Skincare can go two ways : minimal … or monumental. Between celebrities’ 38-step skincare routine (looking at you Madelaine Petsch) and Elizabeth Warren’s revelation that she doesn’t wash her face … it’s hard to figure out which method is best for you, especially since everyone seems to have amazing skin regardless of how much or how little they do.

The regimen to you choose for yourself is up to you – you know what works best for your skin type, your budget and your schedule; but what we can tell you is that order of application matters. This point is best emphasized when it comes to treating, hydrating and protecting your skin.

I believe every individual should have at least a serum, a moisturizer and an SPF in their vanity. As long as you’re doing these three steps with these three products in your mega or mini routine – great complexions will follow. After you’ve cleansed … or maybe double cleansed … follow these next steps!

SERUM : Serums contain active ingredients formulated to treat the skin and any problems we are concerned about; whether that’s dark spots, wrinkles, fine lines, etcetera. A thin layer goes a long way, and be sure to get your serum on within 60 seconds of cleansing the skin. It should be the first thing that touches your clean, bare skin.

MOISTURIZER : To keep skin soft, supple and glowing, moisturizers coat the skin cells, which is why your active serums must be applied before moisturizer; once moisturizers have created its barrier around your skin cells, not much else can get through. After giving your serum a moment to do its thing, apply your moisturizer over the whole face in an upward movement. BONUS TIP : If you’re oily, try a lighter lotion formula to keep shine at bay. If you’re dry, a heavier cream will do the trick.

SUNSCREEN : Here’s the tricky part – so pay attention! Is your sunscreen chemical or physical? If your sunscreen is chemical based, then apply BEFORE your moisturizer … and in some cases, before your serum too. A chemical based sunscreen needs to touch clean skin first before your moisturizer or face oil which create those barriers I spoke about above. If your sunscreen is physical (titanium dioxide, zinc oxide) it can be applied AFTER you’ve applied your serum and moisturizer. Sunscreen is THE key in keeping the complexion healthy, so its the one step that should never be skipped!

So there’s your cheat sheet beauties! Whatever route you take with your skincare – the long way or the shortcut – be sure to optimize your skincare to get the best results. Order of application DOES matter!