How to Build a Skincare Routine According to a Dermatologist

Dr. Caroline Robinson, M.D.

May 4, 2020

When I decide on skin care, I think about the environment, the humidity and climate. Then I think about genetics, skin type, preferences. I think about what formulations of products would work best for these unique concerns and conditions (serums, lotions, creams, etc.). To me, it requires just as much thought and planning as we normally put into our diet, exercise, what clothes we wear, any wellness choice. It’s also important to have options. For example, I prefer a creamy cleanser on cooler and drier days but on sunny, slightly more humid days, I prefer a gentle exfoliating cleanser. Below are some categories to consider when building your routine and remember that your Board-Certified Dermatologist is an amazing resource to help you through these choices.


AHA and BHA cleansers are available in different formulations to gently remove dead skin. For sensitive skin types, I like lactic acid, papain (a papaya enzyme), or glycolic acid as gentle chemical exfoliants. Physical exfoliation (like with beaded cleansers or brushes) can cause more harm than good by increasing the risk of irritation and inflammation of the skin.


Topical Vitamin C is a hero antioxidant. This is an antioxidant that serves as an extra layer of UV protection and also can correct sun damage that has been accumulated over the years. It directly blocks the enzyme that is responsible for excess pigment production/hyperpigmentation (tyrosinase) which means that Vitamin C can also act as a topical brightener. There are many many other antioxidants that serve a similar purpose, some notable ones are Vitamin E (often available with Vitamin C in formulations), Co-enzyme Q10, green tea, etc.


A range of moisturizers exist from light to heavy creams. Depending on your skin type you may prefer or require one or the other. Hyaluronic acid serums are a water attracting naturally derived molecule that can help to boost moisture when lotions/creams alone are not doing the trick. They are also a great way to combat the signs of aging.


Mineral sunscreens with iron oxide added are great for skin types that are prone to hyperpigmentation. Always wear an SPF of 30+, broad spectrum that is water resistant and reapply ever 2 hours.


These Vitamin A products promote cell rejuvenation, repair sun damage, slowly correct pigment changes, address superficial wrinkles and scarring as well as help tighten the skin by rebuilding collagen. These can be irritating when first started, so start slowly and keep everything else gentle. Consult your Board-Certified Dermatologist for more education on this topic.


    Now Offering 0% Pay Over Time with Cherry

    * Payment options through Cherry Technologies, Inc. are issued by the following lending partners: Term length, loan amount, and promotional rates subject to eligibility.