Applying your skincare in the wrong order could be holding your skin back from your results. With multi-step routines, it can be tricky to know exactly which product should come after which. Luckly, there are some easy rules of thumb to follow to make sure you’re treating your skin right.
Thinnest to Thickest Rule of Skincare Application
When it comes to skincare, a rule of thumb that often appears is the ‘thinnest to thickest’ rule. In short, it’s the idea that if you lined up all your skincare in thinnest consistency to thickest, that would be the order you’d apply it in.
This rule tends to work well for toners, serums, and moisturizers, but ignores other skincare products that you might have in your routine such as cleansers, masks, and facial oils.
A skincare routine order that works well for almost everyone is:
- Oil Cleanser
- Gentle Water-based Cleanser
- Wash-off Mask or Peel
- Facial Oil
Here’s a quick explainer why each step is where it is and how it benefits your skin.
1. Oil Cleanser
Oil cleansers are best used at night. This is because they’re an effective makeup and sunscreen removal step. They thoroughly grab any makeup, sunscreen, and excess sebum build up in pores for clean skin that’s ready for the rest of your skincare routine.
2. Gentle Cleanser
A gentle, water-based cleanser can be used once to twice a day in your skincare routine. It can be used in the morning to refresh skin before the rest of your daytime routine, and be used to follow up makeup removal as part of the double cleansing method.
3. Peel or Wash-Off Mask
These skincare steps are best applied to clean skin. When it comes to peels, that’s because the formulas require a certain pH to exfoliate your skin properly. Having other skincare products on your skin can change the pH, making your peel less effective.
Wash-off masks also suit this order in a skincare routine. That’s because when you wash off a mask, you also wash off anything else you’ve applied before it.
Serum can be applied right after cleansing, and if your skincare routine includes a toning step, should be applied after toner and before moisturizer. Serums are considered a treatment step in your skincare routine, and usually have a higher concentration of an active ingredient to achieve a specific outcome in your skin.
A moisturizer locks in the benefits of your previous skincare steps and also prevents your skin from losing hydration. This skincare step can also be enriched with active ingredients such as collagen to tackle a specific issue as well as infuse skin with moisture.
6. Facial Oil
If you use facial oil, it’s important to always apply them after your moisturizer. That’s because facial oils are effective at locking in hydration, creating a slight barrier on your skin. Anything applied over the top of this might not be as effective! One of our best tips for using facial oil is that you can add a few drops to your moisturizer to speed up your routine and get the benefits of both in a single step.
This step is a non-negotiable part of your daytime routine. The reason it needs to go last on skin is because rather than ‘sinking in’ to skin like other products, sunscreen creates a microscopic layer over your skin. This microscopic film needs to stay intact to work and protect your skin from UV rays - applying skincare over this step could make it less effective!
Right Skincare Order: Key Ideas
The thinnest to thickest guideline generally works, but with some exceptions. Applying your skincare routine in the right order sets yourself up for success by allowing each step to work on your skin as it should!