The correct way to order your morning skin care, according to Zoë Foster Blake

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One of the most commonly asked questions in beauty is, ‘what is the correct order to apply skin care products?’

And the answer isn’t a simple one either, as we all have different routines and preferences when it comes to ingredient powers and product textures. So alas, one person’s best serum can be entirely different to another’s.

But, if there was one person able to offer clarity around the skin care conundrum, it’s author, Go-To founder and ex-beauty editor, Zoë Foster Blake.

Talking about a ‘simple morning skin care routine’ in particular, here’s Zoë’s take on where to start and end your skin care. 

Step 1. Cleanse

Zoë caveated her IGTV video by saying her main objectives are to ‘treat, moisturise and protect”. And while there are some celebrities who swear by not washing their face in the morning, Zoë said she likes to cleanse “to get rid of all the stuff that’s accumulated overnight”. It’s what she calls an “optional step but probably a good one”, to allow your following skin care a better chance of “getting in there and doing its job”.

Zoë used: Go-To Properly Clean Foaming Wash, $31 at gotoskincare.com

bh recommends:Biologi Bc Refresh Cleanser

Step 2. Mist

The second and recurring step in Zoë’s routine is facial misting. She explained, “you’re going to see a fair bit of facial misting coming through today and the reason that we wet our skin, dry it off ,and immediately go in with a facial mist is because it’s going to help with product absorption.”

Zoë used: Mukti Rose Blossom Hydrating Mist, $54.95 at Adore Beauty

bh recommends: Oil Garden Rose Water

Step 3. Vitamin C

Next for Zoë is vitamin C, which she uses for brighter skin or “getting rid of those dark, uneven spots.” For application she said, “I always put it on first and push it into the skin and just let it sit there for a good 60 seconds.”

Zoë used: Tatcha Violet C Brightening Serum, $141 at MECCA

bh recommends:La Mav® Daily Vitamin-C Brightening Serum

Step 4. Hyaluronic acid

Another optional step, Zoë then applies a humectant – a skin care product that retains and preserves moisture – which in this case was a hyaluronic acid. “I do this because I’m in level four lockdown and I’m inside all day and my skin is dry.” She explained that it is different to oil, which is nourishment – this step is hydration.

Zoë used: PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum, $199 at Adore Beauty

bh recommends:La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Anti-Ageing Serum

Step 5. Face oil

For Zoë, the next step is facial oil but she said it “really depends on what you’re using” as to whether oil or moisturiser is applied first. “If you are the kind of person who uses a lightweight moisturiser, say like a water cream, jelly [or] lotion that is really lightweight and oil-free usually, then that would be the first step, followed by oil, because you want to finish on the thicker, more occlusive product.”

But because Zoë prepared to follow with a thick moisturiser that’s heavier than oil, she applied oil first. “To recap, whichever product is lighter, apply that first,” she summarised. 

Zoë used: Go-To Face Hero, $45 at gotoskincare.com

bh recommends: Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil

Step 6. Moisturiser

The next step applied by Zoë was moisturiser, which she prefaced by saying she wouldn’t usually include this step, but did because her skin was very dry.

“Generally speaking I think most SPF’s are emollient and hydrating enough to do this step as well as the SPF protection, provided you have a serious SPF product – one that is made for sun protection.”

Zoë used: Go-To Very Useful Face Cream, $72 at gotoskincare.com

bh recommends:CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

Step 7. SPF

The no-brainer final step for a morning skin care routine is of course, SPF. Being inside all day due to lockdown, Zoë applied an SPF 15 to protect her in the event of sitting by windows or ‘going for a run’. 

Zoë used: Go-To Zincredible, $45 at gotoskincare.com

bh recommends:Key-Sun Zinke Clear Zinke SPF 50+

Main image credit: @yenmakeup_

*This article has been updated since its original publication date.

How do you layer your skin care? Do you follow a similar routine to Zoë’s?

Share your thoughts

Comments 42

  1. Really good article, I would’ve thought though that oil comes after moisturiser or something cause I thought oil is at the very end. But its really good to see everything now and understand the steps a little more clearly

  2. That’s way too many steps for me. I wash my face with a foaming cleanser and then put on my SPF and that’s about it. At night I might do more such as cleanser, toner, serum and eye cream.

  3. I’ve tried misting & applying products while my skin is damp to approve absorption, but it doesn’t work on my skin. I have to apply products to my skin when it’s dry. My oily, very hydrated skin can’t absorb too many layers: I can wear facial oil OR moisturiser OR sunscreen. I always wear SPF50 if I leave the house, year-round, then apply rosehip oil at night. I only use moisturiser once in a blue moon.

  4. My routine is cleanse, tone moisturise. Sunblock in the mornings and eyecream twice a day if I’m not wearing makeup. Night cream. I occasionally use serums etc., but I prefer to keep it simple.

  5. I cleanse, tone, serum, eye cream, moisturise, SPF, makeup. I double cleanse at night, I remove makeup with a cleansing balm and then use my Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser under the shower. I don’t use cleanser in the morning, I just cleanse with water. I’ve got a day serum and a night serum. My moisturiser for day and night is the same, Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. I try to leave each layer to absorb for as long as possible before applying the next one. It might sound like a lot, but it’s all pretty simple really.

  6. omg those are a lot of steps! I usually just wash with water and apply moisturiser. Done. I’m not going to criticise as I’m sure she knows more about skincare than I do but I suspect my sensitive skin would go haywire if I used vitamin c, then ha, then oil, then moisturiser (I love oil but only use it at night, and don’t really feel the need to add moisturiser after – surely the oil is the moisturiser). To each her own though.

  7. I don’t follow all the steps here.I feel this is too much layers on the skin.Also it will need more time to absorb each product on the skin.But use at least one product of face oil,serum,mist,vita C,Hyaluronic acid before the moisturiser.

  8. I’ve been trying to simplifying and use mutli-tasking products in the morning.

    I cleanse very lightly then apply a serum, eye cream and SPF moisturiser.

    I only use face oil at night because I get too oily during the day and my serum and moisturiser have vitamin C, peptides etc. so I don’t apply them seperately.

  9. I stay away with products containing vitamin C and hyaluronic acid as much as possible. Vitamin C dries my skin out (causing minor flaky patches) and hyaluronic acid can be slightly drying and even block pores.

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