This Is The Correct Order To Apply Your Skincare Products

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You want to get the most out of your skincare products, but putting together a routine can be daunting. What products should you use and when? Does it matter what order you apply them? To make things easier for you, I am walking you through step by step on the correct order to apply your skincare products.

After reading this post, you will:

  • Understand why the order of skincare products matters
  • Know the two general guidelines for product layering
  • Know the correct order to apply your skincare products in the morning and evening
  • Have product recommendations for your routine
Photo by Charisse Kenion

The Basic Rules of Product Layering

Why is how you layer your skincare even important? Layering your skin care products in the right order helps you get the most out of your routine. Applying a product that keeps the others from getting to your skin would make your entire routine a waste of time and money.

When it comes to applying your skincare products there are two basic rules to follow.

  • Go from thinnest to thickest texture: Start with your most watery products, such as toners, essences, and serums. Finish with heaver more moisturizing ones like lotions, creams, and then oils.

  • Apply water-based products then oil-based: Since oil can block water from penetrating, water-based products should be applied first.

The Correct Order to Apply Your Skincare Products in the Morning

1. Cleanser 

You don’t have to wash your face in the morning. However, if you wake up with a lot of oil or if there’s residue from your nighttime routine, you may want to do a morning cleanse. When picking a cleanser, look for something that is gentle and non-drying.

Product recommendations:

2. Toner

Despite what you’ve heard, toner is an optional step. Traditionally, toners are water-based products that are used to rebalance the skin after cleansing. If you use a gentle cleanser or don’t need added hydration, feel free to skip this step. However, if your skin is dry or dehydrated, you could benefit from using toner. When buying one, look for options that are skin balancing or hydrating.

Product recommendations:

3. Eye Cream

If the skin under your eyes is sensitive or you use powerful activities in your serums, you will want to apply eye cream before your treatment. This will act as a buffer to protect the skin around the eye. For those of you with more hardy skin or who use serums that are safe under the eyes, can use serums before eye cream.

Product recommendations:

4. Serum

Serums are how you treat specific skin concerns. The most popular serum used in daytime skincare is a vitamin C serum. L-ascorbic acid (the active form of vitamin C) is good for antioxidant protection, brightening, and fading dark spots. If your skin doesn’t tolerate Vitamin C or you want to tackle other skin issues, consider niacinamide. Other serum options include peptides and alpha arbutin.

Product recommendations:

5. Moisturizer

No matter your skin type, your skin needs some moisture. If you have oily or combination skin, opt for a water or gel formula. For those with very dry skin, you will want a nice rich cream.

Product recommendations:

6. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is the most important skincare product. You need to be wearing it every day, no matter the season. Picking a sunscreen does require a bit of trial and error. You will have to try many before you find the formula that works for you.

Product recommendations:

Shop Morning Skincare Routine Recommendations

The Correct Order to Apply Your Skincare Products at Night

1. Makeup Removing Cleanser

If you wear a full face of makeup, you should be double cleansing at night. The first cleanse removes the makeup and sunscreen from your face. To break down your makeup, look for oil-based cleansers and cleansing balms.

Product recommendations:

2. Cleanser

Now that you have removed the makeup from your face, the next step is to actually cleanse your skin. This second wash will also ensure you have removed every speck of makeup from your face.

Product recommendations:

3. Toner

When picking a toner for the evening, you need to think about the rest of your skincare routine. If you plan to use a treatment serum or retinol, you’ll want to use a gentle toner. If you don’t plan to use either, you can pick a toner with stronger actives. I recommend having two toners in your routine: the hydrating toner from your morning routine and one toner to address additional skin issues.

Product recommendations:

4. Eye Cream

The advice from above also applies to your evening routine. If your skin is sensitive, apply your eye cream before your treatments. I like to use a more hydrating eye cream in the evening, but you can use the same cream from your morning routine.

Product recommendations:

5. Treatment

Instead of calling this the serum step, I am going to call this the treatment step. You can use a serum or a retinol product during this step. If you opt for retinol, you will need to start by using the retinol two times a week and slowly work your way up to four.

Product recommendations:

6. Moisturizer

After your treatment, you will follow with a moisturizer. You can use the same one from the morning or buy a richer formula for the evening.

Product recommendations:

7. Face Oil

If you decide to use an oil, it goes at the end of your skincare routine. This will lock in any moisture that you have added to the skin earlier in your skincare routine.

Product recommendations:

Shop Evening Skincare Routine Recommendations

When to Use Mists, Masks, and Tools

Now that you understand the correct order to apply your skincare products on a daily basis, you might be wondering when to add in other treatments/products.

Mists: For our purposes, mists and toners are not the same. Spray toners are used during the toning step. Face mists can be used to add hydration to the skin at any point in your routine.

Face wipes: Face wipes are one of the worst things you can use on your skin. They are also terrible for the environment. If you are traveling, camping, or don’t have access to water, then face wipes are acceptable.

Masks: Always start with a clean face then follow the directions on the mask. Some masks will need your face to be completely dry others may want your face to be damp. After using a mask, you will skip to the serum/treatment step in your routine. However, if the mask contains strong actives, you will want to follow with gentle, hydrating products.

NuFace/ Microcurrent:  These treatments require the use of a conductive gel that you can choose to leave on or wash off. If you plan on washing the conductor off, use your microcurrent device after a first wash. Otherwise, you can just pat the conductor into the skin and continue with your moisturizer.

Shop Mists, Masks, and Tools

If You Liked This Post

Now that you know the correct order to apply your skincare products, you may want to check out these posts:

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9 Comments

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  3. 1.30.19

    Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your next write ups thanks once again.

  4. 5.2.19

    I love this. I use a lot of skin care products at night so this was especially helpful for me. Thanks.

  5. 5.2.19
    Taylor said:

    I love this. I haven’t had a great skincare routine for a long time, but I want to be better. This post was so helpful!

  6. 5.2.19

    I was hoping I had the order right when I started reading the post and I did!

  7. 5.3.19

    I love doing face oil before moisturizer, but I’m surprised when I hear other people do it in the opposite order. Squalane oils are some of my favorites.

  8. 5.3.19

    I am so bad at these things – I always just put things on in a rush without much thought into it! Oooops!

  9. 5.3.19
    Amberly said:

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us!