So you've washed your face (right?) but now what? With all the lotions and potions we have available, it can be very confusing. A lot of you have a well-stocked arsenal but are still a little puzzled. To be clear, I'm not going to tell you what to use. Every skin is unique, and that's a whole different post. I'm going to tell you when to use what you have. Yes, it really does make a difference in what order different products are used and when. Since there are a million and one options out there, I'm going to break it down into general categories, explaining what's best used in the morning, evening or both. I'll offer some examples of actual protocols I myself, and my clients use to clarify.
Here's the breakdown:
For those of you keeping it simple, so will I.
AM: Cleanse and apply sunscreen.
PM: Cleanse and apply skin appropriate moisturizer.
From antioxidants to acne fighting ingredients, facial toners and mists cover a wide range of uses. Spritz on or apply with cotton directly after cleansing anytime, before any other product.
This one is a bit more complicated but stay with me.
- Retinol (or another vitamin A derived product) should be applied at night, after cleansing and toning (if applicable) but before any other serums and moisturizers. Retinol can not only cause sun-sensitivity, but it easily breaks down in UV light.
- Alpha and beta hydroxy acids (glycolic, salicylic, lactic, azelaic etc.) should also be used in the evening as a general rule. The exception here is if you are treating acne (or in some cases pigmentation), AM and PM applications may be indicated.
- Enzyme masks and physical scrubs are best used in the evening after cleansing, but before toning, serums, and creams. A gentle physical exfoliator used in the morning or in the shower is also fine for most skin if you are not challenged with sensitivity or acne.
*A word about prescription resurfacers: Please follow the advice of your doctor on how and when to apply any prescription. Discontinuing the use of other resurfacers and a daily SPF 30 sunscreen is absolutely mandatory.
If using only once per day, use your antioxidants in the morning. Daytime is when our skin receives the heaviest assaults from UV, pollution, and other skin stressors. There are a ton of antioxidants out there, and a combination provides the best defense. Use before moisturizer and sunscreen, but after any toners or resurfacers.
Look for part 2 in a few days! I'll cover everything else, from serums to sunscreen, and offer those sample protocols to bring it all together.