Skincare Best Practices: How to Get the Most Out of Your Serums, Moisturizers and Creams

woman applying eye cream


Wondering why that cream everyone swears by isn’t doing anything for you? It might be because you’re not applying it correctly. Here’s a look at how to apply your serum, moisturizer, sunscreen, eye cream and more.

How to apply serum

It’s very important never to apply too much of a product as your skin can only absorb so much. When you layer too much on your skin, the product will sit on the surface rather than absorb. It’s very easy to over-apply serums because they tend to be light and packed with actives. Generally three drops smoothed over your entire face and neck is enough.

How to apply moisturizer

If your skin feels sticky, you’ve applied too much. A peanut size is usually all you need.

How to apply eye cream

A pea-sized amount is enough for both eyes and it should be applied every morning and night after your moisturizer. The skin around the eye is very sensitive so use your ring finger, considered the weakest, to lightly dab in a circular motion the cream under the eye to the cheekbone, at the outer corners and underneath the brows. You’ll also want to apply some onto your eyelids to help create a smooth foundation for eye makeup.

How to apply sunscreen

You need about a tablespoon of sunscreen for your face and about two ounces for your body. If you opt for chemical sunscreen, make sure you apply it at least 20 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Also remember that you need to be wearing it 365 days a year and when in the sun re-apply it every 90 minutes. 

What order to apply your skincare products

Day: Cleanse, exfoliate, tone and then apply your sunscreen before applying any moisturizer/treatment products if you’re using a chemical sunscreen as it takes 20 to 30 minutes for chemical sunscreen to bind with your skin and become activated; if you apply your moisturizer/treatment product first, this will interfere with that process. If, however, you’re using a physical sunscreen, apply sunscreen last as physical sunscreens work like physical shields on the skin’s surface to prevent absorption of the damaging rays.

Night: Cleanse, exfoliate, tone and then apply any moisturizer/treatment products. Toning is often skipped, but it’s crucial as it helps dampen skin allowing your moisturizer/treatment products to absorb more readily. 

When to apply your skincare products

Studies have shown that skin repairs itself most effectively between 10 and 11 p.m. so ideally you should be applying your night creams before this time. This also ties into the importance of sleep. When we sleep, our bodies repair and renew themselves and that includes on a cellular level in our skin. You’ll also want to save your high-powered anti-aging products and retinoids for your nighttime routine since they tend to weaken in the sun.