The Right Order for Applying Skincare Products

You’ve got cleansers, serums, and moisturizers galore! With so many great products, it’s natural to want to double (or quadruple) up. But which products should you use when – and in what order? According to experts, here is the correct order for using every item in your skincare arsenal.

What to Include in Your Routine

This is a loaded question because it depends on your skin type and what benefits you want to see. A regimen for anti-aging is different from one designed to treat acne. No matter your skincare goals, there are three basic products that you should always include: a gentle cleanser, a moisturizer, and a product with SPF. These items will keep your face clean, protected, and properly moisturized. And don’t forget to cleanse both morning and night – even if you don’t wear makeup.

Layering Morning Products

Morning skincare routines tend to be fairly simple. As a general rule: Your thinnest products will always go first (since creamier products leave a thicker layer that can impact the absorption of anything applied over them). The thicker the consistency, the later it should come in your routine. In the morning, you’ll want to cleanse first to wash away any oils, pillow dust, night products, and more. Once your face is clean, you can move on to a toner if you choose to use one. After toner, add an antioxidant serum if desired. Then apply your moisturizer and, finally, your SPF.

Prepping for Bed

Unlike morning routines, nighttime skincare can get complex since this is when anti-aging ingredients, retinol, night creams, and other issue-specific products really go to work. No matter which products you use, makeup removal followed by cleansing should always be first. If you plan to exfoliate, that’s the next step.

Once your face is clean, you can move on to a toner. Next comes other thin products: essences, then serums, then retinol. After these products have been applied, it’s time for moisturizer, followed by additional night products like eye creams, face oils, and spot treatments for acne or discoloration.

Important Considerations

While there is a correct way to layer skincare, it’s not as simple as slapping on products one after the other. You should always read the labels to determine how long a product should sit, if it needs to be wiped off afterward, or if there are any special instructions. You should never apply a new product to your skin before another has been completely absorbed since mixing skincare can dilute the formulas and hinder their performance.


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