Guide To An Effective Skin Care Routine
This is probably the question I get asked the most. “What order should I apply my products in?” If you’re not applying your products in the correct order, this can minimize their effectiveness.
Depending on your skin concerns, specific products can vary, but you still want to follow this exact basic order. Just a general tip for anyone starting out in skincare, always build your products lightest to heaviest in terms of consistency. Serums first, moisturizers second, oils last. Oils may seem “light” because they don’t seemingly weigh much. But, they are actually “heavy” because of the occlusive barrier they create that we’ll discuss later in the post.
- Cleanser – You always want to start off with a clean base to apply the rest of your products on. Cleansers vary depending on your skin type and skin concerns. Avoid cleansers that are drying, such as cleansers targeted for oily skin and African black soap. Cleansers targeted towards oily skin tend to have drying ingredients which make your oily skin worse by causing it to overproduce oil.
- Exfoliating Toner – Exfoliating toners are ones with AHA/BHA that chemically exfoliate your skin. AHAs work by loosening the desmosomes that hold your skin cells together on the surface of your skin while BHA’s are similar, but they are also lipophilic meaning that they are oil soluble, therefore making them suitable for excessively oily skin, textured skin, acne, and black/whiteheads. AHAs are not oil soluble and are more suitable for concerns such as hyperpigmentation or dryness.
- Hydrator – Hydrating your skin helps the rest of your products absorb properly because it ensures that your skin’s barrier is intact. When your barrier is hydrated, your skin is able to heal itself quicker which is great if you have any kind of skin concern. You want your barrier intact so your skin can focus on healing it’s other issues whether they’re hyperpigmentation or acne. You hydrate your skin with products known as humectants which draw water from the air into your skin. Keep in mind, hydrating is not moisturizing. They are two very different steps in your routine that are codependent. These are typically your serums and gel products.
- Moisturizer – If you’re not using a moisturizer at this point…I’m just a tad bit disappointed. You should be using a moisturizer with sunscreen every morning. And a heavier moisturizer at night when environmental factors are not affecting your skin as severely as they do during the day and your skin can really get a chance to deeply absorb the product.
- Sunscreen: Sunscreen is the absolute most important part of your daily routine. If you’re not wearing it, your routine is essentially null and void. Sun damage is the primary factor of premature aging and black people have one of the highest, if not the highest, mortality rates when it comes to skin cancer because many of us believe we don’t need sun protection. Everyone needs sunscreen. Literally everyone. Sunscreen should be the last step of your morning routine. You also need to be reapplying it every two hours to make sure your skin stays protected. (Related: Is Sunscreen Necessary Even in the Winter?) If you’re wearing makeup and can’t reapply sunscreen, here are my favorite setting sprays with SPF. Personally, I prefer the Coola one but the Supergoop is great as well.
Optional Targeted Treatments:
- Masks – When using sheet masks, you want to use them after cleansing your skin but before toning and moisturizing. You use them prior to toning and moisturizing. Ensure that you pat in the essence before continuing your routine.
- Acne Spot Treatment – Acne treatments are to be applied following your moisturizer, but before any oils.
- Serums – Always layer your products lightest to heaviest. Serums go first in your routine (after your toner) because they are typically watery and absorb into the skin much quicker. If applied on top of a moisturizer they are not as effective because they won’t absorb as deep. Also, most serums are hydrating and therefore need to go first.
- Face oils – Oils should always be the last step in your routine. Oils create an occlusive barrier that does not allow anything in or out. Applying them before any other products means those products will essentially just sit on your skin because the oils won’t let them in.
Tip: Use carrier oils only. If you must use an essential oil, make sure to dilute with a carrier oil as essential oils are volatile and can burn/irritate your skin!
Comment below what steps are in your skincare routine!
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What about acids? like the glycolic pads or BHA peels
Though acids technically are natural, many people consider them to be chemicals. But these can fit right into an "all natural" routine just fine!
Is it safe to use a glycolic acid cleanser in the same routine as a retinol serum? I have the retinoid set from The Ordinary and I don't want to damage my skin by using both simultaneously. Thanks in advance, love your blog!
Hi Natasha! I wouldn't be able to say yes or no because I don't know your skin's condition and your concerns. To be safe, I would say not to use both in the same routine. Alternate days.