So many skincare products. What do you apply first? | The Brown Bottle
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So many skincare products. What do you apply first?

Jul 22, 2017 by Sora

So you prepared a rich facial cream and a facial oil blend for the harsh, dry winter winds, but you're not sure which to apply first. And should you use a facial cream which contains water and humectants? Or a 100% oil blend with a thinner texture and then cover it with a thick facial cream?


I’ve heard I should put things on in order of textures or viscosities, from thinnest to thickest. I use stretch mark minimising cream and an oil blend, but which one should I use first?

People frequently ask me what products to use first, as they have lots of skincare products. Many beauty bloggers will gladly offer advice on how to use skincare products in the correct order. But is there really a specific order for applying skincare products?


Are you applying your skincare products in the correct order?

There’s no specific “correct order” to use skincare products. Because our skin conditions are always changed by the weather, health conditions, periods, etc. Cosmetic companies release so numerous products and offer the kind guides “the correct order” for their marketing purposes. However, if you’d like to build up your own skincare routine, use the following cheat sheet.

  1. Thinner viscosity formula → Thicker ones
  2. Hydrating products → Oily & nourishing products
  • Water-based: They don’t normally have viscosities, watery formulas. Examples are toner, mist, floral water, hydrosol, etc.
  • Essence/Emulsion: They have lower viscosities and oily textures. Examples are first essence, boost serum, water essence, ampoule, etc.
  • Lotion type: They have more viscosities and oily textures. Examples are lotion and hydrating cream. An oil serum that contains plant extracts, etc. falls under this group.
  • Cream type: They have high viscosities and oily contents. Examples are eye cream, night/day cream, anti-aging cream, etc.


Then, when should I use a 100% oil blend?

Here’s a quiz for you. If you have an argan facial oil blend which is 100% carrier oil and an anti-aging cream which has a creamy texture, which one would you apply first?

The Brown Bottle suggests using the oil blend first and then applying the cream product, and there are two very good reasons for this.

First, when you use oil first, it boosts other oil contents’ penetration. So if you have a facial oil blend and an anti-aging cream, it's better to use the oil blend first. Oil molecules trick skin cells like teeny-tiny little Trojan horses, helping active ingredients such as retinol, glycolic acid, and vitamin C penetrate without irritation into deeper skin layers where collagen is produced.

And second, cream-type products have waxes and butter ingredients that act as occlusive agents. Once the cream-type product is applied on the skin, it makes absorbing the other ingredients relatively difficult as the cream built a physical barrier to hold the skin’s moisture. That’s why sometime you feel greasy and tacky skin feel, when you use a facial cream first and an oil blend after.


We need a skincare diet

So what do you think? Viscosities and oil contents - if that’s what's different among the many various skincare products on the market, then it makes sense for skin health and environmental protection to skip products that contain overlapping ingredients.

Want to know more about reducing the number of skincare products you use? Click here The Brown Bottle’s previous blog, Skincare diet. As always, I emphasise reading the ingredient lists of personal care products as a shortcut to building your own healthy and effective skincare routine!

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