"Which skin care products do I apply first? How to layer skin care correctly? Does it really matter if you apply your face oil before your moisturizer? Or if you put on your vitamin C after your retinol?" If your routine is only 3-steps or you have time for a full 10-step regimen at night, the order you apply your products in matters. You can have the most amazing skincare routine in the world, but if you're applying your products in the wrong order, you can prevent your skin from receiving the full benefits and waste money.
But you're in luck because I've spent the last four years doing research and figuring out which skincare products to use and how to use it. Below, I broke down the correct order to apply your skincare, how to layer skincare, and the best skincare products for anti-aging, brightening, and overall skincare.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a clinical expert in skincare, so consult your dermatologist for any drastic changes or issues you're having. I'm only relaying advice from my own experience and research. There's a lot of products out there so it's hard to navigate which ones work best for your skin, I just hope I can help with your skincare journey along the way!
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A basic rule of thumb on how to layer skin care is to apply skincare products from thinnest to thickest consistency. The products with the most important ingredients and antioxidants should penetrate the skin first, then moving into the thicker products such as moisturizers and oils.
I encourage you to wake up a few minutes early in order to consistently apply your daily skincare products. If you're running late, however, and only have time for a few. Cleanse, moisturize, and use SPF! I've made the routine for you guys to try out and figure out what works best for your skin!
Using a cleanser in the morning is important because your skin actually comes into contact with pollutants when you're sleeping in the comfort of your very own bed. I wash my face with warm water and use Tula's Gentle Cleanser (use my code GYPSYTAN to get 20% off your order). If you have acne-prone skin, try this acne-clearing kit instead.
Back in the day, toners were these alcohol-based liquids that irritated the hell out of your face. But today’s toners are filled with either gentle, hydrating ingredients to coddle dry skin, or with chemical exfoliants to treat acne. Tula's PH balancing toner works well for an AM and PM routine. I dab it on the reusable cleansing pads and gently rub on my face in upwards motions.
Serums are honestly the heavy lifters of your skincare routine. They are super-concentrated, nutrient-dense treatments that address specific concerns. In the morning, L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a must for protecting your skin from UV rays and environmental pollutants.
Try award-winning SkinCeuticals C + E Serum. It provides visible anti-aging benefits, brightens skin and helps protect against oxidative stress I've said it before, it's definitely an investment, but worth it! MY HOLY-GRAIL!
AFFORDABLE OPTION: Dr. Brenner Vitamin C Serum with 20% Pure L-Ascorbic Acid, Ferulic Acid, Vitamin E and Hyaluronic Acid
If you have really sensitive skin and can't use vitamin c serum, try Vitamin B. It is a lot more gentle. The Ordinary has a really affordable one: Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%.
You can use Hyaluronic Acid day and night. It is one of the best ingredients (if not the best) for hydration. It's hydrating and soothing. Sometimes I do notice if you use too much it will pill––use sparingly on damp skin! A little goes a long way.
It’s vital to apply an eye cream at least every night, if not twice a day, starting in your 20s. Choose an eye cream subjective to your own under-eye needs. I have very little dark circles, so I love Rose eye balm. It depuffs and brightens my eyes. I also love their Eye Renewal Serum that has been clinically proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and puffiness.
Once your serums and eye gel are fully absorbed, follow up with a moisturizer to further prime and prep your skin for the day ahead. Tula hydrating day & night cream works well. This cream feels soft and I love the fact that I don’t need any other moisturizer, using this both morning and night! The smell is clean and light.
Sunscreen should be the last step in your daytime skincare routine. Find a solid SPF and use it EVERY DAY. I use Daily Sunscreen Gel Broad Spectrum SPF 30. This is the BEST face sunscreen!! This has no white residue and makes your skin so glowy but not greasy. With a non-comedogenic formula, it doesn't clog my pores, does not leave a white cast, and it is non-greasy and wears well with my makeup.
As your skin naturally repairs itself at night, your nighttime routine should be all about the treatment and giving your skin what it needs. A nightly skin routine is a little more extensive than the morning. A typical nighttime skincare routine will look relatively similar to a daytime routine with a few minor tweaks.
Tip: Cover your neck, chest, and decalage when you're putting on products as well. Use excess products on the top of your hands.
Makeup wipes are horrible for your skin and the environment (source)! I use Micellar water, which is an oil, water combination remover that draws out dirt from your skin with these reusable pads I got from Amazon. You just throw in the wash when they get dirty. Use these pads gently around the eye and really get all the makeup removed.
Using the Tula's Purifying Cleanser, I rub it over my face. I highly recommend the silicone face cleanser, Luna mini 2 to get in all the different contours of your face to ensure extra cleaning. This refreshing gel cleanser goes deep into pores to remove impurities. Probiotics + superfoods help condition skin without stripping or over-drying.
I use the pro-glycolic 10% resurfacing toner post-cleanse. This one specifically has glycolic acid which sloughs away the dead skin cells and balances my PH levels. When I am breaking out, I will use this toner with 2% salicylic acid.
Like the rest of the body, skin does the bulk of its repairing, restoring and regenerating as we sleep. This is why most serums are better used at night. But instead of using every single product in sight, only use serums base on your skin’s of-the-moment needs.
4a. RETINOL: ONE-THREE TIMES/WEEK
Personally, I love retinol (aka vitamin a) –– it is so important for ANTI-AGING!!! It's a potent ingredient and can cause your skin to dry out so make sure to build up a tolerance to it. Start with the lowest amount of retinol which is .3 percent, use once a week, and only use a very small amount the size of a dime. This is another SkinCeuticals product worth investing in, I use the SkinCeuticals Retinol .3. This product helps with discoloration, fine lines, anti-aging, and more. Make sure you apply on DRY skin.
4b. GLYCOLIC ACID: ONCE A WEEK
I started adding Glycolic Acid to my nightly skincare routine because glycolic is acid-based exfoliants that slough off the "dead" layer of skin, revealing more youthful skin. I talked about why I added SkinCeuticals Glycolic 10 Renew Overnight Serum to my nightly routine. Note: Don't use Retinol and Glycolic Acid together. Rotate them. For example, I use Retinol Mon/Wed. I use Glycolic Acid on Tues/Fri.
4c. HYDRATING SERUM
To intensify your hydration, even more, use The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 after retinol or glycolic acid. As I mentioned above, it is one of the best ingredients (if not the best) for hydration and soothing. Sometimes I do notice if you use too much it will pill––use sparingly on damp skin! A little goes a long way.
A richer nighttime eye cream can help improve appearance-related issues, like tiredness and fine lines. Look for a high concentration of peptides and antioxidants. I just discovered this Avocado Eye Cream with encapsulated retinol, niacinamide, and coffeeberry for brightening, firming, hydrating, and depuffing. I am obsessed!!
*Update 3/29/20: I also added Powerful-Strength Dark Circle Reducing Vitamin C Eye Serum. I rotate between the two! I have been using this for over a month now and I love it. The texture feels so rich and luxurious! It took about 2 weeks for me to notice a change but it definitely helps with the dark circles under my eyes.
If you're dealing with acne, you can apply a spot treatment next. I would avoid benzoyl peroxide, which is not only extremely drying but also an oxidizing agent. Just make sure you're using an all-over BHA, too—it's the best way to prevent breakouts, rather than trying to target them as they crop up. I love Mario Badescu Drying Lotion spot treatment it's not too overly drying.
Nighttime is when you can use a moisturizer that's richer than what you would typically use in the morning. I love Tula Day & Night cream, so moisturizing.
Don't forget your lips! A nighly lip mask is essential, which I just recently discovered. I like to use Awake Lip Therapy Lip Mask with a concentrated oil blend of olive, argan, rosehip, and raspberry seed work overtime to hydrate our lips while sleeping! It gives you baby soft lips!! Full review here.
As I said before, I am no expert on skincare, and consult your dermatologist before doing anything drastic or if you have extensive skin-care issues. However, finding and perfecting a skincare routine is a trial and error process and I hope this post will help you find a daily skincare routine perfect for you!