What’s The Right Skincare Routine Order?

You may be spending a lot in skin care products, but without the right skincare routine order the results won’t be there. Learning how to layer skin care products in the right order means the actives on each will be absorbed and have a chance to work their magic. Stop wasting your products, and keep reading to know the correct skin care routine order for day and night.

Step 1: Makeup Remover

Skincare products can’t work on your skin as long as there is a layer of makeup on it. So if you are a fan of high coverage foundation or silicone-based makeup you must also become a fan of double cleansing at night. If you are a believer in wearing SPF every day, as you should be, adding double-cleansing to your skincare routine order is also a must. You can skip this step in the morning, as your skin will need only light cleansing.

First on your skin care routine order, a makeup-removing cleanser. Micellar water applied with a cotton pad can remove most non-waterproof makeup quickly and leave your skin feeling fresh. Just swipe the moistened pad all over your face until all traces of makeup are gone.

For heavier makeup or waterproof products, I recommend an oil based cleanser. This can be an oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, a balm or a milk-to-cleanser product. There are a variety of options in the market for all types of skin but they are all applied the same. Using a hot cloth cleaner also exfoliates your skin.

Massage the oil into your skin for a few seconds, and then drape a et, warm cloth over your face for a few seconds.. The steam will soften the skin and open the pores. Use the same cloth (muslin cloth or flannel towels work best) to gently wipe off the remaining product, and repeat if necessary.

Step 2: Cleanser

After removing all your makeup, it is time to cleanse your skin. This will remove any makeup remover residue and any excess oils or dirt on your skin. A gentle, sulfate-free cleanser won’t weaken the skin’s barrier but will still wipe away dirt.

It is important to choose a cleansing product that suits your skin needs. The best face wash for oily skin will not help if your concern is dryness or you are after a face wash for dark spots and pigmentation. You are washing it down the sink, so you don’t need to splurge in the most expensive product. However, something too aggressive will irritate your skin.

There are some people who think cleanser is only done in the evenings. Personally, I like cleansing as part of my morning and night skincare routine because my skin produces oil overnight.

Step 3: Toner

Toners help restore your skin’s pH and prepare it to better absorb treatment products. Even if it sounds like yet another step, it takes 30 seconds and will make your skin feel much better. They are no longer the harsh and irritating alcohol based products of the past. So choose a toner that suits your skincare concerns, and sweep it with a cotton pad to clarify your pores and remove any residue.

I want to give a shoutout to exfoliating toners here, as they are great even for sensitive skins. A tiny bit of daily exfoliation using AHA or BHA (alphahydroxy or beta hydroxy acids) will brighten your complexion. It is also less irritating to skin than an exfoliating scrub. Using an exfoliating toner at this step in your skin care routine order will also help the rest of products penetrate better into the skin.

When you are choosing an exfoliating toner, keep in mind your skin type. AHAs such as lactic and glycolic acids are universally well accepted, but BHA such as salicylic acid are best for oily and acne-prone skin types. If you have never used any of those products, start applying them once every two or three days first to see how your skin reacts.

Step 4: Treatment Products And Serums

To maximize the efficiency of treatment products, such as Vitamin C serums, acne products and retinoids, you need to apply them on clean, bare skin. This means you should apply them before moisturizers so they have a chance to sink into the skin.

To avoid skin irritation, it is better to focus on one active treatment product at the time:

  • Vitamin C antioxidant serums can be applied morning and evening.
  • Leave in salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxides to fight acne can be applied morning and evening.
  • Niacinamide products to brighten the skin should not be combined with Vitamin C products.
  • Retinoid products such as Retin-A and over the counter retinol products should be applied at nighttime. They degrade in sunlight.

After this step it’s a good idea to let the active treatment products sink into your skin for at least 30 seconds, but 5 minutes is even better.

Step 5: Eye Cream

Eye cream should be applied before face moisturizer, as otherwise it will just sit on top. Apply it by patting gently with your ring finger. Sometimes if you have very specific skin concerns, such as wrinkles, a peptide heavy serum designed for the eye area is better than a cream.

Face moisturizers are usually too rich for the delicate eye area, and in some cases can cause white spots to appear. Those spots are called milia and they are not regular spots. They are caused by mineral-oil based products or steroid creams blocking the pores on the delicate skin around the eyes.

Step 6: Time To Moisturize

Moisturizers seal the serums on your skin and helps make them more effective. Lightweight humectants such as mists, essences and hydrating serums are perfect for oily skin on their own. They also pack an extra punch of hydration for dry skins that need a richer moisturizer.

After applying an optional hydrating serum and eye cream, it’s time for richer face moisturizers. This is particularly useful if your skin is dry or if you are using retinoids as they can dry skin excessively. If you are after a glowy, no makeup makeup look, a good moisturizer will plump the skin and make it glow from inside.

Step 7: Lock It Down With Facial Oils

For that extra dewy look, nothing beats a facial oil. Applying a face oil such as sunflower or jojoba oil after your moisturizer will lock it down, acting as a barrier. It will prevent anything you put on top from absorbing as well. However, be careful and use very little oil unless you want to look more sweaty than dewy. Put it only on dry areas, and pat well.

If you have very oily or acne prone skin, tread with caution. Some oils, such as coconut oil, can be comedogenic. Consider mixing a couple of drops of juniper berry oil with jojoba oil, and using that overnight to help keep bacteria under control.

Step 8: Sunscreen

Sunscreen should be the last step on your skincare routine order before you switch to makeup. It is a good idea to use a separate sunscreen, even if your foundation has SPF, because foundation will usually wear off during the day.

Mineral sunscreens sit on top of your skin and reflect away damaging UV rays. They have a certain tendency to reflect light in pictures, giving the skin a white or grey cast. However, they are the best if you are looking for natural sunscreens as they don’t have chemicals that may absorb into the skin. They are suitable for very sensitive skins.

When thinking of sunscreen do not try to do maths. A 15 SPF sunscreen with a foundation that also offers 15 SPF does not equal as 30 SPF sunscreen.

Step 9: Primer and Makeup

After this point, your skin care routine is done and if you use foundation and makeup this is where your makeup routine starts. If you are using a primer or foundation, it is worth waiting at least 10 minutes so your skincare has a chance to settle and won’t rub away.

You can use those 10 minutes to do your eye makeup or your hair, for example. Waiting in between layers will let product absorb and will help prevent product piling. Product balling happens when the product can’t absorb into the skin. If you use the right skin care routine order, and wait a bit in between layers, your skin will absorb the products with no balling up.

Silicone based products, such as silicone primers or foundations, have a tendency to ball up. This is because silicone can’t be absorbed into the skin. So if your beauty products haven’t had a chance to absorb into your skin, your primer or foundation will slide right off and pile up.

When To Break Skincare Rules

Hopefully this guide will help you with the right skincare routine order to make the most of your products. However, there are exceptions to this.

If you have invested in a treatment serum, you want to get the most from it. Apply it before hydrating creams or SPF, so it can skin straight into the skin instead of through many layers of skincare. However, if you have very sensitive skin or are beginning to use a new acid based or retinol based product, this can irritate your skin. Apply the serum right after a light moisturizer and you will minimize irritation while your skin gets used to it.

When in doubt, thinner and water based products should be applied before oil-based and thicker formulations. Oil based products can get through creams, but not the other way around, so oils should be applied last to lock everything in.

The exception to this is Squalane oil. This is a thin and fast-absorbing stabilized version of squalene oil. Squalene oil is an unsaturated oil, produced by our own skin but also found in olivers, sugarcane and even shark liver, hence the name. It is an excellent moisturising oil suitable even for acne prone skin and worth adding to your skincare routine. However, since it’s very light you want to use it after light moisturizers but before heavier creams.

How Many Steps Are In Your Skincare Routine

Korean skincare routines with ampoules, essences, sheet masks and serums have become incredibly fashionable. I have no doubt that many korean woman actually use this type of routines to keep their impeccable complexions looking amazing. But they require an investment of time and money that is not within reach of everybody.

I think the right number of steps on your skincare routine is that number that makes it possible for you to do it every day. There is no reason to stress out to follow a korean skin care routine day and night with all of its 20 steps and mask if you don’t have the time. In fact, even the korean skincare routine morning is often simplified even by people who are religious about skincare.

I am a believer in taking time to take care after ourselves, but sometimes life gets on the way. If you rather be doing something else than applying products to your face, then simplify it. I would try to keep the basics of cleansing, moisturising and a treatment serum if I have specific skin concerns. But if I don’t have time to double cleanse in the evening because I rather go to sleep… then I just use a makeup removing wipe and lots of fresh water.

Skincare Routine Order By Skin Concerns

Does a skin care routine for sensitive skin differ greatly from the face routine order of somebody with oily skin? I don’t think so. What changes are the products you would use.

Learning how to layer skin care products is only half of the deal, you also need to figure out which products to use. A full korean skincare routine for combination skin may use two different types of serums instead of an all over one. But it will apply them before the moisturising creams. A korean skin care routine for oily skin will use totally different products from a korean skin care routine for dry skin, but the same order.

The right skincare routine order will make a huge difference in how effective beauty products are and how your skin feels afterwards. While some steps are optional, it is a good idea to always remove makeup, cleanse and moisturize at the very least to keep your skin looking its best. And if you must choose between anti-aging sheet masks and applying SPF, SPF will help prevent skin ageing with much less effort.

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