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When it comes to skincare, order matters

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

Caring for skin can be daunting. We are in the age of elaborate multi-step skincare routines, with individual products each serving a special purpose. Toners, exfoliants, serums… it can be difficult to understand why, how, and in what order we should integrate each into our skincare routine. Luckily, we’ve demystified the process so you don’t have to. 

Why does sequence matter? In order to make sure that you are getting the most out of all your skincare products, it’s necessary to apply them in an order such that your skin can reap the benefits. The golden rule is to start with the thinnest layers (like toners) first and end with face oils. The rationale is simple to understand: thinner products cannot penetrate thicker layers. If applied after heavier oils and serums, thin products will not be able to benefit your skin. Face oils are the final step because they help lock in all of the other products you just applied and can easily penetrate them to help your skin.

When Do I Use What? The first order of business is to determine when to use each product. An easy rule to remember: your morning routine should protect your skin for the day ahead while your nighttime routine should be more focused on repairing and revitalizing your skin. Even on a cloudy day, your skin is exposed to harmful rays that can damage skin and lead to premature aging. For this reason, it is important to incorporate SPF into your skincare routine in the morning and forgo any products that would harm skin with exposure to sunlight. Your skin repairs itself the most at night, especially when you are sleeping. This is the best time to use products meant to restore skin to its optimal condition. 

The simple list of order is as follows:

1. Cleanser

Why use: Cleansers are what you use to wash your face of any makeup, dirt, and other toxins before lathering on skincare products. It’s important to make sure skin is clean before moving on to the next step. We've recently partnered with the producer of a fabulously fresh facial cleanser that is easy on skin.

When to use: Morning and night, before applying any other skincare product 

2. Exfoliant

Why use: To remove dead skin cells and boost absorption of moisturizing skincare products. This step is especially important for skin prone to blemishes and clogged pores (goodbye tiny forehead bumps!). Using a gentle physical exfoliant like our sugar scrubs on the face is a great alternative to microplastic exfoliants, which have harmful environmental side-effects. If a scrub seems too aggressive for your skin or if you need to shrink pore size and remove blackheads, use a clay face mask as a gentle exfoliant and deep cleanser. 

When to use: Exfoliate in the morning to brighten dull or dry skin and in the evening to slough off dirt and dead skin. Most aestheticians say that it’s best to exfoliate your face about twice a week. 

3. Toner

Why use: Use a toner to hydrate and balance your skin’s pH level for even complexion. Ingredients like witch hazel and lavender have antibacterial properties that can help unclog pores and prevent breakouts. Our Lovely Lavender, Brain Boost, and Cheerful Citrus aromatherapy sprays double as toners to prep skin for the next step. 

When to use: At least once a day, morning or night, or both! 

4. Serums, Eye Cream, & Spot Treatments 

Why use: Serums are complementary to your skincare routine and are often made up of formulas rich in vitamin A and C, containing antioxidants, nutrients, and hydrating ingredients. Eye creams are used to reduce puffiness around the under-eye area and reduce fine lines. Spot treatments may be used for pimples, dark spots, or scars and should be applied before moisturizing for the best results. 

When to use: Use brightening serums in the morning and repairing serums at night, at the frequently directed. Eye cream can be applied once or twice a day. Use spot treatments at night, when your skin is working its hardest to heal and repair itself. 

5. Moisturizer 

Why use: Moisturizers are important to restore the skin’s water and oil content, leaving it smooth and hydrated-looking. It’s important to moisturize even if you have oily skin, as unmoisturized oily skin becomes more oily with time. Moisturizers also lock in all the products on underneath it, making sure they work even more effectively. Some of our favorite facial moisturizers are Lucious for normal to dry skin, Balancing Act for combination skin, and Wrinkle Free for mature skin. Infused with essential oils and herbs, all of our moisturizing facial oils also act as nutrient-rich serums. 

When to use: Use in the morning and at night. 

6. Sunscreen

Why use: Sunscreen is the last step to any skincare routine before stepping outside. It protects your skin from harmful UV rays and prevents premature aging. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen over 30 SPF that blocks out both UVA and UVB rays and is easy to apply over your moisturizer. 

When to use: Use every morning, even when it is cloudy outside. If you plan on being outdoors for extended periods of time, don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours or as directed.  

It’s important that you may have to adjust your skincare routine as needed, depending on the season or to your skin’s needs. If you need more guidance on how to deal with skin during the winter months, learn more here

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