The Right Order to Apply Skin Care Products

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Are you layering your skincare correctly? You can find down below the exact order you should apply your skin care products, to get the max out of your regimen.

The order you apply your skin care products makes a huge difference in how much of it your skin will absorb and use. Can you imagine applying your face cream, then using a cleanser and washing it off? Exactly.

Though the skin care order is not always as obvious as this, it is equally important and works for every single product. Each skin care product has its own place, based mostly on its molecular weight or its role in skin care.

The order you apply your products may have been the reason your skin care routine doesn’t work as well as expected.

More than just not working well, the wrong skin care order can irritate your skin, cause you to breakout or severely dehydrate your skin. Also, think about all the money you lose every time you buy this amazing quality face cream or serum only to not use it correctly.

So, here’s how to layer your skin care products right and get the most out of them:

The Correct Order to Apply Your Skin Care Products

An infographic showing the correct order to apply skin care products

Skin care layer #1 – Makeup remover

Obviously, this step is reserved for nighttime skin care routine.

Whether you use a classic makeup remover, micellar water or some oil (like in double cleansing or oil cleansing method), this step is very important and you should never ever skip it.

A makeup remover should remove from your skin all traces of makeup, sunscreen and daily buildup of dirt, excess oil and bacteria. Otherwise, not only the products you apply next won’t be able to get absorbed, but they will also lock all that dirt into your pores.

Skin care layer #2 – Face scrub

Another product you should only be using at night, since it can cause some temporary skin redness and increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

You shouldn’t be doing a face scrub more than 1 – 2 times a week. You should also be careful not to use a scrub harsher than your skin needs. Not following these two rules can damage your skin and severely irritate it.

But when used right, face scrub regenerates and rejuvenates your skin, gets you rid of dead skin buildup, dry, rough patches and dull, greyish complexion. It also encourages the cell turnover process.

Personally, I prefer DIY scrubs to commercial. They help me avoid chemicals in at least one skin care step, plus they are so easy to adjust to exactly what my skin needs in that moment. You can find here a recipe for one of my favorite DIY face scrubs.

On the days when you use a scrub, you may want to avoid using retinoids, harsh anti-acne treatments and exfoliating toners.

Skin care layer #3 – Face cleanser

In the morning, this is the first step of your skincare routine that will refresh your face and wash off your night cream residue. In the evening, we use face cleanser to remove any dirt, pollution, bacteria, excess oil, residue of makeup, makeup remover and scrub.

I suggest using a face cleanser after a scrub, because scrubs often contain drying ingredients (like clay, charcoal, fruit enzymes, etc.). If you just rinse off the scrub, the traces of these substances stay on your skin and could potentially lead to dryness and irritations.

On the other hand, some scrubs (especially the ones bases on sugar) contain oils that create a thin film on your skin. If you don’t wash it off and you don’t use a toner, but just apply a face serum after this oily scrub, your serum (which usually has a very small molecular weight) will have a hard time penetrating through that thin layer of oil. That is why it is best to use a cleanser to wash everything off and start with a clean slate before starting to add actives.

Face cleanser is a very important step, so don’t skip it. However, cleansing your skin too much can be counterproductive. So make sure to find a gentle gel or cream formula that won’t irritate or dry out your skin and disrupt its pH.

Skin care layer #4 – Face toner

A quality face toner can make a huge difference in your skin’s appearance. Toners used to be very drying, skin irritating products. But contemporary toners can be very hydrating and nourishing and raise your skin to the next level.

First, toners can remove all the tiny, sneaky little things your cleanser missed (and yes, most cleansers can’t remove everything). Toners also tone the skin, reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, even out your complexion and make your skin look fresh, tight and smooth.

You can find out more about face toners here.

Skin care layer #5 – Serum, mist or essence

This is a group of super hydrating products that are usually very lightweight and skin easily absorbs them. They boost your skin with water, vitamins and antioxidants and make it plump, firm and elastic.

Face serums are especially potent products that contain high concentrations of some of the most luxurious skincare ingredients.

You can find out more about face serums here.

But, if overused, they can irritate your skin. That is why you shouldn’t be using serums every day, especially in the beginning. So, using a serum and a mist or essence sparingly, once every other day, would provide your skin with all it needs but in a gentle, balanced way.

Skin care layer #6 – Spot treatment

Spot treatments are very potent and very drying products, usually based on either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide (you shouldn’t be using both at the same time). If you have severe acne problem, you should apply a spot treatment before a serum or mist.

Apply your spot treatment only to your acne, never to your whole face. Also, be careful when you apply the following products to avoid these areas because the spot treatment will get smeared away before it had enough time to treat the acne. Plus, it will get transferred to the rest of your face and dry it out.

Here are some great tips on how to treat acne.

Skin care layer #7 – Face moisturizer

Face moisturizers are products meant to imitate, repair, rebuild or improve your skin’s protective barrier. They also provide your skin with humectants (like hyaluronic acid), nurturing ingredients and antioxidants.

Daily face creams are usually lightweight, non-greasy, make good makeup base and provide at least some (though usually insufficient) sun protection. Night creams, on the other hand, focus more on moisturizing the skin, regenerating it and rebuilding collagen and elastin.

So, make sure to use both, since they have very different roles. Here’s everything you need to know about the difference between day and night face creams.

Skin care layer #8 – Face oil

I know some girls use face oil in the morning as well as at night, but it makes my skin greasy, my makeup doesn’t stick well and it kind of feels unnecessary. So I’m leaving it for my nighttime skincare routine.

Face oils are extremely nourishing products that soften your skin, plump it up, protect the skin and prevent drying out. They are typically the thickest products, so they should go on top of everything else.  That way, the oil will lock in all the products you applied before it.

Skin care layer #9 – Sunscreen

Not applying a sunscreen every single morning is like inviting wrinkles and fine lines to make a party on your face. A quality sunscreen can protect your skin from damaging sun rays and reduce by a lot the appearance of the aging signs.

Mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which protect your skin by reflecting the UV rays away from it. So, they have to sit on top in order to be effective.

Use This Skincare Layering Order as a Template

So, that’s it – that is the right order to apply skin care products. Basically, first use products that strip off the bad stuff from your skin. Leave for the end the products that add good things to your skin and apply them from the thinnest to the thickest. The products that do both stripping and adding (like toners and some serums) go in the middle.

Of course, you’ll have to adjust these rules to your own skin care routine. Most of us don’t use all these products. This skin care order is basically a template. Adjust it to your own needs and soon you’ll see what a correct skincare layering can do for your skin.

(2) Comments

  1. These are great skincare tips. Thank you for sharing them. This will be very helpful especially for beginners.

    1. Jovana R. says:

      Thanks so much! ❤️️

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