Daily skin care routines can help women and men of all ages keep their skin healthy and youthful. But practicing effective daily skin maintenance doesn’t have to be complicated, and it certainly doesn’t have to cost a fortune. When I develop a personalized skin care routine for a patient, I start by asking questions: What is her skin type? Is it oily, dry or a combination of both? Does she have sensitive skin with a tendency for rashes or redness?

Keeping the answers in mind, I can start building a daily system that uses no more than three or four products. Make this less is more approach the heart of your beauty strategy.

A proper daily skin care regimen ensures that you always incorporate the three most important steps for maintaining a healthy, youthful appearance cleansing, moisturizing and sun protection no matter how busy you are or what type of skin you have.

You follow an oral care routine every morning and night to ensure healthy gums and teeth, don’t you? It’s just as important to adopt a daily skin care regimen. Use the right products for your skin type, apply daily sunscreen and don’t over-wash your face, and you’ll have a great foundation for lifelong beauty.

Choose a few trusted products to bring out your beauty

Dry or sun-damaged skin: What appears to be dry skin can just be dehydration or wrinkling from sun damage. For dehydrated skin, skip the morning wash and apply an extra-moisturizing cream that contains hyaluronic acid, a natural sugar that draws moisture into the skin as well as sunscreen. At night, dry skin also needs extra moisture. Look for products containing ceramides (an encapsulated form of moisture), hyaluronic acid and niacinamide (vitamin B3). Follow a similar routine for sun-damaged skin, but look for nighttime products containing retinol or antioxidants that can help repair blotchy skin.

Regular or sensitive skin: If you have regular, sensitive or combination (part oily, part dry) skin and your face is not oily or dirty in the morning, you don’t need to wash it. Instead, splash some lukewarm water on your face, pat dry and then apply a moisturizing sunscreen of at least SPF 30. Evening is the time for washing your face. I suggest a gentle exfoliation using a sonic facial brush and mild skin cleanser. Finish off your evening routine with a therapeutic treatment using a retinol-based night cream for sensitive skin.

Oily skin: Each day should begin with facial cleansing. If your skin is oily, look for a glycolic wash or a cleanser with salicylic acid. Following your wash, apply a daily oil-free sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. This is the most important step in preserving your skins health and appearance. In the evening, wash again. For blemish breakouts, you can also apply a prescription or over-the-counter acne treatment cream or gel that has either retinol or benzoyl peroxide.

Debra Luftman, M.D., is a dermatologist with practices in Beverly Hills and Calabasas, Calif. She is co-author of The Beauty Prescription and appears on the TV show Dr. Drews Life-changers. More information is at drluftman.com.