In a world full of beauty products, it is often a difficult choice to distinguish between what products you need and what products you want. To make it even harder, if you turn a 3-step skincare routine in to a complicated 36-step skincare routine, you may end up applying products in the wrong order. This may lead to ineffective, or potentially, pore-clogging results. No matter the skincare routine you choose to follow or products you choose to buy, there is an optimal order in which you can apply products in order to get the most out of your purchase. By following this order of product application, you can achieve your optimal skin and discover the best ways to use your products. This article will be going through those key steps to keep your skin glowing, feeling moisturizing, and looking refreshed.
- Removing Makeup and Debris
At the end of the day, your skin has likely come across bacteria and pollution. This may happen as you spend time outside, drive in your car, or unconsciously touching your face. A makeup removing wipe, cleansing oil, or micellar water can be used to remove this surface layer of debris, in addition to any makeup or sunscreen you may have applied to your skin earlier in the day. Once the surface layer is removed, you can reach for your skin cleanser.
Now it time to go deep. Using your favorite cleanser, apply warm or room-temperature water to your face and mix the cleanser into your skin in gentle, circular motions. In order for this step to be most effective, make sure that the cleanser you are using is appropriate for your skin type (i.e. normal, oily, or combination skin). The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends limiting face-washing to twice a day and after sweating. For more sensitive skin, opt for a gentle cleanser or only cleanse your skin at the end of the day—in the morning, you can solely use warm water to refresh your skin.
- Exfoliate and Tone
After cleansing, reach for your mild toner or exfoliator. Exfoliation is a process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of the skin. On the other hand, toning can deliver antioxidants to the skin, as stated by the Dermstore. For individuals with more sensitive skin, exfoliating and toning may only be beneficial if used once or twice a week. When overused, exfoliation and toning can become irritating and lead to an adverse skin reaction.
Some individuals can even refrain from using either of these products if their skin retains its healthy complexion after cleansing. If you notice dullness in your skin, try looking for an exfoliator of toner with alpha or beta hydroxy acids and little-to-no alcohol. If you choose to incorporate these steps into your routine, the AAD recommends that you do so safely because you do not want to cause damage to your skin or lead to more acne and breakouts.
Depending on the serum you choose, each can address a variety of skin concerns. Now that your skin is clean and toned, the serums have a polished surface in which they can enter your pores and work most effectively. Serums can be applied both in the morning and at night, depending on your preference. Typically, a vitamin C serum is applied in the morning to act as an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and protect your skin throughout the day. At night, a hyaluronic acid serum may be applied to the skin to increase hydration and moisture.
This is where ingredients become very important! If you are using a topical medication to treat acne with acids or benzoyl peroxide, it is important to see how these ingredients may interact with the serum you previously applied. For example, benzoyl peroxide should be avoided when also using vitamin C, retinoids, and certain acids. In this case, you should alternate the days in which you use these products so that you don’t experience an adverse reaction. As with most skin care products, there is always an exception to these rules, so consult your dermatologist when confused about the combination of your skincare ingredients.
All of us need to moisturize daily as a part of our skincare routine, even if we have oily skin. Our skin needs the hydration in order to maintain a healthy skin barrier. According to the AAD, when using benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, adapalene, tazarotene, tretinoin or isotretinoin (prescription treatment for severe acne), you skin needs additional moisture in order to tolerate these medications. For more information about keeping your skin hydrated, especially through the colder months, check out our article here about maintaining moisturized skin as the we transition from summer to fall.
Facial oils can also act as a method of adding hydration to the skin. These can be especially beneficial when applied with other skincare products to help rebalance the natural oils that appear in your skin.
The sun hides from no one, even in the coldest states. Dermatologist recommend wearing sunscreen year round to protect your skin from potential sun damage, cancer, and aging. Of course, you do not need to apply sunscreen before you go to sleep, but if you are using this routine in the morning, it is important that you apply your sunscreen as the last step before makeup if you are using a physical sunscreen. If you choose to use a chemical sunscreen, these have to be absorbed into the skin and should be applied before you put on your moisturizer. There are many chemical sunscreens on the market that also include moisturizers or light makeup, meaning you can combine multiple steps into one!
Using this information, you can reorganize your skincare routine to fit your daily needs. As always, consult with your dermatologist if you notice any skin changes or adverse reactions—it may be the ingredients in your products or an unknown allergy.