Are you applying your skincare in the correct order?
Antioxidants, serums, moisturisers, Vitamin A – the world of skincare can certainly get confusing. If you’re layering your products at random, they may not be penetrating the skin as well as they could be, meaning you’re not going to see the full effectiveness of your regime. If you’ve been using a product and aren’t quite seeing the results you were expecting, you may be asking yourself “Am I applying my skincare products in the correct order?” Well, consider this your comprehensive guide.
Why should we be layering our skincare products in a particular order?
A customised skincare routine will usually contain multiple products because there is no single product that has all of the required components for skin restoration. Therefore, layering up your skincare is a great way to address multiple concerns at once. Whether you’re applying your morning or evening routine, the key is to make sure you use the products in the correct order; otherwise, you may be cancelling out the benefits of the previous product you applied.
The golden rules to follow
Most of us have the basics sorted: cleanser comes first, and moisturiser after. But as for the steps in between, this is where people tend to get a bit lost.
The easiest way to make sure you’re applying your products correctly is to start with the thinnest texture and move up to the thickest. As a general rule, apply serums or liquid products first. This way, they will be fully absorbed by the skin before any heavier creams are applied. This is important because thinner products can’t penetrate through the barrier of thicker products. If you layer your skincare this way, you can be sure that you’re getting the most out of each product and its ingredients.
The only exception to this rule is that SPF should always be the last product you apply in the morning even if the consistency is thinner than some of your other products. This is so that it’s the first layer that the sun hits.
Which ingredients shouldn’t be layered together?
This can very much depend on the products you’re using and how reactive your skin is. Skincare has come a long way in recent years, and brands can now effectively combine ingredients which may have once neutralised or sensitised each other.
In general, retinol and acids can sometimes irritate the skin when combined.
Retinol provides many skin rejuvenating properties, but it doesn’t always mix well with acids such as AHAs and BHAs. Mixing the two can cause skin irritation and dryness and may even damage the skin’s barrier. That being said, there are now products that combine both retinol and acids together which work effectively – take the Skin Better AlphaRet overnight cream, for example. However, if you have two separate products, your skin will likely benefit more if you alternate the nights that you use them unless otherwise advised by your skincare expert.
How to structure your morning routine
The focus of your morning routine is to protect your skin from the harmful UV light and environmental aggressors, such as pollution which it’s going to encounter throughout the day. As well as wearing an SPF, applying a powerful antioxidant containing ingredients such as Vitamin C or Phloretin is a great way to boost your skin’s protection.
SPF should always be the last product you apply, and this is especially important if you’ve been using exfoliating ingredients such as retinol or salicylic acid at night.
An example of a good morning routine:
Cleansing is always the first step of any good skincare routine. Cleanse every morning to remove any sebum and dead skin which may have built up overnight. If you’re trying to target oily, acne-prone skin, it may be worth considering using a gentle cleanser in the morning and a more exfoliating cleanser in the evening. The reason you may like to alternate them is to avoid over-drying your skin.
Toners work to balance the skin’s pH and remove any remaining product from the surface. This step isn’t necessary in all skincare routines; however, if you’re looking to incorporate an exfoliating acid into your routine, this is an excellent place to add it in. Start with something that contains a mild lactic or glycolic acid.
If you’re using retinol in the evening, opt for a calming toner instead. We love the CliniSept+ Aftercare for oily or acne-prone skin as it reduces inflammation as well as kills any bacteria on the surface of the skin.
Vitamin C and Phloretin are skincare heroes when it comes to protecting the skin against pollution and free radicals. They also work to diminish pigmentation and brighten the skin.
A good-quality moisturiser will work to improve the barrier function of the skin and lock in all of those active ingredients applied in previous steps. Opt for a light moisturiser in the morning and a thicker product at night.
The most crucial step of any skincare routine, sunscreen is just as critical in the winter months as it is during the summer, and no, the SPF in your foundation doesn’t count. Make sure the sunscreen you choose is a broad spectrum to ensure you’re protecting the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. This is especially important if you’re using active ingredients in either of your regimes because products such as retinol will make your skin more prone to sun sensitivity.
How to structure your night-time routine
An example of a good evening routine:
If you remove your makeup with a cleanser, it’s always a good idea to double cleanse to ensure you’ve removed any residue and impurities from the skin.
If you’d like to add an active ingredient such as salicylic acid to treat breakouts or hyaluronic acid for increased hydration, you can add it here. However, if you’re using retinol and your skin is on the more sensitive side, it may be best to apply either one or the other and alternate each night.
Vitamin A (or retinol) is a must-have in most skincare regimes. It’s one of the only proven ingredients to produce visible anti-ageing benefits, and it’s a skilful multi-tasker. Retinol increases cell turnover and stimulates collagen and elastin production. It also firms the skin and diminishes the look of fine lines, wrinkles and improves skin tone and texture. It’s a gold standard ingredient for treating everything from pigmentation to acne and wrinkles.
You may like to add a heavier cream in the evening to give it time to absorb throughout the night and work its skin-barrier repairing magic.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.