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Building Your Skincare House

"What step are you on?!" These are the words I hear my husband yelling into the bathroom as I do my nightly skincare routine. I usually lie and say that I'm on step 7 or 8, when really I'm on step 1B because tonight is exfoliation night. He knows better than to believe me and falls asleep watching Seinfeld reruns while I have my nightly self care time. We've been doing this routine for 20 years and every night I'm thankful for a partner than understands the importance of good skincare.

While I relish in my 10 step skincare routine, others might feel overwhelmed at the idea of spending so much time and energy on the ritual. The right skincare routine for you is one that both addresses your goals and fits within your available time and budget. It can be confusing to navigate the product landscape and create the right routine for you.

Before we jump into the fundamentals of a good skincare routine I’ll refer you back to a previous blog, Your Aesthie is Your Bestie!, where I discuss the value of visiting an aesthetician and having a guide to help in your skincare decision making. As I discuss, an aesthetician can help you narrow down the specific products that are right for you and fit your lifestyle and budget.

If you're not quite ready to go professional (and there absolutely nothing wrong with that!) there are some basic guidelines you can use as you begin your skincare journey. I’m going to line out for you what are the basic categories of building a skincare routine. Then, after we cover the basics, we’ll expand our discussion to include more advanced categories.


When I think of building a skincare routine I think of it as building a house. I call it my skincare house. There are five pillars which represent the five basic products that everyone should have in their skincare collection to start.


Vitamin C





When it comes to cleanser you want to find something that has a texture you like, thoroughly cleanses your skin, removes makeup, and does not dry out or strip your skin. I personally use a different cleanser in the morning than I do at night. If you're trying to keep it simple you can choose a cleanser that is not too gentle and not too aggressive and use it twice a day. The job of your cleanser is to ensure that you have a clean, fresh face so that your skincare products can absorb and work their best. Even if your skin is oily or you are prone to breakouts, avoid the temptation to use a harsh cleanser. One of the biggest skincare mistakes people make is stripping their skin. Doing this can make the problems you are experiencing even worse. A great example of a gentle but effective cleanser is SkinCeuticals Simply Clean.


Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and an important ingredient in anti-aging. Applying an antioxidant every morning is an excellent defense for the environmental aggressors that we face every day and that cause free radicals to form. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are missing an electron. They are bad news for our skin because they contribute to premature signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, etc. Free radicals are formed from a variety of every day lifestyle factors like exposure to the sun and pollution, so they are pretty much unavoidable. Antioxidants (our heroes!) come in and donate an electron to stabilize the free radicals and help neutralize their damage. It doesn't matter your age, your skin type, your skin concerns, or your skin goals, everyone needs antioxidants in their skincare routine. My favorite antioxidant is SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic.


What’s important to know about retinol is that it boosts collagen production and speeds cellular turnover. For many dermatologists it's the gold standard anti-aging ingredient. If you're not currently using a retinol, this can be a an anti-aging game changer. If you do decide to add a retinol to your skincare routine it's important to know that it can also come with some irritation in the beginning. You might see some side effects such as redness, dryness, and light peeling. Unless these side effects are severe and intolerable, generally speaking, you can push through and will see them subside within a couple of weeks. When you start a retinol it's a good idea to start with a low percentage. SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3 is a good choice for getting started. You might also consider starting three nights a week and allowing your skin to get used to the new ingredient. After a couple of weeks you can increase usage with the goal of eventually applying once every night.


There are no hard rules about moisturizer that I live by. You may choose to use something light in the morning, especially if you're wearing foundation and sunscreen (and you should be wearing sunscreen!) or if you live in a humid climate (like I do!). You might also find that, depending on the formulation of your foundation and sunscreen, you don't need a separate moisturizer in the morning. In this case you might only use a moisturizer at night, or you might choose to use a heavier moisturizer at night than you do during the day. Choosing the right moisturizer is something you should do based on the hydration needs of your skin. Those needs are different for everyone and change often. Factors such as season, travel, age, cosmetic procedures (things like chemical peels can influence hydration needs), using exfoliation products, etc. all impact how much hydration your skin needs at any given time. The only moisturizer rule is to avoid skipping it altogether. It’s important that skin (even oily skin!) is balanced. We never want our skin stripped or dried out because that can make problems (like excessive oil) even worse. My favorite moisturizer is SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 because nothing nourishes and restores my skin quite like it. If you want a lighter option, a good choice is SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3.


I’ve said it one bajillion times and I will keep saying it, sunscreen is the single most important product you can put on your skin. All exposed skin. Every single day. No exceptions. Unless you are literally staying inside your home all day long, you need to apply sunscreen. Period. The best sunscreen is the sunscreen you will wear every day. It's as simple as that. Find a sunscreen that has a texture that you like, that works with your skincare and makeup routine, and use it. Protecting your skin with sunscreen is the one and only rock solid, non-negotiable rule in all of skincare. When choosing a sunscreen some good guidelines are to choose something that is broad-spectrum and at least SPF 30. Even if you're makeup includes SPF it is a good idea to wear a separate sunscreen. You can read more about sunscreen and makeup in another blog, Sunscreen + Makeup. My favorite daily sunscreen for my face is SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50. I like this one because it’s lightweight and tinted. For my arms and legs I like SkinCeuticals Light Moisture UV Defense because it protects my skin and hydrates.

These are the five pillars of a good skincare house and can create quick and easy morning and nighttime skincare routines for you.

AM routine: 1) Cleanse 2) Vitamin C 3) Sunscreen

PM routine: 1) Cleanse 2) Retinol 3) Moisturizer

Five products, three steps, twice a day. Simple and effective. These steps are the essentials and they are ideal if you are just getting started on your skincare journey, you have limited budget or limited time, or if you just want to keep it simple. Now... if you're like me and your obsession with skincare goes waaaaay beyond the essentials... this is where we can start to have a lot of fun...


Okay, so we’ve built a solid house and now it’s time to call Chip and Joanna because we are going to FIX. THIS. PLACE. UP.

Once we've mastered our essential skincare steps (the five pillars) and are ready to move into the advanced steps there are, just like building an actual house, infinite ways we can build our skincare houses. For a more detailed look at exactly how I've built my own skincare house visit The SkinCrush Channel and watch our video, Building Your Skincare House. In this video I line out exactly what I do morning and night so you can use my choices as a blueprint for building your own skincare mansion. The video explanation is more thorough and explains why I have included each of the categories and products in my skincare routine. If videos are not your jam (that's okay!), I've also provided a framework for a more advanced skincare routine here as well.

First I've listed the steps as categories. You can take these categories and plug in whatever skincare products you love and work best for you.


1) Cleanse

2) Tone

3) Vitamin C

4) Corrective serum

5) Hydrating serum

6) Corrective cream

7) Moisturizer

8) Eye cream

9) Sunscreen


1) Cleanse

2) Tone

3) Retinol

4) Corrective serum

5) Hydrating serum

6) Corrective cream

7) Moisturizer

8) Eye cream

Next I've listed my own skincare routine. Although I want to encourage you to try different products and find what works best for you, I also want to give you a more specific look at exactly how I've built my own skincare routine using the above categories. Seeing the actual products I use may help you better visualize how to choose and use your own products.


1) Replenishing Cleanser - cleansing: hydrating cleanse

2) La Roche-Posay Micellar Water Ultra - cleansing: second cleanse

3) C E Ferulic - anti-aging: vitamin C

4) AOX+ Eye Gel - anti-aging: vitamin C for eye area

5) Blemish + Age Defense - correction: breakout control

6) Discoloration Defense - correction: discoloration improvement

7) H.A. Intensifier - anti-aging: increase volume, lines and wrinkles improvement

8) Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 - anti-aging: hydration, balance

9) A.G.E. Eye Complex - anti-aging: lines, wrinkles, texture improvement

10) Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 - anti-aging: protection


1) Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleansing Oil - cleansing: makeup removal, hydrating cleanse

2) La Roche-Posay Micellar Water Ultra - cleansing: second cleanse 3) Retinol 0.3 (three nights a week) / Glycolic 10 Overnight Renew (four nights a week) - anti-aging: cell renewal, exfoliation

4) Discoloration Defense - correction: discoloration improvement

5) Resveratrol BE - anti-aging: antioxidant, collagen stimulation

6) H.A. Intensifier - anti-aging: increase volume, lines and wrinkles improvement

7) Mineral 89 - hydration: topical hydration 8) A.G.E. Interrupter - anti-aging: lines, wrinkles, texture improvement

9) A.G.E. Eye Complex - anti-aging: lines, wrinkles, texture improvement

10) Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate - hydration: topical hydration

When building your own skincare house you may decide to stick to the basics or you may opt to build a 10 step skincare mansion. There is no “right” skincare routine for everyone. Keep in mind that the needs of your skin will change so don't be afraid to remodel your skincare house every now and then!


As you all know, I am an educator for SkinCeuticals, a L'Oreal USA brand. I have the privilege of getting to know the SkinCeuticals portfolio of products very well so they tend to makeup the majority of what I personally use. Please know that the specific products I mention are only examples based on my personal experience. There are so many fantastic products out there and you can apply our discussion to whatever works best for you! The information you hear as part of SkinCrush is meant to simply be a guide and companion for you on your own skincare journey. SkinCeuticals and L'Oreal are not involved with SkinCrush in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and those of my guests.


I’d love to answer any questions you have or hear about your own experience building your skincare house! SkinCrush is meant to be a community so please join in the conversation! Reach out to me here on the blog or connect with me on social media. The SkinCrush Podcast and The SkinCrush Channel are more ways to connect with us and hear more from my expert guests! If you have an idea for a future blog, podcast, or video, please let me know!

Until next time, SkinCrushers, take care of your skin and take care of each other!

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