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Should your skincare routine follow a particular order?

This is the correct order to apply your products according to a dermatologist...

Woman applying skincare product
Orin Carlin
Orin CarlinContent Writer
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For skincare novices, the idea of curating your own routine may be a daunting prospect. 

With so many lotions, gels, serums and creams out there, knowing where to begin and the right order to apply them is key when it comes to achieving the best possible results.  

READ: The 10 best luxury facial oils to nourish your skin

Why is it important to layer your skincare correctly?

Unless you're fiercely devoted to the Korean 10-step routine (in which case, plough on ahead), there's really no need to complicate things. Even simple regimes can have a noticeable effect, especially if you've never before forayed into the realm of skincare.   

Woman applying skincare © Getty

Layering your products correctly is important because it helps maximise efficacy. In buying skincare products you are investing a self-care ritual, and as such, making the most of your hard-earned cash is a no-brainer.

Morning skincare routine

For a no-frills morning routine, top London consultant dermatologist Dr Mary Sommerlad advocates cleanser, an antioxidant, moisturiser, then SPF. 

READ: What is double cleansing?

MORE: 7 It-girl-approved serums to add to your beauty arsenal this spring

Woman applying skincare product © Getty

Cleansing is crucial to rid your skin of sweat amassed from a night of sleep – opt for something light like a gel or a milk. Swerving traditional washes or anything 'foaming' is a solid move for oily skins. There are some decent versions out there, but many contain surfactants (the ingredient needed to create foam), which can leave skin with a tight, squeaky feeling.

Antioxidants are great for the morning. They are naturally occurring compounds that can protect the skin against free radicals – unstable molecules that cause skin damage. Dr Sommerlad personally uses either vitamin C (excellent on dull types seeking luminosity) or azelaic acid (anti-inflammatory, ideal for combatting redness). Both ingredients can take the form of a serum, to be applied after cleansing.  

As previously mentioned, certain products need to be applied in a specific order because otherwise it would mar their potential effectiveness. After serum comes moisturiser, followed by a separate form of sun protection. "Do not layer moisturiser on top of sunscreen as you lose the concentration of your sunscreen and it will be significantly less effective," Dr Sommerlad explains. SPF is a non-negotiable, even when it is not sunny, as UV rays can penetrate clouds.  

Night skincare routine

During the day, your face is put through its paces. A delicious concoction of makeup, pollution, sun protection, grime and sweat needs to be properly removed – double cleansing is a must. Go in with an unctuous balm, oil or cream cleanser, buffing off with a hand-hot flannel, and repeat the process with a lighter product to leave your skin comfortable and balanced. It is perfectly fine to use the same cleanser you used in the morning for this second step.  

Dr Sommerlad then personally uses a vitamin A product, specifically a retinaldehyde, alternated on different days with a liquid exfoliant (aka an acid), usually Medik8's Press & Clear Exfoliating 2% BHA Tonic.

Salicylic acid products such as this are useful for oily types. The ingredient penetrates pores and removes spot-inducing blockages and Medik8's version also contains tranexamic acid which can help the skin look brighter. 

Vitamin A products have heaps of potential skin benefits – they can speed cell turnover, balance oil production, brighten tone, and stimulate collagen production. Determining the right one for you depends on your main skin concerns. Vitamin A products can increase sensitivity, so it is best to avoid acids while using one. 

If eye cream is part of your skincare routine, Dr Sommerlad advises using this before serum. At night, humectant-packed serums, such as those containing hyaluronic acid, are great for an instant shot of hydration. Finish things off with either a moisturiser or a facial oil, depending on your preference, and soon you should reap the results of your new skincare routine.

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