How to Build A Skincare Ritual: The AM to PM Guide to Glowing Skin

There are fewer rituals more important than a quality skincare routine. As your body’s largest organ, your skin is so much more than what merely appears on the surface — it plays a significant role in temperature regulation, immune defence, vitamin production, and acts as a barrier protecting you from harm’s way. 

Yet, if you’ve found yourself spoilt for choice when shopping for skincare but entirely out of your depth when trying to understand what your skin needs, when you should apply it, and what you can safely pair it with, you’re certainly not alone. 

From hydrating toners and gentle exfoliants to anti-ageing serums and water-based moisturisers, keep reading to learn how to cut through the marketing noise and beauty trends to build a high-quality 6-step AM to PM skincare routine that will stick. 

Beneath the surface: the three skin layers 

Knowing how your skin is structured is essential to understand how and why you should prioritise it. 

Your skin is your first line of defence from invaders and elements. Not only does it play an important role in maintaining your immune system and regulating your body temperature, it also helps to protect your internal organs and defend against unwanted pathogens. The cherry on top? A quality skincare routine is one of the most fundamental steps to slowing down the ageing clock and preserving that youthful, fresh appearance. 

Your skin consists of three layers of connective tissue — the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. Each layer plays a unique role in maintaining balance. Let’s take a closer look at each… 

The Epidermis

Also known as the skin’s outer layer, the epidermis comprises trillions of skin cells packed tightly together to create a cosy, waterproof lining. The epidermis’ primary role is to protect the rest of the body from unwanted harm, including the impact of harmful bacteria and environmental elements like pollution, wind, sun exposure, and more. 

The Dermis

Situated just below the epidermal layer, the dermis helps to facilitate perspiration, hair growth, and blood flow. Additionally, your oil glands, collagen, and elastin are located in the dermis — the things that keep you looking youthful and vibrant. 

The Subcutaneous layer

Last but certainly not least, the subcutaneous layer is found deep below the other two barriers. The subcutaneous layer consists of tissue, nerve cells, and blood vessels, and helps regulate body temperature. This is where you’ll find stored fat, which cushions and protects vital organs. 

Knowing your skin: the five skin types explained

Building a skincare routine without knowing your skin type is like walking blindfolded — you may eventually get to where you need to be, but it’ll certainly be a long, bumpy road. 

Choosing products that don’t align with your skin’s unique requirements will deliver minimal results, and could potentially do more harm than good, worsening your skin concerns. As such, it’s crucial to clearly understand your skin type before you begin your journey to optimal skin health. 

All skin is unique and requires a personalised approach to skincare. As such, we recommend booking a skin consultation with our incredible team for a comprehensive skin analysis and plan tailored to your needs. In the meantime, here is a simple guide to understanding the common characteristics of the five main skin types:

Skin type

Common characteristics

Dry skin

  • Skin texture may feel rough
  • Complexion appears blotchy 
  • Potential flaking and itchiness 
  • Skin that is prone to cracking 
  • Visible fine lines
  • Potential redness and skin irritation 

Combination skin

  • Visibly oily around the t-zone
  • Dry skin around the eyes, mouth, and cheeks
  • Visibly enlarged pores around the chin, nose, and forehead
  • Skin texture may change with the seasons 

Oily skin

  • Visible and enlarged pores
  • Susceptible to acne, particularly in the t-zone area
  • Skin has a shiny appearance 
  • Skin appears plump due to excess oil 

Normal skin 

  • Minimal blemishes
  • Hardly visible pores
  • Even skin tone
  • Glowing complexion
  • Not too oily or too dry 
  • Fares well when in contact with elements (i.e., sun, wind, etc.) and irritants 

Sensitive skin

  • Reactive and easily irritated
  • Prone to breakouts 

Still not sure which category your skin falls into? Try comparing your skin in the morning and the evening and analysing the results. According to Healthline, this can be as simple as asking yourself the following questions: 

  • Does your face appear a lot more shiny and greasy after work?
  • Does your skin feel tight, textured, and flaky by the time you walk in the door?
  • Do you look essentially the same as when you left for work?
  • Is your skin irritated and inflamed? 

Building a sustainable mindset 

Before we begin, it’s important to note that adopting all of the following steps may not be feasible or sustainable for everyone, and that is absolutely okay. The most important factor when creating a skincare routine is consistency, which means creating a solution that works for your goals and circumstances. 

If convenience and simplicity are essential, stick with the basics. You don’t need to overcommit yourself to a routine that feels unachievable for you. Instead, add a quality cleanser, moisturiser, and sunscreen to your routine and build upon it over time as you see fit. 

The 6-step guide to building an AM to PM skincare routine 

When building the right skincare routine to suit your skin type and lifestyle, it’s just as important to know when to apply your products as it is to know what to apply. While the quality of your skincare products is non-negotiable, you may find that you do not see the results you’re working hard to achieve… and, believe it or not, it could all come down to the order of your routine. 

If you find yourself questioning what should be a staple part of your routine and when you should be using each product, here’s our 6-step guide to all-around daily skincare, from morning to evening: 

Step 1: Cleanser

Priority level: non-negotiable 

When: AM and PM

Ridding your face of impurities and excess oil should be the first step in your skincare routine. This is achieved by cleansing your face, which creates a fresh canvas to apply nutrients and goodness to later in your routine. Your cleanser should remove dirt, sweat, sebum, dead skin cells, bacteria, and makeup from your skin. 

Choosing the right type of cleanser will largely depend on your skin type and concerns. Yet, quality is a must for this initial stage. Using the wrong kind of cleanser for your skin could wreak havoc — stripping your skin of healthy oils, causing breakouts, and bringing on irritations. 

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of cleansers and which skin types they’re most suited to: 

Cleanser Type

Skin Type


Foam or gel cleansers

Oily skin

These types of cleansers will help to remove excess dirt and oil build-up from your skin. While ingredients vary from product to product, you’ll often find niacinamide and salicylic acid in them, which help regulate and reduce excess oil. 

Be sure not to over-cleanse. Unfortunately, this will have the opposite effect, causing your skin’s oil production to increase.  

All types

Normal skin

You get the pick of the bunch! If you have a normal skin type, your decisions should be guided by your lifestyle and requirements, i.e., if you wear make up frequently, ensure your cleanser will help remove it. 

Alcohol-free, fragrance-free formulas

Sensitive skin

All skin is unique and requires a tailored approach to skincare — especially when it comes to sensitive skin. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to finding skincare for those with sensitivities. 

As a general rule, avoid cleansers with alcohol, artificial fragrances, and anything too harsh. Your best bet will likely be lotions or milks. 

Oil cleansers, lotions or milks

Dry skin

Opt for alcohol-free cleansers with extra hydrating ingredients, such as ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and botanical oils. 

Non-stripping foam or gel cleanser

Combination skin

Since this skin type experiences both dryness and oiliness, it's best to get professional support to see what product best suits your unique skin condition. A gel cleanser is lightweight solution to help remove any excess oil, makeup, and bacteria. 

Acne-prone skin

Ingredients such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide or sulphur may be effective for breakout-prone skin. However, we recommend a more tailored approach to acne-prone skin, starting with a personalised consultation and treatment plan. 

AM cleansing routine:

In the morning, cleanse your face once using your cleanser and warm water. 

Tip: while this is an essential step in your skincare routine, there is one exception to the rule. If you’re someone who wakes up with dry skin, you might be able to skip the AM cleanse and simply wash your face with water to kickstart your day. This will help your cleansing product go even further!

PM cleansing routine:

In the evening, cleansing your face is a must. In fact, Teeghan, our Senior Dermal Therapist, recommends doing a double cleanse to ensure all make up, pollutants, and bacteria are adequately removed before applying additional products. 

Step 2: Toner

Priority level: nice-to-have, but can be skipped

When: AM and/or PM

In recent years, the role of facial toners has been under great debate, with beauty experts questioning their validity in skincare routines. 

Wondering why? Traditionally, many people used alkaline soap as a cleanser. Thus, facial toners were recommended as an essential next step to help balance the skin’s pH. Unfortunately, many of the older toning formulas contained ingredients that were quite harsh and irritating, causing the skin to dry out. Today, most quality cleansers are pH balanced, removing the need for a follow-up product to help restore balance. 

As such, most modern-day toners differ in design and purpose — generally, they’re now water-based (alcohol-free) and boast a variety of benefits. A quality face toner should be considered an extension of your cleanser. While it should never replace that crucial first step, a facial toner helps to clean and prepare your skin for nourishment while ensuring any last bit of excess oil, bacteria, or make up that may have been missed by your cleanser is removed. 

While toners can be an effective addition to your skincare routine, they aren’t a necessity. If your skin is healthy without one, you may not need to add a toner to your regime as most good quality cleanses are well balanced and should rid your skin of unwanted bacteria. If you already use one and enjoy the benefits, you can keep this one in the mix. 

There are several types of facial toners to support different concerns and skin types. While all skin is unique and should undergo a tailored assessment, here are a few types of facial toners to consider when assessing your options: 

  • Hydrating toners — this type of toner is suitable for all skin but best suited to dry skin types that require additional nourishment and moisture. Hydrating toners may include ingredients such as peptides, glycolipids, jojoba oil, glycolic acid, and more. 
  • Exfoliating toners — this type of toner is most suited to normal, combination, and oily skin types, as it can irritate sensitive skin. Exfoliating toners are useful for removing dead skin cells and improving skin texture. You may find the same benefits from using a more granulated, gentle exfoliator for those with more sensitive skin. 
  • Treatment/problem-specific toners — these types of toners are designed to address specific skin concerns, i.e., brightening, anti-ageing, balancing toners, etc. The ingredients will vary depending on your skin concern. 

AM toner routine:

Generally, your skin type will influence how frequently you should use a facial toner. For example, if you have dry or sensitive skin, you may find toning once per day or even every second day is the most effective protocol for you. Likewise, some skin types may find morning and night is the perfect balance, while others, such as acne-prone skin, may find every few days is the sweet spot. The point is, everyone’s skin will have different tolerance, meaning you’ll need to find what works best for you. 

If you are to apply your facial toner in the morning, this step will follow your facial cleanse, before you apply serums. Simply use a cotton pad to apply your toner and leave the formula on to dry. Avoid toners that contain alcohol and fragrances. 

PM toner routine:

If you’re using facial toner at night, follow the same method as the AM routine. Use a cotton pad to apply the formula and allow time for it to dry before adding any serums. 

Suppose you’re only toning once per day, depending on your lifestyle. In that case, you may find nighttime is the most beneficial time to ensure extra efforts go towards removing dirt, bacteria, make up, pollutants etc. 

Step 3: Serums

Priority level: highly recommended

When: AM and PM

Next is your tailored serum routine — this should always be applied after toner (or moisturiser, if you’ve opted for no toner) and always before moisturiser. 

From fine lines, skin pigmentation, and dark spots to uneven skin tone, dullness, and more, serums are the holy grail of the skincare complex — offering an abundance of benefits to address various skin complexion concerns. When choosing suitable serums to help manage your skin concerns, you may find one simple formula ticks all the boxes. Or, you may choose to add multiple serums to your toolkit should you have multiple skin concerns you want to tackle. If you’re new to serums and aren’t sure how to safely layer serums without causing an adverse reaction due to the active ingredients, it’s best to alternate between them. For example, vitamin C shouldn’t be layered with exfoliating acids (i.e., AHAs and BHAs).

So, what are face serums? Face serums contain concentrated active ingredients that help hydrate, protect, and nourish the skin. Unlike thicker creams and moisturisers that protect the skin’s surface, serums consist of smaller molecules that can easily penetrate the skin and offer benefits at a much deeper layer. Given our skin cells generally experience dehydration at these deeper layers, serums are particularly beneficial for offering a level of nourishment your moisturiser simply cannot. 

While one person may see incredible results from a Vitamin A serum, another person’s skin will reap the rewards of a hyaluronic acid serum. The secret to finding the right serum? Look for options that are suitable to your skin type and concerns. Let’s take a closer look at a few commonly used and widely adored serum ingredients: 



Vitamin C

Helps protect your skin from sun damage, reduces hyperpigmentation, supports even skin tone, helps protect your skin from free radicals, and may give the appearance of a brighter complexion. 

Hyaluronic acid

Helps to draw moisture into your skin and improve dry and dull-looking skin. 

Vitamin B3 (niacinamide)

Helps lower inflammation, reduce redness, retain skin moisture, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and enhance skin texture.  

Glycolic/lactic acid

Helps improve skin brightness and clear dead skin. 

Salicylic acid 

Helps to unclog pores. 

Vitamin A (retinol)

Supports cell turnover, helps with hyperpigmentation and supports anti-ageing.

For best results, we recommend adding at least one AM and PM serum to your skincare regime: 

AM serum routine:

When selecting your AM serums, you’ll generally opt for lightweight, hydrating, and antioxidant-rich options that can seamlessly blend with makeup without looking or feeling too heavy. The antioxidants will help protect your skin from the impact of unavoidable daily pollution and bacteria. 

When looking for a quality long-lasting serum, we always recommend Dr Tanya’s Holy Basil Face Serum. This much-loved favourite is powered by Holy Basil, Cacay Oil, Vitamin E, and Jojoba Oil to deliver nutrients to stimulate and regenerate cell renewal. 

When applying face serum, ensure you’re working with a dry canvas (i.e., allow enough time for your moisturiser or toner to sufficiently dry). Generally, most serums suggest warming up two to three drops in your hands before gently applying it to your face and décolletage area. Only once your serum has completely dried should you begin your next steps.

While your perfect serum selection will depend on your skin type and concerns, we believe every person, young and mature, should use a Vitamin C serum to help protect their skin from free radicals and improve skin brightness. 

PM serum routine:

As your AM serum regime is reserved for lighter serums that compliment your lifestyle, your PM serum routine is where you may want to add thicker serums that feel too gluggy and heavy for everyday wear. 

Additionally, if you were thinking of adding a retinol serum to your routine, this must be done at nighttime. Retinol increases your sensitivity to sun damage, thus, it could be counteractive if worn during the day. Opt for a quality formula like Dr Tanya’s Holy Basil Night Repair Serum, which combines the goodness of retinol, vitamin C, and AHAs to reduce the visible signs of ageing. 

Serums such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide can be used day or night, depending on your preference and lifestyle. 

Tip: serum is the liquid gold of the skincare world, so don’t let any go to waste. A little serum goes a long way, and you’ll find a lot of residual product left over on your hands. Simply rub this onto the backs of your hands and wrists, as these body parts are susceptible to sun damage (i.e., from driving). 

Step 4: Eye cream

Priority level: Highly recommended 

When: AM and PM

Contrary to popular opinion, eye cream isn’t just beneficial for more mature skin. Your eyes are one of the first body parts to show physical signs of ageing; thus, a quality eye cream can go a long way in preventing this. 

Wondering why? The skin immediately surrounding your eyes is the thinnest on your body, meaning it’s delicate and experiences water loss much quicker than other areas of your body. Unfortunately, this means your eye area is more susceptible to dryness, which can result in early signs of ageing. This is where a quality eye cream can help. 

Much like all skincare, choosing the right eye cream will be primarily dictated by your skin type and concerns. For example, if you want to correct dark circles, serums with niacinamide might be a great option, or if you want to reduce puffiness, opt for a caffeine serum. 

AM and PM eye cream routine:

As a general rule, you should apply eye cream morning and night using your ring finger, as this is the weakest finger and will avoid you roughly pulling on the delicate skin. Use approximately a pea-sized amount (check instructions) of cream/serum, and form small dots under your eyes, starting at the inner section. Simply pat the product into your skin, avoiding any rubbing motions that pull. 

Our go-to eye support formula is Dr Tanya’s Eye Lift Tightening Serum, which contains vitamin A, vitamin E, Squalane, and more to refine and illuminate the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines.

Step 5: Moisturiser

Priority level: non-negotiable 

When: AM and PM

Nourishing your face with a quality moisturiser is undoubtedly one of the most important steps in your skincare routine. In fact, we consider it a non-negotiable to optimal skin health, alongside cleansing and applying SPF. 

A good quality moisturiser plays two critical roles: (1) it helps to nourish and hydrate your skin, and (2) it acts as a barrier that helps to lock in all of the skincare layers you just applied (i.e., serums and eye cream) to avoid losing moisture. 

When choosing the right moisturiser for your skin type, consider the following:

Skin type/concern:


Dry skin

Generally speaking, dry skin occurs due to a lack of oil production. As such, this type of skin will best benefit from oil-based ingredients to help restore what’s lacking. 

Dehydrated skin

As the name suggests, dehydrated skin refers to skin lacking water. As such, focus on hydrating ingredients that will help to restore moisture. 

Oily skin

This type of skin generally produces too much oil. Thus, this type of skin may benefit from a lighter moisturiser that’s water-based to help keep the skin balanced. 

Sensitive skin

As this type of skin is easily irritated, the aim is to source a calming moisturiser with protective properties to help strengthen the skin’s barrier. Opt for fragrance and alcohol-free!

Acne-prone skin

For this skin type, it’s best to opt for lighter lotions or gel-based products. Generally, dermatologists will recommend oil-free products. However, getting a solution tailored to your unique concerns is essential, as all skin is different. 

AM moisturiser routine:

When choosing your daytime moisturiser, you may want to opt for something more lightweight to absorb quickly and avoid interfering with your makeup application and longevity. 

Dr Tanya’s Radiant Day Cream ticks all the boxes for a fast-absorbing, light everyday moisturiser. This incredible formula calls on the benefits of Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Vitamin B, and Vitamin E to support skin renewal and hydration. 

PM moisturiser routine:

Similarly to AM and PM serums, you may want to opt for a thicker, more nourishing night time moisturiser that can get to work while you sleep. 

If you’re looking for an all-in-one moisturiser to suit your morning and evening needs, you could opt for a product like Dr Tanya’s Holy Basil Day & Night Cream, which uses a unique blend of essential oils, minerals, and Holy Basil to hydrate and restore skin. 

Tip: massaging your moisturiser into your skin will help improve absorption and circulation. 

Step 6: Sunscreen

Priority level: non-negotiable

When: AM

Believe it or not, sunscreen is, without a doubt, the most fundamental step in your skincare routine. The reality is, if you aren’t using sunscreen in your existing routine, all the hard work you’re putting in is doing very little to reverse the clock. Why? Because the sun is the main culprit behind premature ageing.

When choosing the right sunscreen for your skin type, consider the following breakdown from Healthline

  • Dry skin — Aim for a cream-based sunscreen that contains moisturising and nourishing ingredients like ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and honey.
  • Oily skin — Opt for a water-based or gel sunscreen with oil-controlling ingredients, such as niacinamide, green tea, and tea tree oil. 
  • Sensitive skin — When choosing skincare for sensitive skin, the aim is to minimise causing a reaction. As such, avoid ingredients like alcohol, fragrances, oxybenzone, para-aminobenzoic, salicylates, and cinnamates. Instead, a mineral sunscreen, something with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, may be right for you.
  • Acne-prone skin — Much like sensitive skin, the goal is to opt for something that will reduce your chances of causing skin irritation. This may be a water-based sunscreen or perhaps a mineral sunscreen. With acne-prone skin, getting a skincare regime tailored to your skin conditions is always best to avoid worsening the issue. 

Your AM sunscreen routine:

Always choose a sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum SPF 30 or above. To reap the benefits of the SPF, we recommend applying roughly ½ teaspoon-sized dollop to your face and neck and additional amounts to your decolletage and the backs of your hands. 

The quick recap

If there’s one key message to take away from this skincare routine breakdown, please let it be this: there is no one size fits all approach to building the perfect skincare routine. What works for you may not work for your best friend. When creating a skincare routine, build a ritual that feels doable and sustainable, and make it a consistent and enjoyable part of your day. Your skin is an incredible organ, and we only get one, so learn to love the process of taking better care of your skin. 

If you’re ready to get serious about your skincare, we recommend booking a consultation with the incredible Dr Tanya team to get expert advice and a customised skin plan. If you want to get started on your own, prioritise the fundamental steps — cleansing, moisturising, and sunscreen — and build on your efforts as you go. 

Whether you’re just starting your skincare journey or simply looking to shake up your routine, there’s never a wrong time to put your skin health first. To learn more about Dr Tanya’s skincare and skin services, please feel free to reach out to our qualified team of therapists and doctors to learn more.