How to build a natural skincare routine that’s right for you

One of the most common things I hear from my clients is the desire to build the ‘perfect skincare routine’. There’s so much confusion about the order in which to apply products, what steps to take, and which ones to skip. Let me break it down and walk you through how to create the perfect skincare routine that’s right for you!

The essential products 

These are the ‘non-negotiable’ products every good skincare routine needs:

  • cleanser (a gentle cleanser to remove makeup and purify the skin)
  • moisturizer (a hydrating moisturizer to help protect the skin)
  • SPF (a daily sunscreen to combat sun damage)

The optional products

These are all of the other products, such as serums, exfoliators, and masks, that can target and correct specific concerns. They act to super charge your skincare routine and can make the most visible difference.

The fully loaded skincare routine

If you were to use every product available, this is what your routine would look like (all the bells and whistles): 

  1. Cleanser
  2. Exfoliator (1-3x per week in the PM)
  3. Mask (1-2x per week)
  4. Toner
  5. Serum
  6. Moisturizer
  7. SPF (AM)
  8. Oil

Cleanser (essential)

A cleanser is essential for good skin hygiene, but not everyone needs to cleanse two times per day. If your skin is dry or sensitive, it’s helpful to give up your morning cleanse and just use a toner or splash of water instead. At night though, no matter what your skin type, everyone should cleanse to remove the day’s makeup, dirt, and oil buildup. 

Exfoliator (essential) 

Exfoliating is an essential step for three main reasons:

  • Sloughs off dead skin cells, which helps product absorption and the skin’s overall texture
  • Increases cell renewal, which helps with the signs of aging
  • Helps lighten pigmentation and even out skin tone

It’s important not to over do it, but exfoliating 1-3 times per week using a gentle physical scrub, fruit enzyme peel or alpha hydroxy acid is a great habit to get into!

Masks (optional)

Masks aren’t necessary, but they’re nice treatments to quickly target specific concerns. For example, you can use a hydrating mask to boost the skin’s overall moisture levels, or a clay mask to calm and heal breakouts.

Toner (optional)

A toners is an optional step, but it’s nice to include especially if you’re not cleansing in the morning. Toners are especially helpful if you’re treating a specific concern such as clarifying oily skin or calming inflammation. Hydrating toners can also help prep the skin to receive more moisture. 

Serum (optional)

Think of serums like the “fixer” for your skin. If you have a skin concern in mind, serums are highly concentrated formulas that target specific conditions. For example, you can use a vitamin C serum for brightening and lightening hyper pigmentation, or a hyaluronic acid serum for dehydration. 

Moisturizer (essential)

This is your number one essential product. Never skip it, even if you have oily skin. There are many moisturizers available which differ in weight and consistency, but all skin types need a moisturizer to prevent dehydration and keep it healthy. 

SPF (essential)

A SPF should be worn daily, all year round. The majority of sun exposure we experience is incidental, meaning it happens when we’re driving in the car, or walking to and from places. UVA rays, which are responsible for the signs of aging, are powerful and can penetrate windows and clouds. Do yourself a favour and protect your skin by wearing a SPF every day (especially if you’re exfoliating throughout the week). 

Oils (optional) 

Oils can be used on all skin types, but they’re especially helpful for someone with dry or mature skin to enhance the skin’s natural protective barrier. Just like an internal supplement, face oils rich in fatty acids can help heal inflammation and nourish the skin when it’s compromised or cannot produce enough oil to protect itself.


Your skincare routine doesn’t have to be complicated. Pick and choose what’s right for your based on your main skin concerns and your skin type. For some extra help, download the printable guide for a step by step daily skincare routine specific to each skin type.

Download the Daily Skincare Guide for Your Skin Type Here!


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Seanna Cohen is a certified Skin Care Therapist and founder of the Clean Beauty School, an online destination to learn skincare tips & tricks, shop the best clean beauty products, and get personalized advice. As a trusted skincare expert, she inspires others to take a holistic approach to beauty and find sustainable practices through her skincare coaching, webinars, and classes.

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