Steps to Healthy Skin: How to Apply Your Skincare in the Correct Order

As I’ve gotten older, skincare has suddenly become much more important. I’m one of those lucky girls that listened to her mom as a teen and wore sunscreen (something that I am now very happy about!), so I’m often mistaken for much younger than I am. That’s a situation I want to continue!

So while I have a pretty decent approach to anti-aging skincare, I’m always looking for ways to optimize my routine. Did you know one of the easiest ways to get the most out of your routine is to apply your skincare in the correct order? It’s true! You can dramatically affect the absorption and efficacy of your expensive skincare products just by applying them in the correct (or incorrect) order.

  • Skincare Has A Correct Order? 1 of 8

    Luckily, figuring out how to apply your skincare in the right order is pretty easy! There are some general rules to follow, and only a few easy to understand exceptions. Applying your skincare in the correct order will help you to maximize your results and get your money's worth.

  • General Order 2 of 8

    When putting on your skincare, keep in mind that the whole point is allowing products and ingredients to absorb into the skin so they'll reach the location that you want them to work. This means that you should apply the products in the order that allows each product to penetrate the skin; those that are occlusive and prevent absorption of other products should come last.


    Start with lightweight or thin products first. Water-based products come before oils, thin serums before lotions, and then thicker creams and ointments.


    Osmia Organics Facial Restoration Serum $60
    RoC Multi Correxion 5 in 1 Eye Cream $27.99
    Kiehl's Super Multi-Corrective Cream $62

  • Tie Breaker 3 of 8

    Are you using two products with a similar consistency and you're not sure which to apply first? Look at the ingredients. The one with more active ingredients that you want to treat your skin with should go on first.


    With the two products above, they're both water-based and have a lightweight lotion consistency. However, the First Aid Beauty Serum packs more punch with active ingredients, while the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Lotion is primarily a very simple moisturizer. You should apply the serum before the moisturizer.


    First Aid Beauty Dual Repair Power Serum $48
    Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Lotion $26

  • Time of Day 4 of 8

    Not every product should be applied whenever you feel like it. The old adage of "beauty sleep" really is true! Your skin does restore itself while you are asleep, and many products will be able to be more effective while applied at night. As well, some active ingredients, such as retinoids, are inactivated by sunlight. In order to keep them active on your skin as long as possible, apply them right before bed.

  • Medications 5 of 8

    If you are using a medication to treat your skin, especially if it has been prescribed by a physician, that needs to be applied first. These are the ingredients that you should be most concerned about regarding penetration, and they should always take precedence over other products.

  • Sunscreen 6 of 8

    The order in which you apply your sunscreen can be a bit flexible, but in general depends upon the type of sunsceen you are using. A physical sunscreen (with the active ingredients Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide) will sit on the surface of the skin and reflect sun away from the skin; therefore, it should be applied after your skincare but before your makeup. All other sunscreen ingredients are chemical sunscreens and need to be absorbed, so should be applied first if possible.


    Note that with sunscreen reapplication, you shouldn't have to remove all of your makeup first. Most dermatologists agree that it is fine to reapply with a chemical sunscreen, though a physical sunscreen would be able to work better when applied over other products.

  • Silicones 7 of 8

    Dimethicone and other related "-cones" show up pretty often in skincare. They help to create the slippery, silky feeling that we love in skincare! Silicones also create a barrier over your skin to help hold in moisture and prevent irritation, which can be very helpful for dry or irritated skin. Unfortunately, that silicone barrier prevents other products from penetrating fully into the skin. Because of these properties, you'll typically find silicones in products that are applied toward the end of your skincare routine.


    First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer $22
    Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 $14.99
    Murad Perfecting Day Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 $49

  • Application 8 of 8

    When applying your skincare, use enough product to cover your face in a light and even layer. Don't be overly aggressive in application; you want the product to absorb on its own. If you wait a few minutes in between each product, you should be fine.

Read more from Christine on Babble and her blog, 15 Minute Beauty. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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