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If you were once like me, wondering if it really matters when, and in what order to apply skincare products? Let me change your mind with this post. Just like saying if it’s necessary to worry about the order in which we eat our food, I mean, don’t we absorb the same amount of sugar in sweets even if we eat them last? True, but it still matters anyway. So if you always ask every time you buy a new skincare product or add another step to your routine: In what order should I apply my skincare products and does it matter? The answer is, yes it matters and here I am going to show you the best and complete day and night skincare routine which your face would definitely love.
Why The Sequence Matters
Dr Heather Rogers (who is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon) said that the order of application is incredibly important, so applying your skincare products in the proper order ensures that your skin receives the full benefits of each product.
The skin’s job is to keep things out, but most of the skincare products we use have ingredients we definitely want to get in. But still, only a very small amount of these key ingredients can penetrate the skin, even when perfectly formulated and perfectly applied. This simply means that if you don’t apply products in the correct order, you will not see the best results from your skincare routine.
Skincare Products That Completes Your Routine
Yes, all products actually matter as they provide one thing or the other which your skin would greatly benefit from. But the thing is, having a ton of skincare products fill up your desk may not really profit you that much because just the basics are totally enough to give you exactly what your skin needs. Well, unless you want to achieve something different and the basics aren’t enough, or someone recommends a product you want to use to treat an issue. Those are understandable reasons to have more products.
Here are the compulsory products you need to get you started on a complete skincare routine using the basics. If you have these, you are well on your way to giving your skin the best treatment without going overboard. Note that you may need more than these if you have a skin issue you are looking to treat.
In no particular order, to get a complete skincare routine, you’ll need:
- Eye cream
- Face cream
- Facial masks
- Your extra skin goodies you’ll love to add
Step-by-Step Guide On How To Order Your Skincare Products The Right Way
So, let me answer the burning question: which product goes on top of what when doing your skincare routine? An easy rule of thumb to follow is to apply your products from the thinnest consistency to the thickest, or from liquid to oil. But, you also want to first use the products with ingredients that are most important to penetrate into the skin (like the antioxidants in serums) and finish with the products that should sit on top of the skin (like emollients and humectants in moisturizers).
With that said, let’s break the regular skincare routine into the two ways they work and tell you just how best to go about it. In a day, it is expected of you to have your daytime routine and also your night-time routine.
Complete Daytime (Morning) Skincare Routine Your Skin Would Love
Here’s something you should have in mind and hold very dear. Your everyday morning routine is all about protection from the sun, pollution and other elements that can potentially harm your skin when you are outside during the day. If your morning skincare routine doesn’t revolve around using products that would protect your skin when you step out, you might want to switch it up.
The complete and best daytime skincare routine you might want to pamper your skin with include:
- Using serums.
- Applying eye creams
- Spot treating
- Using sunscreens
- Applying face cream
STEP 1 – CLEANSING:
In the morning after having your regular shower, go ahead by splashing your face with warm water and washing it gently. But It goes beyond splashing your face alone. Steer clear of strong soaps as strong soaps and detergents can strip oil from your skin. Instead, choose mild cleansers. If you must, you can wash with a gentle face cleanser designed specifically for your skin type. For oily skin, use one that is more of foam and less oil like this one from Neutrogena which is oil-free and also helps with acne.
STEP 2- TONING:
Most people choose to skip toners, partly because there’s a lingering assumption that most toners are harsh and irritate the skin. Fortunately, that’s not really the case. Toners were created to help return the skin’s pH after it has become too basic from the use of harsh soaps. Each type of toner is intended for a different skin issue, so it’s important to use the right kind of toner for your skin concern and also skin type. Alcohol-based toners are great for oily skin, but be careful not to overuse them and over-drying the skin by stripping the protective oils. Water-based toners are good for dry skin, just go easy on it as it can be a poor vehicle for getting active ingredients into the skin.
STEP 3 – USING SERUMS:
Serums are super-concentrated, nutrient-dense treatments that address specific concerns, so it’s better to keep them as close to the skin as possible. There are various serums available in the market today but I want you to close your eyes to them and stick to antioxidant serums, which provide a variety of benefits—from blunting your skin’s inflammatory response to neutralizing damage from UV rays and environmental pollutants.
STEP 4 – APPLYING EYE CREAM:
Honestly, it’s vital to apply an eye cream at least every night, if not twice a day, starting in your 20s. The skin around the eyes is really thin and can be the first area to show the signs of ageing. Regular use of eye cream with SPF over time will keep the eyelid skin elastic and can prevent some fine lines or collagen loss. I’ll recommend this particular one from Neutrogena.
STEP 5 – SPOT TREATING:
Prescription medications and acne spot treatments need to be applied as close to the skin as possible to maximize their benefits too. As acne spot treatments differ in the active ingredients, you may need to check your product packaging or consult your dermatologist to know the best way to apply it. Some spot treatment ingredients have a one to three (1-3) hours working time, so this should give you an idea of what else to use when you apply these. For some, they can dry out your skin, so always apply only on spots where you need it. For others, any cream that comes in contact with it before it has completed its work will likely inhibit the active ingredient from working properly. This simply means that before you even line up your products to start applying each day, you have to be certain that those at the middle or beginning would not be affected by those coming at the end.
STEP 6 – MOISTURIZING:
Of course, everyone needs a moisturizer, even if you have oily skin. Even though your body has its own natural lubricating system consisting of glands that secrete oil (or sebum) to maintain a protective coating against harsh outside conditions and infections, most of us do need extra hydration considering the havoc that the sun, weather and harsh chemicals wreak on our skin. Be sure to pick one suitable for your skin type. Serum-based moisturizers are perfect for people with oily skin. Also, have it in mind that the best time to apply your moisturizer is while the skin is still damp as the skin has just been de-oiled. So the sooner you go through applying your serum and treatment, the sooner you’re able to lock in much-needed hydration with your moisturizer.
On days you use any spot treatment, you may want to skip those areas when applying your moisturizer to make sure the ingredients in it won’t interfere with the active ingredients in your spot treatment.
Step 7 – APPLYING FACE CREAM
If you have a face cream and prefer to use it for one reason or the other, ensure they have moisturizing benefits so you can use it instead of the moisturizer. Try to get one that is lightweight so it doesn’t sit heavy on your face and also hinder the sunscreen from working. If you are looking at getting one with SPF, it’s fine, but most times it’s better to stick with getting regular sunscreens as you aren’t sure if these guys making the creams are honest about the SPF used or just trying to get a wider market.
Step 8 – USING SUNSCREEN:
I can’t stress the importance of SPF sunscreen, especially on sunny days. Always wear sunscreen when stepping out and try to reapply during the day. A hat and sunglass can also come in handy as you can’t be too careful.
But here is something tricky. Yes, sunscreen should be the last step in your daytime skincare routine, agreed. So, if you’re using a physical or mineral sunscreen with zinc, which works by physically blocking the UV rays, it is totally okay for you to use it as the last product to be applied on the face. Zinc is safe, effective and provides the broadest protection against UVA and UVB rays. Here is a very effective one from Neutrogena which has all these and I recommend you use.
However, this step becomes tricky when you’re using a chemical sunscreen. Why? Chemical sunscreens have to be absorbed into the skin to be effective, so applying it after your moisturizer will definitely delay and hinder that. And then if you apply your chemical sunscreen before your moisturizer, your moisturizer will not work as well either because the skin is coated with chemical sunscreen. The solution? If you like using chemical sunscreens, try to look for formulas that offer moisturizing benefits, so you can get your daily hydration needs while protecting your skin. This way you can skip step 6 and have both your moisturizer and sunscreen as one.
Complete Night-time Skincare Routine Your Skin Would Love
As your skin naturally repairs itself at night, your night-time routine should be all about the treatment and giving your skin what it needs to repair while you are at rest. You will notice some of the products are similar to that of the daytime routine, but there is a good reason for that. You have to go for the best order of skincare products to make sure you get the most out of them. Nourishing your skin overnight can give you great results as your skin is repairing naturally and also getting extra help from the products you applied to them. It will also helo avoid lines, sagging and dry skin. Let’s just dive into how best you can protect your skin at night using wonderful skincare products.
The complete and best night-time skincare routine you might want to pamper your skin with include:
- Using serums.
- Applying eye creams
- Using treatments
- Using hydrating masks or face oil
- Applying night creams
STEP 1 – CLEANSING:
To get rid of the day’s grime, dirt, oil and makeup, it’s recommended that we remove our makeup first with a good makeup remover before washing our face with warm water or a gentle cleanser. Better still, try double cleansing, which involves using a cleansing oil first to dissolve your makeup and then washing your face again with your regular cleanser. Whichever works best for you are all going to give you the same results.
Using a face wash/cleanser to remove all the excess sebum, dirt and makeup you have loosened up leaves your skin fresh and perfectly prepped to absorb your other skin routine. If you’re using a physical exfoliant like a facial scrub though, you might want to use it in place of your cleanser after removing your makeup.
STEP 2 – TONING OR BOOSTING:
If you use a toner, simply apply it as you would in the morning. If you are one of those who like to layer various types of skin care boosters, like mists, essences, beauty waters or hydrating (hyaluronic acid) serums, you can use them in place of the toner. These things are infused with different active ingredients, but for the most part, the purpose is mainly to hydrate and nourish the skin. And since these are lightweight, almost water-like formulas, apply them just after washing your face in place of a toner.
However, if you choose tom you can still use them all at once. Apply the toner first then the other essences/boosters. Toner is more to clean and essence is more about delivering a treatment. Just be sure to apply from thinnest to thickest.
STEP 3 – APPLYING EYE CREAM:
It’s important to maintain the health and thickness of the eyelid skin by using a good eye cream that can help improve the skin quality in this area early to ensure that it does not easily lose laxity or its smooth appearance later on. Aside from addressing crow’s feet, dark circles and other concerns around the eyes, eye creams can also serve to protect your delicate eye area from your other skincare products which could potentially cause irritation. So, you might want to apply your eye cream before your other treatments that may contain potent ingredients.
STEP 4 – USING TREATMENTS (SERUMS, CREAMS, PADS ETC):
Because our skin is repairing, restoring and regenerating as we sleep, most treatments are best applied at night. Most targeted skincare treatments like prescription medications (tretinoin, acne and rosacea creams), retinol creams, exfoliative treatments (peel pads and masks) and anti-ageing serums (infused with peptides, growth factors and other biologically active ingredients) are better used at night.
You may be tempted to just pick everything and apply right after your eye cream, relax, that’s not going to do you much good. Instead of layering up all your treatment serums, creams and all that, choose your evening treatment depending on what your skin needs at the moment. Too many products applied will just increase the risk of irritation and decrease the likelihood of the desired result. In fact, some days may just be about cleansing, moisturizing and hitting the bed. There is no need to exhaust everything laying on your desk when your skin doesn’t need it at the moment.
Here are some things to keep in mind when using treatments:
- Choose between prescription meds (for acne or rosacea) OR exfoliative treatments (like AHA/BHA pads, peels or detoxifying masks). Don’t use both on the same night as you significantly increase your risk of irritating your skin
- Just like prescription meds, don’t use retinol creams (over the counter and prescription) on the same night as exfoliative treatments.
- Exfoliative treatments should be used sparingly, one to three times a week depending on your skin’s needs.
- Detoxifying/Clay Mask should also be used sparingly. Once a week is fine if that’s what your skin needs.
STEP 5 – USING HYDRATING MASK OR FACE OIL:
If your skin is on the dry side, you may want to add a hydrating mask or face oil. Both product types are generally mild and can be typically used as often as your skin needs an extra boost of hydration. But if you have oily skin, stay as far away as possible from extra face oils as your skin can secrete as much as you need.
STEP 6 – MOISTURIZER:
Some people use the same moisturizer in the day and at night. However, night moisturizers are generally thicker and heavier and designed to be absorbed over the course of several hours. They create a protective coating on the skin to prevent water evaporation while you sleep. Maintaining high water content in the skin is key for healing and maintaining healthy skin. If you are using the right moisturizer, it should be your last step because nothing else is going to get through it.
STEP 7 – APPLYING NIGHT CREAMS:
Just like the moisturizer, night creams are thicker and heavier as they are designed to be absorbed over the course of several hours. And just like your morning face cream, go for a cream that has moisturizing benefits so you can use it in place of your moisturizer any day you need to use it.
If you have been searching for this and are probably wondering why this is not part of the steps listed in the day and night skincare routine, here’s why. I see people exfoliating their skin almost 4 times a week with the claim that they are getting rid of dead skin cells! Come on, do you want to shed your skin in the process?!
Here is a simple hack I use myself which has greatly helped me on my skincare journey: if your skin is looking dull, exfoliate. If it is irritated, simply stick to hydrating and protecting it. Don’t go overboard in the name of trying to get rid of dead skin cells. You could be stripping your skin of essential oils and natural nutrients. The highest you should do is twice a week exfoliating your face, and that should be if there’s a good reason for that.
Should You Apply Makeup After Layering Your Skin With Skincare Products?
You may be tempted to ask if you can go ahead and apply your makeup seeing that your face is packed full with skincare products your skin needs to get into the body. Most people say that your makeup has nothing to do what whatever skincare products you have layered your face with, but personally, I feel that there are some things your makeup can distract especially when there’s no much time given for your skin to absorb it. Take for instance the spot treating product. Remember you applied it on spots and even your moisturizer wasn’t allowed to go over it. So, what happens when you want to apply your foundation all over your face?
It’s totally fine to be worried about messing the whole thing up with makeup, and maybe getting scared that it would prevent it from working and giving you desired results. This is why you need to have these in mind:
- Do not wear extremely HEAVY makeup everyday. Make it a once-in-awhile habit to give more time for your skin to take in all it needs from the skincare products you applied. Besides, when you have a very good and smooth facial skin, you’ll think less of using makeup to hide spots and stick to using them only on special days to enhance your look.
- Aside from the order of application, it’s also important to consider the time it takes for your skin to absorb your products. Whenever you want to apply makeup, ensure that you allow your skin some time to absorb most of what it needs from the skincare products you applied. This way, even if you load your face with makeup, your skin has taken in most of what it needs. I’ll recommend waking up on time, getting done with your skincare routine for the morning and giving a space of an hour (or 30 minutes if you don’t have much time) before going over to apply your makeup. This way, you are sure that your skin has absorbed a good amount of the products you applied.
My Skincare Advice Your Skin Will Thank You For
- Remember, consistency is key. Nothing is magic as results don’t occur overnight. Anyone selling a fast action cream or product claiming to give you results overnight or in very few days, I will suggest you pass as most of them have side effects your skin would definitely not appreciate in the long run. Well, unless they are asking you to try out a fruit mask for a specific skin concern which can be done separately from your regular routine as they mostly involve natural ingredients.
- Another advice I will like you to drill into your heart and mind is for you to listen to your skin! Always remember that you are unique and that nobody else has your skin. No matter what experts may say to you, it’s important to find what works for you and stick to it. They are mostly sharing experiences based on their own skin trial and errors. Always be kind to your skin and don’t take every advice you see and make it your number one.
- DO NOT go overboard with your skincare routine. If your skin just needs only the basics, stick to it. No need having piles of treatments or creams you don’t even know what they do simply because someone recommended it to be their best item. Your skin may just feel irritated and dull from too many products tried on it.
- Most importantly, as soon as you see your skin rejecting something by reacting badly to it or causing you irritation, just drop it and don’t assume that it is a phase that would soon pass. You don’t want to have a worse situation in your hands trying too hard. In fact, less is bliss in most cases.
- If you are looking to start with the basic skincare routine starter set, here is a 3-piece set consisting of Daily Face Cleanser, Illuminating Eye Cream, and Daily Hydration Moisturizer which you can use to kick off your routine and still achieve good results. It’s a complete hydrating set from ELF which is just the basics you need for healthy, hydrated, glowing skin. You can click here to see full details about it.
So, I am burning to hear your thoughts about this, or your own skincare routine.
What do you love most about your routine? How has it been for you? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment box below.
A simple hack that would greatly help you on your skincare journey: if your skin is looking dull, exfoliate. If it is irritated, simply stick to hydrating and protecting it. Click To Tweet An easy rule of thumb to follow in your skincare routine is to apply your products from the thinnest consistency to the thickest, or from liquid to oil. Click To Tweet