The Best Skincare Routine for Your Skin Type

As a dermatologist, I am often asked “What are the best products for my skin?” To answer that question correctly and to give you advice on the best products for your skin, I need to know your Baumann Skin Type®.  You see- there are 16 Baumann Skin Types and 40,000 different skin routine structures to cover all of the 16 skin types and customize the skincare routine for lifestyle habits and preferences.  So-- make your dermatologist’s life (and your life) easier by taking the personalized skin care quiz that I developed, researched, and validated over the last decade with the help of many dermatologists.

 Although I do not know your skin type until you take the in-depth skincare quiz, I am going to give some general advice that will help get you started answering the question “What should my skincare routine be?” However, I really prefer that you take the skin type quiz. The best skincare advice can only be given after completing the free skin routine quiz.  The advice varies from skin type to skin type, and I would hate for you to waste time and money using the wrong skin care routine just because you did not want to take 3 minutes to complete the free skin type quiz used by dermatologists to accurately tell you what skincare routine to use.

What is the Correct Skin Routine Order?

One of many important things in designing a personalized skincare routine for my patients is the circadian rhythm of the skin cells. This rhythm determines what skin care products should be used in the am and which skin care products should be used in the pm. My Cosmetic Dermatology textbook (McGraw Hill) discusses this subject and teaches doctors how to personalize your skincare routine based on circadian rhythm and your lifestyle habits. 

In general, cellular processes that protect the skin are active during the sunlight hours, while repair processes are active at night. That means that you need protective ingredients such as anti-inflammatories, ascorbic acid and antioxidants in the am and ingredients that promote repair such as niacinamide and retinoids at night.

Taking the skin care routine quiz helps identify what ingredients are best to protect your skin in the day and which repair processes to target at night. Once I know what issues to target, I choose the best skin care products for your skin type and put them in the correct skincare routine order.

Below I discuss some factors that I consider when I develop a customized skin care routine for my patients. Please understand that this is just scratching the surface of the science that we consider when developing skin care routines.  I am discussing the skin routine order of dry skin, oily skin, mature skin etc., but the best proven skin care routines must consider all of these skin issues- not just one.  

For example, an oily, sensitive, pigmented and wrinkle prone skin type with acne (Baumann Skin Type OSPW acne type) will need a daily skincare routine with skin care steps that target the needs for oily skin, acne prone skin, irritated skin, uneven skin tone and mature skin.  Also the circadian rhythm, lifestyle habits and your personal preferences must be considered. It is  almost impossible to design the perfect skincare routine without the Skin Type Solutions software (40,000 + different skin care routines!) which is why I developed the STS quiz for skin care routines.


What Skin Care Routine Should I Use?

To have the most effective skincare routine order for your skin type, you must apply the best skin care products for your skin type at the correct time of day. The diagram below shows a cross section of the skin. It is a skin care routine guide to show how to layer skin care products on the skin. The colors correspond with the daily skin care routine steps for am and pm described in the morning and night skin care routines listed after the diagram. Take the “What skin care routine should I use quiz” to find out what skincare products you need- or continue reading for some general suggestions.



Skincare Product Order in the Morning Skin Care Routine:

  • Cleanser: A cleanser should be used first to prepare the skin and promote penetration
  • Eye Cream/Serum: An eye cream or serum protects the delicate eye skin from the treatment product
  • Treatment: The treatment product goes on clean skin to maximize penetration. 

  • Moisturizer: A moisturizer goes on top to increase penetration of the treatment product. Needs to contain ingredients that protect the skin from issues identified by the skin care product quiz.
  • Sunscreen: A sunscreen goes last- closest to the sun, to protect the skin and the skin care products from UV radiation and light. Should contain ingredients that protect the skin from issues identified by the skin care product quiz.


Skincare Product Order in the Evening Skin Care Routine:

  • Cleanser: A cleanser should be used first to prepare the skin and promote penetration.
  • Eye Cream/Serum: An eye cream or serum protects the delicate eye skin from the treatment product.
  • Treatment: The treatment product goes on clean skin to maximize penetration, however this step varies with skin type depending upon which repair processes need to be fortified.

  • Moisturizer: A moisturizer goes on top to increase penetration of the treatment product in addition to hydrating the skin and repairing the skin barrier.
  • A product that needs the ingredients in the moisturizer to activate or increase penetration of ingredients goes last.  Retinoids may also go last depending upon the skin type.

Best Skincare Routine for Skin Type

The general skincare regimen discussed above is just a guideline of how a skin care routine should be structured.  There are many exceptions. Completing the What Skin Care Products Do I Need Quiz will give you specific advice on skincare brands and products to use in your skin care routine. In the meantime- here is skincare advice by skin type:


Dry Skincare Routine

The best skin care routine for dry skin includes a cleanser and moisturizer that deposit lipids such as stearic acid on the skin. The cleanser should be creamy and non-foaming. It can contain glycolic acid which is a humectant and helps hydrate dry skin types. The moisturizer should contain barrier repair ingredients that have fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides.  The type of fatty acid in the moisturizer is important.  Click here to read more about Skincare for Dry Skin Types.

Sensitive Skincare Routine

The best skincare routine for sensitive skin depends upon which type of sensitive skin you have. The in depth skincare quiz will help you determine what type of sensitive skin you have which can include one or more of the following:


Skincare Routine for Acne Type Sensitive Skin

The correct skincare routine for acne must include an antibacterial product in step 3 of the am and pm regimen.  Examples include a prescription antibiotic, benzoyl peroxide, or other ingredients that kill acne causing bacteria. The skincare products used in an acne skincare routine can irritate those with the redness, stinging and allergic skin types, so acne skin care advice should be customized to the Baumann Skin Type for best results. The cleanser and moisturizer chosen should be designed to help the skin tolerate irritating benzoyl peroxide and retinoids used to treat acne prone skin.

Skincare Routine to Soothe Skin for Rosacea Type Sensitive Skin

Facial redness can be caused by over exfoliation, rosacea, skin allergy, and use of incorrect skincare products. The personalized skin care quiz helps me determine the cause of facial redness in my patients. The best cleansers for rosacea and the best rosacea creams are discussed here. Irritated angry upset skin gets red from inflammation. You can soothe a red face with anti-inflammatory ingredients.   Some of my favorites are green tea, resveratrol, caffeine and argan oil.  These soothing ingredients can be in cleansers, but they are really not on the skin long enough to matter. Spend your money instead on treatment serums, natural oils like Argan oil, and creams with anti-inflammatory ingredients to soothe skin.

Oily Skincare Routine

The sebum (oil) on the skin produced by oily skin types protects the skin and can keep skincare products from penetrating into the skin.  For this reason, sebum should be completely removed from the skin before applying any skincare products.  Otherwise -you are wasting your money on products that will not penetrate through the skin’s oily protective layer. I recommend a foaming cleaner both morning and night as the first step in a skincare routine for oily skin.  Do not use cleaning oils and creamy cleansers when you have oily skin.  Follow the cleanser with an eye cream if necessary and then put the most important product on the skin after the eye cream.  For example, if you have oily skin with dark spots, apply a skin lightener as the third step.  If you have oily skin with redness, an anti-redness product should be the third step.  Follow the third step with a moisturizer designed to treat your underlying products such as a soothing moisturizer if you have oily sensitive skin. The serums and creams that are best for oily skin types depend upon what other skin issues you have.  (Do you see why I keep insisting that you take the skincare product quiz to find the right products for your skin type?  -its complicated!! Which is why I spent the last decade developing the STS system).

Combination Skin

Ok – if you are still reading and have not taken the quiz- it must be because you think you already know your skin type. Do you have combination skin? 

No you don’t!

That is a trick question because there is no scientific category for combination skin. My guess is you are really oily.  I know an easy way to find out - take the personalized skin care quiz!

Mature Skin

Although there is not a scientific category for mature skin, in the Baumann Skin Typing System used exclusively by Skin Type Solutions, there is a skin type known as Wrinkle Prone.  Wrinkle prone skin is defined as skin that is over 30 years old or is exposed to detrimental things such as sun, pollution, smoke, blue light, poor diet, stress and lack of sleep. Mature skin needs anti-aging ingredients.  The type of anti-aging products that are best for mature skin depends upon what other skin issues you have.  For example, sensitive wrinkle prone skin does well with niacinamide. However, the niacinamide works best at night because it provides the energy that cells need to repair damage that accrues during the day. Retinoids are the best products for mature skin but their efficacy depends upon what cleansers and moisturizers are chosen. I cannot give you a skincare routine order for mature skin without knowing your skin type and other skin issues.

What Products Should I Be Using in My Skin Routine?


That’s easy- it depends upon your Baumann Skin Type! Not only do you need the correct ingredients placed on your skin in the correct skin routine order at the correct time of day, you also need products that are manufactured and packaged correctly.  For example- retinol- the most important anti-aging ingredient in your skincare routine. The bad news is that over 50% of retinol containing skincare products are not manufactured properly.  If they are stirred in an open vat (like a huge Kitchen Aid mixer) air and light inactivate the retinol.  They must be stirred in light free airless conditions and transferred into the airless pimps in light free airless conditions.  That is expensive and many companies do not take the extra step and expense.  This means you may be wasting your time and money on antiaging products that don’t work. Don’t worry- We are here to help you find skincare products that are manufactured properly.

What Should Your Skin Routine Look Like?

By now you should have gotten my point that I can give you advice on the best skincare routine order only after you have taken the skin type quiz. It’s quick- it’s easy- it’s used by doctors- and it’s free!  (Hopefully you are out of excuses by now- just do it already!) Once I know your skin type, the software will give you the correct skincare routine but you can choose from many options of brands and price points.  It’s the only way to be certain that you are using the correct skincare products and skincare routine steps for your unique skin type.