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Submitted via the FutureDerm.com Facebook page (the best way to reach me):
Hi! I’m a big fan of your website and after doing a lot of reading, I’ve decided I want to use the following products for my morning routine, but I’m not sure what order to apply the products after I cleanse my face: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, MD Formulations Daily Peel Pads, Philosophy Miracle Worker Spot Corrector, a moisturizer, and sunscreen….and also wondering if this is too many products to use? -Charlotte
When you are combining products from different lines, there are a few things to keep in mind. Before I get into the bulk detailed answer, I’ll give you the nice, brief one, in the correct order from first to last:
- MD Formulations Daily Peel Pads
- Skinceuticals CE Ferulic
- Philosophy Dark Spot Corrector
How to Know the Correct Order to Apply Products
The first rule of thumb when combining products is to apply the thinnest/lightest product first, followed by a slightly heavier product, and then an even heavier one, until you finish with the richest cream on top.
The reason? There are many agents known as “occlusive agents,” including petrolatum, mineral oil, and lanolin that seal water (and other ingredients) into the skin. On the one hand, this is great, because occlusive agents seal moisture in towards the skin. On the other hand, occlusive agents create such a barrier that it can be difficult for other skin care creams to reach the skin afterwards. Luckily, they’re usually found in moisturizers with a rich, creamy texture.
You should be able to feel which cream or moisturizer is the heaviest. However, there are documented “strengths” of moisturizing agents, as can be found in the textbook Aesthetic Medicine: Art and Techniques, amongst other sources. Here they are via the text:
LIGHTER OCCLUSIVES (use first):
- Jojoba oil
HEAVIER OCCLUSIVES (use last)
- Mineral oil
- Shea butter
Another rule of thumb? Always apply sunscreen last.
Sunscreens work in one of two ways: Physical sunscreens prevent UV rays from penetrating the skin, whereas chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays and transform them into a different non-harmful form of energy (like heat or visible light rays). Sunscreens should be applied to your skin in a thick manner once all of the other products are dry, so that it forms a type of tightly-knit matrix. When you apply moisturizers on top of that, you not only change the chemical properties of the sunscreen, but you also change the way UV light will hit your skin. That’s why companies always design sunscreen or sunscreen-based moisturizers as the “final step.”
Are you using too much skin care? How to tell:
While your list looks like a lot of products to me, there is really no universal answer I can give you for this, at least not without earning my medical degree first (2014, baby!) and a full in-person dermatological evaluation. That said, your skin may be particularly tolerant to a lot of skin care products. There are many ways to tell you are using too many products, including breakouts, redness, tenderness, irritation, and others, which I’ve listed in far more detail on a prior post, “5 Warning Signs You Are Using Too Much Skin Care!”.
When mixing skin care lines, always start with the lightest product first, though make sure that you apply your sunscreen last once your other products have settled/dried.
I hope this was helpful to you, Charlotte! If you’d like more information on mixing skin care products from different lines that doesn’t directly apply to your regimen, please read my prior post, “How Do I Combine Skin Care From Different Lines?” At any rate, I hope this helps!
All the best,