Skincare steps you should never skip

Healthy skin that looks clear and feels smooth comes from maintaining an effective skincare routine over time. Pollutants, dirt and the sun never take a day off while clogging your pores and zapping your skin with UV-radiation. The best way to fight back is by habitually sticking to the right routine for your unique skin — and using your products in the most beneficial order. Whether your skin is oily, dry, sensitive, or combination, there’s a perfect routine for you.

If you’re starting from scratch, searching for the right skincare routine can seem like a major undertaking. But, you’re in luck! We’ve put together the skincare routine steps you should never skip to make it easy for you.

You’ll notice that some of the steps should be completed in the morning, some at night and some at both times. That’s because your skin needs certain protections at particular times. For instance, you need sunscreen before you head out for the day, so applying it in the morning after all of your other skincare is best.

Cleanse & remove makeup

Cleansing morning and night to remove dirt, oil and makeup is the basic building block of a skincare routine. If you don’t properly cleanse your skin, it can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. Since you’ll be cleansing twice a day, you should look for a soothing cleanser that helps clean away common acne-causing culprits like excess oil (sebum) and dead skin cells — without stripping your skin’s moisture barrier. The Ultra-Gentle Cleanser that comes as part of our ProactivMD® 3-Piece System is developed for acne-prone skin.

And, if you wear heavy or oil-based makeup, you should use a makeup remover before you cleanse so it can dissolve the oily buildup of makeup that cleanser can’t always get.

Use acne treatment

Nobody likes a breakout, so the best defense is an ongoing defense! Stay on top of things by checking for breakouts and applying a thin layer of Adapalene Gel, the powerful retinoid treatment from the ProactivMD® 3-Piece System, at night. By applying the treatment at night, you’re targeting breakouts while your skin is in its most regenerative period of the day – while you’re asleep.


Toners are often considered an optional part of a skincare routine, but can be especially beneficial for oily or acne-prone skin. Depending on the formula, the toner may work to help exfoliate, unclog your pores or it may help make pores appear smaller. A toner that’s right for your skin can be a powerful ally in the fight for skin that looks and feels healthy and smooth.


Serums are highly concentrated products usually made up of multiple different ingredients that work together to help with a variety of issues your skin may face, such as acne, dryness or redness. Because serums can contain heavy concentrations of powerful ingredients, a helpful starting tip is to use a very small amount and spread it thinly across your skin.

Don’t mix and match too many serums, because if your skin doesn’t respond well or gets irritated, you won’t know which of the serums could be contributing to the problem. Since serums are a light formula, you’ll want to apply them before anything thicker like a cream moisturizer. Think of it like putting a shirt on before you add a heavier jacket.


Moisturizing is a must in your skincare routine, regardless of skin type. You’ll want to apply the moisturizer shortly after applying any serums and treatments, to lock a barrier of hydration around the products. Moisturizing can be added to your routine day and night, though some moisturizers may be optimized to only one time of day.

Moisturizing also can help people with sensitive skin respond better to acne treatments. When your skin is dry, your body usually produces extra oil to offset the dryness. This can lead to more clogged pores and more acne. Keeping your skin hydrated is a proactive way to prevent this from happening and that’s why it’s such a vital part of any skincare routine. For example, the ProactivMD® 3-Piece System comes with an Ultra-Hydrating Moisturizer you can use daily to help alleviate dryness and help restore the skin’s moisture barrier.

Apply SPF

The sun is out every day, beaming down UV-radiation that can damage your skin if left unchecked. Even if you think a little sun here and there won’t lead to a sunburn, there are long term effects of too much sun exposure, such as premature aging and skin cancer. Plus, the sun can even further upset frustrating conditions like acne. That’s why SPF should be a key part of your skincare routine every morning whether it’s sunny or cloudy. As an added tip, if you’re using a physical or mineral sunscreen, it should be the last product you apply, since it physically blocks UV rays, and you want to make sure the products you put on first, like treatments or moisturizers, are absorbed into the skin first.

The bottom line

Generally speaking, you’re going to want to apply products in a certain order. For instance, apply treatments and serums before sunscreen. When you’re unsure which products should be applied first, apply the thinnest to the thickest products in that order.

By applying in the correct order, you’re ensuring each element of your routine gets its important ingredients where they need to go. For a comprehensive skincare solution system that includes a powerful retinoid, a soothing cleanser and a hydrating moisturizer, check out the ProactivMD® 3-Piece System, and take the first step toward achieving clear, healthy-looking skin.