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Skincare 101: When to Use Your Creams & Serums

I mentioned in my Eye Care 101 post that I recommend using two eye creams – one to suit your needs during the day and another one to regenerate the skin around your eyes are night. As you might guess, the same logic applies to all your other skin care products. The new year might be the perfect time to ‘scrub up’ your skin care routine and make sure you are using your skin care products consistently and at the right time!

Why bother using products at the ‘right’ time? Well when you use a product, your skin only absorbs as much as is needed at any given time. As your body goes through different biological processes depending on the time of day or night, it makes sense to use ingredients that help your body in those processes, e.g. your body and specifically your skin goes into overdrive at night trying to fix all the damage caused throughout the day. If you use products and ingredients targeting skin regeneration at night, you will help your skin do this better. And that means better results and better skin! It can get confusing, but hopefully with this guide it will become simpler as we break it down!

Morning – 7am+ 

The goal of your morning skin care routine, should be to protect your skin from pollution, environmental stressors (free radicals) and damaging UV rays. The best antioxidant for combating free radicals during the day, in my opinion is vitamin C. The higher the concentration of vitamin C, the better. You will find that products with over 10% of vitamin C are usually serums, so use them on cleansed clean skin, under your daily moisturiser. Vitamin C and vitamin E together also help boost your skins natural UVA/UVB protection – which is exactly what you want for during the day! Vitamin C helps firm your skin by boosting collagen production, helps prevent skin discolouration and brightens skin pigmentation. It’s an ingredient which has been clinically proven to do the things. Other great ingredients include plant flavonoids (e.g. grape seed extract, white, red & green teas, pomegranate and soy) which help protect against free radical damage.

One of my favourite vitamin C serums is the Futurederm Vitamin CE +  Caffeic Silk Serum 16+2.  It contains 16% vitamin  C (in two forms of vitamin c for maximum absorption) and is micro encapsulated for slow and sustained release into the skin. It’s suspended in a silicone base which is perfect base for makeup application later on in your routine. Oh and the vitamin C is combined with 2% vitamin E and caffeic acid to boost the antioxidant potency.


The other MUST during your morning routine is sunscreen. Even during winter you should use sunscreen. You can either use a moisturiser after your serum with added sunscreen or a separate sunscreen. If you do use a separate sunscreen – mineral sunscreen should go over your moisturiser, while chemical sunscreen should go under your moisturiser but over your serum. Make sure your sunscreen protects you against UVA and UVB rays – so it has to be broad spectrum. Usually sunscreen found in your makeup won’t be enough and usually isn’t broad spectrum. My favourite? Invisible Zinc’s Environmental Skin Protector 30+. It’s a mineral sunscreen which you can use as a moisturiser if you have oily skin, or use it on top of moisturiser.


For more on sunscreen and which formula might be best for you, check out my sunscreen 101 post!

Things to avoid during your morning skin care routine: retinoids, acids like AHA/BHAs and glycolic acid. Exfoliants (and retinol exfoliates the skin to!) leaves skin more vulnerable to UV irritability and sensitivity – some may even experience an allergic reaction to the sun when their skin is more sensitive and exposed to the suns rays. If you do find any of these ingredients in ‘day creams’ then they probably have a very small amount of active ingredients and are suspended in very emollient moisturises which release the active ingredients more slowly into the epidermis. If you have very sensitive skin, you probably should stay clear of them just in case. Salicylic acid is usually fine for day use. Most people use acids as a treatment, so if you have glycolic acid in a toner or AHA/BHA’s in a serum form – leave them for night time use and then be *especially* vigilant with your sunscreen use during the day.

Late Afternoon – 4pm+

If you can, this is the time to treat your skin to some relaxation. Your skin has had it’s defence system on high since the morning  and is now running more slowly (blood circulation slows) and is tired – kind of like these guys:


Your skin may look more red, tight and irritated and that is why. Give your skin a treat by gently cleansing and then using ingredients that soothe.  You will find soothing ingredients in products designed for sensitive and dry skin. Think shea butter, d-panthenol (vitamin B5) and oils like argan, rosehip and jojoba. A mask would be perfect – if you don’t have a soothing mask designed for sensitive/dry skin, you can apply a thick layer of moisturiser with soothing ingredients in it and leave it on like you would a mask and then wipe off any excess left after 10 minutes. You want a product that re-enforces the lipid barrier of your skin so that you don’t loose moisture (like ceramides) as well.


Bioderma’s Crealine Mask is perfect for this. It is designed for intense hydration and has soothing properties. It reduces redness, irritation and inflammation and increases your skins tolerance threshold – Big tick! I got mine from Yes Style, but they don’t seem to have it at the moment (I’m sure they will though). They do have Bioderma’s Sensibio Crealine DS+ Soothing Purifying Cream for sensitive skin, which does pretty much the same thing as the mask but is a moisturiser.

A gentle massage boosts skin circulation which is perfect for this time of day! You could do this after using your mask, or instead of. Using an oil is perfect because most plant based oils are nourishing and moisturising. I would suggest using an organic argan oil, rosehip or jojoba. Jojoba is my favourite at the moment because it is a wax ester (similar to what your skin produces) so moisturises extremely well and is very stable (I should do a review of this soon, so stay tuned!).


You could do a light exfoliation at this time of day – but nothing industrial as your skins defence system is down. A light physical exfoliant would work (like a clarisonic or a manual scrub like those you buy in tube which contain walnut shells or beads – but gentle, be very gentle!) or fruit acids tend to be gentler than other chemical exfoliants. If you have acne, you probably have already very inflamed skin and this needs to be taken care of before any exfoliation occurs, so a definite skip for you! Things to avoid at this time of day? Industrial treatments lol! Lifting treatments and peels would be included. Oh and harsh cleansers (not that you should ever use harsh cleansers!) that upset the ph balance of your skin.

Evening – 9pm+

This is the time when your cell turnover peaks, so you want to use products the boost regeneration and moisturisation (have you noticed that you need moisture at every step of your routine? That’s because it helps your skin function normally and for your lipid barrier to work the way it it was designed to!). At around midnight, your hormones peak and your body is working hard at repairing damage. That is why it is advised to wash your face and apply your products around 9pm so that the ingredients from your skin care can be fully utilised. Our lifestyle factors also come into play here – e.g. when we eat something before bed or very late at night (especially something sweet) our insulin levels peak and this may effect the balance of your hormones. Out of whack hormones mean out of whack skin.

What ingredients to look for? Retinol! Retinol is one of the only ingredients proven to repair damage (uneven textured skin, fine lines & wrinkles, regulate sebum production, gently exfoliates) and helps prevent damage. You want to prevent as much damage as possible! It can be irritating which is annoying. But if you gradually introduce it into your routine and use sunscreen throughout the day (retinol causes sensitivity to UV light) you should be fine. You can ask your doctor for a prescription to get Retin-A or another type of retinol if you want to use a high percentage (though you should work your way up). My favourite is the Futurederm Time-Release Retinol 0.5.  It’s got a good amount of active retinol (it has 0.5% – you would need about .3% to see an effect) but the thing that makes this retinol different is that it is in a gel formula which absorbs instantly and reduces the likelihood of irritation. If you have used retinol in the past, you know how rare it is to experience no irritation when starting to introduce retinol into your routine!  And this is exactly what I experienced – no irritation or redness at all!


Always use a moisturiser on top of your retinol treatment as retinol can also be drying.

Other great ingredients to use at night include peptides and AHA/BHAs (but NEVER use these in conjunction with retinol  or you will seriously irritate your skin- don’t use them together. I swap between using retinol some nights, and AHA/BHAs other nights). On ‘top’ of these treatments you should use very hydrating moisturiser. Something containing hyaluronic acid is fab as not only do small particles eneter the epidermis to hydrate the skin, it stimulates receptors in your skin to produce more hyaluronic acid as it is a naturally occurring substance in your skin  (you can use this alongside pretty much every other treatment). Ingredients to avoid? Sunscreens (this doesn’t need to be explained lol!) and ingredients claiming to protect your skin against environmental aggressors. You want to stimulate repair and regeneration.

Getting the most out of your skin care means using products consistently. If you are trilling a new product, use it for at least 4-6 weeks to see if it is working for you (unless serious irritation occurs, then stop immediately). Having clear, healthy skin is such a confidence booster , it means you don’t have to wear makeup everyday and you can feel ok with that and have confidence! When you do wear makeup it sits better and looks so much better – so take care of yourself and your skin 🙂

Have you checked out my other posts in the Skincare 101 series?

Since it’s heating up big time all over Australia, don’t miss my Sunscreen 101 post for how to prepare your skin externally and internally for the suns rays!


I also mentioned my Eye Creams 101 post above so do check that out, as well as my post on washing your face and cleanses.

I hope you’ve received some helpful tips and tricks from this post 🙂 If you have a skin concern or have an idea for a post, let me know down in the comments below!

Catch ya next time beauty bees!

Beauty Bee~

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#Sunscreen #Oils #InvisibleZinc #FutureDerm #Retinol #VitaminC #VitaminE #Bioderma #Skincare101 #TheJojobaCompany

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