My Skin Has Never Been Brighter: Here's My 5-Step Morning Skincare Routine

Don't cringe, but for a long time, I didn't really have a morning skincare routine. In fact, for all of high school and most of college, I would simply wake up with whatever was left of my nighttime routine (which pretty much consisted of cleanser and moisturizer), slap on some SPF, and begin my makeup application. As you can imagine, this didn't bode all that well for my acne-prone combination skin type. That being said, even when I did start washing my face every morning and incorporating more expensive—and what I considered to be "strategic"—skincare items into my routine, my breakouts only got worse. The problem: Realistically, I had no "strategy." Instead, I would try anything with pretty packaging, a buzz-worthy brand name, or five-star reviews from my friends or family. Not ideal.

It's taken a few years, but after lots of trial and error, I've finally found my holy-grail morning skincare routine, which is actually pretty basic (cleanser, toner, serum, SPF, and an eye cream if it feels necessary). Slowly but surely, this exact routine has whipped my skin into far clearer, healthier, glowier shape, and now, for the first time pretty much ever, or at least since middle school, I actually get compliments on my skin—even when I'm completely barefaced. Ahead, you'll find my go-to morning skincare routine, which I've also catered to three different budgets. Whether you're into saving, spending, or splurging, there's something for everyone. Keep scrolling!