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Are You Applying Your Skincare In The Right Order?

Are You Applying Your Skincare In The Right Order?

My skincare journey started a bit late. I’ve always struggled with oily acne-prone sensitive skin. And I used to use hard treatments in order to combat my issues that never seemed to work for longer than a year at most. A few years ago I decided to overhaul my skincare regimen. To really educate myself about what works best for my skin. And one of the key things to that is what I use and what order I use them in. I have learned that can play a key role in the effectiveness of the actives we use on our skin.


Daytime Routine

Step 1: Cleanser

generally everyone not matter skin type does well with a gentle cleanser. One without a lot of bells and whistles. I’ve used Vanicream for years now and recently started trying Youth To The People Superfood Cleanser, which is very mild and doesn’t strip or dry out the skin. CeraVe is also a good option that I know lots of people swear by.

Step 2: Toners and Essences

I know a lot of people don’t see the point of toners - I used to be one of those people. But a good toner can make a world of difference in your skin. I like to switch mines every 4-5 months as my skin tends to stop responding to them after awhile. Right now I am finishing up my last bottle of Ole Henrisken Dark Spot Toner and will be trying a new one after that. For essences, they are best applied after toner. The job of an essence is to help any actives you apply penetrate deeper into the skin. I don’t currently use and essence but I am thinking of adding one to my routine.

Step 3. Actives

This is where serums, spot treatments and the like come into play. In the mornings if I am dealing with a few spots or my skin just needs a little extra something I will apply my The Ordinary 2% Salicylic Acid. But generally for me I tend to save most of my actives for my nighttime routine. Things like retinols are best for night. This is also a great time to apply your Vitamin C serum if you use one. * Note: If you have sensitive skin like I do, try applying your Vitamin C after your Hyaluronic Acid or mix it in with your moisturizer. These help as a buffer to avoid irritation.

Step 4. Eye Creams or Eye Serums

I don’t use an eye cream, but wanted to include for those of you that do. I simply take my moisturizer up under my eyes during my hydration routine. If you are using a moisturizer it should be safe to take up to the under eye area.

Step 5. Hydration

This is where I apply my Hyaluronic Acid serum. As mentioned above I apply my Vitamin C after this - which isn’t technically the correct order but helps if you have sensitive skin. For years I thought I couldn’t use a Vitamin C Serum because my skin would freak out. I read a dermatologist’s advice to try either applying it after your moisturizer or mixing it in. Applying it this way has helped me avoid any irritation. If you don’t have sensitive skin you can apply your Vitamin C in the correct order as above.

After applying my Hyaluronic Acid (and Vitamin C) I apply my traditional moisturizer. During the warmer months I stick with water-based gel moisturizers. I find that they hydrate really but also absorb quickly and won’t leave the skin feeling sticky or heavy like traditional cream moisturizers can on oily skin in the warmer months. But not all water gel moisturizers are created equal so make sure you are reading ingredients - avoid ones that have alcohol high on the ingredient list (and if you can find without it altogether even better) or fragrance. I recently started using Saturday Skin Waterfall Glacier Water Cream and I love it. My skin feels hydrated and soft and it sinks into the skin quickly.

Step 6. Sunscreen

Always. Don’t forget. Especially if you use actives which make the skin photosensitive and more prone to sunburn. I am back to using my Etude House Sunprise SPF 50 and I had forgotten how much I love it.


Nighttime Routine

Step 1: Double Cleanse

Double cleansing is a must if you wear makeup . A double cleanse consists of using an oil-based product either a traditional cleansing oil or a cleansing balm. I use the Heimish All Clean Cleansing Balm. I prefer balms to traditional cleansing oils personally. They are essentially cleansing oils in a semi-solid “balm” form and emulsify when you add water. A cleansing oil/balm will breakup any makeup - including eye makeup. I rinse my face and dry with a microfiber cloth (I have a stash of them that I bought off Amazon that I use for this purpose). I then follow up with my traditional cleanser which is whatever I used in my morning routine.

This is the part where I do my best Caroline Hirons impression and say DO NOT USE MAKEUP WIPES. Not only are they bad for the environment but they are also terrible for your skin. They don’t do the job of actually removing all of your makeup and because of the surfectants and alcohols used in them you are drying out your skin while simply rubbing all of the dirt, oil and makeup around your face. So love your skin enough to just say no to makeup wipes!

Step 2: Toners and Essences

Again you are getting your skin ready for the actives that you will be applying later. At night I use a different toner. I use The Body Shop Vitamin E Hydrating Toner. I like to use this after double cleansing to just help re-balance my skin a bit.

Step 3. Actives, Serums

I am currently using Paula’s Choice 1% Clinical Retinol on my skin. Because my skin is sensitive I am careful about how often I use a retinol. I use my retinol treatment 2-3 times a week. I was doing one day on one day off but have recently switched to using it Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Just for consistency and so I don’t have to think about when the last “on” day was. I apply a pea-sized amount (you should use no more than that when applying a retinol to avoid irritation) to my entire face avoid my eye are and around my mouth. This is the only active I use when on “on” days. On off days I go in with my salicylic acid.

Step 4. Eye creams and eye serums

Step 5. Hydrate

On my “off” days from my retinol I repeat the same steps in my daytime routine. Hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C serum followed by my Saturday Skin Water Cream. *I skip my Vitamin C when using my retinol because my retinol has Vitamin C in it - no double dosing!

Step 6. Face Oils

During the winter months I use my The Ordinary Rosehip Seed Oil. I also use it if my skin feels a bit irritated. But I try to avoid facial oils during the Spring and Summer. Face oils should be applied after any other moisturizer because it is the heaviest items. Skincare should go from lightest to heaviest. If you apply a face oil before your actives or your traditional moisturizer they will essentially just sit on top of the face oil and won’t be able to penetrate into the skin as well. The oil acts as a kind of barrier.

Step 7: Face Masks

I’m not a huge face mask person but I know so many people swear by them, and so I wanted to include them in this post. If you face mask it should be the final step in your skincare routine.

If you were questioning which products to use first and why, I hope this helped. I am not a dermatologist. Just a skincare enthusiast, but learning the proper order of how to apply my skin care has helped me tremendously in being able to see results.

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