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You’ve Been Applying Your Skincare All Wrong!

Have you been furiously rubbing in your eye cream? Slapping on your face oil? No more! The way you apply your skincare products is just as important as what’s in them. “The application process can make the product more effective,” says Abigail James, a facialist and the global treatments ambassador at Liz Earle. We asked James to share her expert tips for the proper ways to pat, glide, and smooth on skincare — including the order you should apply them in:


The Skincare: Cleanser

Kristine Cleanser

The right way to apply it: Cleansing is an excuse to be active, massaging the product into your skin so you can really get into the nooks and crannies, says James. Working with warm water, which will help open your pores, use your fingers to rub cleanser in big circles on your cheeks. Use semi-circles on the sides of your nose and big circles up and out across your forehead. Rinse, then splash with cold water.

We love: Eslor Soothing Refiner & Cleanser

The Skincare: Exfoliator


The right way to apply it: This technique is very similar to cleanser, except you’ll want to move your fingers in smaller, tighter circles. Focus on areas like your nose and chin, and give more sensitive areas — like the apples of your cheeks — less attention. Depending on how oily your skin is, exfoliate for 1 to 3 minutes (the more slick it is, the more time you should spend). The water temperature should be slightly less warm than what you use with your cleanser.

We love: REN Micro Polish Cleanser

The Skincare: Toner

Jess Diner Toner

The right way to apply it: Often dismissed as an unnecessary step, toners can help balance your skin’s PH and help hydrate it. Spritz toner onto dry cotton pads so the formula doesn’t get diluted. Using two pads, start at middle of your forehead, then glide outwards. The same goes for your nose and chin, start there and glide outward.

We love: Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic

The Skincare: Serum

Emma Serum
The right way to apply it: Apply serum with your fingertips, patting it on and then smoothing it out. Resist the temptation to massage, and let the formula absorb on its own. Serums are packed with active ingredients — they’re a “powerhouse product” — so James advises using more than the standard pea-sized amount to ensure your entire face gets coverage.

We love: Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum

The Skincare: Eye Cream

Emeline Eye Cream

The right way to apply it: Using the tips of two of your fingers, pat it underneath your eyes and across top of the brow, gently dabbing your eyelids. James says you actually want to apply eye cream in the morning when it’s more likely to be absorbed because your blood flow is more active. At night, it just sits on the affected area and can make eyes puffy, so use a gel formula instead.

We love: HealGel Eye

The Skincare: Face Oil

Kirsty Face Oil
The right way to apply it: Spread face oil across the palm of your hand, and then pat it onto the skin and glide it across. Unlike with moisturiser application, which focuses on your fingertips, use your whole hand to apply oil, says James.

We love: Dr Jackson’s Natural Products Face Oil

The Skincare: Moisturiser

Prescillia Moisturiser

The right way to apply it: Glide and smooth moisturiser onto your skin, gently massaging it into the surface with firmer pressure than you used to apply serum. Putting your hands in a prayer position, move from the middle of your face outward, gliding from your nose out to your ears, your forehead out to your temples, and your chin out to your jawline with your fingertips. If your moisturiser doesn’t have SPF, use the same technique to apply that afterwards.

We love: Liz Earle Superskin Moisturiser

If you have sensitive skin, always use a gentle touch when applying products.

– Vanessa M. Buenger

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