How to Create the Ultimate Morning Skincare Routine

How to Create the Ultimate Morning Skincare Routine

Your skin behaves differently during the day than at night, which is why an efficient morning skincare routine is crucial. “During the day, your skin is under constant exposure to the environment,” says dermatologist Dr. Dhaval G. Bhanusali. “It functions to protect you as we are constantly being exposed to worrisome stimuli, including UV rays, pollutants, and blue light.” (No wonder sunscreen is so important.)

How can you maximize your skin’s ability to protect itself? Simple: Start with a strong morning skincare routine. A solid one has a few overarching pillars, regardless of your specific skin type and skin tone, according to Dr. Bhanusali. “Generally, I break the steps down to cleanse, treat, and protect,” he says. “Keep it simple—use a gentle cleanser, treat what you are looking to improve, and protect your skin with moisturizer and SPF.” 

Below, Dr. Bhanusali outlines each key step of the perfect morning skincare routine for happy, healthy skin, and how to tailor it to your skin type and complexion concerns.

Step 1: Cleanse

First things first, you’ll want to start your morning skincare routine by removing the skincare products you applied during your nighttime routine and any dead skin cells. A gentle face wash or micellar water is your best bet.

If you have oily skin, Dr. Bhanusali advises looking for an oil-free cleanser that contains salicylic acid or exfoliating properties to swap in two to three times a week to keep pimples from popping up. 

For his dry skin patients, Dr. Bhanusali recommends washing up with a hydrating cleanser formulated with calming ingredients and skipping any exfoliating skincare products, like alpha hydroxy acid-based toners, serums, and eye creams.

A good one-size-fits-most option for your morning routine is our Vegan Milk Cleanser. It uses a blend of plant milks to cleanse skin without stripping it of essential moisture while helping to soothe your complexion. It has a pH of about 6, which is the same as normal skin’s pH, to help restore balance without causing dryness or irritation. Massage a dime-sized amount into damp skin until it starts to lather, then rinse. 

Model cleanses face with Milk Makeup Vegan Milk Cleanser against a white background.

Step 2: Treat

“This category targets what you are looking to improve,” Dr. Bhanusali says. First, identify what your skin needs: Brightening? Moisture? Smoothing fine lines? Diminishing dark spots? Banishing breakouts? Once you figure that out, you can adjust your skincare regimen from there by looking for skincare products with ingredients that can address those specific issues. “The lineup here can include antioxidants, retinol, peptides, acne products, or products designed to treat hyperpigmentation,” Dr. Bhanusali explains. 

Need some examples? We’ve got you. Flaky, dry skin types and those with collagen production concerns will benefit from hydrating toners, hyaluronic acid serums, and our Hydrating Oil. The lightweight solid face oil not only zaps away dryness and provides instant moisture and plumping, courtesy of botanical oils and vitamin E, but it also imparts a subtle dewy sheen. Those with acne-prone skin can even benefit from swiping on Hydrating Oil as it’s spiked with jojoba oil, which balances out sebum production, reduces irritation, and doesn’t clog pores. Alternatively, look out for toners and serums with niacinamide in them to treat and prevent breakouts. It also decreases the appearance of dark spots and large pores.

Another good, universally beneficial option: Vegan Milk Moisturizer. This fragrance-free formula is mild enough for sensitive skin yet powerful enough to hydrate even the driest of skin. It combines the intense, soothing moisture of hyaluronic acid, oat milk, and glycerin with antioxidant-rich argan milk, grapeseed oil, and plant-derived squalane to heal and strengthen your skin barrier. You can also use it as a night cream.

Remember: Identifying what you need is key, then using the right skincare products to deliver the results you desire.

Shop Vegan Milk

Step 3: Protect

Vitamin C and SPF are two key ingredients for the final step of your morning skincare routine needs. The appropriate balance of both works in tandem to shield your complexion from UV rays. “While sunscreen can help minimize the amount of UV damage, antioxidants like vitamin C serve to protect your skin against the free radicals that form as a result of the damage,” Dr. Bhanusali says. “The combination is needed for adequate protection.” 

Think of vitamin C as the skincare equivalent of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants—it works with nearly every skin type, packs a wide variety of benefits, and typically pairs nicely with most other products you have in your morning skincare routine.

Be aware, though: Vitamin C doesn’t mix well with other active ingredients, like AHAs and BHAs (lactic, salicylic, and glycolic) and retinoids. Make sure you’re not using products with those ingredients at the same time. Skip it if you’re using benzoyl peroxide to banish blemishes, too, as vitamin C serums can neutralize the common spot treatment ingredient’s effectiveness. Also, some skin types can be sensitive to vitamin C, so be sure to do a patch test and speak to your dermatologist before adding it to your routine.

Once you’ve confirmed you’re not mixing the wrong ingredients, roll a bit of our vitamin C-infused Sunshine Oil onto your face, and follow with your favorite sunscreen. (Never skip sunscreen!) 

And you’re done! With these simple steps and some quality skincare products, you’ll quickly be able to get your morning skincare routine down pat and keep your complexion looking as radiant and glorious as ever. 

Sunshine Skin Tint


About the Expert

Dhaval G. Bhanusali, MD FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of New York City’s Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery. He has started, consulted for, and formulated multiple skincare brands, and was named a rising star in healthcare by the New York Times magazine in 2022.



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