One question we get asked a lot is about the correct order of your skin care routine. And we get it: Figuring out the right order of your products when the difference between serum and moisturizer can make your head spin can be a challenge.
And as much as we wish we could say that the order of your skincare products does not matter… it does.
In fact, it’s important.
Well, let’s start with a quick anatomy lesson…
Your skin is made of layers of cells, each specialized in what they do. Skin cells are produced at the innermost layer. They rise to the surface (the outermost layer) and some specialize as they do. Skin cells do not last forever. They live for about two or three weeks. When they die, they are replaced by younger cells. This process causes the dead cells to be pushed to the surface of your skin where they can fall off.
You lose 30,000 – 40,000 dead skin cells each minute. (That’s about 50 million cells per day!)
If these cells do not fall off of the top layer of skin, it can cause problems like dull flakey skin, acne, dry patches, and wrinkles. Clogged pores may also prevent some of your skincare products from actually helping your skin.
Your Products Are Specific
Each type of product, from your cleanser to your moisturizer, is formulated differently. You probably notice this with the thickness of the product, known as viscosity. Some products are much thicker, right?
This is because your products are created to penetrate your skin, and each other, differently. Some products are made to go deep into the layers of the skin, and others are meant to be closer to the surface.
The level of penetration largely depends on what the product is supposed to do. For example, products that block the sun, like sunscreen, remain close to the surface of your skin, while products that brighten the color of your skin are intended to sink deeper into your skin. This is why some products are made to be thick, and others to be looser.
Thicker, more viscose products will be stopped closer to the top layer of your skin. That topmost layer acts as your skin’s primary barrier. Not much gets in to the layers below it. That sunscreen, for example… It won’t make it much deeper.
But serum is typically less viscose than sunscreen, so it can penetrate deeper into your skin. If you apply your sunscreen first, however, you will block any other product from sinking into your skin. A product with less viscosity cannot penetrate easily a product with a higher viscosity.
The order you use products really does have an impact.
What’s the correct order for using your products?
The basic rule of thumb is to apply the lightest viscosity products first and the heaviest last. Remember, thinner products cannot penetrate thicker products.
In general, you do not need an eight-step (or even a six-step) skincare routine. Most people do better with fewer products, so keep it simple: cleanser, serum, eye cream, moisturizer.
That’s it. Four simple products. Seriously. This works for everyone.
First, and this is more important than knowing your way to work (we all have Google Maps, right?) — Remove your makeup and wash your face before you use any other products.
For ingredients to absorb properly, you need clean skin. (That dirt you don’t see might be enough to keep your moisturizer from penetrating!)
Which means. if you want to do things right, use a proper cleanser.
In the Morning
Wash your face with a good cleanser, like our Remarkably Clean Purifying Facial Cleanser. It will help clean your skin and wake it up for your daily routine. The activated bamboo charcoal helps draw out any impurities that are lurking in your pores. A good cleanser is always the perfect start to your skincare.
Makeup wipes might seem like a fast solution, especially if you’re at the gym, but they leave behind a layer of residue that can irritate your skin. If you’re using these before you put your makeup on, you’re just adding makeup to sweat, dirt, and residue. Yuck. Take a moment and use a good cleanser.
Cleaning your skin at night is even more important than in the morning! A full day’s worth of grime and pollutions (and we’re not even talking about makeup) from everything you did is sitting on and in your pores. You’ve got to clean this out, especially before bed. Nighttime is when your skin works to produce more skin cells, and make you look your best. It cannot do its best when it’s burdened down with dirt, germs, and grime.
Remember those dead cells? You can help them leave your skin surface sooner (and keep your complexion clear) if you use an exfoliator a few times each week. Make it part of your nighttime routine and you’ll be amazed at the skin you wake up with! Our ReNew Exfoliating Face Mask Polishing Scrub is perfect for this. It contains AHA glycolic acid, bamboo, and walnut for the ideal exfoliating blend of small and large grit to instantly polish away dull, dry skin, blemishes, and dead skin cells.
Daily use of an exfoliator, for most people, is too much. But two or three times a week is perfect. Use it after your cleanser and before you apply anything else.
Serum, we love you! This is the one product you likely never use because you don’t know you need it. Serums are extremely concentrated nutrients, hydrating ingredients, and antioxidants that power up your skin’s health almost as soon as you use it. Honestly, these silky little gems are the heavy lifters of any skincare routine. Although serums are optional, they are amazing for boosting your overall skin health.
In the Morning
A vitamin C serum, like our Kakadu Vitamin C Brightening Serum, actually protects your skin from inflammation and damage caused by the environment. Things like sunshine, wind, and pollution wreak havoc on your skin. The vitamin C will help brighten your skin and lighten dark spots over time. It’s really the MVP of skincare.
A serum filled with hyaluronic acid is great for nighttime use. Hyaluronic acid actually pulls water from the air into your skin to plump it up and keep it hydrated. The Kakadu serum is loaded with hyaluronic acid and organic Reishi mushrooms. This power-duo holds moisture, reduces inflammation, puffiness, wrinkles & free radical damage, while also promoting cell regeneration. Just because you’re asleep doesn’t mean your skin is! It works overtime to repair damage and give you a beautiful glow.
Use an eye cream. Consider using one even if you don’t have dark circles, fine lines, or wrinkles… An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Eye creams tend to be lighter and thinner than face moisturizers, so make sure to apply them before you use your moisturizer. It’s crazy how much this all makes sense now, isn’t it?
In the Morning
If you wake up with puffy eyes, our Brilliant Eyes eye cream can help! It’s made with Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, and Witch Hazel – all of which help reduce swelling, puffiness, fine lines, and under-eye bags. This mighty formula uses other natural ingredients, like eyebright, to reduce discoloration under your eyes and on your lids.
Most people think their night eye cream has to be super thick and include some sort of retinol to help with fine lines. The reality is that your eye area is delicate, so you need to be gentle, both with your technique and your products. Brilliant Eyes is a gentle, soothing, lightweight moisturizer that delivers an amazing number of nutrients. It helps keep your eye area tight and bright for a more youthful appearance.
This is your last step, before using any makeup!
Everyone needs to use a moisturizer. Always. Twice a day. No matter what. Even if your skin is oily or struggles with breakouts.
Moisturizer is the only thing that keeps your skin’s natural barrier—which is the very thing responsible for making your skin look good—healthy and happy. Moisturizers hydrate your skin and also help lock in all of the products that lie beneath it.
In the Morning
A lightweight moisturizer, like our Vitamin C Moisturizer, will keep your skin hydrated without feeling heavy or greasy. For an added boost, let it sink in for a full five minutes before applying your makeup.
Your skin is in full repair mode at night. It’s working extra hard to fix any damage and boost skin cell regeneration. Your nighttime moisturizer should be filled with all the things your body naturally produces and can use more of, like peptides, lipids, and proteins. You can find all of this (and more!) in our Vitamin C Moisturizer.
One Last Thought
We mentioned sunscreen earlier, and it’s worth a bit more detail… Sunscreen isn’t trying to penetrate your skin—it’s designed to sit on top and protect your face from UV rays.
Medical and skin care professionals say that you need to use sunscreen daily. If It’s part of your daily routine, great! Use it after your moisturizer and before your makeup for optimal benefits.
And that’s it!
Cleanser – Serum – Eye Cream – Moisturizer
Four easy skin care steps!