You’ve read the beauty blogs and splurged on their top picks – cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, eye creams – and if you’re using these daily, then your skin care is sorted… right?

Although we hate to be bad news bearers, it is important to know that you are not applying the information in a specific order.

We all know that if we spend a small fortune on skin care products, we want them to be the best. To achieve this, it is important to use the products in the right order and not rush.

We have outlined a series of steps and products that will help all skin types. This list doesn’t mean you have to have all the products, but it is a good starting point.

This order should be followed daily and every night

Let’s be clear, unless there are two products in a category, your skin care routine will not change much.

1. Cleanser

You need to make sure your skin is clean and healthy before products can really work.

Everybody should wash their face in the morning, but particularly at night. Your face can get covered with makeup, if you have it, and general grime when you are out and about.

Even though you are exposed to less elements at night, your skin still produces sweat and bacteria during sleep.

How do you do it

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Gently massage cleanser into your skin for ~1 minute.
  3. Use warm water to wash off.
  4. Use a towel to dry the area.

Pro tip: At night, double cleanse. To remove your makeup, you can use an oil-based cleanser or a non-comedogenic oil like jojoba oil. Next, use a water-based cleanser.

Water-based cleanser vs. oil-based cleanser

Oil-based products are best for removing sunscreen residue and makeup, while water-based options can be used to remove dirt and sweat.

Ophelia Veraitch is a consultant dermatologist at Cranley Clinic. “Cleansers are dependent on your skin type. It’s about choosing which one suits you. You should avoid soap-based and foaming cleansers if you have acne. This will increase oil production.”

2. Essences and toners

Toners come in a variety of forms, but depending on the product, they can remove dead skin cells, unclog pores and/or brighten and restore your skin’s pH balance.

Dr. Veraitch says that toner is used to remove all residues from the cleanser, make your skin feel hydrated and prepare you to apply active ingredients and moisturizers.

Essences can be used to hydrate, but are lighter than toners.

Toners and essences should be considered optional. You may see results depending on the skin type.

Pro tip: Use an astringent lotion toner if you have oily skin. To follow up on a hyaluronic-based treatment, apply a hydrating lotion.

3. Eye cream

Eye cream reduces dark circles and fine lines around the eyes. Dr. Veraitch says that you should use thinner creams because the skin around your eyes is thinner.

Eye creams should be considered an optional part of your routine as they can be quite costly. A serum applied around your eyes could provide similar benefits. However, make sure the ingredients aren’t too harsh.

How to do it

You won’t need much because it is being applied to a very specific area. Apply a little bit to your fingertip using your ring finger. Then, gently rub the area under your eyes until it is all absorbed.

Pro tip: Apply sunscreen every day if your eye cream contains retinal.

4. Serums include acids and retinol

Serums contain high concentrations of ingredients, like antioxidants and/or acids, aimed at cell repair and protection. They are especially effective in repairing sun-damaged skin and evening out skin tone.

The type of serum that you choose to use will depend on the actives you used in the toner/essence stages. Actives can be anything that claims to alter your skin’s appearance, including acids, retinol and vitamins.

Dr. Veraitch adds that active ingredients must be waited for before you apply the next product. You’ll be diluting active ingredients and making it less effective.

Day serum

Day serums should be hydrating and protecting. Day serums often contain acids such as salicylic and hyaluronic.

These ingredients promote cell turnover and rejuvenation. This helps with everything, from spots and wrinkles to skin tone or scarring.

Night serum

Night serums should be focused on the repair and resurfacing of skin cells. Acid-based serums can be used at night.

“Retinol should be put on at night, because it makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight,” explains Dr. Andrew Birnie, consultant dermatologist and creator of Altruist sunscreen.

Retinol is a synthetic vitamin A form. This powerful ingredient boosts cell production and combats the signs of aging.

It’s important to take your time when using retinol. Dr. Birnie says that retinol products can be irritating and you need to gradually build the application. It is best to use it once a week or less, then apply daily.

Dr. Veraitch suggests that you start with a 0.3-0.5 percent retinol. Then, you can increase this to 1 percent.

5. Spot treatment

Spot treatments can be used to treat blemishes, dark spots, or acne. If your skin is clearer than Caribbean waters then you can move on.

Pro tip: While some spot treatments can be used in the morning, others work better at night. This is when your body turns up the revve to repair and renew itself.

How to do it

Dr. Veraitch says that if your spot treatment contains lactic acid or salicylic acid, you should concentrate it around your T zone. Or precisely where your spots are. It’s okay to use it everywhere if it has a milder formulation.

She suggests that you avoid using this product on your skin around the eyes.

6. Moisturizer

Dr. Veraitch says that no matter how many serums are available, everyone benefits from moisturizing. It is essential to help protect the skin’s natural barrier, and lock in moisture.

Your skin type will dictate which product you should use. Ointments work well for dry skin. Creams are better for oily or sensitive skin.

7. Oil for the face

Your skin makes its own oil, called “sebum”, so it’s possible to not use face oil depending on your skin type. They are not recommended by Dr. Veraitch to her patients as she found them to be more harmful than beneficial in her practice.

Everyone is different. People with dry skin or damaged skin might find that a face oil product can help them to maintain a healthy skin barrier and retain moisture.

These oils can be made from a variety of oils, but the most common are marula and argan as well as squalane and jojoba.

8. Sunscreen (daytime) or thick cream (nighttime)

Sunscreen is an essential part of your daily routine. Sunscreen protects against sunburn, which can eventually lead to skin cancer.

“Every time you go outside, there’s a little sun – or UV radiation – going onto your skin,” Dr. Birnie explains. “And that slowly builds up over a lifetime.”

It can cause cancerous cells to form on the skin’s surface, sun spots, wrinkles and other signs of aging.

Sunscreen must be applied daily, even when it is cloudy.

Night cream

Night cream is basically a rich moisturizer. Dr. Veraitch says that night cream keeps skin hydrated and reduces the appearance of fine lines.

Even though night cream is optional, you might consider using it when you reach your 30s.

Veraitch says that night creams are important as you age. “Oil production decreases with age so you will need extra moisture.”

Weekly Extras

These are the more expensive, but fun goodies that should not be used daily. While you might feel your skin glow with a radiant, natural glow, overuse can cause skin damage.

These products should not be used more than once a week.

Clay mask

Clay masks work to unclog pores deeply and eliminate excess shine. They can be used to brighten the skin.

Clay masks can be used by all skin types, but they are especially beneficial for oily skin.

Clay masks are a more heavy formulation so you should only use them once a week. Also, don’t leave them on for longer than 15 minutes as they can dry out your skin.

Hydrating mask

Usually found in a cream or sheet format (whimsical animal print optional), these masks contain ingredients designed to hydrate and lock in moisture – and even reinforce our skin’s cells.

These masks are hydrating and can be used three times per week if necessary.


Both chemical and physical exfoliation can be used to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. This can be helpful for managing acne, blackheads, and flaky skin patches.

There are many ways to exfoliate. However, it is best to do this only a few times per week. This can be skipped if your serum or daily toner already contains acids.

Birnie says that too much exfoliation can cause your skin to lose its natural protective barrier, and even strip it of moisture.

Exfoliating might not be the best option for some skin types. He says that exfoliating can potentially cause skin irritation if you have sensitive skin.

Talk to a professional

Dr. Veraitch says that when it comes to skin care products, it is important to tailor your regimen to the specific concern. The simplest skin care regimens are often the best, especially for acne.

In fact, using too many rich products can lead to congested and even inflamed skin.

Talk to a dermatologist to discuss creating a skin care regimen that is most beneficial for your skin and your wallet.

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