A show of hands please, can you confidently say you know when you should be applying retinol to your face every evening?
After some investigation, I discovered that applying skincare products in the right order can improve the way your skin looks. When it comes to your skin, you could have an impressive collection of lotions and potions but if you’re applying them in the wrong order every night, you’re wasting your money, because you’re not going to be getting the full effect of the product.
I’ve switched up the order of my evening routine in the last few weeks and seen a big improvement in the texture and feel of my skin and want to share what I’ve learnt. So, if you’re unsure about what order to apply your hyaluronic acid and retinol, or if you should be using an acid exfoliant on your skin before bed, read on!
Why is your evening skincare routine important?
Your skin goes through a lot during the day. It begins when you apply your SPF in the morning – designed to adhere to the skin which is great for the daytime when you want your skin to be protected, however when it comes to the evening you don’t want it to be still sitting on your face and blocking your pores. The same goes for makeup, as skin-enhancing as it looks during the day, it’s going to cause problems for you if traces are left on your face at night. Add into the mix pollution, natural skin shedding and the fact that your skin has been exposed to potential damage from other everyday aggressors and you can see why your evening routine is important.
While the focus of a morning routine (link) is to protect, an evening skincare routine should be all about repairing and correcting the complexion and the evening is the perfect time to do this because your skin isn’t exposed to sunlight, dirt and aggressors like it is during the day, so the focus can really be on your skin.
Why is it important to apply skincare in the correct order?
• They may not penetrate – if you try to put thin, fluid or water-based products on top of thick, creamy or oily formula it won’t fully absorb; the richer ones will form a barrier on the skin that prevents anything else from getting through.
• They may be less effective – if products aren’t penetrating the skin properly they will be less effective. The same goes if you apply active ingredients too close together that aren’t supposed to be mixed and will cancel out the effectiveness of each other.
• You could harm your skin – by using products in the wrong order you could actually be harming your skin. For example, applying serums on top of oils could leave your skin dehydrated because not enough water is reaching your skin.
Your Nighttime Skincare Steps…
1. Double Cleanse
If you were wearing makeup, sunscreen or any silicone-based products on your face during the day a double-cleanse in the evening is a must because these products won’t be removed properly with just one cleanse. In order to get rid of everything you need to start with something that will remove makeup – micellar water is a perfect choice because it will remove the worst of everything ready for the next step. Now it’s time to actually clean your skin. Using either an oil, balm, milk or gel cleanser will ensure that every last trace of SPF, pollution, dirt and makeup is removed from your skin to leave it feeling soft and clean.
This is an optional step but if you want to use either a physical exfoliator (a facial scrub) or a chemical exfoliant (using AHAs or BHAs) to improve skin texture, tone and clarity this is the best time to do it. Allow to soak in for a few minutes before your next step.
3. Hydrating Mist or Toner
Your skin can never have enough hydration! This is the perfect time to add a layer of moisture to your face, look for a toner or facial mist that contains hyaluronic acid or glycerin in it to assist with the skin’s hydration process.
4. Vitamin A / Retinoids
Before applying retinol products, it’s best to wait for your skin to be dry-to-touch so that the ingredients are absorbed properly. Most people will benefit from a nightly retinoid as their main skin treatment because they are so effective. The trick is to ease yourself into them if you’re new to them, so perhaps every other night and less is more when it comes to retinol – you don’t need a lot of it for it to work. It’s also recommended that you leave them to work on the skin for around 15 to 30 minutes before applying your next step.
5. Eye Cream
Did you know that your eyes are one of the first parts of your face that will show signs of ageing? So, it’s important for an eye cream to be included in your routine, no matter your age. If you wake up with puffy eyes a lot, it’s a good idea to pick a light textured eye cream for the evening to avoid overburdening the eye area.
6. Spot Treatments
Any topical spot treatment products should be added at this stage so it can penetrate the skin properly before any more thicker products are applied (that will form a barrier on the skin which makes it harder for the spot treatment to penetrate). It’s worth mentioning though that if you are using a retinoid you may want to only use your spot treatment during your morning routine to avoid irritating your skin.
7. Treatment Products (Serums / Oils)
This is the step that really counts and makes the most difference to your skin because it’s where you’re able to really target your concerns. If you want to splash out on skincare products, this is the step to do so. Think about your concerns – is it anti-ageing, pigmentation or dryness for example? Then pick a serum or oil to tackle it.
If you’ve applied a heavy oil in your treatment step, you may want to skip this step. Most people opt for a richer moisturiser at night (since you don’t have to worry about looking shiny!) However, if your skin is acne-prone you’re still going to be better off with something with a lighter texture.
9. Lip Balm
This is a step that a lot of people skip, but if you religiously apply a lip balm at night before you go to bed, you’ll rarely experience dry or chapped lips because you’ll be getting a daily overnight repair!