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Flannels blog article

With so many skincare products on the market, working out which order to apply them can be a minefield. And it’s important. Layering the wrong elements together can cause skin irritation and reduce the effectiveness of ingredients. The general rule of thumb? Apply thinnest to thickest, starting with water-based and finishing with oils. From cleansers to serums, moisturisers to oils, this is how to layer your skincare like a pro.

1. Cleanse and Exfoliate

Call it an obvious first step, but we think it’s important to get the basics right. Before applying that precious skincare, you want to make sure you’re working with an ultra-clean, fresh base. “Really invest in good cleansing,” advises Ozohu Adoh, founder of Epara. “People don’t understand just how important it is… really the way you prep your skin to accept those other things makes a huge difference.”

On a morning, go in gently with a cream or gel-based cleanser that’ll lightly remove any residing products from the night before. When it comes to your evening routine, it’s all about the double cleanse. Make your first a balm or oil, which will dissolve makeup and remove any grime and dirt that accumulates during the day. Follow with a gel or cream to really cleanse the skin. Last but not least, twice a week treat your skin to an exfoliant. This will work to buff away dead skin cells and leave you with a glowing complexion, ready to soak up what’s coming next.

3. Mist

Think of your skin as a sponge. A dry sponge won’t absorb any liquid, a damp sponge, however, soaks it all right up. The secret? A quick spritz of a hydrating mist will give a moist base for your skincare to cling to. Simple but effective. Trust us.

4. Hydrate

Different to moisturising (see step seven), hydration is all about adding water to the skin, whereas moisturisers are about oils. Not sure which you need? If your skin is dehydrated, it’s lacking water. If it’s dry, it’s lacking oil. See, completely different. And as water is thinner than oil, this is your moment to feed thirsty skin. The golden ingredient? Hyaluronic acid. A sugar naturally found in our skin, it holds water, helping to keep it hydrated and plump. Top of our list is Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Hyaluronic Serum, which contains two weights of hyaluronic acid to target different layers of the skin.

5. Treat

Now is the moment to apply those active ingredients and target specific skin complaints. On a morning, go for a vitamin C-based serum. A hard-working antioxidant, it helps to protect the skin and boost radiance. At night, switch for retinol-based serums which work to increase cell turnover and stimulate collagen, evening out skin tone and reducing the appearance of fine lines. The important thing is to ease yourself in with retinol. Apply a small amount a couple of times a week and work your way up.

6. The eyes

One of the most delicate parts of your skin, the under-eye area needs some extra attention. Eye creams are generally made lighter than moisturisers, so we advise applying right about now. In the morning, go for refreshing, hydrating formulas packed with caffeine to reduce puffiness, dark circles and wake up the skin. On an evening, look for anti-ageing creams that will help to lift and reduce the appearance of fine lines. An extra tip? Apply to those other areas susceptible to signs of ageing: between the eyes, along the forehead and at the top of the lip. Clever.

7. Moisturise 

Don’t always have time for a nine-step skincare routine? A good moisturiser is the one you shouldn’t miss (along with cleansing and SPF, that is). “If I only had one thing to do, it would be moisturise properly,” says Kate Somerville. “That hydration and moisturisation, that’s going to keep your skin looking youthful, for a long time.”

By day, go for lighter formulas that won’t clog the skin. Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream Light is the perfect hit of featherlight moisture, while Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion goes on thick, but soaks in fast. Dry skin? On a night, it’s time for thick, creamy moisturisers that’ll nourish and restore. YSL’s Pure Shots Perfect Plumper Rich Cream will leave skin looking – and feeling – bouncy come morning.

8. Oil Up

Unable to be penetrated by any other products, oils always, always go on last. Applied solo, they won’t moisturise your skin that well, but layer over all your other products and they’ll help to boost effectiveness. Think of them as a way to lock in all that good work you’ve just done…

9. Protect

A non-negotiable, SPFs should be applied every morning without fail – visible sun or no visible sun. Look for an SPF30 or above and don’t settle for foundations or moisturisers that contain the stuff. See that as a bonus, not the main act. The good news is these days formulas are lightweight, non-greasy and won’t disrupt your makeup. Charlotte Tilbury have even saturated their Invisible UV Poreless Primer with the stuff, creating the dream base for your foundation.