I'm Finally Starting a Skin Care Routine—These Are the Products Doctors Told Me to Buy First

*Clicks ‘add to cart’ immediately.*

Woman in bathroom washing face
Photo: Getty Images / Willie B. Thomas

We all know the importance of taking care of one's health. Whether it's eating foods that are good for your gut or engaging in exercise, it's our job to take care of our bodies on both the inside and the outside. And while I've been doing a decent job with the former, I've been overlooking a crucial part of my health: my skin.

Although it is a tad overwhelming to create a skin care routine (there are just so many products to choose from!), it's definitely doable if you have experts to rely on. That's why I spoke with Ben Johnson, MD, founder and formulator of Osmosis Beauty and Mamina Turegano, MD, FAAD, @dr.mamina on Instagram and TikTok to get their expert advice on how to start a skin care routine, the products to begin with and other tips for taking care of your skin.

Why a Skin Care Routine Is Important

While a skin care routine might seem like an extra, time-consuming step in your morning or evening schedule, it's important to implement. Turegano notes that "everyone would benefit from a basic skin care routine." Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it's affected by so many exterior elements, so cleaning and taking care of it is crucial.

If you're not sure where to start, Johnson has a helpful general rule: "treat according to age." For example, someone in their 20s is "just starting to lose collagen in [their] dermis, so [they] do not need the big guns or growth factor serums for now." Meanwhile, someone in their 30s would begin to need products for collagen restoration and maintenance and barrier protection. Finally, someone in their 40s and beyond has skin that "now wants more growth factors," which is where serums would be useful. So keep in mind that age can have a factor in what your skin will need (Speaking of aging, learn the number one way to help your skin look younger, according to a dermatologist).

As for the timing of your skin care routine, both Turegano and Johnson recommend having a morning and evening routine. But if you think you'll struggle with maintaining a routine (aka the reason why I don't currently have a successful one), Turegano recommends keeping the products "next to your toothbrush and toothpaste as a reminder."

How to Figure Out Your Skin's Needs

Before you can browse the aisles of skin care products, you'll need to figure out what your skin needs first. Luckily, Turegano has a quick test that you can do. First, clean your face with a gentle cleanser (like CeraVe, buy it: Dermstore, $15) and wait 30 minutes to one hour before examining your skin. "If your entire face is oily, you have oily skin," says Turegano. However, "if you only have oil in your t-zone [the area of your forehead, nose and chin], then you have combination skin. If your entire face is dry and your skin feels tight, you have dry skin." Figuring out your skin's needs will help you wade through the different products on the market. Or, if you know you have a certain skin type or condition (for example, rosacea or acne) and want specific product recommendations, Johnson's Osmosis Beauty has a helpful quiz on their website to get you started.

3 Products to Start a Skin Care Routine

Although your needs may change based on your skin type, condition and age, Turegano and Johnson recommend three basic types of products for any skin routine: a cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen (this is also the order in which you should use these products).

First, a cleanser is important as Turegano notes, "with regular cleansing, you are washing away the dirt, pollutants, sweat and oil build up that can contribute to things like acne or accelerated aging." Meanwhile, Johnson suggests looking for a cleanser that "does not strip the skin of its protective lipids," and recommends Osmosis Beauty's Cleanse, which features lavender oil to soothe redness and alleviate dryness. Or, try this cleanser from First Aid Beauty, which features aloe leaf extract to cool inflammation (check out more health benefits of aloe).

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Osmosis +Beauty Cleanse - Gentle Cleanser (6.7 fl. oz.)

Osmosis +Beauty Cleanse - Gentle Cleanser
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First Aid Beauty Pure Skin - Face Cleanser (5 oz.)

First Aid Beauty Pure Skin - Face Cleanser

The second product you'll need for your skin care routine is a good moisturizer. As Turegano explains, "Our skin barrier can be affected by various environmental elements, and a moisturizer can help keep the barrier healthy and intact. This means less skin issues like irritation, sensitivity, dryness, and even acne breakouts." When looking for a moisturizer, Johnson recommends choosing one "that is free of all the toxic chemicals" like Osmosis Beauty's Quench or Hydrate.

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Osmosis +Beauty Quench - Nourishing Moisturizer (1.69 fl. oz.)

Osmosis +Beauty Quench - Nourishing Moisturizer
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Osmosis +Beauty Hydrate - Plumping Moisturizer (1.69 fl. oz.)

Osmosis +Beauty Hydrate - Plumping Moisturizer

Finally, to complete your skin care routine, Turegano recommends sunscreen as it "is the most important product for anti-aging and skin cancer prevention." Her go-to product is the La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50 because it makes her skin look flawless. Turegano says that "everyone has different preferences on the consistency and appearance of the sunscreen, so it's important to find one that you like so that you use it consistently." Meanwhile, Johnson recommends Osmosis Beauty's Protect, which has an SPF of 30.

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La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Daily Tone Correcting Primer with Sunscreen (1.35 OZ.)

La Roche Posay Anthelios 50 Mineral Tinted Daily Tone Correcting Primer with Sunscreen
Derm Warehouse
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Osmosis +Beauty Protect - SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen (1.69 fl. oz.)

Osmosis +Beauty Protect - SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Bottom Line

So if you're starting a routine for the first time (or restarting a routine), these products can help you and your skin feel its best. Just remember that results can take a while to appear, so don't get discouraged if you don't see immediate results. Skin health is a long-term investment, and starting a skin care routine is the first step. As for me? I'll be stocking up on these three products ASAP.

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