skincare routine steps

Building Your Own Routine: Basic Skincare Routine Steps

skincare routine steps

Using the right products for your skin and knowing what order in which to apply them is a huge part of building your own routine, but it can feel overwhelming. Between active ingredients, time of application and your skin’s unique needs, it’s understandable that you may not be sure what skincare routine steps you need. We’ll talk you through the basics, but things to consider can include:

  • Skin type (oily, dry, combination and especially sensitive skin)
  • Skin concerns (visible aging, environmental damage, hyperpigmentation)
  • Length of desired routine
  • Ingredient interactions

What Are The Basic Skincare Routine Steps?

If you’re totally new to creating a cohesive skincare routine, it can feel overwhelming trying to understand what steps you should include. A basic skincare routine should include:

  • Cleanser
  • Moisturize
  • Eye Cream 
  • Sunscreen

For added benefits, you may also want to introduce a serum, boosted treatment or toner. When developing your routine, it’s important to consider factors like skin type (an oily skin may want a toner) or skin concern (hyperpigmentation can respond well to brightening serums containing niacinamide or vitamin C).  

Even when you’re trying to keep your skincare routine simple and just a few steps, you still want to adjust your routine for AM and PM use. Any daytime routine should be capped off with SPF 30 or higher. A nighttime routine can include ingredients that can cause photosensitivity, like retinol, and heavier textures. 

Order Matters

When considering the order of using products in your skincare regimen, some steps are obvious, like cleansing first, but others may be less intuitive. Why does the order of skincare routine steps matter? If you don’t apply products in the right order, you could compromise the efficacy of your skincare. A good rule of thumb is to apply products in order of texture, meaning you start with light products like serums and move on to heavy moisturizers.

The suggested order of application for daytime is:

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner (if using)
  3. Serum (if using)
  4. Eye cream
  5. Moisturizer
  6. Sunscreen

The suggested order of application for nighttime skincare is:

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner (if needed)
  3. Serum
  4. Treatments (like retinol)
  5. Moisturizer or night cream

How To Combine Active Ingredients For Best Results

Just like any other chemical compound, some ingredients don’t play well together and some make a great pairing. Drying ingredients or too many exfoliants shouldn’t be paired together, such as AHAs and retinol, but both those ingredients love when you also include humectants and moisturizers like hyaluronic acid or ceramides.

When prioritizing your active ingredients, it can be helpful to think of any skin concerns you have. If you were to make a list of skin concerns, the top one would be an ingredient you would want to make sure is present in your routine and working ideally. For example, if you are concerned with anti-aging, you may want to focus on an ingredient like retinol, which helps with cellular turnover. If you want to focus on preventing future damage, you may want to emphasize antioxidants like vitamin C in your routine.   

Consider Your Timing

Another thing to consider is the time you’re willing to devote to skincare. Some people want a quick five-minute routine — there’s nothing wrong with that! Others consider skincare a part of their self-care routine and may spend a little more time with it. There’s no wrong answer. However, experts say some ingredients and formulas may be more effective if they are able to sink into the skin. Some products can advise waiting as much as 30 minutes before moving on to your next step. If you don’t want to wait that long, still try to wait a few minutes after intensive serums before layering on a moisturizer. 

Suggested Routines

As we mentioned above, a morning routine should help you face the day (and the sun), meaning nothing that makes you more susceptible to UV damage but lots of things that help protect against environmental factors. All morning routines should be capped with a sunscreen. 

Basic Routine

If you don’t have any target concerns, maybe just start with some healthy skin maintenance.

  1. Tensage Gentle Gel Cleanser
  2. Tensage Advanced Cream Moisturizer
  3. Tensage Radiance Eye Cream

In the evening, try adding Retriderm Serum in your desired strength or the Exfoliating Home Peel

Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want products that are non-irritating and formulated to address your skin concerns.

  1. Tensage Gentle Gel Cleanser
  2. Tensage Daily Serum
  3. Tensage Soothing Cream Moisturizer
  4. Tensage Radiance Eye Cream

In the evening, consider adding Retriderm Serum Mild


If you’re concerned about visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, sagging skin or dullness, an anti-aging skincare routine may be right for you. 

  1. Exfoliating Gel Cleanser
  2. Brighten KNR Serum
  3. Tensage Advanced Cream Moisturizer

In the evening, try adding powerful anti-aging products like retinol serums or an intense eye cream like Tensage Stem Cell

Estrogen Deficient Skin

  1. Tensage Gentle Gel Cleanser
  2. Emepelle Serum
  3. Tensage Advanced Cream Moisturizer

At night, increase hydration even more with Emepelle Night Cream.


Hyperpigmentation can mean dark spots or uneven skin tone. Products meant to brighten your complexion work best to address these concerns. 

  1. Exfoliating Gel Cleanser
  2. Brighten XCP Serum
  3. Tensage Advanced Cream Moisturizer

At night, consider the Brighten KNR serum to increase your results. 

The Best Skincare Routine Is One You Do

Whether you want to wash your face and call it a day or indulge in those 30-minute sink-in periods between products, ultimately, your skincare routine steps are the ones that work for you. Skincare often takes time before you see results. Consistency is key to reaching your skin goals. From a 2- to 10-step routine, the best thing to do is make sure it’s one you will follow daily. 

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