Am I Applying My Skin Care Products In The Correct Order?
Almost all women around have somewhat have their own version of a Skin Care routine. But have you ever wondered if there's actually a correct order when applying your Skin Care products? Is your routine and products enough to take care of your skin? In what order should you apply your skin care products, and does it matter? Turns out, it really does!
IT REALLY MATTERS!
According to Dr. Heather Rogers, applying your skin care products in the proper order ensures that your skin receives the full benefits of each product.
“The order of application is incredibly important,” says Dr. Rogers. “The skin’s job is to keep things out, but many of the skin care products we use have ingredients we want to get in. Only a very small amount of these key ingredients can penetrate the skin, even when perfectly formulated and perfectly applied. If you don’t apply products in the correct order, you will not see the best results from your skin care regimen.”
A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Layer Your Skin Care Products:
The morning routine is all about protection from the sun, pollution and the elements, so leave your peel pads and treatment products, like retinol, for night.
STEP 1: CLEANSER
In the morning, start by splashing your face with warm water or, if you must, wash with a gentle face cleanser designed for your skin type.
STEP 2: TONER
Toners are most helpful and necessary for people with oily or acne-prone skin, or for people who want extra cleansing after wearing makeup or other heavy skin products such as sunscreen.
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 purposes, 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.
However, if you have lived all your life without using a toner and your skin looks healthy, Dr. Rogers says there is no need to start using one. “Toners were created to help return the skin’s pH after it became too basic from harsh soaps,” explains Dr. Rogers. “Face cleansers are now so much better balanced that toners are not a required step for me.” That said, if you have a toner that you like using, there’s no harm in sticking with it.
STEP 3: ANTIOXIDANT SERUM
Serums are skin care products that are designed to deliver high concentrations of specific active ingredients to the skin. They 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 on the market today, but for daytime, Dr. Rogers recommends antioxidants serum, which provide a variety of benefits—from blunting your skin’s inflammatory response to neutralizing damage from UV rays and environmental pollutants.
STEP 4: EYE CREAM
Eye cream therefore comes to the rescue, helping to nourish the skin, keeping it moisturized, and preventing dullness. Depending on the actives within, they help fight puffiness and brighten eyes. They also soften fine lines and make the skin under your eyes look youthful.
According to Dr. Annie Chiu, a board-certified dermatologist, 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. Remember: Nothing is magic. Results don’t occur overnight,” Dr. Chiu adds. “You can further protect the delicate skin around your eyes by choosing an eye cream with SPF or applying sunscreen every day.” Dr. Chiu also advises people to remember to wear sunglasses when outside to protect against UV-light damage and lines that can creep up around the corners of your eyes from squinting.
STEP 5: SPOT TREATMENT
According to Dr. Diane De Fiori, a dermatologist at Rosacea Treatment Clinic, prescription medications and acne spot treatments need to be applied as close to the skin as possible to maximize their benefits.
As acne spot treatments differ in active ingredients, check your product packaging or consult your dermatologist for the best way to apply it. Prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide, a common acne spot-treatment ingredient, has a one-to-three-hour working time, according to esthetician and acne specialist Ashley Wiley. “Any cream that comes in contact with it before it has completed its work will likely inhibit the active ingredient from working properly.”
Remember that acne spot treatments can dry out your skin, so always apply only on spots where you need it.
STEP 6: MOISTURIZER
Moisturizing is a key step in any skin-care routine but some people still skip it. The reasons may vary: Some may think they don’t need it because they have oily skin; others may feel it’s just another expense that doesn’t really have dramatic effects. 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 after the havoc that sun, weather and harsh chemicals wreak on our skin.
Most experts recommend that the best time to apply a moisturizer is while the skin is still damp, 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.
If you’re using an acne 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: SUNSCREEN
Sunscreen should be the last step in your daytime skin care routine if you’re using a physical or mineral sunscreen, which works by physically blocking UV rays. This step becomes tricky when you’re using a chemical sunscreen.
We asked dermatologist Katie Manno, MD, working for the Skin Cancer and Dermatology Institute out of Reno, NV. "You should wear sunscreen every day because when you are outside, you are constantly being exposed to UV radiation. UV radiation even penetrates through the clouds, so yes, you should even be putting on the cream on cloudy days."
In short: Yes, you should wear sunscreen every day. If you don't do so, says Manno, "You're going to accumulate damage in the skin, which can lead to developing cancerous skin lesions later in life."
As your skin naturally repairs itself at night, your nighttime routine should be all about treatment and giving your skin what it needs, says Dr. Rogers. “If your skin is looking dull, exfoliate. If it is irritated, hydrate and protect.” Here’s the best order of skin care products to make sure you get the most out of them:
STEP 1: (DOUBLE) CLEANSER
To get rid of the day’s grime, dirt, oil and makeup, some experts recommend removing your makeup first with a dedicated makeup remover before washing your face with a gentle cleanser. Better yet, try double cleansing, which involves using a cleansing oil first to dissolve your makeup and then washing your face again with your regular cleanser.
STEP 2: TONERS, ESSENCES, AND BOOSTERS
If you use a toner, apply it as you would in the morning.
At night, some people also like to layer various types of skin care boosters, which you’ll see as either mists, essences, beauty waters or hydrating (hyaluronic acid) serums. These are infused with different active ingredients, but for the most part, the purpose is mainly to hydrate and nourish skin.
Since these are lightweight, almost water-like formulas; apply them after washing your face as you would a toner. “If using both, apply toner then essence,” says Dr. Rogers. “Toner is more to clean and essence is more about delivering a treatment.” If using multiple boosters, the same rules apply: apply from thinnest to thickest.
STEP 3: EYE CREAM
Aside from addressing crow’s feet and dark circles, eye creams can also serve to protect your delicate eye area from your other skin care products.
“Generally, you’d want to apply your eye cream before your treatments to protect your eye area against potent ingredients, which could potentially cause irritation,” according to Dr. Rogers.
When you apply eye cream in the evening, the ingredients can absorb into your skin overnight. Choose a richer cream with hydrating ingredients and no SPF.
STEP 4: TREATMENTS, SERUM, AND PEELS
At night, you should use a moisturizer to help undo the damage during the day. Before bed, you can get away with using a thicker moisturizing cream with all the necessary ingredients, including retinoids.
Applying moisturizer before bed allows three things to happen:
1. Rest for your face
2. Repair for the activities you do throughout the day
3. Minimize the effects of aging
“Moisturizer, particularly the heavier ones used at night, create a protective coating on the skin to prevent water evaporation while you sleep,” says Dr. Rogers. “Maintaining a 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 is going to get through it.” If your skin is on the dry side, you may want to add a face oil before applying your night cream.
TIMING MATTERS TOO!
Though the type and quality of your skin-care products can affect absorption rates, the best general rule is to wait until each product feels dry before moving on to the next one. Moreover, all of the experts agree that the layering order in which you're applying products is more important than timing.
However, since most of us are often in a rush to get somewhere (or hit the sack), Dr. Rogers understands that this isn’t always possible. Her advice? Keep your skin care routine simple.
“Many products say you have to wait anywhere from five to 30 minutes before the next step to ensure proper absorption, but who has time for that? If you make it too complicated, you just won’t do it,” says Dr. Rogers. “If you have many steps, pause for a bit (a minute) to allow each product time to react with the skin. For example, at night, after I wash my face and apply my serum or evening treatment, I just wrap up my day and get into bed. I keep my moisturizer on my bedside table and apply it right before I go to sleep to give these typically expensive, specialty treatments a touch more time to penetrate the skin before I seal them in with my cream.”
Piece of advice? Listen to your skin. Yours are unique. There might be some products that won't work well on your skin. But don't stop there! It's just the beginning. No matter what experts say, it's important to find the best products that will work for your skin. It takes times, but CONSISTENCY is the KEY.