The only steps you’re guaranteed to find in a given skin-care routine are cleaning, moisturizing, and sunscreen—but what if your routine has two or three or 5 greater steps to it? It makes the experience that there might be some form of order to layering exceptional serums, creams, toners, and essences, however all of the conflicting records and skin-care pseudoscience available makes it tough to decide what merchandise you really need and a way to observe them.
In preferred, most people suggest ordering products by texture and/or pH degree: observe lighter, thinner products before heavier lotions and lower pH merchandise before better pH ones. The reasoning is going that software order dictates how various products are absorbed, and consequently, their efficacy.
But how tons are these regulations truly relevant to real existence?
Here’s what to consider while layering your merchandise:
There is a few truth to the feel argument thanks to the easy reality that oil and water don’t mix, and the water content material of a product affects its absorption into the skin extra than some thing else, Suzan Obagi, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology and plastic surgery at UPMC, director of the UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center, and president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, tells SELF.
“Typically, things which might be water-primarily based may be layered on the pinnacle of [each other], and there shouldn’t be a trouble with the penetration of 1 as opposed to the alternative,” she explains. “But when you have a cream or an ointment, or a serum that is oil-based totally, those have to be placed on afterward due to the fact whatever [water-based] you placed on top may not get through.” In different phrases, apply the ones water-primarily based merchandise in any series you want, then oil-primarily based merchandise later on.
That stated, “nothing is totally impenetrable,” Evan Rieder, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, tells SELF, “[so] until you’re using something like Vaseline—and most people don’t place Vaseline on their faces—you’re probably going to get some kind of penetration.”
Generally, your skin will absorb as a minimum some of every product you placed on your face no matter the order in which they have been applied. So even in case you observe a water-primarily based product on top of an oil-primarily based one, some gets through. But it might be greater powerful to apply the water-based ones first.
The pH of pores and skin-care merchandise—meaning how acidic they may be—additionally subjects much less than you’d suppose, at least for cosmetic purposes. Apart from benzoyl peroxide, maximum broadly-used active substances are acidic, in order that they have pH values lower than five. Plus, your pores and skin have its personal natural pH (just beneath 5), which influences the pH of the whole lot it touches.
Applying a pH 4 serum over a pH 3 serum over your pH 4.5-ish face creates a combination that’s in between all three pH values—no longer just between three and 4. Reverse the serums, and also you’d get the same component. So understanding the pH of your products is not virtually something you need to care about, unless you are using a prescription remedy as well (extra on that later). But in case you’re curious approximately a specific pH, you may usually touch the producer.
If there’s a takeaway right here, it’s that products don’t form separate layers on the pinnacle of your pores and skin; the entirety receives mixed together to a few diplomae, no matter order. You can reduce product blending to some diploma by means of letting every layer dry earlier than transferring on to the subsequent, Dr. Rieder says, who notes that most products will dry inside a pair mins. But even that isn’t perfect, he says. (And who has that kind of time, anyway?)
Application order matters most while you’re the usage of prescription remedies.
Once you throw prescription medicinal drugs into the mixture, utility order turns into greater vital. Medical treatment beats out beauty worries whenever, and also you need to ensure you’re getting the full dosage. “Any topical medicine that your dermatologist has prescribed…[should] move on first after you cleanse because drugs are absorbed first-class when the skin is moist, and whilst there’s nothing among the skin and the medication,” Dr. Rieder says.
Applying a serum or moisturizer earlier than a topical medication basically dilutes your medicinal drug. That said, in case you’re the use of something that’s recognized to be worrying (together with a retinoid), your dermatologist can also certainly advocate blending it with a moisturizer or placing it on after moisturizer to melt the blow a bit. But for different treatments, you need to be sure you’re getting the total dose every time.
Dilution isn’t the only difficulty, however. Topical prescriptions together with retinoids, steroids, and antibiotics are best under certain situations—which frequently way that pH in reality topics. If your serum or toner is acidic (or primary) enough to adjust the pH of your medicinal drug, it may not paintings in any respect.
According to Dr. Obagi, this happens regularly with over the counter lively substances that may intervene with the effectiveness of prescription retinoids when used for the duration of the same recurring. In unique, benzoyl peroxide and alpha-hydroxy-acids (like lactic and glycolic acid) can deactivate positive retinoids whilst used at the equal time, that’s why Dr. Obagi recommends applying acids and/or benzoyl peroxide within the morning and retinoids at night time.
If you are using multiple topical medicines (for instance, some thing for rosacea and something for pimples), simply ask your dermatologist to write down down the order in that you must observe the whole lot so that you consider.
The backside line is that sticking to a particular utility order in all likelihood gained’t make or destroy your pores and skin-care routine—unless you operate prescription medications. Always take a look at with your dermatologist earlier than introducing a new product to make sure it’s like-minded together with your meds. But if your recurring is just for amusing or self-care, let commonplace sense be your guide—and if you find yourself agonizing over your routine, take a step lower back. If you’re now not taking part in it, what’s the factor?