Decoding the Art of Skincare: Steps and Techniques

Reading time

4 minutes

word count

810 words

last updated

June 10, 2023

The short + sweet

  • A skincare routine involves several key steps: Cleansing, Exfoliation, Toning, Treatment, Moisturizing, and Protection.
  • The order of applying skincare products can maximize their benefits.
  • The optimal technique for each step enhances product performance.
  • Skincare is not a one-size-fits-all; you should customize your routine based on your skin type and concerns.


The detail

core steps

Navigating the complex world of skincare can often feel like decoding an intricate piece of art. With numerous products, steps, and techniques available, it can be challenging to know where to start and what to do. This article aims to demystify the process, focusing on the importance of each step in a skincare regimen and the order in which you should carry out these steps to maximize their benefits.

Step 1: Cleansing
Cleaning your face is the foundation of any skincare routine. It removes dirt, oil, and makeup, which can clog pores and lead to inflammation and acne1.
Technique: Use lukewarm water to dampen your skin, apply a dime-sized amount of cleanser, and gently massage it into your skin using circular motions. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Avoid rubbing or tugging on your skin2.

Step 2: Treatment
Treatment products include serums, essences, or ampoules containing active ingredients targeting specific skin concerns like aging, hyperpigmentation, or acne7.
Technique: Apply a few drops of your treatment product onto your fingertips and gently press it into your skin. Allow it to fully absorb before proceeding to the next step8.

Step 3: Moisturizing
Moisturizing helps lock in hydration, making your skin feel smoother and softer. It also acts as a protective barrier against environmental damage9.
Technique: Apply a dollop of moisturizer on your fingertips. Smooth it over your face in an upward, outward motion. Don't forget to moisturize your neck in upward strokes10.

The Regimen
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The Regimen


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Exfoliation removes the layer of dead skin cells, revealing brighter, smoother skin. It also enhances the absorption of skincare products3.
Technique: Apply a gentle exfoliator (e.g., alpha or beta-hydroxy acids or a mild physical scrub) one to three times a week. Using your fingertips, spread it in small circular motions. Rinse off and pat dry4.

Toners can balance skin's pH levels, remove any residual dirt or cleanser, and prepare your skin for the next steps of your skincare routine5.
Technique: Soak a cotton pad with the toner and gently sweep it across your face. Alternatively, you can pour a few drops into your hands and pat it directly onto your skin6.

Sunscreen protects the skin from harmful UV radiation, preventing premature skin aging and reducing the risk of skin cancer11.
Technique: Apply a coin-sized amount of broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher every morning as the last step of your skincare routine. Reapply every two hours when outdoors12.

why order matters

Skincare is as much about the products you use as it is about the order in which you use them. Layering products in the correct order ensures that your skin receives the full benefits of each product. The general rule is to go from thinnest to thickest texture - after cleansing apply your treatment products, followed by moisturizer, and finally sunscreen13.

Customization is Key

There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to skincare. What works for your best friend might not work for you. Your skin type, lifestyle, and concerns should dictate your skincare regimen14.


The art of skincare is about understanding your skin and the products you use. By knowing what each step does and applying them in the correct order and technique, you can ensure you're getting the most out of your routine. With consistent practice, your skin will reward you with a healthy, radiant glow.


    • "Proper Face Washing 101", American Academy of Dermatology Association. ( 
    • "How to Wash Your Face", Mayo Clinic. ( 
    • "Exfoliation in Cosmetic Practice", Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. ( 
    • "How to Exfoliate, Steam and Use Face Masks", U.S. National Library of Medicine. ( 
    • "Do You Need a Toner?", Harvard Health Publishing. (
    • "What is Face Toner?", Mayo Clinic. ( 
    • "The Role of Topical Retinoids in Skin Care", Dermatology Research and Practice. ( 
    • "Topical Retinoids in the Management of Photodamaged Skin", British Journal of Dermatology. ( 
    • "Moisturizers: Do They Work?", Harvard Health Publishing. (
    • "How to Put On Moisturizer", Mayo Clinic. ( 
    • "Sunscreen: How to Help Protect Your Skin from the Sun", U.S. Food and Drug Administration. ( 
    • "How to Select a Sunscreen", American Academy of Dermatology Association. ( 
    • "Skincare Product Order: The Best Sequence for Your Routine", Cleveland Clinic. ( 
    • "Customizing Your Skincare Routine With Your Skin Type", American Academy of Dermatology Association. (