There aren’t many rules in beauty, but when it comes to skincare, there are definitely some suggestions that should be followed. Your skincare routine order matters in order for your products to be the most effective.
The easiest way to remember: thinnest to thickest. The thinner a product is, the further into your skin you want it to go. You don’t want a serum to just sit on top of your skin, so you’ll apply it before moisturizer which is meant to sit on top.
Of course, this is the most basic order but there are some other factors to consider when building your routine.
Things to Think About
Skin type: Your skin type may determine what order you apply specific products, or how often. For example, sensitive skin may want a barrier, like a serum, between the skin and acne-fighting products. Or, if you are acne-prone, you may want to use fewer products to help keep your pores from becoming clogged.
Specific ingredients: Some ingredients, like Vitamin C or AHA, increase sensitivity to the sun. So, you’ll definitely want to follow them with an SPF. Some may even say to only use it at night. Be sure to follow the directions!
Problems/concerns: Use products that will solve your biggest skincare concerns. If you are dry, focus on hydrating products rather than mattifying.
Skincare Routine Order
1. Cleanser/Exfoliant: Exfoliation is only needed 2 or 3 times a week, depending on your skin type. Personally, I prefer to exfoliate in the morning. When I do, I use just an exfoliant instead of a cleanser. If you exfoliate at night, you want to cleanse first to remove makeup. And of course, always double cleanse when you’re wearing makeup!
2. Toner: This step is optional, but seems to be helpful for certain skin types/concerns. I actually don’t use one because I don’t feel I need it. Pay attention to the ingredients – a lot of toners have fragrance and alcohol which can cause issues for sensitive or dry skin (or any skin type, really)
3. Eye cream: If you aren’t currently using an eye cream, definitely start! Some people suggest using an eye cream closer to the end of the skincare routine. I prefer to use it at this point because this area has the most sensitive skin. I find that it feels dry more easily and I want to protect it from the other products I will use, like acids.
Read my post about eye cream here.
4. Treatment: This is the best time to apply a treatment, like products that fight acne or wrinkles. Or a prescription. It may not be the thinnest product, but you want it to absorb into the skin as much as it can.
5. Serum: Because serums are thin, you’ll want to apply them next. This allows them to absorb into the skin without something thicker in the way.
6. Moisturizer: Lock in the products you applied with moisture/hydration. Even oily skin needs it! Just be sure to use one formulated for your skin type.
7. Oil: If you use a face oil, apply it after you moisturize. This will add more hydration. Jojoba or marula oils are great for this. Again, choose one that works with your skin type. This step can be really helpful in the winter months, especially if you have dry skin.
8. SPF: It is so important to use an SPF all year round. If you’re going to the trouble of using all these other products, save your skin from damage, too. SPF should be the last step so that is what the UV rays have contact with. That sounds a little weird, but you don’t want something to dilute the SPF or keep it from providing the proper protection.
Every person is different but you don’t really need a whole different routine for daytime versus nighttime. For the night, SPF is not needed for obvious reasons. I suggest replacing it with a heavier moisturizer or more hydrating serum/oil since your skin repairs itself while you sleep.
Some days you won’t need all these steps. And some people won’t ever need them all. Again, make this your own based on your needs.
Other Skincare Routine Tips
Apply primer as the last step of skincare so it has time to set into your skin before you apply makeup.
Use your ring finger for light pressure around your eyes! The skin in this area is thin, be gentle.
Avoid products that cause bad reactions when mixed. This may mean you have to swap out certain products on some days or use them only once a day. For example, I like to use a retinol serum and a vitamin serum every once in a while. But, they should not be mixed. Instead, use one in the morning and the other at night. If your skin tends to be sensitive like mine, use them on different days and make sure to use plenty of moisturizers to help keep your skin calm.
Currently, I use a moisturizer that has SPF in it during the day. So, that saves me a step.
If I am using self-tanning drops, I mix them with my moisturizer.
Be sure to save this graphic for later!
I hope this helps you get the most of your skincare routine! The nice thing is that it can be changed. Give the products some time to see how they work and then make the changes as needed until you’ve found what works best for you.
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