What goes first, serum or moisturizer? Should you wash your face before cleansing? And what acne toner should you apply? You probably have all these questions and more when it comes to the order of applying skin care products. Many do.
Here is the thing, if you do not apply the products in the correct order, or if you pair the wrong toner and moisturizer, you are just wasting your products. Without the correct order and pairing, you are not utilizing your expensive skin care products. You can pay a fortune for skin care products, but if you are not using them properly, they will not be effective.
With that in mind, if you’ve ever wondered what is the correct order, and how exactly you are supposed to apply skin care products, read on.
Step 1 – Cleanser
Before you start applying any product on your face, you have to cleanse it. Wash your face and remove makeup before slathering any products.
What this means is that you need clean, and oil-free skin so that your skin can soak and absorb the ingredients. Skip makeup wipes, they can irritate your skin. Instead, opt for a cleansing oil that can dissolve makeup easily. Follow up with a gentle and creamy cleanser.
Step 2 – Toner
Toners are filled with gentle, hydrating ingredients that will help your dry skin. Or, they can treat acne because they have exfoliants in them. With that in mind, what type of toner you use, depends on the condition of your skin.
For those with acne, go for a product with beta hydroxyl acid for oily skin, and alpha hydroxy acid for dry skin. You can also look for salicylic acid for oily skin, and glycolic and lactic acid for dry skin. Both of these ingredients work to prevent breakouts and unclog pores.
Apply the toner after cleansing your skin. Use in the morning if you apply retinol at night, or at night if you do not apply a retinol. Wait for five minutes before applying anything else on your face, so that the skin can absorb the toner.
For any other skin without acne, go for a hydrating toner that will replenish any water your skin lost when you washed and dried your face.
Step 3 – Serum
Many women are not sure what to do with serums. Let’s put it simple. Serums are shots of extremely concentrated nutrients, hydration, and antioxidants. They are designed to boost the health of your skin. Some people skip applying serums, but they are the heavy lifters.
In the morning, apply a vitamin C serum to protect your skin from inflammation and damage caused by pollution, sun, and more.
In the evening, go for a serum with hyaluronic acid, which will keep your skin hydrated while you sleep. Moisture is even more important if you use acne and anti-aging treatments which can dry your skin.
Step 4- Eye cream
These creams are lighter than face moisturizers, and you need to apply them before you put on oils and creams. The rule in skin care is lightest first, and heaviest last.
In the morning, go for an eye cream that has a rollerball applicator, and formula filled with caffeine. This will help you with the puffy eyes.
In the evening, go for a simple hydrating eye cream that will protect the under-the-eyes area and repair the skin barrier. Yes, you can apply retinol around the eyes, but it is better to apply on the whole face, not as a spot treatment.
Step 5 – Spot treatments
Speaking of spot treatments, they are best applied at night. When we talk about spot treatments, we talk about scars, dark spots, acne, pimples, and zits. However, if you already used an acne-fighting toner, and you apply retinol, later on, you can avoid spot treatment, or apply just in the morning.
For dark spots, we recommend spot treatment with hydroquinone, while for pimples, the benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are tried and tested ingredients.
No matter the spot treatment, make sure you apply just a thin layer.
Step 6 – Moisturizer
This is the one step every woman does. Moisturizers infuse your skin with hydration, but also help trap all of the products underneath so that the ingredients are more effective. You should apply a moisturizer around the spot treatments, not directly on them.
In the morning, look for a light, gentle moisturizer based on hyaluronic acid. This will keep your skin hydrated without feeling greasy and heavy. You should also try to find a formula with SPF in it, especially if you are not applying sunscreen later.
Because your skin goes into repair mode at night, go for a night moisturizer filled with ingredients that help your body rejuvenate. Those include hyaluronic acid, lipids, and proteins. You can also improve your anti-aging treatment by going for an anti-aging night moisturizing cream.
Step 7 – Retinol
This is the step many women forget, or do not know how to use it properly. Retinoids penetrate your skin, and then speed up cell turnover, resulting in smoother and fresher skin. They also stimulate exfoliation and collagen production.
How to use retinoids? Start slow, as it will take some adjustment period. If you go hard in the beginning, you might trigger skin sensitivity and flakes. Apply just a pea-size drop one night week for one week, then go for two nights a week for two weeks, and so on. Do you get the point?
If you are already using a night cream with retinoids, you can skip this step. Doubling on retinoids will not make the treatment more effective.
Step 8 – Oils
Face oils are designed to seal in all of the ingredients and moisture used before. On their own, they are not moisturizing. But when you layer them over other products, they increase the efficiency of the products.
Because they are heavy, oils have to be applied last. They can penetrate serums, moisturizers, spot treatments, and other products. But no other product can penetrate oils.
Step 9 – Sunscreen
Last, but not least, sunscreen is the absolute last step. But this only applies to daytime skin care. At night, you do not need any sunscreen. The absolute bare minimum SPF you need on your face is SPF 30. Remember that before thinking SPF of 10 can do the trick.