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I asked some of you on Instagram what your biggest frustration is when it comes to building a skincare routine and about 80% of the responses said: “What is the best order to layer my skincare products?”
In fact, I have friends that have given up on certain products because they just can’t figure out when to incorporate it into their routine. And, honestly, I get it. There’s so much information out there on how or when and if you should use a product and it’s overwhelming.
My unpopular opinion? Stop worrying about it! Sort of.
Is there a right way to layer your skincare products? Sure. There are general rules that are said to make your skincare routine most effective. But skincare isn’t one-size-fits-all, so those rules can have exceptions based on your skin’s needs.
I’m not suggesting that order doesn’t matter, but I’m tired of seeing people give up on their routines because they’re discouraged by all of the “rules” when it comes to routine order. My advice is to start basic, focus on finding products that work for your skin, and then worry about tweaking the order as you go. It will make the process a million times less stressful!
This post is meant for those of you that are just getting started on building your routine. So instead of giving you hard and fast rules to stick by, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind to figure out the best skincare order.
Tip 1: Start with a Clean Slate!
The first thing you want to do before applying any other products is to wash any makeup and dirt off your face. Makes sense so far, right?
If you wear makeup, be sure to use a makeup remover or oil-cleanser before using your gentle cleanser. My favorite makeup remover is Garnier’s Micellar Cleansing Water.
Here are some of my favorite gentle cleansers:
- CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser for normal to oily skin
CosrxLow Ph Cleanser
- Krave Beauty Matcha Hemp Hydrating Cleanser
- CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin
Tip 2: Thinnest to Thickest Rule
Ok, now your face is clean, and you’re ready to go! The best rule of thumb when applying your skincare routine is to apply it in order of thinnest to thickest (or liquid to oil) to allow the product to penetrate more easily into your skin.
Tip 3: Sunscreen Should Always be Last
This one is not a guideline, but an absolute rule! Sunscreen needs to be applied every single day, and it should always be the last step in your morning routine because anything you apply over it can reduce its effectiveness.
Here are some of my favorite face sunscreens!:
- Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream
- Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence
- Eau Thermale Avene Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
Tip 4: Start Small
Start with a very basic routine and slowly add additional products over time. This will give you time to figure out how to fit each product into your routine. As a bonus, it’s great to get into the habit of introducing new products one by one because it gives you time to tell whether a product is working for you.
Not sure how to start small? Here’s a 5-product beginner routine guideline to start with:
Tip 5: Split up your routine!
By no means do you need to apply all of your products every single day. If you have a lot of skin concerns, your routine could include many products which can make
Tip 6: AHAs and BHAs
Speaking of alternating products, let’s touch on AHAs or BHAs. So many of you asked about acid order on my Instagram this week. First things first, these are excellent products to exfoliate gently but are often too harsh to be used every day. Try to start out using them only 2 or 3 times a week to avoid over-exfoliating. And never apply them to wet skin. Ouch!
As far as routine order, this is one of the products that has rules and exceptions. I personally use my acids after my calming rosewater toner and before serums. However, if your skin is more sensitive, you might benefit from using your acids last, after moisturizer. You’ll still receive some of the exfoliating benefits, but the moisturizer will act as a barrier and can make acids less intense.
Quick note: After applying acids, some people recommend having a “wait time” of 15-20 minutes before returning to the rest of your routine. Generally, I feel that wait times come down to personal preference. But that’s a whole other thing that I’ll get into another time!
How do I apply my skincare routine?
I hope these tips were helpful and can relieve you of some stress when it comes to building your skincare routine.
I’m going to leave you with a list of how I prefer to apply my products because sometimes it’s helpful to see how other people apply their routine before building your own!
Keep in mind that my routine order may differ slightly from someone else’s. For example, some people use their exfoliating toners right after cleansing. I prefer to use a hydrating toner on my damp skin right after cleansing, and then I follow up with my exfoliating toners.
Talk to me in the comments! What is (or was) the most confusing or frustrating part about building your skincare routine?
Follow me on Instagram @Levitate.Beauty for your daily dose of skincare tips and mini reviews!