Skincare Application Confusion? Let's Simplify This!

skin care ritual

I realize that skincare companies speak about cleansers, water-based or oil-based serums, moisturizers, night treatments, day treatments, sun screens, masks, exfoliators, OH MY! We've heard the terms: "Skincare Regimen" and "Skincare Routine".  Sounds so serious and boring, doesn't it?  Just the word "Regimen" connotes "strict discipline"!  Well, we think skincare should be seriously Effective, but it should also be a fun pampering ritual we allow ourselves!  We'll take care of the "serious" aspects, so you can enjoy the "fun" aspects!  So, let's dispense with the words "Regimen" and "Routine"!  I like to call it our "Rituals".  Sounds more fun.  It should be a relaxing ritual at night; or a revving up ritual in the morning.

"When I bought this, I can't remember what the person at the store told me as to how to apply or when?"  We've heard this so often!

Let's simplify!  The basic ritual steps:  Bubbly first, then Thin to Thick.  Mostly, easy-peasy:

  • Cleansers:  are first!  Whichever type of cleanser you use--it's the first step of your ritual. Your "Clean Palette" is now ready for serums.
  • Serums: There are two basic types, Water-Based (usually a Hyaluronic based serum) or Oil-Based (which can be specialty carrier oils only; or a combination emulsified milky mix of oil and water ingredients).  Serums are mostly thinner than your lotions and/or moisturizers.   Water-based (Hyaluronic based) serums are applied after cleansing.  Oil-based or emulsified Serums are also applied after cleansing (if not using a water-based serum); or after a water-based serum.  Some people will use different serums to tackle different issues (for example use a water-based serum all over face and then apply an oil-based serum to extra dry areas such as around the eyes, upper lip, etc).  You should allow Serums to "dry-down" before applying moisturizers/lotions.
  • Moisturizer or Lotions:  let your serum(s) dry down, then apply your moisturizer or lotion.
  • Sunscreens: Morning Ritual only. Some products have some sunscreen protection (like some foundations or moisturizers).  You should still apply a good quality broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30.  Apply sunscreen after your Moisturizer/Lotion.  Let Sunscreen "dry down" for at least 2 minutes before applying any liquid or cream foundation makeup.
  • Makeup:  foundation/concealers/blush/powders--your very last step!  Please remember to allow your sunscreen to "dry down" for 2 minutes before applying makeup (or, you'll have an uncomfortable, goopy feeling mess)!

To re-cap:  Bubbly. Then Thin to Thick!  Give "dry down" times between steps to allow the ingredients' goodness to sink in!  Don't have time, especially in the morning?  Nonsense. I'm sure you don't stand there with a stopwatch!  Just do something else in-between (grab a cup of coffee, brush your teeth, finish preparing the kids' lunch, tweeze your brows--you get the gist).

I like simplicity--but sometimes things just aren't that simple!

  • If you're prescribed a dermatological treatment (such as Retinols or acne treatments) these usually are applied at night after cleansing to allow their medicinal magic to be effective straight after washing.  Generally, such as using Retinols, you should allow the skin to dry thoroughly before applying.  Then proceed with Serums etc.  Of course, always follow your doctor's directives.
  • AHA (Glycolic Acid) or other "Exfoliants":  Generally applied at night after cleansing.  These are normally used only a couple times a week, depending on how mild or strong the formula is. Rinse (unless it's a 'leave-on' AHA product).  Follow up with your serums and night moisturizer/lotion.  Usually Retinol products are not used on the same night as AHA's.
  • "Sometimes I like to use a mask!"  When to apply?  After cleansing.  Most masks are applied as night treatments.  Apply the mask, let it 'do its thing', rinse well, pat dry, then proceed with serums, moisturizers/lotions.  Some masks are "Leave-On" overnight.  Still apply after cleansing.  After the Leave-On mask dries down you can then proceed with the rest of your skin treatments.

Some rituals are night time or day time.  Obviously, you would not add sunscreen at night.  And we're not adding makeup before we go to bed!  I'm  guessing you can use your own common sense!  Nighttime rituals allow skin to absorb the good benefits of your night cream and recuperate from life's stressors!

I'm sure there are some unique or quirky skin care products that have specific applications which I haven't included!  But, these are the basics!

Enjoy your Rituals!! 

Charlette Sgro



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