Every time I post about a skincare product or talk about my skincare routine on Instagram, someone always pops up in my DMs asking what order is best to apply products. This is a topic that is debated quite a bit, and I don’t want to claim to have all the answers in this department, but I have learned a thing or two over the years so I thought it’d be a good post to share.
I also want to add that skincare is a really personal thing and it’s probably going to look a little different for everyone. With that said, don’t look at this as hard and fast rules – especially if your derm tells you something different specific to your skin. Think of it more as a guideline based on what has worked for me.
I’m anxious to know if this is the order you guys use for your routines or if you do something different? If you do use a different order, share in the comments so we can all learn! xx Ashley
CLEANSE + EXFOLIATE
I know a lot of people get most excited about the actives and the specialized products that brighten or treat wrinkles, etc., but my favorite part of my routine is cleansing. Cleansing is the part of my routine I look forward to most because it instantly makes me feel fresh. Like my skin can breathe again after wearing makeup all day. This is definitely where you want to start your routine.
Personally, I love double-cleansing. If you’re not sure what this means, I wrote about it here and here, but the short version is that I have acne-prone skin and have found double cleansing helps me keep breakouts at bay. One cleanser simply cleans my skin and then I might choose a more treatment-focused one for the second cleanse – like this brightening cleanser which helps a lot with acne scarring. Plus it guarantees that every last trace of makeup, build-up and dead skin is removed, which I love. I’m also a fan of this Clarifying Foam (super gentle and makes my skin feel so soft) or Calendula Gel Cleanser (the best bang for your buck and GREAT for sensitive skin).
A lot of people prefer to skip toning and go straight to actives or moisturizing, but I’m a big advocate for toners. Their purpose is to help balance the pH level of your skin – I’m no scientist, but that sounds important so I make sure to do it. I’m currently using this toner, but have heard lots of good things about this brand’s toner as well. The key is to find one that doesn’t make your skin feel stripped and overly tight. It might take some trial and error because everyone’s skin is different, but I think it makes a difference to have this step in your routine.
OK, if you’re a serum or overnight peel girl, this is the section you’ve been waiting for. This is the part that makes skincare routines so personal. The treatment step is there for you to really assess your skin and give it what it needs. Some prefer anti-aging, others focus on brightening and evening skin tone, etc. Like I said, it’s going to be different for everyone. I prefer to use something to help brighten since I have some scarring and love this vitamin c serum paired with this hyaluronic acid (I do a few drops of each, mix and press into my skin). If texture is a concern, I bought this resurfacing compound back in November and it has significantly helped with acne and uneven skin tone. If you like retinol-type products, this would be a great alternative. I use 4-5 times a week.
My esthetician has also used this concentrated serum on me and I always love how my skin looks after I see her. She gave me a little sample but I’m going to buy a full size when I run out of my other stuff.
So, if you have an active (the products that have specific ingredients in them that can visibly transform your skin) in your routine, this is when you want to apply it. Your skin is fresh and clean and anything you apply to it at this point is being applied directly on the surface. If you apply your active after you moisturize, a barrier has already formed between your skin and the active so it won’t be near as effective, which is why moisturizing always comes last.
Last but not least, finally, you moisturize. Like I said above, you want to be sure to do this step last because moisturizers and facial oils, whichever you prefer (if you like to use both, I’d put the lotion on first, then the oil), create a barrier that really seals all your products in. My favorite kind of facial moisturizer is a water-based lotion (really like this one too). It works well with my acne-prone and sensitive skin. I also add on an eye balm (15% off with code ASHLEYR) because what thirty-something doesn’t love a good eye treatment? And if it’s the morning, don’t forget to add an SPF to finish things off!