In what order do I apply my skincare products?

So you’ve gone to great lengths to research and purchase quality skin care products.  You made sure to purchase from your medical skin care provider or a legitimate retail vendor. Now that you’ve assembled your skin care routine, how do you apply everything, and in what order to ensure you are maximizing the benefit of each product?

There are a few basic principles to applying skin care products to maximize the benefits, and also to allow each product to shine! Not all of these steps apply to every skin care routine depending on what products you use.

First step: Cleanse

Cleansing the skin before applying other products removes surface impurities, including makeup, sunblock and moisturizer, dirt, and oil that can build up on the skin. Certain cleansing products such as those with glycolic or salicylic acid can also exfoliate dead skin cells, preventing them from clogging pores and causing acne breakouts. Most importantly, the skin is now prepared to receive and absorb the skin care products you use next.

Second step: Tone/Exfolliate

Using a toner may or may not be necessary, depending on your skin, the products you are using, and any skin conditions you may have. Some toners work to restore the skin’s natural pH levels, while others may contain glycolic, salicylic, or liphohydroxy acids that dissolve oil and sebum reduce the appearance of blackheads, and improve acne.

Third step:  Active/AntiAging

Active products, including serums and other treatments, should be applied when the skin is fully clean and prepped. This allows them to penetrate active ingredients more evenly and effectively, thus enhancing their action. These products are used to treat specific skincare concerns. It is important to allow these products to penetrate before applying moisturizer and sunblock.

Fourth step: Hydrate

Moisturizers hydrate the skin and can prevent or reduce transepidermal water loss. This is a measure of the water that is lost from our skin and can cause flakiness, and dryness, and increase the appearance of fine lines. Moisturizers can be in the form of a cream, lotion, or serum and contain various humectants, emollients, and ceramides to hydrate and create a barrier to retain your skin’s moisture and prevent water loss.

Fifth Step: Protect

Sunblock, sunblock, sunblock! Its importance cannot be overemphasized to protect your newly exfoliated, anti-age serum-covered skin. Sunblock prevents the UV rays from penetrating and causing sun damage, freckling, and premature aging. Sunblock also is a preventative agent to reduce the risk of skin cancer. The best sunblock contains a physical blocking agent, such as titanium or zinc. These molecules actively block the sun like a small shield, reflecting the UV rays off of the skin.

There are other skin care steps that can be integrated into your skin care program, so ask your skin care provider for guidance if you are adding products to your routine to ensure the optimal use and timing of each.

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Dr. Deschamps-Braly is a board-certified plastic and craniofacial surgeon specializing in facial plastic surgery, orthognathic (jaw) surgery, and craniofacial surgery for adults and children. He is also one of the world’s foremost leaders and innovators in facial gender confirmation surgery.