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6 Essentials for Skin Care that Every Woman Should Have

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essentials for skin care

Over the years I’ve become quite the skincare junkie. I love taking that time for myself in the morning and night—even if it’s just a few minutes. Taking care of my skin boosts my confidence and makes me feel better about taking on my day. 

And, if you’re on IG or TikTok, you may have been sucked into believing that you need some crazy 12-step skincare routine to achieve the glowing skin of your dreams. But after trying WAYYYYY too many products and routines, I keep coming back to the same thing—the basics.

But with all those amazing products available on the market, it’s overwhelming to figure out which ones are truly essential.

The simple routine I keep coming back to consists of these 6 essentials for skin care that I think every woman should have in her cabinet. Skincare doesn’t have to be complicated and in fact, I find that the more I try to complicate it, sometimes my skin is worse off from it!

It turns out that using a ton of products with lots of active ingredients can actually inflame and irritate your skin, so when your skin feels like it needs some extra love, the real trick is doing less.

This should really be great news though—fewer products means that skincare is more cost effective and makes your mornings and evening routines faster and just as good! As a busy mom of two boys, ease is the name of the game, so let’s dive in and chat about the building blocks of our skin care essentials for beautiful skin.

6 Essential Skincare Products You Need

While I love the simple approach, the consistency is really the game-changer in maintaining healthy and radiant skin. Let’s chat about the 6 crucial skincare products that should be a part of everyone’s routine.

From daily cleansing to treatment and protection, these essential skincare products will help you achieve the best possible results, leaving you with a glowing and youthful complexion. So, let’s dive in and discover the must-haves for your skincare regimen. 

Face Wash

Using a face wash is the typical first step in any skincare routine. There’s no point in lathering on fancy serums and creams if your skin isn’t clean. A face wash helps to cleanse the skin, removing dirt, oil, and impurities that accumulate throughout the day—even the stuff you can’t see. This crucial step prepares the skin for further skincare steps and ensures that other products penetrate effectively.

When it comes to properly cleansing the face, there are a few key steps to follow. First, wet your face with lukewarm water, as excessively hot or cold water can strip the skin of essential oils. Next, take a small amount of your chosen face wash and gently massage it into your skin using circular motions. Be sure to pay attention to areas prone to oiliness and buildup, such as the forehead, nose, and chin.

After massaging for 30-60 seconds, thoroughly rinse your face with lukewarm water, ensuring that no traces of the face wash are left behind. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel, being careful not to rub or tug at the delicate facial skin.

It is generally recommended to cleanse the face twice a day, in the morning and evening, to remove accumulated impurities. However, it is important to note that over-cleansing can lead to dryness and irritation, so finding the right balance is key.

Makeup Removers & Double Cleansing

If you’re wearing makeup or sunscreen, it’s always best to remove that layer before you actually cleanse your skin. This is often known as double cleansing and anyone with breakout prone skin should know this is a game changer!

Doing this first will allow your cleanser to work more effectively at deeply cleansing your skin. If you don’t remove that heavy makeup or sticky sunscreen first, you’re mostly just massaging makeup, dirt and oil into your skin and not getting your skin nearly as clean as it could be.

My go-to makeup remover is a cleansing balms. These are solid formulas that melt into a silky, oily texture when you apply to your skin. They effectively remove makeup and leave the skin feeling soft and hydrated. What I love about these is that a little goes a long way. Once you’ve massaged it into your skin, take a clean washcloth and wet it with warm water, place on your face and gently wash away your makeup. This is great for any skin type.

Another common type of makeup remover is oil-based removers. These typically come as liquid or balm formulations and are highly effective in removing waterproof and long-lasting makeup. The oils in these removers help break down and dissolve makeup, leaving the skin clean and nourished. Many oil-based removers also have moisturizing properties, making them suitable for dry or sensitive skin.

Lastly, micellar water is another popular choice for makeup removal. It consists of tiny micelles, oil molecules suspended in water, that attract and remove makeup, dirt, and impurities. Micellar water is gentle on the skin and doesn’t require rinsing, making it a convenient option for quick cleansing or on-the-go use. 

Lastly, makeup wipes are another convenient option for makeup removal. They are pre-soaked with a liquid makeup remover and can be gentle on the skin. However, they may not be as effective in removing stubborn or waterproof makeup compared to other types of removers. They’re also not as eco-friendly but can be really handy for travel.

Gentle & Effective Cleansers

For your daily cleanser, I recommend something simple, yet effective and suitable for most skin types. Exfoliating cleansers with particles or beads in them may seem tempting to scrub away dirt and dead skin cells, but they can actually cause irritation and redness, especially for those with sensitive skin. They make these micro-wounds all over your face and can cause more harm than good. I too am 1000% guilty of using St. Ives scrub as a teenager and now I’m just trying to be kind to my face.

When looking for a facial cleanser, I personally opt for one that’s clean and free of any funky ingredients and has a gentle formula. We don’t want any dyes and synthetic fragrances (some will have essential oils, that’s fine—that’s natural!). These ingredients can irritate the skin and even cause allergic reactions for some individuals. By choosing a cleanser without these additives, we can minimize the risk of skin irritation.

Choose a cleanser that fits your skin type—dry skin types might want a moisturizing cleanser or oil cleanser, while oilier skin might opt for a gel cleanser.

Exfoliating Cleansers

While I highly recommend you avoid those exfoliating cleansers with scratchy beads, using an exfoliating cleanser several times a week can be a great way to slough away dead skin cells, brighten skin and clear breakouts. There are chemical exfoliants that gently exfoliate without damaging the skin, and this would be my recommendation for anyone who feels they need that deeper cleanse!

Exfoliated skin also helps with dull skin, skin texture and enhances the absorption of serums and moisturizers, and creating a smoother application of makeup. While this may not be the cleanser you use daily, it’s not a bad one to have on hand to use a few times a week.


Toners and mists are essential components of a skincare routine that offer various benefits.

Toners help to balance the skin’s pH levels after cleansing, helping to remove any remaining impurities. They can also tighten pores, reduce oiliness, provide hydration and improve the absorption of any serums you add after—that’s why this is done after 

For oily skin types, toners containing ingredients like BHA’s (beta hydroxy acids), lactic acid, or salicylic acid can effectively control excess sebum and prevent acne breakouts.

Calming toners, formulated with ingredients like chamomile or aloe vera, are suitable for sensitive or irritated skin. Hydrating toners, typically containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, can provide a moisture boost for dry or dehydrated skin. There’s something for everyone out there!


Moisturizer is a crucial step in any skincare routine as it provides hydration and nourishment to the skin, plus creates a protective barrier for the skin from environmental stressors. Regardless of your particular skin type, moisturizers offer numerous benefits year-round.

For oily skin, it is important to choose a lightweight, oil-free formula that won’t clog pores or contribute to excess sebum production. Look for daily moisturizers labeled as “non-comedogenic” or specifically formulated for oily skin. These moisturizers will provide hydration without making the skin greasy. My skin easily gets congested so lightweight moisturizers like this are my go-to!

Daytime Moisturizer

On the other hand, individuals with dry skin need a rich and nourishing daily moisturizer that replenishes the skin’s moisture barrier. Look for formulas that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, which attracts and retains moisture, or ceramides, which help strengthen the skin barrier.

It is important to note the difference between daytime and night time moisturizers. Daytime moisturizers often contain additional ingredients like SPF to protect the skin from harmful UV rays and even skin cancer, which we’ll talk more about in just a minute.

Night time moisturizers, on the other hand, are typically richer and focus on repairing and rejuvenating the skin while you sleep.

Night Creams

Most of us will use a different moisturizer at night than we do during the day. For example, I use that lightweight one at night, but at night, I will use something more hydrating—we live in Denver and it is dry here!

Serum or Targeted Treatment

Serums and targeted treatments offer numerous benefits for the skin, making them essential additions to any skincare routine. Think of these as the magic ingredient. I try to stick to more calming and nourishing ingredients in other products, but this is where I’ll bring in some active ingredients to target problems I want to addres.

These products are specially formulated with potent active ingredients that address specific skin issues helping to achieve a healthy and radiant complexion.

One major advantage of using a serum or targeted treatment is their ability to promote cell turnover. These products often contain exfoliating ingredients such as glycolic acid, retinol, or retinoids. By helping to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, these active ingredients stimulate the production of new skin cells, resulting in a smoother and more youthful-looking complexion.

In addition to supporting cell turnover, these products can also brighten dull skin. Active ingredients like vitamin C, kojic acid, ferulic acid, and hydroquinone work to reduce the appearance of dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone, giving the skin a more luminous and even-toned appearance. A vitamin C serum is one of my favorites to use in the morning.

If you have acne-prone skin, you can select a product that’s gentle yet effective, but don’t go overboard. Adding too many active ingredients to your routine can actually make acne worse. When in doubt, keep it simple!

Furthermore, these products can minimize the appearance of pores. Ingredients like salicylic acid and natural astringents help to tighten and refine the skin, reducing the size and visibility of pores.

There are so many amazing serums, so I included a few of my favorites below. You can also reach out to your dermatologist for a prescription retinoid which is my favorite nighttime product that keeps pores clear, skin bright and fine lines looking their best.

Daily SPF

Daily sunscreen is a crucial component of any skincare routine, and one I admit I ignored for way too long. Including SPF in your daily skincare routine is of utmost significance because it shields the skin from harmful UV rays. These rays can cause premature aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and sunspots, as well as more serious conditions like skin cancer. By applying an SPF every morning to finish off your skincare routine, you’ll be doing your skin a huge favor. An SPF is still important, even for those with darker skin tones.

Eye Cream

Lastly, eye cream is an essential component of a skincare routine as it specifically targets the delicate skin around the eyes. This delicate area is prone to fine lines, wrinkles, and dark circles, making it crucial to incorporate a dedicated eye cream into one’s skincare regimen.

One of the primary benefits of eye cream is its ability to reduce dark circles. Many eye creams are formulated with ingredients like vitamin C, caffeine, and niacinamide, which help to brighten the under-eye area and minimize the appearance of dark circles. Regular use of eye cream can significantly improve the skin’s tone and texture, resulting in a more youthful and radiant appearance.

Another advantage of eye cream is its ability to plump the skin. The skin around the eyes is thinner and more susceptible to dehydration, leading to a tired and sunken appearance—as a mom, this has never rang more true!

Eye creams are often infused with hyaluronic acid, peptides, and ceramides that deeply hydrate the skin, promoting a plumped and rejuvenated look.

Moreover, eye creams can play a crucial role in preventing the formation of wrinkles. Ingredients like retinol and collagen help to stimulate collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Regular use of eye creams can keep the skin firm and smooth, minimizing the signs of aging.

You can use your eye cream in the morning and at night, but you may need different formulations. Morning eye creams are typically lighter in texture and often contain antioxidants and SPF to protect the delicate eye area from environmental damage and harmful UV rays. On the other hand, night eye creams are usually richer and more hydrating, focusing on repairing and nourishing the skin during the overnight hours.

How & When to Apply

Okay, so the important question—what order do we apply these skincare products for maximum effectiveness. Here are some examples of morning and nightly routines so you can understand what order to use your products in.

essentials for skin care

Morning Skin Care Routine

Your daily skincare routine shouldn’t take much time, so customize these essential steps for your specific skin type.

1. Cleanser: Start by cleansing your face to remove any dirt, oil, or impurities that may have built up overnight from your pillow or simply to remove any greasy night creams. Choose a gentle cleanser that suits your skin type and massage it onto damp skin in circular motions. You can also rinse your face with water or micellar water. Rinse thoroughly and gently pat dry. 

2. Toner: After cleansing, apply a toner to help balance the pH levels of your skin. Toners can also remove any remaining dirt or residue and prepare your skin to absorb the upcoming products more effectively. Use a cotton pad to gently sweep the toner across your face and neck, or spray on if yours is a mist.

3. Serum (optional): If you want to target specific skincare concerns, such as hydration or brightening, apply a serum after toning. A vitamin C serum is a great one to add to your morning routine as it improves the efficacy of your SPF and helps brighten skin and protect against environmental toxins. Another great daytime serum would be an antioxidant serum. Apply a small amount and gently press it into your skin using your fingertips.

4. Eye Cream (optional): The delicate skin around the eyes can benefit from an eye cream. Apply a pea-sized amount on your ring finger and gently tap it around the orbital bone. Be careful not to tug or pull the skin as it is fragile.

5. Moisturizer: Lock in moisture and provide hydration by applying a moisturizer suited for your skin type. Choose a lightweight, non-greasy formula and massage it into your face and neck using upward motions. Allow it to fully absorb into the skin.

6. SPF: Lastly, an SPF should be part of your daily routine. This will help to protect your skin from harmful rays by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Even if you’re not directly in the sun, UV rays can still reach your skin. Regularly wearing SPF can lower your risk of skin cancer too. Apply a generous amount to your face and neck, and reapply every two hours if you’re exposed to sunlight.

Nighttime Skin Care Routine

This nighttime routine is simple, straightforward and customizable for your needs.

1. Makeup Remover: Begin by removing any makeup or SPF you applied during the day. This step allows your cleanser to cleanse the skin more effectively.

2. Cleanser: Use a gentle cleanser to remove any remaining impurities, excess oil, and dirt from your skin. Massage it onto your face and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.

3. Toner: Apply a toner to balance the skin’s pH levels and prepare it for the next steps. Toners hydrate, tighten pores, and improve the absorption of the following products.

4. Serum: Apply a targeted serum based on your specific skincare concerns. Serums are packed with active ingredients to address issues like acne, dullness, fine lines, or hyperpigmentation. If using a retinoid, you can apply this now too. Gently pat it onto your face and neck to ensure maximum absorption.

5. Moisturizer: Follow up with a good quality moisturizer to lock in hydration. Choose a formula suitable for your skin type. This step ensures your skin remains supple, hydrated, and protected throughout the night.

6. Eye Cream: Finish your routine by gently tapping a small amount of eye cream around the delicate eye area. Eye creams help combat fine lines, dark circles, and puffiness, offering extra nourishment and moisture.

Remember to adapt the products to your individual needs and preferences, and always use skin care products that suit your skin type. Make sure to get your beauty sleep as good quality sleep will improve your skin greatly as well. Consistency is key to achieving long-term benefits from your nighttime skincare routine.

Extra Skin-Loving Treatments

skincare essentials for healthy skin

If you’re looking for ways to improve your skin and complexion even more, I wanted to include some of my favorite skin-loving treatments. These are not necessary, but great additions to your simple skincare routine that will improve your complexion and give you a youthful glow.

Face Mask

A face mask is a great way to relax and pamper yourself while giving your skin some much-needed TLC. It can deeply cleanse, nourish, and hydrate your skin, leaving it feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

After cleansing (or double cleansing your face), apply your mask with clean fingers or a brush and put on your face. Let it sit on your skin for the recommended time, usually about 10-15 minutes. You can also use a sheet mask which is so simple and quick, plus sheet masks don’t have the mess regular masks do.

While it does it’s thing, this is a great time to relax—I often meditate or read a book while I’m doing my mask.

Once complete, rinse off the mask with lukewarm water or peel off your sheet mask. Gently massage your skin in circular motions to exfoliate and remove any remaining residue. Pat your face dry with a clean towel and follow up with your regular skincare routine.

Using a face mask regularly, about once or twice a week, can greatly improve the condition of your skin. It helps to remove impurities, unclog pores, and provide essential nutrients and moisture to your skin. So make it a part of your self-care routine and enjoy the cleanse and the relaxation!

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that utilizes red light wavelengths to improve the health and appearance of the skin. This therapy has gained popularity recently and is one of my favorite ways to improve my skin and reduce breakouts.

One primary advantage of red light therapy is its ability to enhance collagen production. Collagen is responsible for maintaining the skin’s elasticity, and as we age, its production decreases, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. By exposing the skin to red light, fibroblast cells are stimulated, promoting collagen synthesis, resulting in a rejuvenated and firmer complexion.

It can also help to reduce the appearance of scars and hyperpigmentation. Studies have shown that red light therapy helps to minimize the visibility of scars and fade dark spots by promoting the growth of new, healthy skin cells. It also aids in repairing damaged skin tissues, making it an excellent option for those with acne scars or uneven skin tone.

Thankfully, you can do this at home now, there are so many amazing masks out on the market—I use this one from Higher Dose, but included a few others below. Again, being consistent with your red light practice will give you the best results.

Facial Massage

Lastly, and one I’ve been testing out lately is facial massage or face fitness and so far I’m kind of obsessed. It helps you to relax the muscles in your face that have gotten tense and cause wrinkles and sagging skin. It only takes about 10-15 minutes a day and feels like the ultimate self-care. It’s so relaxing and I’ve noticed that my jaw, that’s been tensed nearly my whole life is finally relaxing! 

This practice increases blood circulation to the face, delivering vital nutrients and oxygen to the skin cells. This nourishment helps rejuvenate the skin, enhancing its overall health and appearance. Additionally, increased blood flow promotes the production of collagen and elastin, essential proteins that maintain the skin’s elasticity and prevent sagging.

Moreover, facial massage stimulates lymphatic drainage, a process that removes toxins and excess fluid from the skin. By eliminating these impurities, the complexion becomes clearer and more radiant. Additionally, this technique reduces puffiness and water retention, resulting in a more chiseled and defined facial structure.

Another significant benefit of facial massage is the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. The repetitive motions involved in the massage technique help relax the facial muscles, smoothing out existing wrinkles. Furthermore, it aids in preventing the formation of new lines, as the muscles become toned and uplifted.

This is definitely a more time-consuming practice, but if you want to get started, I highly recommend following Valeriia Veksler on Instagram and joining her program for daily practices. 

I hope that these essentials for skin care help you to create an effective skincare routine—both a morning skincare routine and a night time routine. Skin care doesn’t have to be complicated and this will ensure your skin stays happy and healthy!

BTW, my honest Beautycounter Countertime review, and how to do the oil cleansing method for glowing skin.



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