Forget zombies and freaks: When it comes to beauty routines, it’s our inner divas who come out at to play at night. It’s then that we sluggishly soak in bathtubs of skin-nourishing oils and mind-quieting aromatics and casually burrow into a nine-step Korean-inspired skin-care regimens. But The mornings, on the other hand? Well, in that our hour of groggy restlessness, consider us lucky if we can even broom our teeth before getting out the door on time.

While the majority of us know that, as a minimum, we should at least slap on some SPF on our skin before heading out into the sunlight, the minority of us are solid into the idea that other airborne nanoparticles (like smog, cigarette smoke, soot, pollen, water droplets, and pollutants) have a detrimental effect contributing to the aging of skin. Research has shown that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in deed cling to these airborne nanoparticles, where they are converted to quinones — which has the potential to age skin in the same ways that constant exposure to UV light can. And, those who live in major cities are more exposed to PAH because of the technological advancements within these cities. Which is a lot to consider — especially before a cup of coffee.

The takeaway: When we talk a.m. skin care, SPF is only the beginning; we’ve got to cleanse our skin and prepare it with antioxidants that protects us from UV rays, to ensure we’re really ready to face the sunlight and toxics in the day. To figure out how to best protect our skin from our classic old friend UV and the solid and liquid particles infused in the air (many of which are generated during the combustion of fossil fuels), we spoke to none other than, Dr. Debra Jaliman, a New York-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules, about the best routine to arm our morning skin-care regimens. Regardless of your complexion, Jaliman advocates for cleansing, applying a serum, and, finally, SPF. Read on for her tips on how to tinker with the morning trifecta, no matter your skin type.

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