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The correct order to apply skincare for the best results – Cleveland Clinic

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There are so many skin care products to choose from. How do you decide which ones are best for your skin? And in what order should they be applied? It’s a lot of trying to figure it out for yourself.

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Cosmetic and surgical dermatologist Kiyanna Williams, MD, is here to help you figure out how to start a daily routine tailored to your skin’s unique needs.

Why ordering your skincare products is important

The order in which you apply each product dictates your skin’s ability to absorb it, so you should apply them according to how much each product weighs on your skin.

“Generally you want to go from light to heavy,” says Dr. Williams. “If you’re using a very thin, lightweight lotion, start there. “Then you follow with your cream, then a serum, if you’re using one.”

But it’s a little more complicated than that.

“It gets very specific as to what things can be mixed with what,” says Dr. Williams. “If you have a lot of products and a lot of questions, you should make an appointment with a dermatologist.”

The correct order for applying skin care products

First of all, you don’t need a medicine cabinet full of rows and rows of skin care products.

“I think it’s best to cut it back to the basics,” says Dr. Williams. “Most people don’t need more than two products, and there’s usually no need for multiple serums or toners or multiples of the same product.”

Still, it can be overwhelming analyzing all the many skin care products on the market and trying to figure out how to use them all. Dr. Williams walks you through a basic skincare routine for day and night and what each should include.

Your morning skincare routine

Rise and Shine! As you and your fresh face start the day, a simple and straightforward skincare routine is best. In fact, just three products should do the trick for most people.

1. Cleanser

Sorry to break it to you, but no, these cleansing wipes do not count as washing your face. If you’re traveling or in a hurry, it’s better than nothing – but as a general rule, cleanup should involve water.

To choose the best cleanser for you, consider your skin type. “If your face is prone to dryness, avoid foaming cleansers,” advises Dr. Williams, “and if your skin is sensitive, look for cleansers that say ‘mild’ or ‘for sensitive skin’.”

She recommends avoiding cleansers with physical exfoliants, like microbeads or other gritty-textured products, as they can cause irritation and inflammation. “Instead, I recommend chemical exfoliants, which contain ingredients like glycolic acid,” she says. “These provide a more gentle and even exfoliation.”

2. Sunscreen

If there is a fountain of youth for the skin, it is sunscreen. But if you think you’re ready because you’re wearing a moisturizer with SPF, think again. It’s not enough to protect your skin, says Dr. Williams.

“I recommend an SPF of 30 or more every day of the year, even in the winter,” she continues. “Then if you know you’re going to be sunbathing or golfing or the beach or whatever, put on an SPF 50 or higher.”

Try a tinted mineral sunscreen, which doesn’t have the thick, cakey consistency you might think of when considering applying sunscreen to your face.

3. Moisturizing

The older you get, the drier your skin becomes. The moisturizer is an opportunity to give back to your skin some of what it has lost.

“As you age, you want to replace some of the moisture you lose,” says Dr. Williams. “Moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acids and ceramides can be helpful in replacing some of that moisture.”

Wait, what about the toner?

These astringents are believed to help shrink pores. If you use one, apply it after cleansing, as a second step to prep your face for sunscreen and moisturizer, but you probably don’t need it.

“Unfortunately, there’s really nothing you can put on your face that’s going to shrink your pores,” notes Dr. Williams, “so I’m indifferent to toners.”

Your evening skincare routine

You can skip sunscreen at night, when for the most part, Dr. Williams still recommends minimal products. Here are her tips on how to take care of your skin before you call it a day.

wash the day

Again, makeup remover wipes won’t do the trick. Before bed, use a cleanser and water to remove dirt and grime from the day.

Moisturize again

Some people use two types of moisturizers: a lighter day cream and a thicker night cream. “Some people don’t like that heavy feeling on their face during the day, when they’re not as aware of it when they’re sleeping,” says Dr. Williams.

Night is retinol time

Products that contain retinols (vitamin A) and retinoids (which are derived from vitamin A) increase cell turnover, giving your skin that youthful glow.

But these products should only be applied in the evening. “Some of them can be turned off by the sun, so it’s important that you wear them at night,” Dr. Williams points out.

Tendency to imperfections

Trying to tackle a pimple overnight? “Products containing benzoyl peroxide are my favorite,” says Dr. Williams. “Dab some benzoyl peroxide cream or retinoid cream on it to help dry it out.”

Pimple patches — small hydrocolloid stickers that you place on a pimple overnight — can be helpful on blemishes that you’ve accidentally picked or that have popped on their own and are still healing.

Face masks: good but not so useful

Face masks (not the COVID-19 type) help rehydrate your face. “Think of your skin as a grape versus a raisin,” says Dr. Williams. “If you put a raisin in water for a while, it will start to swell. This is essentially what face masks aim to do. It’s unclear how useful they really are, but if you want to plump up your raisin after a night out, it can’t hurt.

Beware of skincare products that claim to work miracles

Some people spend a lot of money and effort on products that say they can do things like prevent wrinkles and get rid of dark circles. But Dr. Williams says don’t be fooled by the promise of a panacea.

“Generally, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t,” she says. “Products exist to solve these and other problems, but if you see a product promising to do things that don’t seem very reasonable, it probably won’t work.”

Instead, she recommends making an appointment with a dermatologist so you can determine what’s best for you. your skin. “If you’re feeling bogged down, your dermatologist can review individual products’ specific active ingredients and clinical data to support their use.”

For more from Dr. Williams on this, listen to the Health Essentials podcast episode “How to Start a Skincare Routine.” New episodes of the Health Essentials podcast are released every Wednesday.