Simple 5 Steps For An Effective Skincare Routine


    1. Cleanse: This foundational step removes dirt, debris, and makeup.
    2. Tone: Toner preps the skin for serum and moisturizer.
    3. Serum: Serum delivers high concentrations of specific active ingredients to the skin.
    4. Moisturize: Moisturizer prevents the skin from drying out by holding water in the top layer of the skin.
    5. Sun Protection: Sun protection shields the skin from sun damage, skin cancer, and premature aging.

    Step 1:

    Pre-Cleanse PM

    Cleansing prepares the skin for the following products in your routine. It is a good idea to double-cleanse if you skipped cleaning your face the night before. Double cleansing means washing your face twice: first with an oil-based product followed by a water-based cleanser. This is especially important when removing makeup.

    Cleanse AM/PM

    Regular cleansing is essential to maintain healthy skin. Cleaning your skin every day removes dirt, oils, and bacteria. Each day, our face is exposed to pollutants, viruses, and dead skin cells. Not washing your face properly causes layers of impurities to clog your pores, making any product you place on your face impossible to penetrate the skin.

    Step 2:

    Toner AM/PM

    Toner removes remaining debris left over from cleansing and/or exfoliating. It corrects and balances the pH of the skin. It also prepares the skin to receive and penetrate the moisturizer properly. I often joke and tell clients that toner is the step that reveals how poorly we wash our faces…lol.

    Common definitions of Toners and Essences

    Toners and essences aren’t regulated terms, so each brand can define them a bit differently. However, the most commonly used definitions are:

    Toner: A formula that balances skin’s natural pH levels (to that optimal ~5.5 pH).

    Essence: A formula that deeply hydrates skin and prepares the skin for the next skincare steps.

    Secondary benefits: Now here’s where it can get tricky. Some toners are also hydrating, and some essences also help balance skin’s pH. However, the main job of toners is typically about helping skin balance its pH levels, and the main job of essences is typically about drenching skin with hydration – two distinctly different jobs.

    Additionally, some toners and essences can come with secondary benefits like exfoliating, brightening, firming, and more.

    Step 3:

    Serum AM/PM

    Serums are skincare products designed to deliver high concentrations of specific active ingredients to the skin. There are many different types of serums on the market that perform different jobs, ranging from hydration to skin brightening, such as vitamin C serum, hyaluronic acid serum that we will discuss later in this e-book.

    PRO-TIP: Serums are ALWAYS layered under moisturizer.

    Step 4:

    Moisturize AM/PM

    All skin needs moisture, no matter what skin type you have. Moisturizers prevent your skin from drying out by holding water in the top layer of skin. Even people with oily skin should moisturize to prevent overproduction of oil. Without moisture, oily skin will try to compensate for a lack of moisture.

    There are four main types of moisturizers:

    • Ceramides Ex: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
    • Emollients Ex: Cocoa Butter
    • Humectants Ex: Hyaluronic Acid
    • Occulsives Ex: Vaseline

    Step 5:

    Sun Protection AM

    Wearing sun protection is the one thing we usually forget. Sunscreen is the easiest way to protect your skin’s appearance. No matter your age, or amount of melanin in your skin, when used regularly, protection from the sun will prevent sunburn, skin cancer, and premature aging. What does SPF mean, you ask? SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. The number represents how long it takes for you to burn with sunscreen versus the amount of time without sunscreen. So, if you use a product with an SPF 15, it would take you 15 times longer to burn than if you were sunscreen-free.

    Weekly Boosters


    These treatments are done 2 to 3x weekly. The purpose of the accelerator is to boost the breakdown of dead skin cells and regenerate new skin cells. These treatments performed consistently, the accelerators will give you smoother, brighter, and healthy-looking skin.

    Home Peel Vitamin A+

    Retinoid Products

    Other Exfoliators

    Exfoliation is the only step that is not performed daily. Many people are not aware of the many benefits that exfoliating provides the skin. Among the many benefits, exfoliation:

    • Unclogs pores
    • Evens skin tone
    • Prevents acne
    • Helps products penetrate deeper into the skin
    • Boosts circulation

    “Skin requires water, lipids, and nutrients to act as a balanced organism of defense.”

    Home peel

    It is possible to achieve skin-brightening exfoliation with an at-home chemical peel, although they likely won’t be as potent or fast-acting as an in-office peel procedure. Why? An in-office chemical peel has a higher concentration level of chemicals that are better able to penetrate deeper into the skin. But don’t lose hope and think that you’ll only see real results from an in-office treatment, at-home peels can definitely help to improve skin tone and texture, and reduce breakouts and pigmentation, but you’ll want to avoid over-exfoliation.

    An at-home chemical peel falls into one of two categories, based on its ingredients:

    • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic and lactic acids are known for improving overall skin tone and discoloration.

    • Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like salicylic acid can penetrate deep into your pores and hair follicles to help unclog them.

    • Other Exfoliators

      There are three types of exfoliation:

      • Physical
      • Enzymatic
      • Chemical 
    • Physical exfoliation is the manual process of removing dead skin cells. The most common method is facial scrubs that contain sugar, salt, or nuts. You may also use a handheld face brush that allows you to control the speed and pressure of application. Or, if you’d like to get a little fancy, you may use a mechanical face brush, which allows you to change the settings. Most kits come with different brush attachments to choose from.
    • “Weekly exfoliation habit improves the skin’s radiance, clarity, and youthfulness.”

      All scrubs are not created equal. Thus, you must be very careful when selecting a scrub. Scrubs or mechanical face brushes that are too harsh on the skin can lead to microscopic tears in your skin. Microscopic tears can lead to other skin-related issues.

    • Enzymatic exfoliation utilizes fruit enzymes to break down the keratin protein to remove dead skin cells. This process results in smoother skin and a more radiant complexion. Enzymes also diminish scars, fine lines, age spots, and discoloration of the skin. The most popular fruit enzymes are papaya, lemon, and pumpkin.

    • Chemical exfoliation uses acids to penetrate the skin. The acids break down the layers of dead skin cells that cause blemishes and dull skin. A licensed professional performs the service (i.e. Esthetician, dermatologist). The three common acids used are Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), and Poly Hydroxy Acid (PHA).

      Vitamin A+ – Retinoid Products

      PM only 2 or 3 nights weekly

      This is one of the products I’m most frequently asked about, and potentially one of the most confusing. All you need to know is that it’s ALL VITAMIN A. In the same way that white sugar, brown sugar, and maple syrup are all sugar, retinoid is the family name for any vitamin A product. Other ways you might see this ingredient listed on packaging are: retinol, retinal, retinyl palmitate, tretinoin, retinaldehyde, retinyl retinoate, hydroxypinacolone retinoate, or adapalene.

      PRO TIP: If your retinol product is leaving your skin too irritated or dry, mix it with your moisturizer.

      Originally discovered as having beneficial side of effects when treating acne, vitamin A is widely considered to be the gold standard of skincare because it is scientifically proven not only to reverse the signs of aging but also shown to prevent them.

      A lot of people contact me because they’re scared to try a vitamin A product, or they used it once, had a bad reaction, and are worried about going back to it. There are side effects to using vitamin A products, but with correct usage, there is nothing on the market that gives the same results on the skin.


      Like a serum or moisturizer, a face mask is a skincare vehicle. It delivers highly concentrated active ingredients, vitamins, and nutrients to the skin to improve its overall health. The difference: face masks are occlusive and they tend to create a physical barrier that locks in beneficial ingredients, thereby allowing them to absorb more efficiently.

      Face masks are designed to be used often to give an instant boost to your skin. Depending on what your skin needs, there is a mask that can make one (or a combination) of the following:

      • Decongest clogged pores
      • Enhance elasticity
      • Hydrate and moisturize dry skin
      • Refine large pores
      • Minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
      • Improve skin texture
      • Absorb excess oil and dirt
      • Improve the look of breakouts
      • Brighten dark spots

      “Masks are designed to be used often to give an instant boost to the skin.”

      Types of Face Masks

      There are lots of face masks out there, and listed below are a few types of face masks:

      • Clay mask for purification
      • Sheet mask for lifting and hydration
      • Exfoliating mask for smoothing and brightness
      • Cream mask nourishment and recovery
      • AM or PM 2x weekly

      PRO TIP: The best way to do the mask is the day that you also exfoliate.


      All skincare routines are not created equal. At the very least, you should be cleansing, exfoliating, toning, moisturizing, and protecting the skin. Your skin type determines what product should be used within each step. When changing skincare routines, I recommend introducing one product at a time. This allows you to test your skin’s tolerance level to the product. It also rules out any allergic reactions that may occur.

      Viviane is an award-winning esthetician, make-up artist, and massage therapist with over 20 years of experience. She received formal training at LT International Beauty School in Philadelphia and completed advanced post-graduate work at Philadelphia and New York’s renowned International Dermal Institute. She also trained under world-renowned Philadelphia dermatologists specialized in skin color diagnosis treatments. Viviane is an expert in crafting skincare solutions for women of color and specializes in skin aging management, acne skin treatments, and pigmentation concerns. Her aspiration as one of the best estheticians in Philadelphia is to inculcate a self-love culture in women and empower them by making them feel beautiful in their skin. After all, nothing glows brighter than a woman with confidence.

      In summary:

      • Cleansing, exfoliating, toning, moisturizing, and protecting the skin are the basic steps in a skincare routine.
      • Skin needs moisture, so even people with oily skin should moisturize to prevent overproduction of oil.
      • Sunscreen is essential to prevent sunburn, skin cancer, and premature aging.
      • Different types of moisturizers include ceramides, emollients, humectants, and occlusives.
      • Exfoliation unclogs pores, evens skin tone, prevents acne, helps products penetrate deeper into the skin, and boosts circulation.
      • There are three types of exfoliation: physical, enzymatic, and chemical.
      • Serums deliver high concentrations of specific active ingredients to the skin.
      • Toner preps the skin for serum and moisturizer and corrects and balances the pH of the skin.
      • Masks deliver highly concentrated active ingredients, vitamins, and nutrients to the skin to improve its overall health.
      • When changing skincare routines, introduce one product at a time to test your skin's tolerance level and rule out any allergic reactions that may occur.


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