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If you have ever had a therapeutic facial or skin laser treatment, you know your skin feels rejuvenated, fresh. And hopefully, you’ve taken the next step and invested in some medical skin care products: serums, activating products that work below the skin, sunscreen, and creams.

So what goes on first and what goes on last? And how long in between do you wait? Does each product have to be on for a set amount of time before applying the other? 

In this article you will learn:

  • How to layer products and when to alternate your skin care products
  • When to apply retinoids and when to exfoliate
  • How Vitamin C works on the skin
  • How to treat special areas – the neck and eyes 

Always begin with these steps:

  1. Start with clean skin. It’s so important to cleanse thoroughly. You don’t want to apply expensive products on skin that can’t absorb it due to a layer of oil and /or dirt blocking the way. 
  2. Exfoliate your skin. But be careful. Use a good quality skin care exfoliator that won’t tear the skin. You don’t do this every day, but one to two times a week is recommended.
  3. Balance the skin. Facial skin toner is no longer a harsh, alcohol based product but a wonderful combination of essential moisturizing ingredients that hydrate the skin, provide additional cleansing and controls the pH surface. All good reasons before applying other topical products. Toners can be selected in various ingredients, depending on whether your skin is oily, combination or dry. 

Go From the Lightest Weighted Product to the Heaviest

Go from the lightest weight of serum or lotion to the heaviest as you apply. 


  1. Serums (serums that are watery such as Vitamin C) 
  2. Oils (Vitamin E & D and other oil based serums)
  3. Eye Cream
  4. Activating cream ( a medical grade cream that activates skin cells)
  5. Sunscreen


  1. Retinol (not every night but a minimum of 3 times/week)
  2. Night Cream or Activating cream
  3. Eye cream
  4. Neck cream

If you can, wait between applications until each layer is absorbed into the skin. Pat or press the product onto your skin. Do not rub it in.

 Use your ring finger when applying around your eyes and other delicate areas. It has the least amount of strength thereby giving the least amount of pressure.

Alternate products for maximum results

Alternating products is always a good idea. What do you alternate and why? 

Some items in your cache of products should be applied daily. Vitamin C is a great defense ingredient you will want to apply daily. SO is sunscreen! But other products, depending on your skin type, can and perhaps should be alternated:

  • Creams and serums can be alternated. You may want to forgo a cream and use an oil based serum all over your face. 
  • If you have oily skin, alternating lighter lotions with creams or alternating more/less stringent acne lotions may be advised. Read the product’s recommendations or ask a medical aesthetician what is the best order and frequency for your skin. 
  • A micro scrubbing/exfoliating product should not be used every day. You can alternate with a moisturizing masque if you so choose. 
  • Retinol should be used every other day or at least three times a week. The effectiveness of retinol depends on regular usage.

When to apply Vitamin C?

A Vitamin C serum is applied to clean and dry skin.It is applied first thing in the morning after cleansing and toning your skin so it absorbs directly. A higher dosage means more antioxidant defense. Check the product ingredient to ensure it is stabilized. Another reason why buying medical grade skin care from a medical spa is preferred over the counter products. Medical grade products have stabilized Vitamin C.

When to Apply Retinol

Retinol products are typically applied at night to clean and dry skin. Retinol will slightly exfoliate the skin. Depending on the amount of retinol, it may cause too much flaking. Switching to a lower dosage of retinol and then over time moving up to a more potent one is advised. Applying a moisturizing cream or oil over the retinol also helps. 

If your skin seems dry or the makeup you apply after using retinol seems to drag, exfoliate gently. The surface skin needs to be sloughed off in order to reveal the new skin that the retinol has  helped produce.

Treat Parts of Your Face and Neck Differently

Special Areas of interest – specially formulated eye creams and eye serums are important around the eyes. There are no oil glands under the delicate skin and nourishing them correctly makes a difference in the long run. Specialized eye creams and serums should be applied to dry, clean skin.

The skin on the chest and neck is also very delicate. The neck begins to sag while the decollete begins to wrinkle and the skin appears leathery. Here are some tips to help alleviate these conditions:

Most of the items you place on your face will work on your neck, but specialized and activating products made for the neck are more effective, especially as you enter your forties and fifties. 

Always use sunscreen on the chest and neck, including the back of the neck. 

You might want to exfoliate more, or give yourself a masque one to two times a week in these areas. 

More ways to accelerate your skin care products

The better condition your skin is in, the more the product will absorb and work. If you have regular skin care services such as facials, microneedling, and laser skin resurfacing, the product boost its effectiveness.

Seeing a certified asthetician or a nurse specializing in skincare is a great way to understand and gain insight and information on how best to treat and support your skin’s health. 

Resurfacing treatments are also important. Profractional and micro-needling are two effective ways to build collagen and rejuvenate your skin. With the right consultation, you can discuss what is best for you. 


Products That We Carry

If you have any questions about any of our products please give us a call and talk with one of our experts.

ZO Daily Power Defense or Alastin’s Regenerating skin nectar, and Epionce Intense Defense Serum. These serums and creams are also light but highly effective.


EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40 is an excellent choice for complete coverage. 

Alastin carries a Restorative Neck Complex cream that hydrates, diminishes hyperpigmentation and restores elasticity to the skin on the neck. 


ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Polish is a fine polish that scrubs and cleans the skin safely.

ZO Skin Health Retinol Skin Brightener 1% or iS Clinical Brightening Complex are both excellent retinoid choices.


ZO Skin Health Wrinkle + Texture Repair with 0.5% retinol is effective with less strength for sensitive skin types.

Use Code “5Off” For %5 Off Your Online Purchase

ZO Daily Power Defense

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Alastin Regenerating Skin Nectar

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Epionce Intense Defense Serum

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EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40

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Alastin Restorative Neck Complex

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ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Polish

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