When we spend so much money on our skincare regime, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than feeling like our skin isn’t bringing its A-game. But something as simple as the order that you apply your skincare products can actually make a huge difference to your skin. We know it seems crazy militant, but if you don’t apply your serums and moisturizers in a specific order, you’re seriously disenabling them from doing their job properly.
The most important thing is to ensure your skin is completely clean before you apply any hydrating lotions or oils. The general rule is to apply the most lightweight formulas first so they can be easily absorbed without the barrier of heavier creams.
After each skincare layer, give your skin time to absorb the product, this will also mean when you’re layering your products they won’t pill – those tiny little balls you get when you’ve used too much product. Work your skincare into your morning and evening routine, so brush your teeth between steps, give your makeup sponge a wash, whatever you’re doing that will give your skin a little extra time to absorb products in between steps.
How to Layer Your Skincare Products Like a Pro
Step 1: Cleanser
Cleansing should remove any makeup or dirt from your skin while also adding a burst of hydration, and if you wear makeup, you should definitely be double cleansing. To double cleanse, start with a cleansing oil (the most nourishing way to remove any makeup as they’re free from harsh chemicals, soaps, and parabens), then use a foam or gel cleanser (or whichever best suits your skin type). It sounds extra, but it will make sure there’s absolutely no makeup or dirt on your skin before you continue the rest of your regime.
Extra Step: Mask or Exfoliate
Once your skin is completely clean, now is the time to do any extra steps in your routine, like a clay mask or peel-off mask or exfoliating your skin. (Check out our fave new, skin-transforming exfoliator, the WISHFUL Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub). If you want to use a sheet mask, you should do this after you’ve toned your skin (as it’s essentially a serum step).
Step 2: Toner
Toning is super important as it removes any grime or makeup residue that your cleanser wouldn’t budge, plus any minerals or chlorine from your water. It will also instantly tighten your pores and help restore your skin’s pH levels for a more even skin tone. For more guidance on choosing the right toner for your skin type, check out our toner guide here.
Step 3: Essence
If you use an essence in your skincare routine, now is the time to apply. Essences are like a more hydrating, thicker toner. Essences are patted into the skin and can have amazing hydrating and healing properties. Find out all about essences here
Extra Steps: Sheet Mask or Spot Treatment
Sheet Masks are an incredibly powerful way to hydrate your skin. Essentially sheets are soaked in a potent serum that will help to rejuvenate, brighten, and nourish your skin, which seal everything in allowing the ingredients to penetrate your skin more efficiently.
Our new WISHFUL Thirst Trap Cocoon Mask, $9, is made with a double-layer-fiber technology that allows each mask to hold significantly more of the powerful vitamin-rich essence than a conventional sheet mask. A potent cocktail of Hollyhock Rose Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, and Aloe Vera, means dry, dehydrated skin is instantly transformed.
Spot Treatment: Apply your spot treatment now so it can absorb properly and start working its magic. Allow a few minutes before moving on to your next step.
Step 4: Serum
Serums are lightweight formulas and contain high concentrations of active ingredients. The formula is made up of smaller molecules that are absorbed into the skin at a much deeper level. This makes serums ideal if you’re trying to target a specific skincare issue, like acne, fine lines or dry skin. Like essences (which are basically a thinner ‘more watery’ version of serums), you only need a small amount – about the size of two pomegranate seeds!
Step 5: Eye Cream
Eye creams can brighten under eyes, reduce puffiness, and add an extra hit of moisture. Depending on the formula it may look like a serum or a thick moisturizer, but now is the time to apply it, as there are fewer ‘barriers’ for it to get through, and it can be absorbed more easily! Always apply your eye cream with your fourth finger in a tapping motion, as this is the weakest finger so you won’t tug or pull the delicate skin. We also love to keep our eye cream in the fridge; it’s the ultimate eye wake-up call in the mornings! Check out our fave eye creams for dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines here.
Tip: If your eye cream contains retinol, you can apply after your moisturizer, as this will lower the risk of it irritating the skin.
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Step 6: Moisturizer
Hydrated skin is glowing skin, so NEVER skip your moisturizer. The right moisturizer will hydrate, replenish, restore your skin’s pH levels, and nourish and repair any issues like dry, flaky skin. But it’s also essential that you choose one with the right formula and ingredient list for your skin type. Like if you have dry skin, you need a really rich formula, but if you have acne-prone or oily skin, a gel formula will be your best friend. For our top tips on how to choose the right one, read our moisturizer guide.
How Much Formula Should You Use?
Step 7: Facial Oil
Without a doubt one of the most powerful potions on your shelf, the small molecular structure of face oils allows them to penetrate deeper into your skin and hydrate at a much deeper level. They also repair and plump your skin, and feed it with amazing natural vitamins. Oil needs to go last because it will create a protective barrier on your skin and lock in water, if not applied last, it could block your other skincare products from penetrating. If you’re on the oily skin list, we recommend only using your face oil at night. Find out how to choose a face oil here.
For our guide on how to pick the right oil, check out our guide here. We like The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane – it combines an amazing natural oil (squalane) and a form of retinol, which is the ultimate anti-aging ingredient. You can also make your own face oils for a fraction of the price, check out our DIY tutorial here. You can also skip this step for daytime if you’re using a moisturizer, and go straight to the SPF.
Step 8: Sunscreen
For daytime, sunscreen is THE most important step, even during the winter months. Applying a good sunscreen every morning will protect your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays. An SPF will sit on the surface of your skin acting as a protective barrier against the sun, so you should always apply it last. Check out our fave suncreens here, and our tip for applying sunscreen over your makeup here – remember you need to reapply SPF every two hours.
From this point on you’re officially ready to start applying your makeup!