Are you applying your skincare products correctly?

by Gio
How to help skincare products better penetrate skin

Do you know how to apply your skincare products correctly?

Once upon a time, when I was young and naive and didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I thought I could just pour a bit of serum on my hand and rub it on my skin for it to work its magic.

As I grew up, I realised things aren’t that easy. If you want a product to REALLY work (and why would you even buy it, otherwise?), you also need to make sure it can penetrate your skin as deeply as possible.

But… how? Here are 4 way to apply your skincare products correctly to ensure maximum skin penetration:

1. Cleanse Your Skin

This should be a given, but who has never applied moisturizer over makeup after coming back home at 3pm? Come on, we all did it at least once.

Truth is, you shouldn’t have bothered. All that makeup creates a barrier on the skin that prevents your skincare products from penetrating it properly (dirt will do the same, by the way).

Always, always, always, cleanse your skin before you put on any skincare products.

Related: How To Choose The Best Cleanser For Your Skin Type

2. Apply Products To Moist Skin

Washed your face? Don’t towel dry it.

Not completely anyway. Leave it a little damp.The extra moisture helps your skincare products get deeper into your skin.

FYI, this is the secret of Korean skincare.  Each product provides a layer of hydration that helps the next one better penetrate into the skin.

Related: 4 Things I Learned From Korean Skincare

3. Exfoliate

Makeup and dirt aren’t the only things that create a barrier on the skin. Dead skin cells do too – when they accumulate too much.

If you want your skincare products to get through your skin, remove this last obstacle too. Here’s how:

Just, don’t do it too often!

A little exfoliation enhances penetration of your skincare products. Too much, it’ll irritate your skin real bad.

Two or three times a week is usually enough for most people (I use glycolic acid 3 times a week, in case you were wondering).

Related: How To Choose The Best Exfoliator For Your Skin Type

4. Follow the right order

Yes, there is a proper order to apply skincare products.

As a rule, products with the thinnest consistency (think toners and serums) go first, and those with a heavier consistency (i.e. moisturisers and sunscreens) go last.

That’s because a thick consistency can create a barrier that would be impossible for a lightweight, runny formula to get through, preventing it from working its best.

Not sure what the right order is? Click on the image below to download the “Right Skincare Routine Order” cheatsheet:

Are you applying your skincare products correctly so they have the best chance of penetrating your skin? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Sherry October 28, 2009 - 1:36 pm

oh I am doing the last part wrong as I do rub on my face. 🙁
.-= Sherry´s last blog ..The important of cell phone =-.

Dao October 28, 2009 - 3:46 pm

Now I am a firm believer in exfoliation. If I don’t wash my face religiously, I am sure to have more zits than I can handle. This is a very good post, Gio! I enjoy reading it.
.-= Dao´s last blog ..Nail Polish Rendez-Vous: Revlon Silver Screen or $$$$$Yes Twin =-.

beautifulwithbrains October 28, 2009 - 8:39 pm

Sherry, that’s not good for the skin! Treat it gentle and it’ll thank you 😉

beautifulwithbrains October 28, 2009 - 8:49 pm

Thanks Dao, I’m glad you do. I think exfoliation is very important too and I do it regularly. If the layer of dead skin cells on the surface is too thick, pores don’t function properly and it’s hard for skincare products to penetrate skin as they should.

Angela October 29, 2009 - 2:53 am

very helpful tips. But exfoliating 2-3 times is a little too much. Usually 1 time per week. 2 max if you really need to.
.-= Angela´s last blog ..All That Glitters: A Review of Zoya Ultra Glitter Collection =-.

beautifulwithbrains October 29, 2009 - 11:14 am

Angela, thanks. I think how many times you exfoliate depends on your skin type. Those with oily skin can get away with exfoliating 3 times a week while those with sensitive skin should only do it once a week and use a gentle scrub. I have combination skin and like you, I exfoliate once a week, two at the max and only if my skin needs it.

Leslee November 10, 2011 - 4:44 pm

I exfoliate my skin once a week as I have sensitive skin. I use my CeraVe hydrating cleanser with a small amount of baking soda. After I rinse with water I apply my moisturizing lotion and my skin is so.. soft 🙂

beautifulwithbrains November 10, 2011 - 5:09 pm

Leslee, that’s nice. I’m glad you found a way to exfoliate that leaves your skin soft without irritating it. 🙂

Rashmi March 22, 2019 - 12:08 pm

Hi Gio, it’s a great post. I exfoliate once a week and I doubt, I m layering wrong. I wash my face with a sulphate free gel cleanser and use diluted acv as a toner, apply cold pressed argan oil as a serum and layer it with shea butter lotion. It worked for me, But post my tired schedule, i stopped exfoliating,just on and off for a year maybe nowadays i feel like my skin’s texture is not that smooth except after exfoliating, only for a day and my complexion too is getting dull, my skin is still normal and not that dry too but it lacks that glow,looks tired and not bouncy? I used the clarisonic for two to three mins twice a week, but now i feel even more dryness.What change i ought to do?

Gio March 29, 2019 - 1:03 pm

Rashmi, stop using ACV cos it’s too drying. Instead, exfoliate 3 nights a week with an acid. This post above helps you pick the best one for your skin type.

Rashmi March 29, 2019 - 5:23 pm

Thank you Gio, I’m definitely gonna start using acids. I believe, I want to start with lactic, as it also hydrates. Excited to try. One question though, if I’m using acids, can I use a sonic massager like the oriflame sonic 3 in 1once a week, or will it be too much for my skin? I just want better penetration of my serums.Does a silk pillow actually allows better absorption of products or delaying wrinkles, or it’s just a myth or marketing technique? What are your opinions?Should a skincare regimen include, acids, retinols and niacinamide/euk, how to include them. I’m sorry for so many questions..😅 Just a little confused with many products out there. Thank you so much.

Gio April 4, 2019 - 11:56 am

Rashmi, to answer your questions:

1. Only use acids. Better absorption often leads to irritation. Besides not all ingredients in a serum are meant to be absorbed by the skin.
2. They have an effect but it’s minimal.
3. A skincare regime should include what YOUR skin needs, not what’s popular at the moment.

Hope this helps.

Katy September 15, 2019 - 2:21 am

“This should be a given, but who has never applied moisturizer over makeup after coming back home at 3pm? Come on, we all did it at least once.” Uh, no we all HAVEN’T. Why in God’s name would anyone put a moisturizer OVER makeup?? Aside from destroying your makeup, what would the result me? An oily mess?

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