In the era where K-beauty and 10-step skincare routines are gaining momentum, it’s easy to be confused about the order that you should your apply skincare products. It takes a cosmetic chemist to develop and create formulations and understand skincare ingredients, so you can be forgiven for having a few questions. To better understand this skincare minefield, we went direct to the source and consulted cosmetic chemist and founder of Biologi, Ross Macdougald. Ross has over 30 years’ experience in the skincare industry and can be credited for developing over 300 products. In short, he knows his stuff when it comes to skincare! Luckily for us, Ross gave us the lowdown on the ultimate skincare routine, just how many products you should be using, and what order they should be applied.
The Golden Rule
As a general rule, the order you should apply your skincare products needs to be based on the way chemistry works. Always remember the golden rule: water-based products should go before oil-based products. This is because oil and water don’t mix, and therefore the way you apply your products needs to be a little more strategic. Oil can block water from penetrating the skin, which is why the water-based products should come first (otherwise you’re just wasting your time and your money). As a general rule, start with your cleanser, followed by your water-based products in order of toner, serum and essences. Then, you can follow that with the heavier, more moisturising products like creams and lotions. Finally, any oil-based products need to come last before you apply your sunscreen and makeup. That all said, I don’t believe you need all of those products.
Less Is Best
Let’s just say there is such a thing as too much when it comes to our skincare routines! Your skin only really needs exfoliation once a week, cleansing one to two times a day (we recommend Biologi’s Bc Refresh Cleanser), a quality multi-tasking serum like Biologi’s Bd Face Luminosity Serum, and a sunscreen for protection. Your serum should ideally replace your moisturiser, day cream, night cream, and all the other products that you don’t really need (but clever marketers have told us otherwise)! In my opinion, 4-5 products are all your skin needs!
Too many products or a an overly complicated routine can actually have adverse effects on our skin in a couple of different ways. The first is stripping it of its natural oils that it needs for a balanced pH, which is often done by cleansing too much or over exfoliating. The second is the fact that too many products will often contain synthetic ingredients, a.k.a stuff your skin doesn’t need. What many people don’t realise is that our skin cells actually retain toxins. So, when you’re applying several layers of different products, you are essentially allowing your skin to absorb lots of different toxins into the skin’s layers. Over time, toxic build up can cause skin sensitivity such as rosacea, eczema, or dermatitis.
Avoid Layering (Too Many) Ingredients
Many people often layer their skincare products without really understanding what each ingredient can do. Layering different products can effectively cancel out the benefits or – in worst case scenarios – cause harsh reactions. A common example of this is people using a retinol and vitamin c together. This is unfortunately a recipe for disaster that can result in redness, irritation and skin peeling. It will also increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so you’ll be at a higher risk of getting UV damage.
Don’t Fall For It
It is important to note that these complicated skincare routines are usually created by clever marketing folk to get you to buy more products. The industry is rife with marketing gimmicks that aim to mislead the consumer by omitting the details or selling a false dream to customers. Overcomplicating your routine can have adverse effects on the skin in many ways. Instead, just keep it simple by feeding your skin with plant nutrients, and your body with the same.
We always suggest that products containing a high percentage of natural active ingredients are best. But did you know that the term ‘naturally derived’ means the product originally came from a natural source, but has since gone through a chemical process, deeming it no longer natural? Make sure you turn over the packaging and have a good hard look at the ingredients list, and even google what they really are, or what the terminology really means.
And if you’re still unsure, don’t be afraid to ask the brand directly – if they have nothing to hide, they should be open and honest with you about what their product contains!