With dozens of products and steps out there, and likely on your shelf, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. I tend to like keeping things simple (which, admittedly, for me is still typically about 5-6 steps). An easy way to remember the order of your skin routine is to think thinnest to thickest, as thinner products generally can’t penetrate through thicker. Usually, this order works for both day and night routines, but that doesn’t mean the products for day and night are the same! Your morning routine will differ from your nighttime routine due to specific active ingredients involved, and when they work more effectively for your skin.
Step One: Cleanse
This is the first thing you should do when you wake up and the last thing before bed. You want fresh, clean skin to apply your products to allow for optimal absorption and effectiveness. Don’t forget, always take off that makeup!
Step Two: Prescriptions/Treatment Products
You should typically apply these right after cleansing because you want the most from your medicated treatments. In those prone to acne and/or rosacea, a pea-sized amount of your medication will cover the entire face. I recommend taking a pea-sized amount on your finger and dotting the 5 major areas of the face (forehead, both cheeks, nose and chin) and then massaging in. If your condition is more limited in scope, decrease the amount and apply to affected areas accordingly.
Step Three: Serums
These are often in dropper bottles or dispensers and are on the lighter side. Serums are great because they’re usually packed with higher concentrations of actives, like antioxidants, to help fend off free radicals, and growth factors that help repair and regenerate damaged skin.
Step Four: Eye Cream
With eye cream, a little goes a long way! We recommend using an amount about the size of a grain of rice, and applying with your ring finger (as it’s more gentle). It’s also important to note that different eye concerns need different active ingredients. (more on this in our Dark Circles blog).
Step Five: Moisturizer
I recommend going with a lighter-based moisturizer in the day to avoid feeling oily, and going with a heavier one at night to really boost that hydration while you sleep. Moisturizer helps to seal in all those great steps you just went through, as well as protecting the natural barrier of your skin. If this is the last step of your morning routine (which it shouldn’t be!), opt for a moisturizer with a minimum of SPF 30. Side note: I will always, always recommend applying a true sunscreen after moisturizer in everyone’s morning skincare routine. I would even skip moisturizer and replace it with a moisturizing sunscreen if you’re looking to cut down on steps!
Step Six: Sunscreen (morning) vs Retinoid (night)
The SPF in your moisturizer/foundation/CC cream is NOT enough. If you found your way to this article, you clearly care about your skin - and you likely care about avoiding premature aging, preventing dark marks and scars, and skin cancer.These days, there are so many to choose from. Of course, our favorite is Energizing Day Moisturizer SPF30. Fortunately, the old excuses of the white cast left behind, or being too oily or too thick are no more. Sunscreen technology has advanced and there are so many different versions, not only in ingredients but application technique as well. Ultimately, I recommend an SPF 30 at a minimum and don’t forget to reapply every few hours!
The Vitamin A derived miracle cream that does it all - anti-wrinkle, anti-dark spot, mild chemical peel, increased cell turnover and collagen production all rolled into one! Anything that can do all that clearly packs a punch, which is why I recommend this as the last step for any new retinoid users. For my retinoid novices, this product, while amazing, can easily irritate skin (read: red, dry, scaly). Slow and steady wins the race here! Start with a pea-sized amount for the full face twice a week (non-consecutive days) and increase by one night every 1-2 weeks as tolerated. As your skin adjusts, you may be able to move this from being applied after moisturizer to before, but again, measure depending on your individual dryness.
And there’s the most effective order of your skincare routine, for both morning and night!