5 Minute Morning Skin Care Routine

I value sleep and I try to sleep in as much as possible in the morning. However, I still need to look professional and put together for clinic. Over the years, I’ve come up with a pretty efficient morning routine: 20 minutes to get ready! I give myself 5 minutes for skincare, my minutes for makeup, my 5 minutes for hair, and 5 minutes to get dressed! In this series, I will share with you how I get ready in the morning.

For skin care, my routine includes all the essential steps for healthy skin: cleanse, prevent, treat, and protect.


1. Cleansing. I use a gentle cleanser for the morning to prevent stripping of natural skin oil. There many OTC mild cleansers that I like including: Purpose, Cerave, Cetaphil, and Neutrogena. For those with oil or acne prone skin, can consider using a salicylic acid one to help exfoliate and unclog pores; I really like Neutrogena Oil Free Acne wash.

2. Brightening essence. There are few items in my skincare that I use consistently but essence is one of the things I like to rotate and adventure out to different products. Now that I’m done with my SKII Facial Essence, I’ve moved onto the Hera Cell Essence, a Korean based product comparable with SKII. I was intrigued and had to try. I’ve only started just recently, but the Essence claims to brighten and hydrate skin with antiaging benefits. All the active ingredients are listed on front of the bottle etched marks on the side for 5mL increments to guide appropriate usage amount.


3. Antioxidant Serum. This is one of the most important and necessary steps of my morning routine. I’ve been a loyal user of Skinceutical CE Ferulic or Phloretin CF serum. These have amazing antiaging, brightening, and photoprotective benefits. It a popular item among many dermatologists. I will use Phloretin CF in the summer (lighter consistency), and CE Ferulic in the winter.

4. Spot treat areas of discoloration. My hormonal acne can often leave areas of hyperpigmentation. Although this will often resolve on its own over time,  I use a color corrector to expedite the process. Currently I’m trying Skinceutical Advance Pigment Corrector, which contains non-hydroquinone lightening agents. I’ve also tried Avene Dark Spot Corrector. For these areas of dyspigmentation, I generally will not and do not recommend using hydroquinone based lightening agents.

5. Spot treat acne. I use an OTC salicylic acid gel and prescription Dapsone gel as needed. These are used to spot treat and to prevent irritation, I avoid applying to entire face.


6. Hyaluronic acid serum. You guys have probably seen this HA Intensifier a few times on my instragram. This is one of my favorite products this year (my review). It moisturizes and helps to stimulate our skin’s natural hyaluronic acid production. Few drops goes a long way.

7. Moisturize. I sometimes will skip this step during the summer or if my skin is well hydrated. To prevent looking oily, I prefer to use a light moisturizer such as Cerave or Neutrogena.

8. Eye cream. Gently apply to the undereyes with your ring finger. I’m currently using Neostrata eye cream.


9. Sunscreen. The other very important and necessary last step in my skin care. Sunscreen is a must. I’m a royal use of Elta MD sunscreen. I like their non-tinted and tinted (currently using) version. Skinceutical Fusion is also a great tinted physical sunscreen that applies cosmetically elegant. For those with oily and oil prone skin, I recommend Cetaphil’s Dermacontrol Suncreen, actually helps to control oil production, and La Rocheposay Anthelios Clear that applies matte, and I will sometimes use in the summer time as well.



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  1. Hi Dr.Liu,

    I love your blog & ig 🙂
    why do you advise against using hydroquinone lightenig agents?
    from all topical lighteners ive been advised to use or prescribed by derms It seems like its the best at maintaining pigmentation/reducing pih for naturally tanned skin. Would appreciate your thoughts on its use topically.
    Also for essences like skii/hera are their function just as a hydrator/ moisturizer since it has no systemic absorption? Thanks for your attention.

    1. I don’t recommend against it, but rather one should be careful in using it as it has the potential to bleach regular skin as well as the hyperpigmented areas.
      yes the essences have various benefits, most noticeably hydration, no systemic absorption known

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