Healthy and great-looking skin requires commitment, mindfulness, and routine. While we can’t totally nix exposure to sunlight or the chemicals and pollution that inevitably build up on our skin throughout the day, there are steps that can be taken to dull their damaging effects, and it starts with an intentional morning skincare routine.
Here are the five steps you should be taking every morning to achieve healthy, glowing skin.
1. Great skincare begins the night before
Sleep has a profound effect on the look and on the health of your skin. Lack of sleep can make you look older, lead to dark circles, puffy and swollen skin, fine lines and wrinkles, sagging eyelids, and paleness—and these can show up on your face in as little as a one night.
A 2018 survey showed that many Americans wish they could get better quality sleep, and even fewer of us are getting enough. A healthy morning skincare routine absolutely begins the night before—so make getting a good night’s sleep a priority. Put it on your calendar if you need to.
You can up your chances of better sleep by decreasing alcohol intake, exercise regularly (this improves circulation, which your also skin loves!), start a mindfulness practice (like yoga or meditation), and stick to it.
2. Pour a glass of water—before you pour the coffee
Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to improve the health and appearance of your skin quickly. Staying hydrated increases your body’s circulation, which means that your body can easily flush toxins and impurities—especially from your skin. When you’re dehydrated, your body pulls moisture from your skin cells to circulate in your blood, which means your skin becomes cry, sagging, and prone to wrinkles.
By staying hydrated, you can fight breakouts, beat dry patches and peeling skin, and avoid unwanted wrinkles.
3. Mitigate stress as much as possible
Stress is the downfall of healthy and glowing skin—it can cause breakouts, hives, rashes, and even fever blisters, and aggravates conditions like psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. No good.
Plan your days the night before so you don’t find yourself behind the moment you get up. Wake up with plenty of time to prepare for the day so you’re not rushed to make it to the train. Begin your day with light exercise, which is proven to fight stress and anxiety. Wait until you get to work to look at your inbox.
4. Use a gentle, derm-approved, daily cleanser
Your skin produces wonderful, restorative oils that keep your skin from getting irritated and dry. Those oils are good while you sleep, but they can leave you looking oily during the day.
Wash your face with a gentle daily cleanser that’s dermatologist tested and is free of sulfates, parabens, comedogenic oils, soaps, and fragrances. A good daily cleanser will not strip your face of all its oils or leave you feeling dry cracked.
If you have especially dry or sensitive skin, some dermatologists will recommend cleansing only in the evening to remove the oils and impurities your skin has collected during the day.
5. Make sunscreen an everyday habit
Wear sunscreen everyday. Even if it’s not sunny, even if you’re just going about your normal workday. Make sure it’s one formulated especially for your face.
The sun’s ultraviolet rays are unforgiving. They not only lead to fine lines and wrinkles, prolonged exposure can produce sunspots and is linked to deadly skin cancers. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays (broad-spectrum sunscreens) and has an SPF of 30 or higher.
Matilda Davies lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she writes about health and wellness. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, and walking her dogs.