This post may contain affiliate links; see site footer for more details.
Do you ever find yourself in the skincare aisle, mulling over ingredient labels and feeling like you missed a language class in school?
Hyaluronic. Niacinamide. Retinol.
Or maybe you slept through chemistry – Glycolic acid? Benzoyl peroxide?
And then once you get home, you’ve gotta put on your lab coat – because there’s a *science* to applying skincare, and it’s apparently more than just throwing on whatever you picked up and calling it a day. As soon as I got more into skincare, I quickly learned that it’s more science than art – and there IS a “right” way to make it happen. An order of operations, just like good ol’ PEMDAS back in the middle school day. 😉 Why? Because different ingredients react differently with your skin – and with each other! – based on how they’re applied. Or rather, when. In what order. SO.
Let’s get schooled on the *actually* correct order to apply your skincare products, start to finish (with the help from my friends at Olay!). A general rule of thumb to always remember: light to heavy! Once we finish cleansing and begin to layer on product, start with the lightest formula and end with the heaviest.
- Cleanser. First thing’s first – girl, wash yo’ face! 😉 Alwaysalwaysalways start with a fresh face + clean base. I also always pair my cleanser with a device to aid in washing, for a true cleanse. This is what I was every morning for a gentle clean, whereas I use this for something more intense (especially after a day of full makeup) and my Clarisonic for a deeeeeeep clean.
- Exfoliation. My Dew Puff, FOREO, + Clarisonic do the trick here for manual exfoliation to help deepen that clean. Alternatively, a chemical exfoliant will help brighten your skin tone in time by removing dead skin cells. Look for ingredients like alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids, lactic acid, and/or glycolic acid here – it makes *such* a visible difference on the overall texture + tone of your skin.
- Toner. Finishes up your cleansing process by removing any remaining dirt/gunk in your pores. Apply via cotton pad, especially around your T-zone, to really clarify your complexion. Also doesn’t have to be harsh slash only for oilier girls! I have toners in my own skincare collection that are called “hydrating toners,” or are specifically formulated for dry skin, or for redness relief, etc. Not all toners are created equal (heck, none of any skincare product type is created equal…!), so read yo’ labels + do yo’ research accordingly!
- Essence/treatment. If you’re applying an essence (a more concentrated formula that increases cell turnover to specifically hit fine lines, wrinkles, + overall skin tone), do that now. Otherwise, now’s the time to apply any other “treatment” products, which is especially helpful/relevant at nighttime. Spot treatments for breakouts (think salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide) should come next, or any sort of acid treatment or retinol product. *Note: ONLY apply your retinols at night, since they break down from daylight or oxygen exposure – they can do more harm than good if worn in the day!
- Favorite essence (it’s supposedly a perfect dupe to the pricier SK-II essence!)
- Serum. Basically, a waaaaaay more concentrated, nutrient-rich treatment formulated to address specific skin concerns you’re having. Whether you’re needing firming, softening, brightening, tightening, hydrating, anti-aging, acne-fighting, regenerating or repairing – there’s a serum for that.
- Eye creams. They’re thinner than your average moisturizer, so they come first – which I didn’t know for the *longest* time! Pat your eye cream on gently using your ring finger – NOT your index finger – to ensure you’re being geeeeentle on your eye’s fragile skin.
- Moisturizer. Even if you’ve got oily skin (hollah!), you’ve gotta moisturize, girlfriend! I’ve mentioned quiiiiiite a few times how my favorite drugstore moisturizer is Olay Whips. They came out with some *fascinating* research recently (which is so stinkin’ cool – and was awesome to see/learn about firsthand when I visited Olay’s skin labs in Ohio a few months back!) from a study that said 40% of women want skin care products that are fragrance-free. Totally understandable – we want pure products that #werk, and fragrance just ain’t for everybody! Anytime you’re applying moisturizer, go upwards + outwards to prevent pulling your skin or causing more wrinkles (whoops).
- Olay Regenerist Whip fragrance-free, featuring the same light-as-air formula, sans any smell. It’s formulated with niacinamide (vitamin B3) + an advanced amino peptide complex to actively hydrate, diminish the look of any fine lines/wrinkles, + improve your skin’s elasticity for a lifted, firmer complexion. #BlessUp. This is a *great* moisturizer to have in your skincare/makeup routine, because of its smooth matte finish; if ya remember my everyday makeup routine video awhile back, I did a lil’ demo to show y’all how it literally absorbs instantly, so there’s no wait between finishing up your skincare routine and applying your face makeup. So, no excuses to not hydrate yo’ skin, girlfriend! 😉
- Facial oil. Any sorta oil goes on *after* your moisturizer – not before! Oil can penetrate through moisturizer, but moisturizer can’t penetrate through oil. Trippy, amiright??? So put oil on *overtop* before applying…
- SPF. Another everyday must! Just like you’ve gotta go with moisturizer even if you don’t feel “dry,” you’ve gotta go with SPF even if it doesn’t feel “sunny” outside. But they’
- Olay Total Effects Whips with SPF25 also now comes fragrance-free! It’s basically a 7-in-1 multi-tasking product to bring you brighter, healthier-looking skin, with that UVA/UVB protection added to the classic Whippy-feeling formula.
Have you tried new Olay Regenerist fragrance-free Whips yet?
If you have – or if you’ve tried ANY Whips! – I wanna hear your thoughts! BONUS – Olay Regenerist Whip fragrance-free is available at Walgreens, so you can grab it on your next drugstore run!
Hope you learned #AllTheThings in today’s post. I 100% let my nerd out, and I ain’t ashamed one bit. 😉 If you’ve got any Q’s on the correct order to apply your skincare products, drop ’em in a comment below!
*Thanks to Olay, a brand I lovelovelove, for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions + thoughts presented are entirely my own. Thank YOU for supporting the brands that support Coming Up Roses!