Morning Routine – Love the Skin You’re In

Join us for a 4 part series as we love the skin we’re in. A special thank you to Angela, a PFF Community member for leading us through this series! Today we chat about Angela’s morning skin care routine and she shares how you can find one that’s right for you. Check out the other posts in our series.


I do not wake up well.  I am solidly a night owl, and any hour before 7 am is pure torture for me.  People told me after I had children that would change, but I’m still the ding dong staying up until midnight THEN doing my bedtime routine and reading and practically sobbing as my three year old cheerily bounces out of bed at 6 A.M. As I complete my morning skincare routine, it feels like I am literally rubbing the life back into my swollen, blotchy, poor life skills face.  I sort of begrudge doing my routine at night, but I LIVE for my morning ritual.

Step 1: Cleanser

I always start with a face wash. 

There are two schools of thought here (maybe 2.5).  One is that we cleanse our faces in the morning, the other is that a splash of water is sufficient.

The other .5 that might make up a third camp are the micellar water users. Popularized at fashion week shows to quickly transition models from one makeup look to another backstage, this is purified water, moisturizers and mild surfactants to remove grime/oil from the face and doesn’t require rinsing. 

I will leave that choice up to you and what works for your face. As I enter my late 30s, I still battle acne and oil, so I opt for a gentle salicylic acid cleanser.  I don’t believe in spending much on a cleanser as it’s only on your face for about a minute and then rinsed away. Do try to avoid massively foamy cleansers or anything with grit (NO SCRUBS PLEASE!!).  I really like CeraVe and ELF for their cleansers, both easily found at drugstores.

Step 2: Toner

Toning is not exactly the most crucial step here, but it does serve a purpose. 

Think of a kitchen sponge. When it’s dry, at first water is repelled from the surface before it begins to absorb.  But a damp sponge will immediately begin absorbing more water.  A toner can provide a specific ingredient based benefit to your skin, but it also serves to assist in better absorption of the following steps. Depending on the weather and how my skin is behaving, I have two toners.  One is a glycolic acid toner to help with oil control, the other is a gentler creamy toner (Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Toner) that helps with irritation and dryness.

Step 3: Serums

The general rule of thumb is to apply your products in order of heaviness. Start with the most watery and leading up to your creamier/oilier serums and moisturizers at the end.

 There are truly so many serums to choose from combatting so many different skincare concerns, that there are books written on this topic.  The most popular for daytime are probably Vitamin C serums and hyaluronic acid serums.  Vitamin C helps with brightening and lightening spots on the skin, so this might be good if you have sun damage or acne scarring. Hyaluronic acid helps plump up the skin when followed with a moisturizer. I also like to use a caffeine serum under my eyes to help with puffiness. This is largely due to the aforementioned bad bedtime decisions as well as a genetic predisposition to carrying baggage under my eyes.

Step 4: Moisturizer

You probably already know if your skin is dry or oily. If not, consider that before buying a moisturizer because this can really make or break your routine.

As an oily skin haver, I didn’t moisturize for years. Yes, it’s true, and it PAINS me to admit it, but I thought that it would just make me break out more.  Now I know that there is a huge spectrum of moisturizers of different weights, and once I discovered gel or water moisturizers, I was a converted woman. If you have dry skin, you’ll want a creamier moisturizer. Either way, this is crucial for plumping up fine lines regardless of skin type, and will help give your skin a dewy look. (Dewy is in now, thank goodness!).

Step 5: Eye Cream

This is another one with two schools of thought, either pro or con. 

I use a gel moisturizer, but the skin around my eyes is much dryer, so I use a creamy brightening moisturizer there.  If you’re already using a heavier, eye safe moisturizer, I give you permission to skip this step!

Step 6: Sunscreen

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!  If you do nothing else, slap that sunscreen on your beautiful face! 

The sun wreaks havoc on our skin, from earlier signs of aging on the less scary end of the spectrum to cancer on the most concerning (and don’t forget ears, and for bonus points, shoulders if you aren’t wearing sleeves).  Please protect your skin with sunscreen.  I’ll leave it to you to decide if you want a physical or chemical broad spectrum blocker. There are even light sunscreen sprays that you can apply over your makeup if you need to apply later in the day (I like the one from SuperGoop).  Aside from retinol, sunscreen is THE ONLY proven way to prevent further signs of aging. There you go, we have both your vanity and your health to think about—so as Nike would say Just Do It!

All of those steps take me about 10 minutes in the morning, and it has had such a huge impact on my skin.

 What will you choose for your morning skin care routine? Next post—we’ll talk night time routines, where I find the real magic happens!

Love the skin you're in graphic

We’d love to hear from you if you have questions or even recommendations about something that may have worked well for you. We hope this helps simplify what can be a very overwhelming topic and helps you love your skin better!