I started a skincare routine about a year ago when I turned 30. It’s now my favorite kind of selfcare — I love starting the day with a fresh face and wiping off the day’s stress at night.

My skin is very dry, fair, and easily irritated, so hydration and protection are my top skincare goals. It took a year, but I finally found the right combo for my skin. I tried so many different brands, products, and routines. I watched tons of YouTube videos and read countless articles about best practices for dry skin.

What helped me the most was learning about the three categories of skincare ingredients: emollients (restore and soften your skin), occlusives (trap moisture in your skin), and humectants (pull water molecules into your skin). If you have dry skin, you should stick to emollients and occlusives and avoid humectants.

How do you know if a product is an emollient or occlusive? Inspect the ingredients. Emollients are primarily oils and creams and occlusives have thicker texture like waxes and butters. Some common ones to look for are shea butter, cocoa butter, argan oil, coconut oil, mineral oil, lanolin, petrolatum, silicone, and beeswax. Every person’s skin is different, but the products I use have the ingredients needed to soothe and hydrate your skin for a healthy, dewy glow. When it comes to brands, Averr Aglow, BareMinerals, Drunk Elephant, SkinCeuticals, and Tatcha are great options for products designed for dry skin, like mine.

At the very least, you could use my skincare routine as a starting point so you don’t have to spend as much time (and money!) as I did experimenting for a whole year.

Morning routine

  • Face mist: The purpose of face mist is to prep your skin to absorb the nutrients from your skincare products. It’s a light formula that you spray on your face. I use a face mist with rosewater (rich in antioxidants) and cucumber (rich in minerals and vitamin C) as its primary ingredients. The fresh spurts of moisture also help wake me up!
  • Waterless cleanser: Cleansers clear your pores, remove any residual dirt or makeup, and help reduce inflammation. Water-based products can actually dry out your skin, so using a waterless cleanser is better for dry skin to help preserve your skin’s natural oils. You don’t rinse it off after applying and can move right to your moisturizer.
  • Cream moisturizer: Like your cleanser, you also want to avoid water-based moisturizers. An oil-based moisturizer holds the hydration and creates a glowy look. It reduces fine lines and wrinkles, balances your skin’s oils, and helps prevent breakouts. I really like using a cream oil-based moisturizer.
  • Lip balm: Don’t forget your lips! The skin on your lips is particularly thin and sensitive. Scentless lip products are best for dry lips. I use a lip balm with coconut oil, vitamin E, and shea butter as the main ingredients. It feels light and looks glossy.

Nighttime routine

  • Cleansing oil: To cleanse in the evening, I use a cleansing oil with a sunflower oil and pomegranate formula. Cleansing oils are light and don’t clog your pores. They can also remove makeup so you don’t need a separate makeup remover.
  • Collagen peptide serum: Collagen is a protein in the body that keeps skin tight and firm. As we age, we produce less collagen which leads to sagging and wrinkles. A collagen peptide serum boosts your body’s natural production of collagen. I put two to three drops on my face and rub it into my skin, leaving it feeling smooth and soft.
  • Lip mask: Lastly, I use a lip sleeping mask with beta-glucan, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Apply a thin layer and let your lips marinate throughout the night to keep them soft and supple.

Other important skincare habits

Here are a few other things outside of your daily skincare routine that are important to do on a regular basis for healthy and hydrated skin.

Exfoliate your face and lips: Too much exfoliation can irritate your skin. But doing it once a week gets rid of dead skin cells, unclogs your pores, and lets your skincare products better sink into your skin. I use a simple facial razor that exfoliates and removes peach fuzz for a smooth and fresh surface. For your lips, use a lip scrub — its grainy agents remove dead or dry skin. You can exfoliate your lips multiple times a week.

Steam your face: Humidifying facial steamers are a relaxing way to deep clean your face, unclog your pores, hydrate your skin, and increase blood circulation. Similar to face exfoliation, experts recommend doing it once or twice a week. Similar to exfoliation, it can dry out your skin if done too much. I usually do it for five to ten minutes before my nighttime skincare routine once a week — it feels like a mini home spa treatment.

Drink lots of water: This is a habit you can’t overdo. Water helps build skin tissue to increase your skin’s elasticity, its ability to bounce back to its normal shape when stretched. Water also helps your body flush out toxins and boosts blood flow for an even skin tone. When you don’t drink enough water, your face starts to look puffy. That’s because it’s retaining water to avoid dehydration. So keep water with you at all times! I always have a full 30 ounce water tumbler with me.

Skin is the body’s biggest organ, so you should take care of it. It’s never too late (or too early) to start a skincare routine, so treat your face to some hydrating emollients and occlusives to get that natural glow!