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dermatologist

Short on time in the morning? It happens to us all. But morning skin care can be quick and simple. 

Refresh, reinvigorate, and simplify your morning regimen in three easy steps.

Step 1: Cleanse

First things first: Wash your face. 

"Overnight, your skin can build up a lot of oils," says Carolyn Jacob, MD, founder and medical director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology. "There can still be dirt left over, and if you didn't wash off your makeup from last night you have to get that off, too."

If you're really pressed for time, save a step and wash your face in the shower.

You don't need anything fancy or expensive when choosing a cleanser. Always be mindful when buying astringents and toners, since these can dry your skin. "You're going to get so super-dry to the point that you will accentuate all the crinkling, wrinkling, and furrows that you have on your skin," dermatologist and author Nelson Lee Novick, MD, says.

A cleanser labeled for sensitive skin is gentle enough that it won't leave your skin looking parched. If your skin is already dry, Jacob says a cleanser containing ceramides can return some of the missing moisture. She recommends an acne-fighting cleanser for oilier, pimple-prone skin.

Washing your face doesn't take long, but your technique matters. Be gentle. "Use your fingers," Novick says. "No scrub sponges, no loofah sponges, no buff puffs or any type of abrasive or exfoliating products."

Rinse, gently pat dry, and you're done.

Step 2: Moisturize and Get Sun Protection

While your skin is still damp, apply a moisturizer. You need to protect your skin from the sun with an SPF sunscreen of 30 or more. But here you can easily skip a step. "For a quick morning regimen, you can use a product that combines a moisturizer and a sunscreen," Novick says.

Some foundations or pressed powders also have added sunscreen, and ingredients like zinc oxide that protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.

If you're planning to spend most of your day inside, one application of moisturizer with sunscreen in the morning should be enough. If you're going to spend a lot of time outside, reapply every 2 hours, more if you are sweating or getting in and out of the water.

Step 3: Makeup

A few morning makeup tricks can hide what you want to hide and play up your assets.

Makeup Trick #1: Conceal. Use a concealer to mask age spots, sun damage, and other skin discolorations. For maximum coverage, Novick says to apply concealer first, underneath your moisturizer. Then lightly smooth on your moisturizer so you don't wipe off the concealer.

Choose a concealer color based on what you're trying to hide.

  • "If you have a flush to your skin, then use a concealer that's greenish tinted," Novick says. Don't worry, you won't end up looking like the Wicked Witch of the West. When the red of your skin blends with the green concealer, the colors will combine to create a natural skin tone.
  • To hide dark circles under your eyes, choose a concealer that's one shade lighter than your normal skin tone, Novick says.
  • If you also have puffiness under your eyes, go one shade darker than your skin tone. A darker shade will de-emphasize your swollen skin. Top off the concealer with a smoothing layer of pressed powder foundation.