Look in your beauty cabinet, and chances are you have multiple pillars in your skincare repertoire. Hyaluronic acid is the ultimate hydrator. Retinol is a must for anti-aging. Vitamin C is an essential brightener. SPF is non-negotiable. But is there a right or wrong way to apply them? How do we best layer them up to maximize their benefits? How do you go about it? And what are key ingredients we shouldn’t skip in our step-by-step routine?

 Choose Wisely and Adapt Products As Your Skin Changes

Curating an effective routine is all about choosing the right products as the right time and applying them in the right order. You might already know your general skin type, but for serums and treatments, choose products that are going to target your particular concerns. Maybe you experience more breakouts as the weather gets more humid? Is your skin oilier than usual? Perhaps you have a persistent dry patch that seemed to appear out of nowhere? Or pigmented patches? Identifying exactly what your skin needs first is key when choosing the right products to layer.

Layer From Lightest To Heaviest Formulas

Once armed with the products that make up your routine, you should work from the lightest to the heaviest. Start by putting the thinnest, fastest-absorbing product on your face first and layer the next heaviest over it, then the next, so that the thickest formula ends up on top (followed by sunscreen and/or a tinted SPF). As a general rule of thumb, apply your products in this order: cleanser, toner/essence, treatment/mask, serum, eye cream, moisturizer, oil, SPF. Sunscreen always goes last, and the only thing that you should layer over sunscreen is powder, powder, concealer of foundation’.

Make Sure To Use An Essence

An essence is a key post-cleanse step that not only nourishes, smoothens and pH balances your skin, but also turbo-charges every other product you put on top of it, by softening the epidermal layers to allow faster penetration of actives.

Double Up On Vitamin C

Topical vitamin C has multiple benefits for your skin: it’s radiance-boosting, equalizes uneven skin tone, improves your skin’s texture, helps to fight fine lines and fade acne scars, brightens skin and helps repair damage from UV rays, improves the appearance of pigmentation and over the longer-term, it helps to kick natural collagen production up a notch.

If you’re using a Vitamin C serum, apply morning and night to your face, neck and décolletage after cleansing and before moisturiser, if you have opted for a vitamin C moisturizer, use morning and night to your face, neck and chest as the final step in your skincare routine before SPF and/or foundation.

I double my vitamin C (and resveratrol) use during the summer, using a capsule of either morning and/or evening under moisturizer or sunscreen and after retinol, respectively. I think when it’s sunny, you can never have too many antioxidants.

Hyaluronic Acid Should Be A Staple

Hyaluronic acid can be found in everything from serums to creams to capsule to sheet masks (and in injectable like Restylane or Juvederm). And it’s powerful – so you probably don’t need it in more than one layer of your morning or evening routine. The benefits? It delivers an instant hydration hit, helps with barrier – repair function, protects your skin against inflammation (which BTW, experts now say is responsible for ageing), is compatible with all skin types, is non-comedogenic and makes your face look plumper, dewier and younger.

If using hyaluronic acid serums, apply onto cleansed skin under your day or night moisturizer. If opting for hyaluronic acid – infused creams, use before SPF and/or foundation. And apply hyaluronic acid sheet masks after deep cleansing your skin and before applying essence or  a serum. Hyaluronic acid is also absolutely genius if you find that you’ve overexposed yourself to the sun (feeling a little crispy, maybe?) 

Retinol Is The Gold – Standard In Anti – Ageing

Apply retinol twice a day, morning and evening, for optimal effects – always an SPF in the morning. And yes, retinol is fine to use in the summertime, as long as you always use high sun protection. Consistent use will yield the best results! Combining retinols with acids is okay, so long as the retinol you’re using is gentle enough.

Never Skip Sunscreen

Photoaging is responsible for more than 90 per cent of your skin’s degeneration, which means no matter how good skincare you’re applying every day, none of it will have optimum effect without daily use of a good SPF.