Applying skin care products in the correct order makes them more potent and prevents them from blocking each other. For example, if you apply oil before a moisturizer, the large molecular size of the oil prevents the moisturizer from ever reaching the skin, thereby rendering it useless. By learning how to layer skincare products correctly, you can maximize the benefits of your skin care regimen, prevent wasting products, and ensure that they work together synergistically. This outlines how to use small molecular-size products that can penetrate the skin deeply and move on to larger molecular sizes that will sit closer to the surface of the skin or atop it.
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Step One: Oil Cleanser & Makeup Removal
Think of cleansers as the reset button for your skin. I like to use two or three different cleansers when I wash my face at night. First, I use an oil cleanser to remove any leftover makeup, sweat, or other impurities. I like this manuka honey-infused oil cleanser from Annmarie and this oil cleanser from Tata Harper.
Effectively cleansing the skin prevents blemishes and ensures nothing like sweat, dirt, or other pollutants stands between me and my skincare regimen.
Step Two: Cream Cleanser
For this step, I use a wildcrafted aloe-based cleanser. If I’m in a rush, this is the only one I use. I use all three cleansers when I have the time, and my skin feels incredible!
Step Three: Exfoliate
Exfoliating helps remove dead skin cells, which can block the skin’s absorption of skin care products and create a rough, dull complexion. By gently removing these excess skin cells, products work more efficiently, complexions look brighter, and skin feels softer.
This one is labeled as another cleanser, but it’s a great, gentle exfoliator. This kaolin green clay exfoliator works exceptionally well too. I’ll use both when I want a non-chemical exfoliant or on days when my skin feels dull.
Step Four: Toner
Toners help to remove anything left behind from cleansers while repairing the skin’s natural barriers and defenses. This is the perfect prep step to help prepare the skin to better absorb the products that follow, balance the skin’s pH, and enhance skin hydration levels. My favorite toner is this antioxidant-infused one from The Organic Skin Co.
Step Five: Essence
Essences are like power boosters for the skin. They can help even out complexions, prevent and reverse signs of aging, and deliver intense hydration levels to the skin. Select an essence that works best for your skin’s needs. This hydrating floral essence smells amazing and helps my skin feel incredibly soft and moisturized. I also love this one with organic immortelle that reduces redness in my skin. You can use multiple essences if your skin needs an extra pick-me-up.
Step Six: Serum
Serums are more concentrated forms of essence that act as treatments for the skin. Use these to directly treat problem areas and think of them like spot treatments.
Step Eight: Eye Cream
Eye creams help hydrate, de-puff, and reduce signs of stress, strain, and aging. This eye cream is handmade in small batches in Vermont and does all of this while smelling amazing and being all-natural. I like to use eye drops and a cold compress and then treat the skin around my eyes with the above eye cream when I have the time to do so. It leaves me feeling fresh, rejuvenated, and energized, and reduces dark circles and fine lines.
Step Nine: Moisturizer
Moisturizers deliver hydration to the skin and seal it to prevent tightness, pain, itchiness, and dryness. I like to layer on several moisturizers in the winter as I tend to have dry skin. This silicone-free moisturizer smells like a flower shop, and it’s refillable. This organic moisturizer is excellent for anti-aging, and this one is organic, balancing, and smells like honeysuckle!
Pro Tip: I like to keep moisturizers and eye creams in my beauty fridge. The cool temperature constricts blood vessels and reduces redness and puffiness. Plus, it feels particularly nice in warm weather!
Step Ten: Face Oil
Contrary to popular belief, non-comedogenic oils do not clog pores or make skin oilier. Instead, the large molecular size of facial oils helps them seal in hydration even better than moisturizers and helps prevent skin care products from evaporating. They can also calm oily skin to help them stop overproducing sebum, which means less shiny skin in the long run.
This wildcrafted facial oil is very light and great for those with sensitive skin, and it’s my favorite. It smells like lavender and I like to use it before bed. This is the organic facial oil I use in the morning, because it’s energizing and smells like honeysuckle and citrus. This organic tinted facial oil comes in three shades and smells incredible, plus it’s great for sensitive skin.
Step Eleven: Sunscreen
Sunsscreen protects skin from UV damage that can cause premature gaining, wrinkles, dark spots, uneven skin tone, and even skin cancer. I’ve tried dozens of sunscreen throughout my life and I’ve found most of them to be sticky, greasy, smell offputting, and some even leave a white cast on my skin. This sunscreen from Annmarie works exceptionally well and is very gentle on my skin without being sticky, discoloring, or anything else like that, and it smells incredible. it’s SPF 20, so it’s great for every day wear.
If you’re going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time, this one by Josie Maran (SPF 47) works very well. This Indie Lee sunscreen (SPF 30) also works well, but it does leave a whitecast on my skin, so if you have a darker complexion I wouldn’t recommend this.