skin health

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are you applying your skin care products in the right order?

age bright clearing serum bottles
skin health

Are you applying your skin care products in the right order?

story highlights

  • It’s important to apply skin care products from thinnest to thickest texture
  • Your skincare routine will vary from day to night

  • So, does it actually matter how you apply your skincare products? Our short answer: Absolutely. From serum to moisturizer, eye cream to SPF, there is a rhyme and reason to the order in which you apply every single skincare product — and it’s different for both day and night. It is also important to allow your skin time for each of the products to achieve its maximum benefits — if you have the time to wait, allow 2-5 minutes between steps for the skin to fully absorb any active ingredients. Here’s the nitty gritty on how to make sure your skincare routine is accomplishing the most it can for your skin.

    What to know about applying skincare products

    First and foremost, there are two rules to keep in mind during your skincare routine:

    Rule 1: Thinnest comes first.

    Always apply your products from the thinnest to the thickest texture for maximum absorption benefits.

    Rule 2: Water before oil.

    Apply any water-based products before oil-based ones. Oil and water don’t mix, and oil can block the water from penetrating the skin barrier — so for maximum effect, be sure the water-based ones hit your skin first.

    Now let’s get into the right order to apply skincare products for day and night!

    Your daytime skincare regimen

    During the day, your skincare routine should focus on products that help protect your skin from outside elements like the sun and pollution. More targeted treatments can be saved for your evening routine.

    Step 1: Double cleanse.

    You may first be asking us: what is double cleansing the skin, anyway? This literally means cleansing the skin twice — first with an oil-based cleanser, then a water-or surfactant-based cleanser. The Dermalogica Double Cleanse is the secret to healthy, ultra-clean skin — it easily removes layers of built-up makeup, products and oily debris, allowing your prescribed Dermalogica Cleanse to penetrate even further, for a professional level of clean.

    Step One: PreCleanse

    Massage our original PreCleanse oil or our travel-friendly PreCleanse Balm into skin to attract and thoroughly dissolve excess buildup.

    Step Two: Cleanse

    Wash your face with your prescribed Dermalogica Cleanser to remove any residual impurities.

    Step 2: Tone

    Toners help purify, balance and prep skin for the treatments that follow. While the previous assumption about toners is that they are too harsh and irritating for the skin, that has (luckily!) changed in recent years. Each toner is designed to deliver different skin benefits and help correct different skin concerns.

    After cleansing the skin, we recommend using a Dermalogica Toner formulated for your skin type and specific skin concerns. Multi-Active Toner and Antioxidant Hydramist are both refreshing, hydrating options that you can spritz onto the skin after cleansing and throughout the day as needed.

    Step 3: Treat

    The next step in your ideal daytime skincare regimen is to use a targeted treatment or serum. When it comes to treatments, your skin’s needs change daily, so treat them specifically with these powerful topical treatments for faster results. For daytime, look for a treatment that helps spot treat any blemishes or post-breakout marks, like  Age Bright Spot Fader .

    Serums are super potent, nutrient-dense treatments that come in different textures, forms and benefits to help supercharge your skincare routine. Your daytime skincare routine is the perfect time to incorporate a Vitamin C product, like  BioLumin-C Serum, which can help fight oxidative stress and brighten the skin.

    Step 4: Eye cream

    The skin underneath your eyes is the most delicate on your entire body. It is important to incorporate a dedicated eye treatment into your daytime skincare routine to help soften, hydrate and moisturize both the under-eye area and the skin all around your eyes as well. Using an eye cream religiously is also imperative, as continued use can help the skin retain its elasticity, reduce the look of dark circles, and prevent fine lines.

    For daytime, look for an eye cream or eye treatment with SPF, like  Total Eye Care with SPF 15, so that you are also protecting the skin around your eyes from harsh UVA and UVB rays.  Stress Positive Eye Lift is also an ideal eye treatment for your daytime skincare routine, as it helps to minimize the appearance of dark circles — perfect after a night of less than ideal sleep!

    Step 5: Moisturize

    While we obviously think every step in your skincare routine is imperative, there’s one that your skin absolutely needs — and that’s to moisturize. No matter what your skin type, you need a moisturizer — and it is important to choose the right one for your skin. Applying moisturizer, especially while the skin is still damp from your morning shower and soon after cleansing, helps to lock in hydration.

    Dermalogica Moisturizers don’t just hydrate — they completely transform your skin. For daytime, look for one with ultra-nourishing benefits, like  Intensive Moisture Balance . You can also look for a moisturizer that contains SPF, like  Prisma Protect SPF 30 .

    Step 6: SPF

    Yes, we said moisturizing is the most important step in your skincare routine. But there’s another one you definitely need as well — and that’s to apply SPF. Sunscreen helps to protect your skin against harmful UVA and UVB rays, which can lead to sun damage, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines and wrinkles. There are two types of sunscreen — chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen contains organic compounds like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone, and have to be absorbed into the skin to be effective. Physical sunscreens, meanwhile, contain active mineral ingredietns like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, and work by sitting on top of the skin to deflect damaging UV rays.

    There are many different Dermalogica SPF products to choose from, based on your skin type and skin concerns. Protect your skin with your prescribed broad spectrum SPF.

    Your evening skincare regimen

    Your skin naturally repairs itself while you sleep. As the day passes, your skin takes in everything it has experienced throughout the day — and the evening is the time for it to work on bringing it back to a relative state of normal. While many of the steps are the same as your daytime regimen, your nighttime skincare routine should focus on treating the skin.

    Step 1: Double cleanse

    You did this during the day, and we recommend doing it again at night! Follow the same double cleanse routine that you did with your daytime regimen to help remove the layers of makeup, product, and debris your skin may have accumulated throughout the day.

    Step 2: Tone

    Just like you did during the day, this is the time to apply toner to help prep the skin for the remainder of your skincare routine. For night, we recommend a toner that can help calm any redness or sensitivity while hydrating and supporting natural moisture balance, like  UltraCalming Mist.

    Step 3: Exfoliate

    Daily exfoliation is one of the keys to bright, healthy-looking skin. Our top pick is  Daily Microfoliant: this iconic Rice-based exfoliating powder helps to calm skin as it balances uneven skin tone and polishes away dulling, dead skin cells.

    Step 4: Eyes

    At night, it is important to nourish the thin skin around your eyes so that you wake up looking rested. The best way to apply eye cream is by tapping it into the skin with your ring finger, rather than pulling or tugging. Look for a heavier treatment cream to nourish the skin while you sleep — like  Intensive Eye Repair, which targets dehydration lines and helps increase skin resilience with Vitamin A, Wild Yam Extract and Pro-Vitamin B5.

    Step 5: targeted treatment

    We can’t “stress” this enough — your skin does the most repairing, restoring and regenerating as you sleep. During your evening skincare routine, it’s the perfect time to apply a targeted treatment that focuses on your skin’s current needs. This is the ideal time to use products with retinol, a type of Vitamin A, which targets fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots. However, we recommend only using a retinol product 2-3 times per week, especially for sensitive skin, and on nights that you do not exfoliate, as that increases the risk of irritating your skin. Overnight Retinol Repair is a concentrated customizable nighttime retinol treatment cream that accelerates skin renewal and reduces the appearance of skin aging.

    Step 6: Moisturize

    During the evening, we recommend using a heavier, thicker moisturizer that is designed to sink into the skin as you sleep. A heavier moisturizer can also create a protective coating on the skin, which helps prevent water evaporation as you sleep. This should be the last step in your evening skincare routine to lock in moisture during the night. Try a moisturizer formulated specifically for evening, like  Sound Sleep Cocoon, a revitalizing treatment gel-cream that reduces signs of skin fatigue, restores vitality, and visibly increases radiance by morning.

    Put together your ideal skincare routine for both day and night at