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How to Build a Skincare Routine: Step by Step Guide

Applying skincare correctly for both morning and night routines is essential. Learn about how to properly apply your skin routine order from our Kiehl's experts.

skincare routine order

Determining the order of your multi-step skin routine can be confusing – but understanding the correct order of face products is as important as the ingredients you apply to skin. To curate your personalised skincare order, it helps to understand the essential steps first.

Applying natural and efficacious ingredients addresses skin concerns and helps build healthy, glowing skin for the long-term. Finding which ingredients assist in reducing inflammation, blemishes or dryness in skin not only achieves your skincare goals, but also protects your skin against future stressors like ageing and oxidisation. To get the most out of these ingredients, the correct skincare order matters.

Each product has a specific purpose, and the texture, weight and active ingredients of each formula need to be layered correctly with each other. To attain radiant skin, we’ve established a simplified 6-step routine built around our holistic skincare philosophy.

Determining your skincare routine order

Skincare layering refers to the order of skincare products used in your morning and evening routine. The general rule of thumb is to layer formulas from thinnest to thickest, to allow lighter products to fully absorb into skin. This means starting with water-based products and finishing your skin routine order with cream and oil-based formulas.

Skin has three primary layers – the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous layer. What your efficacious ingredients want to reach is the dermis, where sweat, oil, collagen and elastin is housed. With this in mind, we’ve created a foundational skincare order, with the most effective way to layer your products.

1. Cleanser

Throughout the day and whilst we sleep, our skin is exposed to dirt, sweat, bacteria and pollutants – that all irritate and unbalance healthy oil levels. The right order to apply skin care products starts with cleansing. Each morning and evening, begin your skincare routine order with a supportive cleanser. Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash is highly effective and gentle as it lifts away impurities without stripping, thanks to the combination of calendula and glycerin.

Pro tip: if you find that your skin still feels oily after cleansing, double cleansing can provide a deeper clean. When double-cleansing, the order of face products starts with an oil-based cleanser like Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Cleanser to remove dirt, oil and makeup, followed by a foaming cleanser to provide a deep cleanse. 

2. Exfoliator

Once skin is properly clean the next products in your skincare routine order can access deeper impurities. Dead skin cells appear across multiple layers of skin, and while they’re usually linked to those who experience dryness, all skin types face this consequence of the natural cell cycle. To improve surface texture and reduce dullness, a daily exfoliator is next in the order of face products. Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser is made with natural exfoliant pearlstone and is gentle enough for daily use.

Pro tip: Over-exfoliating your skin can irritate and strip, so monitor how your skin both appears and feels after use, and decrease the appearance in your order of face products if you need to.

3. Toner

Toners have a supportive purpose in helping to layer your order of skincare products correctly. There are two functions here – to remove any further impurities that remain after cleansing, and to prep skin for the absorption of concentrated formulas that appear later on in your skin routine order. Balancing cucumber-infused Cucumber Herbal Alcohol-Free Toner is mild and non-drying, and is suitable for all skin types including sensitive and dry.

4. Serum

Super efficacious and tailorable to your skin concerns, serums are infused with powerful ingredients that absorb deeply and go a long way in achieving your skin goals. Because they need to be able to permeate deep layers of skin, this skincare hero must be applied in this order of face products. A widely helpful ingredient used in serums is antioxidants, which reduce dullness and signs of sun damage alongside wrinkles and fine lines. Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate is a potent vitamin C and hyaluronic acid serum, helping to hydrate and boost radiance in skin. 

5. Eye cream & moisturiser

Hydrated skin is better able to protect itself from stressors and can regulate exacerbated or lacking oil productions. Not all skin is equal though – around the eyes, skin is 40% thinner than the rest of the face. This makes signs of stress, ageing and strain from screens much more visible. Target this vulnerable area of skin with an eye cream – before moisturiser in your skincare order. If signs of ageing aren’t of concern to you, provide nourishment and prevent future signs with avocado oil and antioxidant- infused Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado. To address age-related eye concerns, apply skin fortifying Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Eye Cream. Follow with 24-hour Ultra Facial Cream.

6. Facial oil

Last in your skin care routine order morning and night is facial oil. Think of it as a sealant – facial oils create a barrier to hold in all the ingredients of your skincare routine and protect your skin from day and night stressors. To keep skin replenished and radiant throughout the day, pat Daily Reviving Concentrate over skin and massage it into skin with upward motions. To hydrate skin overnight, apply evening primrose oil and squalane-infused Midnight Recovery Concentrate using the same methods. 

Loved this guide? Keep reading to discover the truth about Vitamin C in skincare.


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