First Things First

Does it matter if you put concealer on first or last? Or apply your sunscreen after you’ve done your makeup? Yes, it matters! And here’s why

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Does it matter if you put concealer on first or last? Or apply your sunscreen after you’ve done your makeup? Yes, it matters! And here’s why

A comprehensive skincare regimen bursting with skin-loving nutrients and antioxidants is all well and good but if you’re applying it in the wrong order, you may not be reaping the rewards. For optimum absorption to get the best of your investments, apply them in the following order…


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TRY: ORBIS Clear Wash, $21 (120 g).


Think of your morning cleanse as your wake-up call rather than skincare necessity. A quick wash is fine as your skin will be relatively clean after a night’s sleep. Look for a cleanser with invigorating scent and energising properties.

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TRY: RE:ERTH Calming Toner, $87 (100 ml).


It’s important to restore your skin’s pH balance back to normal after cleansing. You only need a few drops of toner on a cotton pad; it doesn’t need to be rinsed off.

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TRY: Porcelain Intensive HA+ Hydrating Serum, $198 (30 ml).


We all have different skin so there’s no one serum prescription that fits all. However, if you’re new to the world of serums, a vitamin B serum for hydration and vitamin C serum for a more refined texture is a great place to start. And remember, if you’re using more than one serum, allow at least one minute for absorption in between applications.

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TRY: Shiseido Essential Energy Day Emulsion, $80 (75 ml).


It’s critical with our harsh sun that your morning moisturiser contains an SPF – even when it’s cloudy.

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TRY: Lancôme Advanced Génifique Eye Cream, $105 (15 ml).


Any age is a good age to start including an eye cream in your regimen for preventative purposes! A targeted eye cream can do wonders for fine lines and concealing signs of fatigue. But do you really need a separate cream just for the eyes? The short answer is yes; the skin around your eye is very sensitive, which a moisturiser for the rest of your face may nor cater to. Bonus points if your eye cream has cooling features to keep puffiness and dark circles at bay.

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TRY: SK-II Atmosphere Airy Light UV Cream SPF50+ PA++++, $115 (30 g).


Applying SPF straight after cleansing will render the rest of your products useless but popping it on at the end ensures that the rest of your regimen can still work to its full potential.


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TRY: Kiehl’s Herbal- Infused Micellar Cleansing Water, $45 (250 ml).


Double cleansing might sound like an unnecessary approach, but this is a step not to be overlooked! Your first cleanse should be a makeup removing lotion, foam, oil, micellar water – whatever floats your boat, as long as it does the trick of taking it all off!

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TRY: Albion Eliminate Cleansing Milk, $75 (200 g).


Now it’s time to actually clean your skin. Make sure your second cleanser really caters to your skin type and needs.

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TRY: Clarins Super Restorative Instant Lift Serum Mask, $160 (box of 5).

3 MASKS OR PEELS (once a week)

At-home masks and peels are a great way to give your skin some extra love and address specific concerns. They should only be applied once a week, but check the label as milder formulations may allow for additional applications. To get the full benefits, a mask needs to be applied to clean, makeup-free skin.


Same as in the morning!

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TRY: Origins Modern Friction Cleansing Stick With Exfoliating White & Purple Rice, $53.

 5 EXFOLIATOR (twice a week)

Exfoliation helps to rejuvenate your complexion by removing dead skin cells and polishing it. It’s a common misconception that scrubbing strips the skin, leaving it dry and red – in fact, dead skin actually inhibits full absorption of all your skincare and can rob you of that sought-after glow.

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TRY: Astalift In-Focus Cellactive Serum, $222 (30 ml).


Some serums work better in the evening when your skin is renewing overnight. Retinol and vitamin A serums, known as powerhouse anti-agers, are best used at night.

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TRY: Sothys Noctuelle Detox Resurfacing Overnight Cream, $179 (50 ml).


Do you really need both a day and night cream? Simply put, yes! Night creams, which place emphasis on restoration and moisture, are generally thicker and feature slower absorbing ingredients than their morning counterpart. Common night-time ingredients like hyaluronic acid are able to penetrate skin more effectively over several hours without interference from SPF.

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TRY: Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Eye Cream EX, $228 (20 ml).


Same as morning, but you can try one with a heavier texture, especially if you sleep in an air-conditioned room.


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TRY: NARS Radiance Primer SPF35 PA+++, $66 (30 ml).


Primer gives your makeup staying power. It evens out the complexion and forms the perfect canvas for makeup to go on.

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TRY: shu uemura Petal Skin Foundation SPF 20 PA+, $68 (30 ml).


Makeup artists agree your base should always be laid out by foundation. We tend to overconceal when we apply concealer first. You can always go over blemishes again later.

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TRY: Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra- Longwear Concealer, $49.


Use a lightweight product to avoid a cakey look.

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TRY: MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Pressed Powder in 01 Translucent, $61.


Use powder to set your base and absorb any surface oil.

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TRY: Chantecaille Sirena Bronzer, $131.


Define and enhance your face structure with a light wash of bronzer just below the cheek bones, followed by blusher and highlighter.

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TRY: Urban Decay Petite Heat Eyeshadow Palette, $46.


Long lashes get in the way when applying liner and eye shadow, so mascara should come last.

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TRY: The BrowGal Skinny Eyebrow Pencil 04 in Medium Brown, $34.


Brows frame the face and complete your look so it makes sense to do them last.

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TRY: Yves Saint Laurent Beauté Top Secrets Makeup Setting Spray, $65 (100 ml).


Invest in a setting spray or translucent finishing veil to ensure all-day wear.