THE LAB REPORT™
Order of Usage 101
RAYYAN, BEAUTY EDITOR | MARCH 17, 2021
When it comes to the necessity of having a skincare routine, you can say most collectively agree on its importance, but the order of that routine is where there tends to be confusion or disagreement. Whether you have a 3-step routine or 10, accepting that there is indeed, a particular order, is the most crucial to optimizing both your results and investment.
Why is the order of usage so important?
Many factors go into creating the perfect routine distinctly for you. However, the order in which you apply that customized regimen includes a few rules or best practices, if you want your skincare investment to properly work together as a complete solution. Because each step in your routine serves a specific purpose and each product has its varying formats and/or viscosity, those products will work best when applied in a particular way to fully benefit from the active ingredients while ensuring the formulas can properly work their way to the epidermis and beyond. To start this hefty conversation, you first want to consider the unique molecular weights of individual ingredients leading to a level of viscosity or thickness of the formulation. An example of this can be seen when you compare the thickness or viscosity of serum compared to a heavier cream. Serums tend to have higher active ingredients with lower molecular weights to best penetrate deeper into the skin. As a result, they are generally less viscous. In general, most creams are the opposite. Although they can be both water and oil-soluble, they tend to have more moisturizing, emollient ingredients making them more viscous, which typically puts them as a final step in most routines. This makes creams ideal for locking in hydration and sealing moisturizing properties to continue working throughout the day and night.
In short, the best way to determine the order of application is to evaluate both the function (the purpose or step within your routine) and the viscosity (thickness) of each product. Once you have defined those, the following guide will assist in determining the ideal order of usage for your unique product assortment and goals.
Two Key Factors in Defining Order of Usage:
1. Align your products to one of three universal skincare steps or functions:
- Does it Cleanse – if yes, group it into the 1st set of products to be applied.
- Does it Treat – these will generally go after cleansers.
- Does it Protect – these types of products are typically applied last.
2. Once you have matched products to steps, you then want to overlay the viscosity or format of those products. Here is an easy guide to determining order based on purely the viscosity of the formulation:
General Order of Usage Based on Viscosity
- Essences – apply 1st
- Serums – apply 2nd
- Oils – apply 3rd
- Creams – apply 4th/last
Now combine factors 1 and 2 to finalize your accurate order of usage:
Step 3: Protect
- Sunscreen and/or setting spray
Now that we have covered the basics, let us get into a bit more detail around each of our three key steps.
Before applying any skincare product, you always want to begin with clean skin. This means that your first step is to properly cleanse your skin with your preferred facial cleanser. If you are using waterproof or long-wear makeup and/or sunscreen, we recommend implementing double-cleansing (using an oil cleanser first followed by your preferred gel or cream cleanser) into your nightly routine. This will ensure your cleanser(s) properly breaks down sebum, makeup, dirt, build-up, and other external stressors on the skin. Failing to properly cleanse can lead to more oil build-up and, in some cases, skin irritation and breakout.
It is most ideal to have your cleansers also address your unique AM and PM needs. For this reason, SKINN offers three cleansers, in three various formats (oil, gel and cream) to best meet your skin’s cleansing requirements throughout the day and night.
- Non-Negotiables® Green Tea + Mint AM Cleanser
- Divine Elixir Luminous Skin Facial Cleansing Oil
- Non-Negotiables® Olive + Enzyme PM Cleanser
After cleansing you will want to consider regular exfoliation, be it chemical, physical, or both. We recommend a one-two punch leveraging the ideal mix of chemical and physical exfoliation, which is why we prefer our beloved, Power Couple – Non-Negotiables® DermAppeal® Microdermabrasion Treatment and Multi-Acid Resurfacing Pads. This combination will ensure dead skin and sebum buildup are adequately removed (amongst many other benefits) to properly set up your treatment for success. Ignoring proper exfoliation will not only result in unwanted breakouts but also wasted product and money. Your treatments need to be able to penetrate to be effective. Dead skin cells and other build-up sitting on top of the skin’s surface won’t allow products to reach the necessary layers of the skin. Do yourself and your wallet a favor and exfoliate at least 2-3 times per week.
After thoroughly cleansing and exfoliating, you will now begin your treatments. This is a general term for any skincare products such as essences, serums, oils, and creams. Most treatments have a higher amount of active ingredients which need to penetrate the skin to be effective, rather than just working on the top dermal layer. For this reason, you will want to follow the aforementioned order of usage when your treatments include a variety of formats or viscosities. So, remember, start with your essence, followed by serums, oils, and lastly creams.
Beauty Editor Hacks:
Because not all facial oils are equal, depending on the viscosity of your facial oil, you will want to apply it either before your cream or after. If you are using a smart, modern oil, like those found within our Divine Elixir Collection, you will apply it before your cream. However, if you are using a heavier oil that tends to sit on top of your skin for several minutes before properly absorbing, you will want to apply after your cream as the last step within your treatments.
As you wrap up your skincare routine, your last step involves protection. Whether it be protecting your makeup with a setting spray, or your skin with your favorite sunscreen, regardless, you will want to again consider the viscosity of that protection and its purpose. When determining an ideal sunscreen, we recommend a natural, chemical-free, mineral-based UVA + UVB sunscreen of at least an SPF 30.
There are many ways to curate the perfect routine. Depending on your lifestyle, skincare concerns, seasonality, or unexpected changes that may occur, you will want to regularly evaluate your steps and order of usage. For specific skincare concerns or needs, start by visiting SKINN.com and shop by concern.