If you’re anything like us, the excitement of buying a new skin care product is almost immediately followed by confusion: how does this fit into my skin care routine? Is it serums before moisturizer or the other way around? Do I do this all over again at night?
When you consider that your cabinet likely holds over a dozen different products, building your perfect skin care routine can be intimidating. But with a few rules of thumb and our quick-reference guide, you’ll soon be seeing the best results possible from your skin care products!
The biggest thing to remember is that the order in which we apply products is incredibly important, since it determines which ingredients are actually absorbed. A good rule of thumb is to apply from thin to thick, starting with water-based products and building up to heavier creams.
We can further break your face routine down into two regimens: daytime and nighttime. The main goal of your daytime skin care routine is to protect your skin from the sun, free radicals and other elements. To create the most beneficial daytime face routine you should use the following six products in this order:
- Toner (optional)
- Eye Cream
Now, let’s break these daytime skin care routine steps down a little further.
Step 1: Cleanser
For normal skin types, a quick splash of warm water followed by a quick splash of cool water is all you need as far as cleansing in the morning. But if you’re looking for a bit more balancing, start your day off with a gentle cleanser. Dry skin types should opt for a creamy formula like the one found in our Quench Cleanse. For Oily skin types, choose a gently foaming option like Dream Clean to freshen up. Apply the cleanser of your choice in an upwards, circular motion, followed by a few splashes of warm and one splash of cool water.
Step 2: Toner
Toners were originally created to help rebalance the skin’s pH after cleansing with harsh soaps. Fortunately, there are so many gentler options today that this step is entirely optional. If you chose a LimeLife cleanser in the first step, we’d suggest skipping right to serums. But if you do want to add in this step, be sure to choose an alcohol-free formulation and consider applying it with a reusable cotton pad.
Step 3: Serum
Serums are a super-concentrated way to deliver antioxidants and other powerful ingredients to the skin, so it’s best to apply them as close to the surface as possible. Choose your serum based on your skin’s needs and feel free to mix and match. If you’re applying several different serums, start with the lightest texture before layering on thicker formulas. To reduce dark spots and increase hydration, try starting with our lightweight One Drop Wonder and following it with the powerful Sotoks brightening serum.
Step 4: Eye Cream
Dermatologists agree that regular use of eye cream can help improve or prevent fine lines in the delicate eye area. Starting in your 20s, aim to apply it at least every night. Bonus points for also following this step in the morning! Our Eye Arise makes using eye cream simple, since the tube includes a cooling ceramic applicator. Just squeeze a bit of the serum onto the applicator, massage around and under the eye and use your ring finger to tap in any excess product.
Step 5: Moisturizer
Surprise – this step isn’t just for those with dry skin! While our skin naturally lubricates itself by producing oil, almost all of us can use some extra hydration. Just choose a moisturizer that matches your needs. Those with normal to dry skin should massage on a richer cream formula like our Skin Therapy, paying special attention to dry patches. Oily or more sensitive skin types should look for a lighter formula like our Cool Balm. This gel moisturizer features soothing aloe and cucumber and helps protect acne-prone skin from inflammation.
Keep in mind that your skin’s needs evolve with the weather. The moisturizer you choose in January may not be the right match in June! Either way, experts agree that moisturizer is more effective when applied to damp skin, so the sooner you get through your previous post-cleansing steps, the better you can lock in that moisture.
Step 6: SPF
You already knew this one was coming, right? Now that you’ve cleansed, toned, treated and moisturized, the best treat you can give your skin is sun protection. Look for a formula with an SPF of at least 30. Our Perfect Sunscreen uses zinc oxide for safe and effective sun protection, along with chicory root and vitamin B3 to help diminish signs of aging with regular use. Just give your Perfect Sunscreen tube a quick shake and then apply to your face and neck in circular motions.
Once you’re in for the evening, your nighttime skin care routine should be all about treating ongoing issues, from acne to dry skin to signs of aging. Your nighttime face routine is extremely important as it cleans your face of all the impurities and dirt you encountered throughout your day. To complete your nighttime face routine, you should use the following products in this order:
- Makeup Remover/Cleanser
- Toner, Essences or Boosters
- Treatments, if any
- Eye Cream
Now let’s break down these steps a little further to better understand the process and benefits of each:
Step 1: Remove Makeup and Cleanse
If nothing else, this step is non-negotiable! To keep your skin looking and feeling its best, be sure to remove your makeup before your head hits the pillow. If you like using a face oil or to dissolve your makeup, now’s the time to do it. Lots of today’s cleansers (LimeLife’s included) do a great job of removing makeup, which eliminates that extra step. If you have dry skin, reach for our creamy Quench Cleanse and massage into wet skin using circular, upward strokes. Oily skin types can do the same with Dream Clean.
Step 2: Toners, Essences, Boosters
If you like to use a toner, facial mist or essence, apply it now before moving on to serums. As you layer products, remember to apply from lightest to heaviest, but also remember that you don’t have to include every step every day! Choose your serums and boosters based on what your skin needs, not based on what’s calling your name from your countertop. For a good daily go-to, try our antioxidant-rich Midnight Oil™ Serum, which is packed with naturally derived emollients that produce radiant skin while you sleep. Massage a few drops onto your clean face and rub any extra along the backs of your hands.
Step 3: Treatments
Many of us use prescription medications or retinoid treatments as part of our nightly routine. As always, chat with your dermatologist to determine when and how often to apply, along with which products to avoid while using these treatments. You’ll likely want to apply these formulas as directed before moisturizing, so they’re able to sink effectively into your skin.
Step 4: Eye Cream
If you didn’t do this step in the morning, consider eye cream one of your nightly VIPs. Use the cooling ceramic applicator on our Eye Arise to give your delicate eye skin a little TLC before bed.
Step 5: Moisturizer
Maintaining a high water content and protective coating on your skin is key for gaining and keeping a healthy glow. Nighttime is the perfect opportunity to apply a slightly richer formula like our Skin Therapy, but those with overly irritated skin can also reach for some soothing Cool Balm.
You might notice that certain serums and treatments recommend waiting anywhere from five to 30 minutes before applying moisturizer. If you’re anything like us, you’re itching to get in bed and might end up skipping a step altogether if things get too complicated. If that’s the case, start your skin care routine before brushing your teeth, and keep moisturizers on your bedside table. Massage them into your skin just before climbing into bed to give those specialty treatments a little extra time to absorb.
It’s always fun to treat our skin to a good mask or exfoliant but doing so too often can actually undermine the benefits of the product. Once or twice a week, feel free to add in a little something extra that works with your skin’s needs.
For an extra glow or to repair skin that’s been exposed to the elements, try our lemony fresh Skin Polish. Massage it into freshly cleansed, damp skin and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the mask with a few splashes of warm water followed by a cool water splash.
A great acne-fighting extra is our gentle but powerful Masque of Zen. Apply this clay-based formula generously to cleansed, damp skin and relax for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a warm, damp cloth to remove and finish up with a splash of cool water. When left on a blemish overnight, it also makes a great spot treatment!
Remember, what works best for someone else’s skin might not have the same effect on yours. And what worked for your skin last year might be replaced by a different holy grail in the future! Our best advice for building your best skin care routine is to let it evolve. Follow the recommended order for maximum effectiveness but play around with different combinations to see what gets you great results.
Need a cheat sheet? Keep our quick reference guide handy!