Press or Pat? How to Apply Every Step in Your Skin-Care Routine the Right Way
Washing your face morning and night is a no-brainer. Exfoliating? We slough away dead skin cells, like clockwork, once a week. And, our skin-care accessories (read: masks, serums and moisturizers) are applied in proper order — always. We pretty much have our skin-care routines down to a science, or so we thought. While we know exactly what products to apply when, it turns out there are also tips, tricks and techniques for how to apply those products. To get the scoop on best practices and how to get the most out of our skin care products, we turned to board-certified dermatologists Dr. Morgan Rabach from LM Medical NYC and Dr. Sapna Palep of Spring Street Dermatology. Ahead, they share how you should go through the motions of applying your skin-care routine.
Harsh or Gentle? How to Cleanse
When it comes to washing your face, a quick splash of water and ten-second foam doesn’t necessarily do the trick. To make sure that you’re getting your face as clean as possible, take your makeup off before cleansing; face wash doesn’t double as a makeup remover. Once that’s said and done, let the water heat up to a lukewarm temperature. “Lukewarm water is best because hotter water can take off too many oils from your face, leaving it dry,” says Dr. Rabach. Dr. Palep explains that lukewarm water opens up your pores a bit and lets the active ingredients penetrate deeper. That being said, she warns against using water that is too hot. “Hot water can open up your pores too much and break down your skin cells and the barrier.”
Dr. Rabach also recommends being as gentle as possible when applying your cleanser. “Use your fingertips in a gentle, circular motion. It’s the most gentle approach to cleansing, as washcloths can be too abrasive.” You should wash your face for anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds and pat your face dry to avoid irritation. If you tend to wear heavy makeup or costume makeup, a post-cleansing toner is recommended to get all the residue off your skin. Dr. Rabach says you should put the product on a cotton pad and use gentle, circular motions once again. Do this process until the pad comes up clean.
Rub or Pat? How to Apply Serums and Moisturizers
Once your face is clean from the day’s grime, Dr. Rabach recommends getting started on serums while your skin is still slightly damp to help seal in extra moisture, especially if you have dry skin or eczema. Once you have your serum in-hand, you can put the product in your hands or directly onto your face. Focus most of the product on your cheekbone area because that’s typically drier than the forehead, chin and nose. Don’t forget to bring it down your neck and décolleté, either.
Once your serums have had a minute to absorb, you can move on to applying your moisturizer. When it comes to technique, Dr. Palep explains that pressing or patting your moisturizer (and serums) will help the active ingredients penetrate deeper into your skin’s surface. “The warmth from your hand is sometimes just enough to open up your pores a little bit.” She explains that your pores actually have little muscles, called arrector pili, that open up with a little warmth, whether from water or your hands.
Dab or Spread? How to Apply Eye Cream
Your under-eye skin is sensitive and delicate. Tugging product across the area may lead to irritation or redness. “I would dab the eye cream with light pressure and circular motions,” says Dr. Rabach. We recommend using your ring finger for the softest touch. If you’re looking for a new eye cream, we suggest the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Eye Cream.
Physical or Chemical? How to Exfoliate
Whether you’re opting for a physical exfoliant or a chemical one, there are a few things to note before soughing away your dead surface skin cells. First off, if you’re using a physical exfoliant or scrub, like the Lancôme Exfoliating Rose Sugar Scrub, make sure to use soft, gentle, circular motions. Dr. Rabach even recommends putting the product on a cotton pad and softly exfoliating. Then, rinse your face with lukewarm water and make sure to follow with a moisturizer.
If you’re applying a chemical exfoliant, like a lactic or glycolic acid, use the directed amount to avoid irritation. “Use your active products first, on clean skin, and then seal them in with moisturizers that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides,” says Dr. Rabach. She also recommends saving these for nighttime use.
Before or After Makeup? How to Apply Sunscreen
Newsflash: sunscreen is not just for the summer. “Use your SPF every day to help prevent damage and keep your skin healthy looking,” says Dr. Rabach. An SPF of 30 or higher should be applied after your moisturizer and before your makeup. Put some in your hand and then rub it onto your face. Make sure you cover any area that will be exposed to the sun; give it a minute to settle in before following with makeup.