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You splash some water on your face. You slap on moisturizer any which way. It's all pretty obvious, right? Not so fast. As it turns out, how you apply your skincare products can make a big difference.
In this goof-proof guide, New York-based dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe, shares the right way to put on sunscreen, eye cream, moisturizer and more.
First, wet your face with warm water to prep pores for deep cleansing. (The one exception: If you’re using a cleansing oil, your face and hands should both be bone dry when you apply.)
Place a dime-sized amount of cleanser onto your fingertips and massage it around your face in a circular motion, starting in the center and working outwards. Not only will this promote healthy circulation, but you’ll get the most concentrated cleanse around the middle of your face — exactly where we tend to wear the most foundation. Finish by rinsing with cool water — this helps minimize the appearance of pores, says Bowe — and pat dry with a clean towel or washcloth.
“The skin surrounding the eye is very thin and delicate compared to the rest of your face, and it requires the most attention since it shows signs of aging first,” says Bowe.
To apply, tap a pea-sized dab of cream underneath each eye using your ring finger. This gives the perfect amount of pressure; your other fingers are too strong and can actually cause wrinkling by tugging too hard. (Pro tip: The same advice applies for under-eye makeup.) Then, smooth it over your skin, going on and around the orbital bone, taking care not to get too close to eyes. (The product will naturally migrate up a bit since this area has very few pores to fully absorb the cream.)
Also, be sure to avoid the lids. Otherwise, cream can seep into eyes, causing burning or irritation, especially if you wear contact lenses.
The cornerstone of any good skincare routine, moisturizer is essential to help hydrate and balance the complexion of every skin type. Take a quarter-sized amount on your fingertips and gently rub the product upwards, which aids in lifting and plumping the skin. Work from the outer face inward.
Why? Because skin tends to be oilier in the middle of your face, so you’ll typically need less hydration there. See, the more you know!
Most people forget this step, but it’s super important because the neck is often one of the first places to show aging, says Bowe. That's because our necks have fewer oil glands and less fat, so they’re even more likely than our face to get dry and crepe-y.
To apply, use a similar motion to your face, gently rubbing upward until the product is evenly distributed. And the upward motion is key — it helps encourage tightening and lifting of this delicate skin that's extra prone to drooping.
“This is the single most important step of your daily beauty routine,” says Bowe. If your morning moisturizer doesn’t contain SPF, or if you need added protection for extended time in the sun, apply a dedicated sunscreen that's SPF 30 or higher as the final step in your regimen.
Starting at the base of your neck, slather on a quarter-sized dollop in a circular motion. The direction doesn’t really matter in this case — what’s most important is covering your entire neck and face, all the way up to the hairline. (And don’t forget your ears if you have short hair or are wearing a ponytail!)
In addition to technique, the real key to great skin is consistency (so be sure to stick to a morning and nightly routine). But if you're trying to get rid of acne by overwashing your skin, you may aggravate it in some cases. To learn more, watch the below video withNBC medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar.
This article was originally published on May 6, 2016 on TODAY.com.