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Delicious food is dependent on the right spices at the right timing, and so is a good skincare routine. Many a time, we spend a fortune on stocking up skincare products that we believe we need to keep our skin healthy, yet often, we do not get the results we’re looking for. The reasons for this could vary from not having the right products to not applying the products the right way. A good skincare routine must have the right multi-steps to make the best of all the skincare products.

Skincare routine is all about cleansing the skin, treating it, and protecting it, which is done by facing the products procedurally. Facing could include several skincare products or applying one product multiple times, and therefore it’s crucial to know the when, how, and why to apply different products during a skincare routine.

The skin has different needs at different times of the year, and therefore the product combination and build up in each season is different. During winter, for example, the skin turns extra dry and needs several layers of moisturizer.

While the basic skincare routine should have a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen, adding more products specifically tailored to your skincare needs is important. In this case, the rule of the thumb is to start with thinner watery products and build up to the thicker oil-based products. I always use this formula if I have more than the products in this article.

Starting with thinner watery products on the base ensures that other heavier products can penetrate the skin as you build up, thus maximizing the benefits of each product.

However, when treating a skin condition with prescribed products, it is best to use them immediately after the cleanser. This gives the active ingredients the best chance to go deep into the skin and treat the skin accordingly.

Oils can penetrate through moisturizers, serums, and any lotions and therefore should come last in the skincare routine. There’s an exception during the morning skincare routine because of sunscreen.


Here are the common skincare products and the order of layering them.

  1. Cleanser

Clear build-up products and sweep away dry and dead skin to prepare the skin to receive and penetrate the treating products.


  1. Toner

Even after cleansing, the skin still has a layer of dead cells. A toner breaks down the chemical bonds between dead skin cells allowing them to wipe off easily. This leaves a new layer of skin exposed, allowing easy penetration of other products.


  1. Serum

A serum is a must-have, especially if you’re 25 years and above. Serums improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. They also protect the skin from free radicals and future damages, making the skin appear younger. Serums must penetrate deep into the skin to treat the skin as required.


  1. Moisturizer

A moisturizer hydrates and seals in moisture in the skin, allowing the previous ingredients to deliver maximum benefits.


  1. Sunscreen

If you invest in the right skincare products, layer them correctly but leave out sunscreen, you’d not only be wasting your money but harming your skin as well. Be sure to use enough sunscreen and reapply accordingly during the day.

When using multiple products, beware of some products that you’re not sure can be used together. Always consult your dermatologist for the best advice.

Here are some product combinations that you should avoid:

  • Retinol and Benzoyl peroxide

Mixing the two cancels out their positive effects and leaves the skin dry and irritated.

  • Retinol and vitamin C

Due to their differences in PH, the two lower the effectiveness of each other, and therefore it’s pointless to use them together. If you must use them both, it is safe to use vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night.

  • Retinol and AHA or BHA

Because of the exfoliating factors found in the above, using them together leaves the skin extremely dry. If you must, use them at least an hour apart.

What products are you unsure of when to use them? Leave them in the comments, and we will get back to you.


By: Edel Mwende


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