We all spend a lot of money on our skincare, and unfortunately if you’re not using it correctly, you aren’t getting your money’s worth! If you apply your skincare in the right order you will get the most out of each ingredient as they’ll be able to penetrate the skin and really do their job! Today we’ll look at the factors determining what order to use your skincare products and how to do it correctly.
Clean Skin First
This is obvious, wash before applying expensive products.
First, I start by removing my eye makeup. I have a lot of eye makeup removers that I like (check out my favorite eye makeup removers), but really the key seems to be a remover with oil in it with a cotton round.
Almay Longwear & Waterproof Gentle Eye Makeup Remover
Lancome Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover
Usually removing eye makeup leaves a rim of mascara and eye liner around my face. It’s great, I look like a raccoon! So, I wash the rest of my face next. I have a few cleansers that I like, and I usually use just my fingers to rub it around on my face before scrubbing a bit and rinsing off with a washcloth. I have a Clarisonic that I use a few times a week. My face can’t seem to take using it every night, so I play it by ear but it is usually about 2-3x/week.
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser from Amazon or Target
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser from Kiehl’s or Nordstrom
Kate Somerville Detox Daily Cleanser from Kate Somerville or Sephora
A quick note about toner. I don’t use a toner, most dermatologists and estheticians I interview don’t use them and they’re rarely mentioned any more. I consider toner to be a cleansing product, and I’d use it as the last step of cleansing.
Medicine Before Others
Prescription meds are next. You want them closest to your skin to ensure that they absorb fully. Personally, I’m on Clindamycin for my Rosacea, so I spread about a pea sized amount of the gel all over my face.
Treatments and Creams
Next it is time to apply your skincare product. The typical order for this depends upon the consistency of the products. Thin comes before thick, and then within those consistencies water based goes before oil based. So, thin water based, thin oil based, then move up to thick water based and last come thick oil based.
For most people this means after your prescription medications have been applied you would move on to the thin products, for me this means that my serum comes next. I’m currently using Murad Advanced Active Radiance Serum, which helps to even out my skin tone and fade hyperpigmentation. If I’m dry, I’ll add a few drops of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery over the serum. About twice a week I’ll also add in a retinoid lotion, I like RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream.
Murad Advanced Active Radiance Serum from ULTA or Sephora
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery at Kiehl’s or Nordstrom
RoC Retinol Correxion Sensitive Night Cream from Amazon or Target
Finally, thicker creams and balms, again start with thinner and move to thicker, applying water based before oil based. I apply my eye cream next, and follow it up with an all over night cream.
My Current Favorites:
Kate Somerville Line Release Under Eye Repair Cream at Kate Somerville or Sephora
Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Cream from Kiehl’s or Nordstrom
If my morning moisturizer doesn’t have a sunscreen or I’ll be spending quite a bit of time outside, I add an extra layer of a lightweight sunscreen on top of everything. You can find a full list of full spectrum coverage facial sunscreens here, but my favorites are listed below.
My Current Favorites:
Avene Mineral Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen SPF 50 at Amazon
Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++ at Sephora
How Much Time in Between Skincare Steps
In general, you do need to allow a few minutes in between each product to let it sink into your skin, but you shouldn’t need a lot of time. I’ll usually wash my face, apply eye cream and my first treatment product (Clindamycin prescription for my Rosacea) at the same time, because they go on different areas of my face. I brush my teeth while those sink in, and then depending on what product I’m using for a review, I either apply another treatment, serum or my night cream. I usually have about 1-2 minutes between products, but that’s about all you’ll need.
Check out more anti-aging skincare information and reviews in my guide!