The first rule of thumb is:

Freshen Your Face Faster

Wash your face anywhere but the shower and you’re wasting time—the steam-rich environment opens your pores for a deeper cleaning. Begin with an exfoliating face scrub, using soft, circular motions to spread the sandlike grains over your mug.

Exfoliation frees ingrown hairs and wipes away dead skin cells that would otherwise prevent your facial cleanser (or soap) from reaching the layers below, says Paul Frank, M.D., author of Turn Back the Clock without Losing Time. Dab your face halfway dry when you leave the shower, then put on moisturizer.

“When you exfoliate, you’re stripping good oils as well as dead skin, so it’s important to hydrate right away,” says Denise Vitiello, director of the fitness center and spa at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City.