The world of skincare and beauty can be daunting when you don’t know exactly what you’re dealing with.
From moisturizers, to face masks, toners, cleansers and night creams, it can be hard to understand what goes where and in what order.
Luckily for any lost souls out there, Cosmopolitan.com beauty editor Chloe Metzger has put together a guide revealing the proper order that you should follow when using skincare products.
Routine: Skincare experts have revealed the best order in which to apply your products in both the morning and evening, in order to make them as effective as possible (stock image)
A study carried out by Statista in 2017 revealed that 52 per cent of U.S. consumers surveyed used skincare products every day.
Additionally, 65 per cent of women said they use products every day compared to just 37 per cent of men.
Another survey revealed that 54 per cent of U.S. respondents reported that they use skincare products every single day.
But with so many different products available, it can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to taking care of your skin.
Step number one, for both morning and night, experts agree, is cleansing.
Toning comes second, and is followed by serums. It is then recommended to apply an eye cream and spot treatment, if necessary.
Up next is moisturizer, followed by face oil and sunscreen with a high SPF for the day time, or retinol and face oil in the evening.
The exact order you should apply your A.M. skincare
4. Eye cream
5. Spot treatment
7. Face oil
The exact order you should apply your P.M. skincare
4. Eye cream
5. Spot treatment
8. Face oil
Cleansing the skin is the first step in removing any dirt, makeup, or grime that has gathered on your skin throughout the day – as well as helping to remove any oil that has built up overnight.
Begin by splashing your face with water before going in with your cleanser of choice and lathering up to leave your skin feeling fresh, clear of dirt, and ready for the next steps in your routine.
One note though; taking off makeup and cleansing should really be considered as two separate steps, in order to ensure you’re really getting the most out of your cleanser. For example, try using an oil-based cleanser – like the Dermalogica PreCleanse ($45) – to break down any makeup, before going in with a cleanser of your choice.
Dermatologist Dr. Susan Cox, a partnering derm at Higher Education Skincare, recently told DailyMail.com that you should aim to wash your face for 30 seconds in the morning and the evening to rid your skin of ‘dirt and impurities’.
In terms of the best times to cleanse, Dr. Cox explained that you should really make sure to wash your face every morning and evening, because the process removes different dirt each time.
‘In the evening, cleansing the skin removes makeup, oil, bacteria and pollution while your morning cleanse will remove bacteria from saliva, your pillowcase and built-up oil,’ she concluded.
Our favorite for all skin types, including those with a sensitive complexion, is the First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser ($21), however if you want something more refreshing, try the Garnier SkinActive Clean+ Invigorating Daily Scrub ($7.99) to really perk you up in the morning.
When it comes to toners, which can work for protecting dry skin or treating acne, experts recommend investing in a [product that is specific to your skin type.
Essentially toners are a key linking step in the skincare process, helping to get your complexion ready for the rest of your routine after you’ve cleansed.
Dr Gohara, a dermatologist at Yale University, told Cosmopolitan.com: ‘[Toners] are essentially just priming your face for ingredients to be better absorbed later on.’
When it comes to picking the best product for your skin type, anyone with acne-prone skin should consider choosing a toner that contains BHA or AHA (beta hydroxy acid or alpha hydroxy acid) in its formula, both of which prevent breakouts, dissolve blackheads and help to unclog pores.
When it comes to all other skin types, opting for a hydrating toner is your best bet.
If you want something refreshing in the morning, try a spray toner, like the Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin Spray ($10), which helps to hydrate the skin, while also giving it a bit of a morning boost courtesy of the spritz. Bonus points if you keep it in the refrigerator.
For serums, which are ‘essentially just shots of extremely concentrated nutrients, hydrators, and antioxidants’, according to Gohara popular choices to apply in the morning include the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum and Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum.
For nighttime, the Glossier Super Bounce Serum and the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum make good light-weight options.
4. Eye Cream
Eye creams tend to be light in consistency, and for this reason should be applied before heavy moisturizers and face oils.
Eye creams that come with a steel ball applicator are good choices for applying first thing in the morning, because the ball helps with fluid retention.
Eye creams that are ideal for morning-use include the First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy, Clinique’s All About Eyes Serum and IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream.
For night time, opt for a simple hydrating eye cream that won’t cause irritation to the eyes, such as the Olay Brightening Eye Cream.
Cheap and cheerful drugstore options include Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Eye Cream and Vichy’s LiftActiv Supreme Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream.
New York City-based dermatologist Shereene Idriss said: ‘The rule of thumb when applying skincare is to apply the lightest first and the heaviest last, since thinner products can’t penetrate thicker products.’
5. Spot Treatments
Spot treatments aren’t for everyone. If you’re dealing with fairly clear skin, this step can be skipped.
Spot treatments, Chloe says, can be used for different reasons including pimples, acne and dark spots, so you’ll need to opt for one that is specific to your skin’s needs.
For zits, Clean & Clear’s Spot Treatment Gel will do the trick, as well as Neutrogena’s On the Spot Treatment.
For dark spots, the Glytone Dark Spot Corrector and the Osmotics Lighten FX Dark Spot Remover are good choices.
The next step? Moisturizers, which are especially essential during the harsh, cold winter months during which skin tends to become dry and flaky.
Heavy duty moisturizers that are ideal for people dealing with particularly dry skin include La Mer Moisturizing cream and the Glow Formula Hydrator from Kiehl’s.
For skin that tends to stay fairly hydrated but still needs to be taken care of, Origins Original Skin Matte Moisturizer and Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Control Oil-Free Face Moisturizer, are both lighter options.
7. Retinol – PM
Next up is retinol (also known as vitamin A), which stimulates the production of new skin cells.
Retinoids ‘sink into your skin to speed up cell turnover, causing your body to churn out fresher, smoother, less-wrinkled skin over time’, according to Dr. Gohara.
Depending on your skin type, you’ll need to choose a specific retinoid.
For sensitive skin, Chloe recommends the Derma-E Anti Wrinkle Renewal Cream , for dry skin the Baebody Retinol Moisturizer and for normal skin, she recommends the ROC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle filler.
8. Face Oils
Step number eight for your evening routine – but step seven for the morning – is face oils, which can range from more expensive high-end oils to cheaper drug store finds.
While people on the oily-spectrum might feel intimidated by lobbing oil all over the skin, there are specific oils created for oilier skin that won’t clog pores and leave your face looking greasy.
Dr Gohara told the publication: ‘Oils can easily penetrate moisturizers, serums, and treatments, but no products can penetrate an oil, which means they need to be applied last.’
Dr Idriss added: ‘Face oils are occlusive, meaning they seal in all of the ingredients and moisture you just applied to your face to keep them from evaporating as quickly’.
9. Sunscreen – AM
Last, but certainly not least, is sunscreen.
No matter what time of the year it is, applying an SPF to your skin is absolutely essential in preventing it from being damaged by harmful UV rays.
Lightweight sunscreens that are ideal for wearing under makeup on a day to day basis include Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock, which ranged from SPF 35 to SPF 100+.
Another good option is the Skinceuticals Physical Matte UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50.