The sequence in which you apply serums, creams and cosmetics can be as important as the products themselves, so we asked a celebrity dermatologist and a makeup artist for their advice on what goes on when and why.
The Basics of Skin Care
Apply products with active ingredients that are designed to repair before you apply heavier products that protect. These “actives” include antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, peptides, vitamins and pigment lighteners. They contain molecules small enough to penetrate the outer layer of skin in order to get down to the deeper layers where they work to hydrate, brighten, smooth and firm the skin.
- Heavier products, such as moisturizers and sunscreens, go on next because they function as shields, keeping UV rays out and moisture in, says Ava Shamban, M.D., who is the featured dermatologist on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover.”
- “If you make the mistake of topping a sunscreen with an antioxidant serum, the serum won’t be able to sink in since the cells are already sealed,” says Shamban. In other words, access denied, no matter how pricey or terrific the product may be.
The Basics of Cosmetics
Applying cosmetics in the right order results in a natural-looking finish and streamlines the process by preventing mistakes.
- “It has a lot to do with texture, such as not putting cream formulations on top of powdered ones,” says makeup artist Tonya Crooks, whose regular clients include Megan Fox and Fergie.
- Using a mineral powder foundation before cream blush will look blotchy because it will be hard to blend the blush.
- Lipstick should always go under lip gloss, so you can still achieve the shine you’re after.
Top Ten Beauty Rules of Order
Only a beauty-pageant contender would use all of the products that follow, but for purposes of illustration, here they are in their optimal order of application, after your morning cleansing routine.
1. If you use hydrating mists to plump up the skin, or gels for acne or rosacea, apply now. The mists soften the top layer of dead skin cells (the stratum corneum) and help conduct water-soluble products down to the deeper layers of skin.
2. Active ingredients in water-soluble gels and serums go on now. Examples are antioxidant serums, AHAs, peptides, vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, growth factors and pigment lighteners.