Home SKIN The Perfect Skincare Routine Order – Are You Layering Your Skincare Products Correctly?

The Perfect Skincare Routine Order – Are You Layering Your Skincare Products Correctly?

The Perfect Skincare Routine Order – Are You Layering Your Skincare Products Correctly?


Did you know – the correct skincare routine order can enhance the effectiveness of your skincare products? Yes, your skincare products may not be performing because you are not layering them right!


Everything is simple as long as you have a basic 3-step skincare routine. But the moment you add serums and treatments to the mix, layering skincare becomes a Herculean task.


Even if you follow a 10-step skincare routine, it does not have to be a complicated affair. You only need to understand some basic rules of layering serums and creams. Let us break it down for you today with our ultimate guide on fixing the order of your skincare products and achieving the perfect skincare routine order.


Why Does The Order Of Application Of Skincare Products Matter?

So, you have picked out the perfect serum, essence, and moisturizer for your skin type. Now, why should the order in which you apply these products matter? The answer lies in the formulation of these products.


Serums and essences have a thinner consistency because they contain active ingredients that need to penetrate the skin to work their magic. Creams and oils are thicker because they contain occlusive ingredients that form a protective barrier on the skin.


Thus, if you apply a serum after applying a moisturizer, it won’t penetrate the skin and won’t be as effective. The thick consistency of the moisturizer will prevent the serum from doing its job. This is why layering your skincare products in the right order is so crucial.


The General Rule Of Thumb For Layering Skincare Products

Before delving into an elaborate skincare routine, here is a simple rule for layering skincare.  This basic rule of thumb works wells with most skincare products. It is to move from the thinnest to the thickest consistency during application.


This means that your watery essences and serums should precede your thick creams or oils. So, after cleansing and toning, start from the thinnest products and then progress to the thickest ones.


Another thing you should keep in mind is to gently massage the products into your skin. Also, wait for each product to sink into the skin before moving on to the next step. This usually takes between 30 to 60 seconds depending on the texture of the product. Move on to the next step only when the previous product has sunk into the skin completely.


A Step-By-Step Guide To Applying Skincare In The Right Order

Step 1 – Cleansers

Cleansing is an essential skincare step for everybody. It removes makeup, sweat, and dirt from your skin, and prevents acne and aging. It is always the first step of any skincare routine, but some of us may like to use two cleansers. Here is the right order for using the different types of cleansers.

  • Oil-based Cleansers

Oil-based cleansers are oils or balms that break down makeup and waterproof sunscreen. They form the first step of a double cleansing routine. Gently massage them on your face to break down all your makeup and residue on the skin. Rinse your face with water and move on to the second step of double cleansing.


  • Water-Based or Foaming Cleansers

Water-based cleansers, or face washes, are the second step of a double-cleansing routine. These cleansers remove excess sebum and dirt from the skin and unclog the pores. If there isn’t any makeup or sunscreen on your face, a face wash will be enough without any oil cleanser.

Step 2 – Mask Or Exfoliant

Masks or exfoliating treatments are optional products that remove dead cells and brighten the skin. If you wish to use a mask or an exfoliant, it should be the step right after cleansing your face. You could use a clay mask, chemical peel, microdermabrasion or a gentle physical scrub for this step. Use only one exfoliant on a given day to prevent over-exfoliating your skin.


charcoal mask

Step 3 – Toner

Toners are watery products that hydrate and soothe the skin and also refine the pores. Additionally, some toners contain skin-brightening and exfoliating ingredients as well. You can use a hydrating toner right after cleansing or masking. On the other hand, you should use exfoliating toners only after cleansing and shouldn’t pair them with other exfoliants.

Step 4 – Essence & Sheet Mask

Essences are thin and watery products containing healing active ingredients. Due to their runny consistency, you need to use your essence as the first step after toning your skin. If you want, you can also apply a sheet mask after using an essence. Sheet masks come drenched in a hydrating liquid that will plump your skin and prep it for the next step.


Step 5 – Serums

Serums are water-based products that are more viscous than essences. They have a watery to gel consistency and contain various active ingredients. You can include one or more serums in your skincare regimen as per your needs. The general rule of moving from the thinnest to thickest serum applies here too. Here are some more tips on how to layer your serums correctly.


  • Antioxidant Serums

Antioxidant serums fight against damage caused by sunlight, pollution and stress. Some popular antioxidants include Niacinamide, Vitamin C, and Ferulic Acid. These serums are usually watery, and you should apply them right after an essence.


  • Hydrating Serums

Hydrating serums absorb moisture from the atmosphere and supply it to the skin. Some popular hydrating ingredients include Hyaluronic Acid, Panthenol, and Aloe Vera. Hydrating serums are usually sticky or viscous in texture. Hence, you should apply them after any antioxidant serum.


  • Retinoids

Retinoids refer to any product rich in Vitamin A that offers anti-aging benefits to the skin. Vitamin A encourages faster cell renewal, reduces blemishes, and prevents wrinkles too.


Retinoids usually come in a serum format, and you should apply them after a hydrating serum and before a moisturizer. Make sure that the hydrating serum is completely absorbed before you apply a retinoid on top.


Step 6 – Spot Treatment

Spot treatments are thin creams that target specific skin concerns. They tackle stubborn skin issues, such as inflamed pimples, blemishes, or hyperpigmentation. The correct way to use a spot treatment is to dab the product on the problem areas of your skin. Wait for the treatment to absorb completely before moving on to the next step. This will prevent it from spreading to other parts of your face.


Step 7 – Eye Cream


Eye cream is an optional product, but it is really beneficial if you are in your twenties or older. Eye creams are designed to be gentle on the under-eye skin while tackling dark circles, wrinkles, and puffiness. To apply eye cream, dot the product under your eyes with your ring finger and blend with a dabbing motion. Apply the eye cream before your moisturizer to ensure that it interacts directly with your skin.


Step 8 – Moisturizer

No matter what your skin type or age, you need a moisturizer in your life. Moisturizers help to maintain healthy moisture levels in the skin and plump it up to prevent wrinkles and fine lines. They also form a protective barrier on your skin that shields it from pollutants and microbes. You can choose a gel-based formula if you have oily skin or a creamy moisturizer if you have dry skin. Dot it all over the face and massage it into the skin after applying all your serums and treatments.


Step 9 – Face Oil

If your skin becomes dry soon after applying a moisturizer, you need a facial oil to seal the moisture in place. Massage a few drops of the oil on your face once the moisturizer is absorbed. This step will ensure that your skin stays soft and hydrated for several hours.


Step 10 – Sunscreen In The Morning, Sleep Mask At Night

Sunscreen should be the non-negotiable final step of your morning skincare routine. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen liberally over your face and neck. Reapply every 2-3 hours when you are under direct sunlight. Not only will sunscreen prevent tanning, but it will also prevent sun damage that causes collagen loss and premature aging.


At night, you can add an optional step of a sleep mask after your oil. These masks are thick creams packed with moisturizing and healing ingredients. They work particularly well for those with dry or irritated skin. Apply a generous layer of a sleep mask at night to wake up to soft, calm skin the next day.


How Many Steps Should You Have In Your Skincare Routine?

Are you feeling overwhelmed after reading about so many skincare steps? We understand your pain! The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to use all these products in your skincare routine. Just skip whatever products you don’t prefer and apply the remaining products in the recommended order.


A very basic morning skincare routine can include a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Similarly, a cleanser, antioxidant serum, and night cream at night can be enough for most women. Everything else is optional, based on your skin concerns and needs. Spot treatments, masks, exfoliants, and face oils aren’t products that are an absolute must for everyone. You can include or omit them based on how they perform on your skin.


Ultimately, you need to figure out a skincare routine that you can stick with every single day. Add enough steps to address all your skin concerns, but not so many that you start detesting skincare.


Once you are consistent with your skincare routine and layer your products correctly, the results will show on your skin! So, pay attention to the order of application of your skincare products to get healthy and flawless skin.



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