (celeb favorite!) plum oil. Yum.
- For acne-prone skin: Juice Beauty’s Oil Free SPF 30 – yeah, yeah, yeah. Oils are GOOD for acne-prone skin. We’re not trying to play into the need for oil-free products, but this SPF from Juice Beauty does help keep blemishes at bay with anti-bacterial aloe, while keeping skin hydrated with emollient algae.
RELATED:The best nontoxic face SPF and Nicolle’s sensitive skincare routine.
Weekly Skincare Schedule: Evening
Again, we’re not trying to recommend a super intense skincare routine that requires dropping a ton of dough. So, use the same cleanser at night.
Same same. 👆
Vitamin A/Retinol Treatment
Retinoids are popping up with the quickness in the eco-beauty space—and for good reason. One of the most effective treatments for overexposure to UV radiation (resulting in premature aging) is retinol. We see it proven again and again in study (4) after study (5) after study (6).
Susanne Norwitz, founder and formulator of Maya Chia says, “Retinol is the gold standard in inhibiting the breakdown of collagen, increasing collagen synthesis, increasing skin elasticity, helping to seriously address the signs of photo-aging in the skin and regulating sebum production. It is one of the most studied ingredients in skincare.”
And that’s why you need it in your routine (you can learn WAY more here, with a retinol deep dive—I break down all the hype and walk you through EVERYthing you need to know).
P.S. If you’re new to retinol, start by using every other day or every third day of the week to avoid irritation. Build up to find a frequency that works for you.
Product recommendations for retinol/vitamin A serums:
- For sensitive skin: BLÜH ALCHEMY’s Botanic Retinol – sensitive skin can be overwhelmed by real retinol. Try one of our faves from BA instead, which utilizes bakuchiol, the only plant-based alternative to retinol clinically proven to dramatically improve skin texture. Try using it every other night until you’re sure your skin likes it.
- For normal skin: Maya Chia’s The Straight A. If I could recommend one thing to you, it’s this. I’m talking brighter skin, a more even skin tone, better skin texture and a reduction in fine lines…in just days. See the results here.
- For dehydrated skin: Josh Rosebrook’s Active Infusion Oil – a fatty acid rich, plant oil blend that absorbs quickly and cushions the delivery of retinol and vitamin C for helping to maintain moisture levels.
- For acne-prone skin: Marie Veronique’s Treatment Retinol Serum was developed specifically for blemish-prone skin to utilize the skin-cell turnover enhancing properties of retinol to help control breakouts and clear pores.
I prefer cream treatments for eyes over oils, but that’s just me! Often, I just use my face moisturizer as my eye treatment too because it doesn’t have to be that complicated. That being said, eye creams are formulated specifically to treat the skin around the eyes. This is what I like when I reach for an eye treatment.
Product recommendations for eye treatments:
- For sensitive skin, normal skin and acne-prone skin: Mukti Organics’ Age Defiance Eye Serum’s clinical trials showed a 17% decrease in wrinkles around the eyes in just 15 days AS WELL AS an anti-eye bag and anti-dark circle effect thanks to the addition of eyeseryl. Plus, I’m excited to recommend it and I can’t say that about many eye creams!
- For dehydrated or mature skin: True Botanicals Resurrection Radiance Eye Cream – sooo creamy and thick! This eye cream utilizes Resurrection Plant to address the root cause of tired eyes that show dark circles, puffiness and fine lines, while a unique tree bark extract directly targets dark circles to reveal smoother, brighter looking eyes.
Still not trying to get you to add unnecessary steps to your skincare routine, so stick with the moisturizer from the morning if you want. If you want to target hydration and more specifically repair skin, try one of these overnight moisturizers.
Product recommendations for nighttime moisture:
- For sensitive skin: biophile tops the list when it comes to sensitive skin treatments. Technically, we’d recommend all three of the products together, but the combo of the Bio-Shroom Serum and the Bio Nourishing Oil is enough. 2023 note: biophile is sadly no longer in business. Read our full review here to learn why the microbiome friendly skincare is 👌👌👌 for sensitive skin.
- For normal skin: BLÜH ALCHEMY’s Nocturnal Repair Active Emulsion has our whole team googly eyed rn. It’s super plush and leaves my skin feeling plump, hydrated and supple. Chebula rocks this formula by boosting collagen and repairing free radical damage. Also, try layering this with your favorite oil.
- For dehydrated skin: Prima’s Afterglow cream contains pure, whole plant hemp extract to work synergistically with a blend of hyaluronic acid, vegan collagen and Ayurvedic adaptogens for hydrated, restored skin.
- For acne-prone skin: Laurel’s Balance Serum helps to restore balance to excess oil production, decongest pore build up and dissolve impurities. It’s lightweight, which is great for oily skin, and it absorbs quickly.
Weekly Skincare Schedule: Treatments
Honey Based Mask
Honey is skincare’s modern-day MacGyver—especially in green beauty. It’s great as a mask or a cleanser to treat acne and/or dry skin but it’s also beneficial for most skin types. Manuka honey from Pacific Resources International is my go-to.
Why? Cancer.gov cites, “Manuka honey has been reported to stimulate the formation of new blood capillaries and the growth of fibroblasts [collagen producers] and epithelial cells [outer layers of skin] when applied topically.”
On top of that, honey…
- Gently nourishes skin and doesn’t strip skin of its natural oils.
- Has a low pH level (4.4) (7) which bacteria do not thrive in.
- Acts as a light exfoliator—especially when you practice honey tapping.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties (8) and can decrease inflammation caused by acne and blemishes.
- Has antibacterial properties (7) and can help eliminate bacteria on your face that may be contributing to flare ups.
- Has been shown to accelerate wound care (7) and can help heal existing blemishes.
- Delivers (8) vitamins (B2, B4, B5, B6, B11 and C), minerals (calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, seleniumx), antioxidants (flavonoids), enzymes, amino acids.
- Is antiseptic (8) and cleanses the skin.
- Promotes rehydration (8) by drawing moisture to the skin.
- Improves softness and texture (8).
Consider Manuka nature’s Neosporin. It’s different from any other honey and it can legit treat every skin problem known to man including acne, eczema, dry skin and more. Every skin type can use straight Manuka as a treatment but if you want something more, this is what we recommend.
Product recommendations for honey-based masking:
- For sensitive skin: Keep it simple with straight Manuka honey (read more about it here). This honey, from Pacific Resources International, is the one I’ve been using and loving. It’s independently lab-tested, which helps ensure each batch’s purity & potency. Plus, they were the first company to import New Zealand Manuka honey more than 30 years ago, so you know they’ve got it down.
- For normal skin: Leahlani’s Honey Love delivers all of the benefits of honey AND it also manually exfoliates leaving skin feeling refreshed, smooth and bright.
- For dehydrated skin: Laurel’s Honey Berry Enzyme Mask uses organic blueberries and aronia berry to deliver superfood antioxidants; organic blackberries to aid in collagen formation; and Hawaiian macadamia nut oil delivers vitamin E, tannins and essential fatty acids.
- For acne-prone skin: May Lindstrom’s The Honey Mud – raw honey, silver, white halloysite clay, exfoliating acid and aromatic plant oils help detox skin while keeping it hydrated.
RELATED: 5 honey-based masks you need to try now and my current skincare routine.
Manual or Acid-Based Exfoliator
Exfoliating is a key component to a regular skincare routine. Without it, you’re infusing dead skin cells with all the goodness of the serums, oils and treatments we’ve been talking about. With it, you’re breaking down and removing dead skin cells, hydrating the skin and even increasing blood circulation—all while prepping your complexion to better absorb nutrients and moisture.
Product recommendations for exfoliators:
- For sensitive skin: If you’re REALLY sensitive, skip this step. Your skin will thank you. If you’re on the border of sensitive and normal skin, try the gentle resurfacing of one of the honey-based exfoliating masks above. Or, go with something as simple as ground oats mixed with your favorite soothing hydrosol.
- For normal skin: Maya Chia’s Refreshmint Mask – a resurfacing moisture mask that uses 4 different types of acids, as well as enzymes and hydrators, which work to exfoliate, brighten and moisturize the skin. Or if you want something a little more glow-inducing, try LILFOX’s new Acid Glow, which has a combo of three acids for major resurfacing.
- For dehydrated skin: Ravanat’s Imperial Glow Facial Polish is a delicious balm to milk creamy facial polish that’s gentle yet powerful thanks to finely milled rice powder and nourishing almond oil. Leaves skin silky while still helping remove dead cells. Or, try the LILFOX Acid Glow, which has an extravagant 10% multi-weight hyaluronic acid to help smooth the skin while infusing it with moisture.
- For acne-prone skin: Pai Skincare’s Dinner Out is a potent combo of copaiba and kaolin to help draw out impurities and soothe the look of blemishes, while AHAs soften and brighten.
Extended Face Massage
I like to do a longer manual face massage once or twice a week to continue to help support my skin. I usually do this while I’m watching Netflix or chillin’ on the couch at the end of the day. I can literally see the difference in my skin the next day. I love face massage—it’s a must-try if you haven’t tried it yet!
What does your daily skincare routine look like?
TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.
1. Cheryl, Wischhover; Vox, September 2018; The “natural” beauty industry is on the rise because we’re scared of chemicals; https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/9/18/17866150/natural-clean-beauty-products-feinstein-cosmetics-bill-fda
2. MacMillan, Amanda; What’s in Your Drinking Water?; NRDC, May 2017; https://www.nrdc.org/stories/whats-your-drinking-water
3. MadeSafe, How to Avoid Toxic Chemicals in Plastics; December 2016; https://www.madesafe.org/avoid-toxic-chemicals-plastics/
4. Mukherjee, Siddharth; Date, Abhijit; Patravale, Vandana; Korting, Hans Christian; Roeder, Alexander; Weindl, Günther; Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety; Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety; Clinical Interventions in Aging, December 2006; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699641/
5. Shao, Yuan; He, Tianyuan; Fisher, Gary J.; Voorhees, John J.; Quan, Taihao; Molecular basis of retinol anti-aging properties in naturally aged human skin in vivo; International Journal of Cosmetic Science, June 2016; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5136519/
6. Kafi, Reza; Kwak, Heh Shin R; Schumacher, Wendy E; Cho, Soyun; Hanft, Valerie N; Hamilton, Ted A; King, Anya L; Neal, Jacqueline D; Varani, James; Fisher, Gary J; Voorhees, John J; Kang, Sewon; Improvement of naturally aged skin with vitamin A (retinol); National Library of Medicine, May 2007; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17515510/
7. Simon, Arne; Traynor, Kirsten; Santos, Kai; Blaser, Gisela; Bode, Udo; Molan, Peter; Medical Honey for Wound Care—Still the ‘Latest Resort’?; Hindawi, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, June 2009; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686636/
8. E. R. H. S. S. Ediriweera; N. Y. S. Premarathna; Medicinal and cosmetic uses of Bee’s Honey – A review; An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda, Apr -Jun 2021; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3611628/
AliciaJuly 17, 2021
Marie Veronique has been my go to retinol for managing my adult acne for over a year and I swear by her formulation. Thank you for sharing with your readers. I hope many will benefit.
LisaJuly 18, 2021
So happy you’ve found something that works for you Alicia! She has a couple formulas, which one do you use? xo, Lisa
CaseyJuly 28, 2021
I just started using Marie Veronique Gentle retinol serum for almost a week now and I think my skin has started the “retinization” process. How long does this usually last?
LisaJuly 29, 2021
Hi Casey! I would advise you to reach out to Marie Veronique about their Gentle Retinol, I’m sure they will have advise for you on how to best use their product! Hope this helps! xo, Lisa
KatFebruary 5, 2022
Have you heard of Keys skincare? They are a Canadian based company that I recently found though a search for healthy SPF.
Lisa FennessyFebruary 6, 2022
Yes! That’s Alicia Keys new line ; )
MelanieApril 7, 2022
Hi Lisa! Late to this post but just starting my clean living. Lol. What are your thoughts on prescription tretinoin cream? If you mix up products are you negating any positives of the clean products? Are there any books or resources you can recommend? Thank you!
Lisa FennessyApril 9, 2022
Hi Melanie! I would recommend looking at the full ingredient list for the tretinoin cream. Trentinoin in itself isn’t necessarily a concern but depending on the brand, the other ingredients may be. Use our No Thanks List to help guide you.
MelanieApril 9, 2022
LisaAugust 4, 2022
What if I have very dehydrated and sensitive skin? I don’t know which product list I should go with. Please help. Thank you
Lisa FennessyAugust 6, 2022
Hi Lisa! I would recommend following the “sensitive skin” recommendations and supplementing with a manuaka honey mask 2-3 times a week! Hope this helps! xo, Lisa