Skin care is pretty easy, and doesn't require spending hundreds of dollars on bottles of potion that are just going to sit on your bathroom counter and collect dust. Ready? It's so easy, you won't believe me:
Use an exfolliant appropriate to your skin type (more on that later) two or three times a week, and use a mask for your skin type (again, more later) once or twice a week.
Avoid straight up soap because it's pretty harsh on your face; think of soap is meant to clean: pits, bums, feet - grimy stuff; it has to be strong. Your face deserves a little bit of tenderness. I'm partial to Olay or Dove beauty bars myself. They're inexpensive and do the trick. Depending on how prone to break outs you are, or if you're dealing with black heads and the like, look for a cleanser containing salycitic acid. Start off using it once a day and if your skin is sturdy enough and once a day isn't doing the trick, try twice a day. Just know that it is pretty strong stuff and has a tendency to really dry out your skin.
Toners are nice for getting the bit of dirt and make up left behind by cleanser. This is where I splurge. I love Caswell-Massey Orange Flower Water Tonic. I love the smell. That alone is enough for me. It also leaves a wonderful little tingle behind, and it reminds me of something very similar my Granni used when I was little. If you're dealing with very oily, acne-prone skin, there are tons of astringents that are inexpensive and do the trick. Just be careful to not over-dry your skin. Clean and Clear, Clearsil, Oxy, are all comparable in effectiveness and price. Witch hazel is also a wonderful and inexpensive toner to have on your bathroom counter.
Moisturize with a moisturizer formulated for your skin. You'll be doing yourself a major favor if you find one that contains sunscreen, too. As for day vs. night cream? There's some that say you should do both, but others that say your skin doesn't know if it's day or night so you only need one. Personally, I have both right now because my night cream is slightly heavier and I concentrate it on my eye area, and my day cream is light, oil free, and contains a sunscreen. It's up to you; neither way is right or wrong. I have not noticed any benefit to using a different cream at night so I will go back to just one cream when the time comes.
In order to have the best face you can, you MUST exfolliate. The layers of dead skin cells that pile up on your face is what causes a lot of the uneven skin tone and dullness. Again, there are tons of different products out there, but none of them need to break the bank. The drug store or grocery store has all you need. I prefer a grainy scrub. It feels like I'm doing something. Chemical exfolliants work well, too, but they're more expensive and not usually found in the discount mart. Queen Helene has almost everything for everyone and is super inexpensive.
Masks are where you can really have fun. Queen Helene has some of my favorites, but the one I love the most is the Mint Julep mask. I have combination skin that tends toward being on the oily side and this makes me feel like I have obliterated every oil molecule on my face. Love it!!! Once or twice a week, fill up a tub with warm water, pile on a mask, soak in the tub, and relax.