Have you ever wondered if that expensive eye cream is really doing anything, or if your serum should be applied before or after your moisturizer? You’re not alone! Knowing how to effectively apply skincare products is as important as choosing the correct products for your skin type. What good is spending all that time and money researching the best facial oil if you’re not allowing it to do what it’s supposed to once applied to your skin?
How To Apply Your Skincare Products
Step 1: Cleanse
If you are a double cleansing fan, as I am, you’ll want to use an oil cleanser or micellar water first to remove makeup and break down oils, and follow with a foam or gel cleanser to remove any residue. Look for a face wash with glycolic or salicylic acid to assist with exfoliation.
Cleanser should be gently massaged into the skin to stimulate the lymphatics and prepare the skin to accept delivery of active serum. Avoid using hot or cold water while washing your face–lukewarm is just right.
Step 2: Tone
Whether you are spritzing your toner or using a cotton pad to rebalance the pH of your skin, always tone after washing your face. Think of toning as the last step in cleansing. Exfoliating cotton rounds for toner are perfect for gently lifting off dead skin cells and balancing the pH of the skin for optimal penetration of the skincare products.
Step 3: Eye cream
Hydrate the eye area with a specially formulated eye cream before active ingredients are applied to the rest of your face. Gently dab eye cream around the orbital rim with your ring finger. Eye-specific skin care will penetrate the thin skin quickly and also protect the delicate eye area from stronger ingredients needed for the rest of the face.
Step 4: Serums and Pollution (Environmental Toxin) Fighters
Serums will be different from day to night. In the morning this step should include a vitamin C serum to protect against environmental damage. At night this might be a glycolic acid product or a serum infused with plant peptides to stimulate collagen production.
Step 5: Moisturize
One myth regarding moisturizer is that oily skin doesn’t need it–this is not true! Oily skin just needs a lighter, oil-free moisturizer that can help control oil production, while still hydrating skin. Hyaluronic acid moisturizers are especially popular for giving that dewy, healthy glow to the cheeks and lips without the oil.
Step 6 in the AM: Protect
In the morning, no matter where you are going, never ever skip sunscreen! Certain SPFs are formulated as a one step moisturizer/sunscreen blend, so steps 4 and 5 could be combined in the morning.
But sunscreen should be the last skincare item you apply before you walk out the door. It protects skin from sun damage, harmful radiation, and premature aging. Sunscreen usually helps makeup go on smooth and even as well, and some of the tinted sunscreens on the market work as a sunscreen, moisturizer, and primer for makeup!
Step 6 in the PM: Renew
While we sleep our skin is given time to repair and recover. To even out skin tone, apply retinol after your moisturizer to help prevent unwanted peeling and redness. To help seal in the serums we use and allow the products to work their wonders, applying a facial oil or overnight mask 2-3 times a week. For oils, try warming them for a few seconds in the palms of your hand and then pressing them gently into the skin.
Products generally go from thinnest to thickest for application. Every product in your regimen should be completely dry before applying the next product. Each product should have a specific purpose that enhances the efficacy of the other products in your skincare ritual. There is no one size fits all and even your own skin’s needs will change with the seasons and the fluctuation in your hormone levels.
Always start your skincare routine after you’ve brushed your teeth to prevent any bacteria from hanging out around the chin area and causing breakouts.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical review board here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Graphic by Daria Patrunjel, Icons by Smalllike from the Noun Project84