Choosing the right skincare products can be a tricky thing. Once you’ve settled on a regimen, you have to make sure you’re using your products in the right order, applying them at the right time of day, and treating your concerns effectively. It can be mind boggling simply navigating the skincare aisle at the drugstore! That’s why we’ve broken down the fine art of caring for your skin. Here’s everything you need to know.
Q: In what order should I use my skincare products?
It’s no good having a great collection of products if you aren’t applying them in the proper order. The first step is to remove all traces of dirt and debris with an effective cleanser formulated for your skin type. The goal is simply to start with a clean canvas. Make a commitment to exfoliate dry skin two to three times a week with a gentle scrub. Focus on those areas where clogged pores are most prominent, like your cheeks and nose.
Follow with a serum that’s packed with ingredients that target your skin’s unique needs. Formulas enriched with retinol’s and hyaluronic acids are designed to target aging, while nourishing oils lock in moisture for dry skin. Remember to pat your serum on—don’t rub. Next, pat eye cream on gently, taking care not to rub or tug the delicate skin in this area. Work your way from the outer corners of your eyes and down along the orbital bone. Then apply moisturizer. Your final step is sunscreen, which is essential if you’re headed outdoors.
Q: Can I use a face oil if I have oily skin?
It may sound counterintuitive, but face oils are remarkably effective even on oily skin. They key is not to go overboard in your usage, and to stick with nourishing ingredients that help balance your skin. We like Peter Thomas Roth Oilless Oil 100% Purified Squalene ($23.99) for its gentle, non-comedogenic formula. If you find that most oils feel too heavy, look for a product specifically formulated as lightweight. You might also want to add just a drop to your nighttime moisturizer instead of slicking it onto your skin full throttle. Nighttime is definitely an important qualifier, too: your skin is less oily at night, so it’s best to apply your face oil right before you hit the sack.
Q: What’s the difference between a hydrator and a moisturizer?
Thought the terms are often used interchangeably, hydration and moisturization are two different concepts. Hydrators are designed to increase your skin’s water content, while moisturizers lock in moisture to prevent that water content from being lost. This is why it’s advisable to apply moisturizer to slightly damp skin—it’s the water that keeps skin hydrated, while the moisturizer seals that hydration and keeps skin soft and supple. For extra dry skin, we love Skinmedia HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator ($329.89) to really ramp up your skin’s ability to combat fine lines while maintaining a smoother, healthier complexion.
Q: How long should I wait before applying sunscreen?
You’ve slathered sunscreen all over your face and body about 20 minutes before heading outside. You’re good to go—for now, at least. Pay attention to your sunscreen’s SPF rating. That number indicates how much time you can safely spend in the sun before your skin starts to show signs of damage (like pinkness or redness). As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to reapply sunscreen after two hours. If you’re using a water-resistant formula, note that their efficacy times may differ. So if you’re swimming or surfing, be sure to reapply as often as the packaging instructs. One of our favorite head-to-toe formulas is Avene Mineral Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ for Face and Body ($24.99).