Because most of us only have time for a simple skin care regimen.

By Anneke Knot
Updated May 24, 2019
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With the beauty aisles basically overflowing with supposed "must-haves," deciphering a skincare routine is harder than ever. Packed shelves and too-good-to-be-true claims often make beauty and skin shopping more confusing than helpful. I mean, how many must-haves does one person really need?

We all know caring for your skin is necessary for both your overall health and diminishing signs of aging, but with so many new products and wild beauty trends popping up everywhere, finding a simple skin skincare routine, let alone sticking to it, seems near impossible.

But even if you’re committed to keeping your skincare routine as simple as possible, there are still a few rules to follow. In order to get to the bottom of the skincare puzzle, we spoke to a few skincare experts to figure out exactly what you need to do—at the very least—to take care of your skin.

Girl Cleansing her Face
Credit: Getty Images

Use a Gentle Daily Cleanser

From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, your skin takes a major beating. Exposure to harmful UV rays pollution and from routine activity both damage and age the skin.

"Wash your face before your go to bed. You must get the days grime off your face to help your skin repair itself and prep for another day while you sleep," says Dr. Heather Rogers, dermatologist and founder of Modern Dermatology and Doctor Rogers RESTORE Skin Care. "Creating this habit will make taking on the other steps easier."

We recommend the Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser ($32, Made for all skin types, this non-irritating cleanser removes makeup and everyday grime without stripping your skin.

RELATED: This Facial Cleanser Was Just Named the Best by Experts

Girl applying sunscreen on face
Credit: Getty Images

Always Wear Sunscreen

UV damage affects skin all year round, not just in the summer. You have heard it over and over again, but it remains true: SPF is necessary when it comes to your skincare routine. Not a moisturizer with SPF or a foundation that includes SPF—you need to apply an actual sunscreen product.

"The sun is responsible for 90 percent of skin’s aging, so SPF (between SPF 30 and SPF 50) is the best anti-aging product money can buy," says Alex Serron, skin therapist at Heyday. "It must be worn every day, no matter the season or if you’re going to be inside. Don’t forget that UVA rays, which cause skin aging, can penetrate windows."

Dr. Shereene Idriss, a dermatologist at Union Square Dermatology, understands the confusing nature of the beauty world. "A plethora of skincare products can definitely appear intimidating, but just remember that the basics are the most vital when it comes to good skin like a strong sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. You’re fooling yourself if you think the SPF 15 in your foundation is enough," Dr. Idriss says.

The Supergoop Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40 ($28, and the Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 ($11, include zinc oxide particles to help bounce the sun's rays off the skin and are much less likely to break down on the skin or in the bottle.

Girl Applying Moisturizer
Credit: Getty Images

Moisturize Twice a Day

Your skin loses hydration throughout the day, hydration that keeps your skin plump and youthful. Apply moisturizer twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. "This routine makes sure you’re cleaning your skin, aiding in moving along your skin cells’ life cycle for healthier skin, hydrating, and, most importantly, protecting it," Serron says.

With all the moisturizers out on the market, finding one you like can be difficult. The CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($13, is trusted by dermatologists and uses three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help restore the skin barrier and retain moisture.

Girl Exfoliating Her Skin
Credit: Getty Images

Exfoliate Occasionally, Not Every Day

After a while, leftover gunk and grime can build up on your skin. Exfoliating frees your skin from dead skin buildup that can cause irritation, dullness, and acne. While you shouldn’t exfoliate shouldn't be done every single day, make it a part of your skin care routine a few times a week.

"Once you’re comfortable enough with your basic skin routine, I would recommend exfoliating a few times a week with a chemical exfoliant as it speeds up the removal of superficial dead skin cells, allowing the active ingredients in your skincare products to penetrate better, ultimately leading to healthier, smoother looking skin," says Dr. Idriss.

The Dermalogica Skin Prep Scrub ($37, polishes away dead and dull skin cells to reveal bright and dewy skin. Use this a few times a week to prevent build up.

Credit: Getty Images

Add an Anti-Aging Product 

Adding the first three steps here is necessary for establishing and maintaining healthy skin. However, to optimize even the simplest skincare routine, include an anti-aging product to help prevent wear and tear generated by environmental aggressors.

"Retinol (a less potent, over-the-counter version of a retinoid) is a star ingredient as it’s one of those rare ingredients that can get deep into your dermis to stimulate collagen production right at the source," Dr. Idriss explains. "Over time, it’s been scientifically proven to help even out texture, fine lines, wrinkles, and even pore size."

If anti-aging is a priority for your skin, try adding a retinol product into your current lineup. We like the dr. Brandt 2% Retinol Complex Serum ($69,

Smiling woman holding a product
Credit: Getty images

Don't Overthink It

Skincare is supposed to be fun, so don't let yourself get stressed out by all the beauty noise. The basics of good skincare remain the same. Plus, once you feel comfortable in your current routine, you can always add something new.

One great way to get started? "Focus on finding a face wash you like, and use it every night," Dr. Rogers says. "This simple step is the most important because it helps you to build an evening ritual of self care that will allow you to do more for your skin when you’re ready."

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