How to Apply Skincare Products In the Right Order?

June 14, 2019 | Skincare Tips

What order should I be applying my skincare products in or where does this certain product into my routine. I want to keep this article fairly basic and easy to understand. So hopefully, this article isn’t terribly long but before we get into it.

I’m going to cover a very extensive skincare routine. In this article to include as many steps and products as possible. So you can see how everything fits together but that does not mean that you need to be using every single type of product that I mentioned. In this article for example if you look at the entire routine that I’m going to be outlining in today’s article and you think well. I don’t want to use a toner and a serum.


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You can subtract those steps from the routine but everything else stays in the same order. The order doesn’t change just because you aren’t using a particular step and my advice if you want the most simple routine possible but you still want really healthy skin and you want to age well be crucial steps. That I think everyone should be doing in their routine are cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing, and sun protection but finally before we get into it. I’m going to link some of my favorites from every category down below because I know I will get questions but let’s get into it!

When I’m explaining skincare and trying to keep it really simple. I like to split it into two halves. The first half is cleansing and the second half is treatment/hydration.

1. Makeup removal

So the first step in your skincare routine is makeup removal. Now obviously this is just an end of the day or night time step and only if you are someone who wears makeup. I’m a huge advocate of double cleansing as I’m sure you all know. If you aren’t already double cleansing you need to try it out. It will change your skin. I promise you but this step just includes cleansing balm cleansing oil micellar water. Even just a makeup white whatever your preference is just something that’s going to remove the bulk of your makeup

2. Cleanser

The next step is a cleanser. If you remove your makeup beforehand cleanser is actually able to do its job properly cleanser is just designed to remove any traces of leftover makeup, dirt bacteria oil, any impurities. That have built up throughout the day or while you are sleeping for the best results. You should gently massage your cleanser into your face for one to two minutes. So it can really get the chance to clean out your pores and that way you can benefit from any key ingredients or cleanser may contain.

3. Exfoliation

Step three is exfoliation. That exfoliation can really be found in any step of your skincare routine but in this instance I’m specifically talking about rinse off exfoliant. Anything that’s like a physical scrub or a water activated exfoliating powder something that you would typically use one to three times a week exfoliation removes. The buildup of dead skin cells from the surface of your skin which in turn preps your skin for all the products you’re going to apply it later on because this allows the products to absorb into the new healthy cells. That can actually benefit from your skincare routine exfoliation. Also slows down the aging process and it does help prevent blackheads and breakouts which occur when impurities get trapped under dead skin cells.

4. Toner

The fourth step is toner and this is essentially the end of the cleansing segment of your skincare routine. Now toner has a few different purposes, first of all, it is meant to pH balance. Your skin and it has actually been proven that skin care products absorb better on skin. That is slightly damp, so it also helps prep your skin for the rest of your routine. If you’re using a toner that you pour onto a cotton round and do a light swipe over your skin this will also further remove any leftover makeup and impurities and it will typically exfoliate. A little bit as well in a lot of high-end skincare lines toner is actually referred to as lotion. If you see a product called lotion it’s like a really thin liquid consistency, it’s essentially just a toner.

5. Face mask

Step 5 is a face mask. Now, for me when I’m splitting skin care into cleansing and treatment / hydration. Face masks are kind of in a gray area because depending on what type of mask. It is it can kind of go both ways but this includes any type of mask clay, masks cream, masks peel-off, mask sheet, masks anything typically you want to use.

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A face mask one to three times a week but if you aren’t sure just read the instructions on the product you are using. Now, into the treatment and hydration steps when it comes to this half of your routine a good general rule to follow is that you go from finis to sickest in terms of product texture and consistency.

6. Essence Product

Step six is in Essence. Essences are a product that originated in Korea but they really gained popularity in North America over the past few years or so I’m a huge fan of Essence’s as. I’m sure a lot of you know. There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to Essences because people look at them and they either think they’re a toner or a serum but they’re actually their own category entirely and they fit in between these two steps Essences are typically formulated with a lot of hyaluronic acid and glycerin. They’re meant to refine the skins texture even your skin tone reduce the size of pores and they typically really hydrate and plump the skin as well after Essence you have serums.

7. Serum

Now I have an entire article explaining the difference between serum and moisturizer. So that will be linked in the usual places if you haven’t seen it but basically, serums are made up of highly concentrated active ingredients. That are meant to target specific concerns and the molecules that makeup serums are very small. So they’re able to penetrate the skin deeply. Now, by comparison, the molecules in a moisturizer are actually quite large. That is why you always apply your serum before moisturizer because if you’re applying it after moisturizer basically these small molecules and the serum aren’t going to be able to penetrate through the large molecules in the moisturizer and it becomes ineffective and pointless at.

That point this step also includes any products called concentrates boosters ampules or capsules etc and typically most acne treatments will fit in here as well. I would say the one exception being a spot treatment like say Mario Badescu drying lotion or Kate Somerville eradicate something that you just apply on a specific spot. That really sits on top of the skin and is going to spread around easily.

8. Beauty oils and retinoids

Now step eight is where things are going to get a little bit complicated for this step. I’m going to lump beauty oils and retinoids in together because these are typically the two products that can move around in your routine and be used either before or after moisturizer. There are varying opinions on when you should apply your Beauty oil a lot of people actually say that when you apply your Beauty oil will be by your skin type.

They say if you have dry your skin it’s best to apply your oil after your moisturizer because that will further strengthen and add to that protective barrier. That moisturizer creates and kind of further lock in that hydration. Other people say if you’re like normal-oily combo type skin that you should apply it before your moisturizer or additionally. You can even mix a couple of drops right in with your moisturizer and apply it. That way I would say if you are interested in using a beauty oil feel free to experiment and see what you like best.

I’ve tried out all different methods over the years and I like them all equally like I don’t find. I really have a particular preference with retinoids. It’s a similar story. Some people will recommend that if your retinoid has a thin serum like consistency that you should apply it before your moisturizer but on the other hand if the retinoid you’re using has a
thick cream or lotion consistency it should go on after your moisturizer.

I’ve also heard people say that if you have dry skin you should sandwich your retinoid in between two layers of moisturizer and I have also heard that if you apply a simple lotion little ways in advance before applying your retinoid it can actually reduce sensitivity and dryness.

So it’s another one that I could say. You can experiment with but ultimately read the instructions on the product you are going to be using and especially if you’re using as a strong Retin-A any kind of prescription retinol. Then definitely consult with your dermatologist. Once again just make sure you’re always using at night because retinoids will make your skin extremely photosensitive and prone to sun damage.

Make sure you are loading on that SPF if you’re using anything with a retinoid in it and also avoid using them if you’re using products with vitamin C or a chase or BHA s because those ingredients do not mix.

9. Moisturizer

Step 9 is a moisturizer. Moisturizer obviously hydrates the skin but once again it does also create an important protective barrier on the skin. That seals in all of that hydration and your other products. Second last is eye care.

I’ve seen some people will recommend applying your eye cream before moisturizer but this has never made any sense to me. That is never how I have been taught it. I’ve always learned to apply eye care last and to me. That makes the most sense because why would you start with like the small targeted areas and then go to the bigger areas to me. That just doesn’t make sense and you should do your entire face then work down to the smaller more targeted concern areas.

One of the main reasons for this and I’ve mentioned this in the past but if you are applying your eye creams properly they shouldn’t actually be going right on the skin under your eyes or on your lids because that skin is very thin and delicate and require a specific care where you’re actually supposed to apply your eye cream is on your orbital bone or eye socket which you can easily just feel with your fingers.

Once again I’ve gone over all of this before. But if you are playing your eye cream on your orbital bone where you should be there might be a little bit of overlap when you go to apply your moisturizer. So I do moisturizer first then eye cream ideally. There won’t be any overlap because you’ll be avoiding your eye area with your other moisturizers.


10. Sun protection

Finally, we have got an SPF or sun protection factor. Now, this is obviously a daytime step and this mostly applies if you are using a separate sunscreen, so if your moisturizer primer foundation powder, etc, don’t contain an SPF. This is where you want to be applying to your sunscreen. All over your face simple right? I know that was a lot just a reminder you do not need to be using every single one of these steps.


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