In What Order Do I Apply My Skin Care Products?

In What Order Do I Apply My Skin Care Products?

Does it really matter when and in what order you apply your skin care products? We asked because we never felt the need to worry about the order in which we eat our food. Everything goes through the same digestive tract and gets absorbed in exactly the same way, regardless of which food got eaten first. (Case in point: We absorb the same amount of sugar in sweets even if we eat them last.) So we asked the skin experts the same question we ask ourselves every time we buy a new skin care product or add another step to our routine: In what order should I apply my skin care products and why?

Why Sequence Matters
According to esthetician, applying your skin care products in the proper order ensures that your skin receives the full benefits of each product. “For example, if you applied a cream-based product first followed by a serum, the cream’s emolliency would prevent the serum from reaching the skin,” she said. “Many moisturizers also contain water, and if you apply a moisturizer over a sunscreen, you would in effect be watering down your sunscreen and diluting its efficacy.”

Aside from the order of application, it’s also important to consider the time it takes for your skin to absorb your products. Order is important, but timing is more crucial,” says esthetician and acne specialist. “Take benzoyl peroxide, for example. This ingredient, which is commonly found in acne-treatment regimens, has a one- to three-hour working time, and any cream that comes in contact with it before it has completed its work will likely inhibit the active ingredient from working properly.

The Correct Order
So which product goes on top of what, you ask? An easy rule of thumb to follow is to apply your products with the thinnest consistency to thickest, or from liquid to oil. During the day, most experts recommend a simple cleanser-toner-light moisturizer/day cream-sunscreen routine. At night, that’s when you load up on skin care actives. Here’s what experts recommend:

Step 1 :  Makeup Remover 

If you wear makeup, sunscreen or any silicone-based products, an evening double cleanse is a must. (You can skip this step in the mornings.) Start with a makeup-removing cleanser, which could be an oil, balm, milk or micellar water.

Step 2 : Cleanser 

Removing dirt and oil buildup with your facial cleanser. This step will also ensure that you haven’t left any makeup remover residue on your skin. Some experts recommend double cleansing, which involves using a cleansing oil first to dissolve your makeup and then washing your face again with your regular cleanser.

Step 3 : Toner 

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 the case anymore. While they don’t physically “shrink” pores, the new breed of toners can serve multiple purpose, like act as a delivery system for antioxidants, vitamin B derivatives and even toning acids. Additionally, each type of toner is intended for a different skin issue, so it’s important to use the right kind for your skin concern.

Step 4 : Essence

Since essences and serums provide the same hydrating skin benefit, if you’ve found an essence you really like, you can skip the serum and use that instead.

Step 5 : Serum 

When it comes to serums, there are a wide range of available ingredients, so most of your selection process will come down to your specific needs. One of the most common ingredients, though, is vitamin C. Vitamin C performs a variety of functions within the skin, including stimulating new collagen, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, protecting the skin from environmental pollutants with its antioxidant properties, helping reduce visible discolorations on the skin and providing enhanced protection against UV exposure.

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. Some people apply multiple serums that cater to different skin concerns. If an all-in-one serum isn’t possible, apply the ones with the thinnest consistency first.

Step 6 : Moisturizer

Next comes moisturizer, if you need it. Not everyone does! If your skin is normal to oily, you may be able to get away with a serum alone. Also keep in mind that when face creams are too rich and heavy, they can often trigger breakouts.

When choosing a moisturizer, look for key ingredients like glycerin (or glycerol), hyaluronic acid, ceramides, coconut oil and other plant-based oils and shea butter. The best time to apply a moisturizer is when the skin is still moist. After using a gentle cleanser, lightly pat your face damp, apply your treatments and serums and then immediately apply a layer of moisturizer to lock in the hydration.

Step  7 : Eye cream 

it’s vital to apply an eye cream at least every night, if not twice a day, starting in your 20s. It’s about maintaining the health and thickness of the eyelid skin. Improving the skin quality in this area early on ensures that the eyelid skin does not easily lose laxity and its smooth appearance later on.

For best results, consistency is key. Regular use of eye cream over time will keep the eyelid skin elastic and can improve or prevent against some fine lines or collagen loss.

Step  8 : Spot/ Acne Treatment 

Prescription medications and spot treatments need to be applied as close to the skin as possible to maximize their benefits. In the case of acne treatments, this dries up excess oil and kills bacteria in your problem spots. For best results, allow at least five minutes before layering on your next product to ensure it doesn’t knock out the benefits of the medication. Better yet, opt for spot-treatment patches, like Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots, so you don’t have to worry about layering the rest of your skin care products.

Step  9 : Sunscreen 

We don’t recommend chemical sunscreen for these reasons, but if you’re going to use one, you should ideally put it on before your daytime moisturizer. That’s because it works by penetrating into the bloodstream, so you don’t want any creamy, oily products to dilute its absorption and reduce your protection.


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