A few years ago I wrote a blog post about the correct order of cleaning and skin care, but so much has changed in the skincare area over the years that I thought it would be a good idea to devote a new article to this.
It used to be simple: cleansing milk or foam, followed by a tonic and a cream. Hoppa, you were done. Today there are many more types of products on the market. Micellar water, cleansing oils, mud-to-foam, balm-to-oil, oil-to-milk, essences, ampoules, boosters, serums, sleeping masks … it just doesn’t end there.
To take full advantage of the active ingredients in your skincare products, it is important that you use your skin care in the right order and (of course) in the right way. But how?
The correct order of skin care
Roughly speaking, this is the correct order;
Below I will give you some explanation about the mentioned steps and why this sequence of your skincare routine is so good;
During the day, our skin is exposed to airborne dirt and it also produces sebum, sweat and residues as a result of our skin metabolism. Most people also wear make-up. The first step we start with is cleansing so that we can rid our skin of this mess. At least in the evening, as the skin recovers overnight. If there is still dirt and make-up on your skin, your skin will not be able to ‘breathe’ as well, as a result of which a good gas exchange can no longer take place between the skin and the outside air, resulting in a skin with blockages. A clogged skin radiates less, looks less fresh and also has a greater chance of impurities.
However, it is also wise to clean your skin in the morning, because your skin is ‘at work’ at night and therefore produces waste products as a result of our skin metabolism. Moreover, you always sweat a little in your sleep (and sometimes a little more if you have a wild dream, or a wild night * wink wink *). However, you do not necessarily have to clean as thoroughly in the morning as in the evening (but of course you can).
Most people cleanse their skin with one product. Which cleansing product is best for your skin depends on your skin type, lifestyle and personal preference. If you really want to clean your skin well, you can also use the double cleanse method. You first clean your face with an oil-based product (also useful to immediately remove waterproof make-up), followed by a foaming cleanser. This way you first remove the superficial dirt, after which you can reach the skin deeper into the pores. The active substances that you apply with the following steps will also penetrate better into the skin and be able to do their work more efficiently there.
Double cleanse has advantages especially for people with oily to combination skin (with an impurity predisposition), or for people who wear a lot of full face make-up. The double cleanse method is not necessarily necessary in the morning, then a single cleanse is sufficient .
After your skin has been cleaned of dirt, you can exfoliate or exfoliate your skin to remove the top layer of your dead skin cells. Your skin’s cell cycle lasts about 28 days, but exfoliating or exfoliating stimulates your skin cells to renew themselves faster, shortening the cell cycle and fading away any scars and blemishes. It makes the skin softer and more radiant and by removing the top layer of skin cells, active substances that are applied afterwards can penetrate deeper into the skin layer.
There is quite a bit of confusion about exfoliating and exfoliating, because what exactly is the difference? Scrubbing is physical , something you do with ‘tangible’ granules. Exfoliating is chemical , something you do with fruit acids, salicylic acid, glycolic acid or something else that you don’t feel as much rubbing, but do meanwhile loosen dead skin cells. It just depends on what you prefer and what your skin experiences as pleasant. For example, people with rosacea generally have too sensitive skin to exfoliate, but can often tolerate an exfoliant.
However, do not exfoliate or exfoliate your skin too often, unless the packaging states that it is so mild that it is suitable for everyday use. It is generally said that you should not exfoliate a skin more than twice a week, but that varies by skin type and also has to do with your age. The cell cycle of older skin lasts a little longer than 28 days on average and therefore this skin can be exfoliated or exfoliated more often than younger skin.
After exfoliating or exfoliating your skin, you can use a mask to give your skin an extra boost. Masks contain concentrated ingredients that – especially after a double cleanse or scrub – can penetrate deeper into the skin. There they can nourish, soothe, stimulate new cell growth or remove impurities, which of course depends on the type of mask. You usually use a mask about once or twice a week. You can use sheet masks every day, but I do not recommend this with a clay mask because clay has a slightly drying effect.
A toner has several functions, including balancing the natural pH of your skin and removing the last traces of dirt (or mask). Often toners also have an astringent (pore-narrowing) effect, which makes your skin look smoother and smoother after use. In addition to the neutralizing effect, a toner also has an extra function; it ensures a better absorption of all ingredients that you will apply next. In fact, you prep your skin for the essence.
Until a few years ago, Essence was something new on the Dutch market. Meanwhile, more and more brands are adding an essence to their range, because according to the Korean skincare regime, this step is absolutely indispensable in your routine. Why is that?
An essence is a super concentrated and moisturizing formula that specifically responds to a specific skin type or skin problem. For example, it contains anti-age ingredients, anti-oxidants or active substances that fight impurities or hyperpigmentation. In addition, an essence contains in most cases an active substance that stimulates cell renewal. With an essence you bring your skin in an optimal healthy and hydrated state, which will make the rest of your skincare routine more effective. With an essence you prep your skin for the creams.
An essence usually has a watery texture, but sometimes it’s a bit between a gel and water. You apply it with a cotton pad or gently pat it into the skin with your fingers. If the texture is a bit thicker, it is actually the same as a serum. And if the product contains an even higher concentration of active substances, it is often called ampoule or booster.
Personally, I would apply either an essence, or a serum, or a booster, but there are those who would like to apply it all. But what should be done first? In general, the rule applies to apply skin care ‘from thin to thick’, that is, the watery textures first, then the gel-like textures and finally the creamy textures. Depending on the texture of your products, you know what the correct order should be.
Just to be clear, because there is a lot of confusion about the difference between a toner and an essence: a toner is mainly intended to rebalance the pH of your skin and to remove the last remains of dirt. An essence is an extra moisturizing intermediate step with a high concentration of active substances that gives the skin a boost and pricks for the next step in your skincare routine. You cannot replace a toner for an essence or vice versa, they are really two very different skincare products, each with their own function.
Usually the last step of a skincare routine is applying one or more creams. For example, there are creams specially designed for the eye contours, lip contours, the décolleté and of course the face. Day creams often contain a good SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays, infrared rays or blue light. In addition, they often contain active ingredients against skin aging, hyperpigmentation or impurities.
Night creams do not need SPF of course, but are often extra full and hydrating because your skin is more likely to dry out during your sleep and as a result can do its job less well (and as you have read, a skin is especially at night work). Night creams also often contain retinol, because this ingredient works better in the evening hours (and is actually too full and too greasy to wear during the day).
If you are under 20 years old, a simple cream is fine to protect and moisturize your skin sufficiently. As you get older, it is wise to adjust your cream to your age. The older the skin, the less elastin and collagen it contains and the more active substances it needs to make up for this deficiency. Fortunately, most packaging states for which age group a cream is intended.
Tip: if you are 30+, it is really not necessary to use a cream for 50+. These types of creams are usually a lot more expensive (because: more active ingredients) than 30+ creams, but your skin does not need the extra active ingredients at all and it makes no difference. You mainly notice it in your wallet.
Also a relatively new product that came over from Korea; a sleeping mask or sleeping pack. In general, a sleeping mask contains the same kind of moisturizing ingredients and active ingredients as a night cream, but the big difference is in the concentration. Because a sleeping mask acts all night, the concentration of active substances is often somewhat lower and therefore milder for the skin. Because of the long exposure, it is much more hydrating compared to a night cream.
A sleeping mask therefore gives your skin a substantial hydration boost and lets active substances do their work in a mild and long-lasting way. If you have fairly sensitive skin that can’t handle the active ingredients of a night cream, it might be an idea to replace your night cream with a sleeping mask every night.
Sleeping masks are usually used as a REPLACEMENT for your night cream two to three times a week, but I have also read that they apply a sleeping mask OVER their night cream. If you have such extremely dry skin that even the most nourishing night creams are not hydrating enough for you, this might be worth a try.
The order of your skincare routine
So hey, that was quite a bit of text! I hope you found it interesting to read and understand why the order of your skincare routine is so important. In fact, you are prepping for the next step with each step, so that active substances can do their work as optimally as possible and your skin will benefit from it as much as possible. I mean, skincare is already expensive, so you want to get everything out of it, right? I also hope that it is now clear what exactly is the difference between exfoliating and exfoliating, a toner and an essence, an essence and a serum and a night cream and a sleeping mask.