Understanding the Basics of Skincare Products

Updated 05/14/19
01 of 04

The Skinny on Skincare

Assortment of skincare products on a table next to pink peonies
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Once you've finally found the right skincare products for your skin you can still be left with quite a few questions. For example, what order should you apply all your skincare products? And when do products expire? Or do they even expire at all? To find out the answers to these basic skincare questions and more, keep on reading.

02 of 04

What Order Should You Apply Products?

Woman applying skincare cream to face
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One of the most confusing things about skincare can be knowing the right order in which to apply your products. Depending on the formula's consistency, some products are better suited to go on first, while others must go on last. Here are a few basic rules to keep in mind when applying your skincare products:

  • Apply the thinnest product to your skin first after cleansing. The rule of thumb is to go from thinnest to thickest when it comes to your skincare products.
  • Always apply sunscreen last before you apply make-up.
  • If you use a serum apply that first to your skin after cleansing.
  • After applying your serum you apply your moisturizer and eye cream.
  • The last step in your morning skincare routine is to apply sunscreen. After that, you can apply your makeup.
  • Any product that needs to treat a certain skin care condition (dark spots for instance) use before your moisturizer.
03 of 04

When Do My Skincare Products Expire?

Close-up view of Glossier Balm Dotcom packaging
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In some cases, it is very easy to know when your skincare products expire. Some products, like sunscreen, have an expiration date on it. For those that don't, check the product's packaging for "the period after opening" symbol, which is a picture of an open container with a number in it. That number tells you (in months) how long you can use the product after it's been opened. For example, if the number is 24 then you can use the product for two years after you open it. Unopened skin care products are usually good for two years before you start using them. So if you bought a body moisturizer and it sat on your shelf for a year until you started using it, it is still ok to use.

Keep in mind that product packaging is important. Pumps and tubes do not allow air to be introduced to a product, unlike jar packaging. When you repeatedly stick your fingers into a product in order take some out you are introducing germs to the products which can shorten its shelf life. You could use a reusable spoon or scoop to remove a product from a jar container if you want. If your product smells off, has separated, or in the worst-case scenario is growing something that even remotely looks like fungus or bacteria be sure to toss it immediately.

04 of 04

How Should I Store My Skincare Products?

Bathroom vanity cluttered with beauty products and a mirror
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If you want your skincare products to stay fresh and last for as long as they can it's important that you make sure and store them properly. If not, you could end up throwing your products away well before you want to.

First things first, keep your products off a sunny windowsill or out of direct sunlight. Sunlight can degrade delicate skincare ingredients like vitamin C or retinol. As much as possible, keep your products out of your bathroom since the wet, steamy, and humid environment can cause bacteria to grow. Be sure to close all containers immediately after use so you don't introduce any water into them. When water gets into your product it can cause bacterial growth.

If you use organic serums and creams that do not have preservatives in them you need to be very careful and store them in a dark environment, preferably even in the refrigerator. Some people even purchase a fridge just for their skincare products. These refrigerators mainly come from Korea and are not cheap, but might be worth the investment for those who are serious about their skincare. In addition to skincare products, these refrigerators are also a great place to store your make-up which can also be easily ruined by high temperatures and a hot environment.

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