The Ultimate Guide to Perfectly Applying Your Skincare

Here's a scary thought: That expensive serum you splurge on every few months might not be working as well as it should simply because you're not layering it over other skincare products in the proper order. Seriously, the order that you apply skincare makes a real and significant difference to your skin. If you're not following that order, it could be compromising the overall efficacy of your routine. And why buy the most effective products if you're not going to use them in the most effective manner? It doesn't make any sense.

Seeing as I rotate between a couple different high-priced serums (one of which is IS Clinical's Active Serum, which is a whopping $135 per bottle), this thought is enough to keep me up at night. "The order you place your skincare products matters," says celebrity facialist and esthetician Shani Darden. "In general, you want to apply products thinnest to thickest." This ensures that all the product is getting time in direct contact with your skin (which is kind of the point of skincare products, yes?). Because I'm paranoid of wasting potent ingredients and subsequently a good amount of my paycheck due to incorrect application order, I asked a couple of experts—including Darden—to spell it out for me.