As a board-certified dermatologist practising in Manhattan, NY with 3 busy offices and the founder of adm skin, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is “what is the best order to apply my skincare products?” “Should my prescription cream go on before my lotion or after?” “Does the serum go on before or after my sunscreen?”
People often wonder about the correct sequence and order to apply all the amazing skincare products that they own. Frankly, I think this is a great question and understanding how to apply your skincare products properly is critical to reaping the benefits of healthy, radiant skin.
To help simplify this crucial FAQ, I created a 5-step daily skincare routine. I also gave a bonus pro-tip at the end
Step 1: Cleanse
The first step is to Cleanse. Before applying your skin care products, make sure your skin is clean. I recommend gentle cleansers because they do not irritate the skin or disrupt the skin’s acid mantle. The acid mantle is a slightly acidic film on the surface of the skin that acts as the first line of defense preventing bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants from penetrating the skin.
Check out some of the gentle cleansers that I recommend because they do not irritate the skin. adm Tender Cleanser, CeraVe facial foaming cleanser, Cetaphil daily facial cleanser
Step 2: Medicate
After cleansing your skin, you may apply your prescription medication. Be sure to apply your topical medication as directed. For instance, daytime prescription creams should be applied during the day while nighttime or bedtime prescription creams should be applied at night and not during the day because some nighttime creams can be deactivated by the sun and/or make your skin more sensitive to the sun rays. Also, pay attention to the medication size or dose recommended by your board-certified dermatologist. For example, for retinoids and retinols, you should start with a pea-sized amount of the cream (unless your dermatologist advises you to use a larger size) to avoid skin irritation.
Step 3: Rejuvenate
Rejuvenation restores youthfulness to the skin. This step involves using skin serums that are formulated to penetrate deeper into the skin to deliver higher concentrations of skin actives. Skin serums correct specific skin concerns by increasing skin hydration, reducing skin discoloration, and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
To rejuvenate, apply a pea-sized amount of your serum and remember to dab the serum into the skin in a gentle but firm upward motion to promote absorption into the skin.
I recommend these skin serums because they contain proven ingredients in the correct ratios for synergy and to boost your results: adm Intuitive Brightening and Correcting serum, adm Youth Restoring Serum, Isdinceutics Flavo-C Ultraglican, U.SK Face Up Lift Serum
Step 4: Hydrate
The skin performs best when it is well-hydrated. Apply moisturizers that hydrate and nourish your skin daily especially during the drier winter months. Look for a non-comedogenic formula to prevent skin congestion that leads to acne. You can also look for a 24-hour long-acting moisturizer or short-acting formula depending on your preference and skin needs.
I recommend the following non-greasy skincare products because they deliver effective hydration to the skin: adm hydra-drench daily moisturizer, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Moisturizer
Step 5: Protect
Finally, you should apply a mineral-sunscreen to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Mineral or physical sunscreens contain Zinc oxide and/or Titanium dioxide as their active ingredient. They protect the skin from both UV-A and UV-B rays because they reflect the sun rays away, which is why they may appear white on the skin. To reduce the white-cast appearance, look for micronized formulation of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
Apply a nickel-sized dollop of physical sunscreen to your face 20-minutes before sun exposure to protect your skin from the damaging rays of the sun.
Check out some of my faves here: adm Radiance Sheer Physical sunscreen SPF 50+, CoTz Sensitive SPF 40 Broad Spectrum UVA-UVB, SuperGoop! Bright-Eyed 100% Mineral Eye Cream SPF 40
Due to the pandemic, we are spending more time indoors staring at computer screens and monitors that emit High Energy Visible Blue light (HEV). HEV has been shown in clinical studies to contribute to premature skin aging and wrinkles, skin discoloration, melasma and skin damage.
I recommend using a screen filter because they offer broader protection than sunscreens with HEV coverage and also, we don’t typically wear sunscreen indoors. Look for a handing Blue Light Blocking Screen Protector or Anti Blue Light Filter available from online retailers