Should You Have Different AM and PM Skincare Routines? We Asked An Expert

Let’s be real — skincare routines take a lot of effort, time, money, thought… and more. So when you finally settle on products (and a product order!) that work for you, it’s tempting to rinse and repeat morning and night (literally).

We totally get it. Unfortunately— that may not be the best move for your skin. The truth is that your skin has different needs in the morning and evening, and therefore requires different skincare. If we’re going to invest in that 7-step Korean Skincare routine we saw Madelaine Petsch use on Instagram, we might as well make sure it’s doing the most amount of work for our skin, right?


Fact: You wake up with the skin skin you went to bed with.

Fiction: You should use the same skincare routine in the morning and evening.


Skincare routines can already seem like a mystery, so we spoke to Dermatologist Dr. Michele J Farber MD FAAD (@drmichelejfarber) from Schweiger Dermatology Group to clear it all up (this topic and our skin!).



Why Should My Morning and Evening Skincare Routines Differ?

Imagine eating a plate full of salmon, veggies and leafy greens first thing in the morning for breakfast. For most of us, that would probably seem… totally weird. We’d rather have a smoothie or some oatmeal. But we’ll happily have that same meal for dinner without a second thought! That’s because our bodies crave different things in the morning and evening.

Eating salmon for breakfast and dinner is like using the same skincare routine in the AM and PM. Our skin’s needs differ from morning to night and, according to Dr. Farber, they break down into two general categories:


Morning: Protection

Evening: Repair and Regeneration


“Your AM skin routine is aimed at protecting your skin from the environment, while your PM skin routine is focused on helping your skin regenerate and repair,” Dr. Farber tells us. These are two very different focuses, that require different products!


In the Morning…

In the morning, we are focused on protecting our skin and preventing damage, according to Dr. Farber. This derm’s ideal morning skincare routine looks a little like this:


1. Cleanse With a Gentle Cleanser

It’s important to have a clean slate to start the day!

2. Apply Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C can help even skin tone and protect against free radical damage!

3. Layer On Oil-Free Moisturizer

Your skin needs to be hydrated to stay healthy!

4. Finish With Sunscreen

Dr. Farber reminds us that “it’s incredibly important not to forget sunscreen, as this is the single most important step for anti-aging and preventing skin cancer.” If you think you don’t need to worry about that yet, think again— sunscreen is necessary from the time you’re a baby until you’re a grandma!



In the Evening…

In the evening, our skin has the chance to really ~glow up~, so we want to give it all the help it can get. This is the time for layering on a few extra skincare products to give our skin an extra boost overnight! You’ll wake up in the morning looking fresh, clear and dewy as ever.


1. Cleanse Again With a Gentle Cleanser

We Want to Clean Out Any Build Up From the Day!

2. Exfoliate With Glycolic or Salicylic Acid

Dr. Farber recommends doing this only if you need help removing excess oil and debris, and to start with 1-2 times per week to avoid dryness.

3. Apply a Retinol Serum

Regenerating ingredients like retinol help stimulate collagen, improve texture and reduce fine lines and wrinkles!

4. Finish With A Gentle Moisturizer

This will help repair the skin barrier— for acne-prone and sensitive skin, choose a non-comedogenic, oil-free product, Dr. Farber recommends.


Do I Really Need To Cleanse Twice A Day?

As a girl who skips her morning cleanse (I opt for a few splashes of water instead)— this was a question I had to ask Dr. Farber. Her response? It depends on your skin type.


If you’re acne-prone or oily, it’s ideal to wash twice daily.

If you’re sensitive or dry, it’s acceptable to use water in the morning and wash with cleanser once daily in the evening.


Dr. Farber’s advice is some that remains true for all skincare, including your morning and evening routines— “it’s important to know your skin type and individualized needs to tailor a regime appropriately.” Listen to your body (and skin!) and do what makes it happiest.

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