Most of you know by now that I really love my daily skincare routine. For me it’s a relaxing morning ritual and nightly way to wind down. My daily skincare routine involves applying multiple products and I often get questions about what order to apply them. All products have different active ingredients and formulations, and those are important things to consider when applying your skincare. The order you apply skincare products is important because it impacts their effectiveness and helps give your skin the best benefits.
No need to be overwhelmed by all of these steps. If you’re just dipping your toe into a skincare routine, don’t have time or just can’t be bothered, keep it simple. Cleanser, Serum, Moisturizer/SPF is just fine. If you’re unsure of how and when to apply your products, this post is for you.
You may also like: My Morning and Night Skincare Routine, My Favorite Skincare Treatments
What Order to Apply Skincare Products
Cleanser. (Day and Night)
Cleansing the skin is the first and dare I say one of the most important steps. Especially at night, cleansing the skin is so important to remove the dirt and grime from the day. In the morning I rinse with Farmaesthetics Herbal Cleanser (the smell is so refreshing it’s a great pick me up). I also really like that it’s good at giving you clean skin without stripping or drying it out. At night, I typically do a double cleanse. I wash my face first with Farmaesthetics Herbal Cleanser and then follow with Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm which is great for nourishing the skins barrier and restoring hydration.
Toner or Essence. (Day and Night)
A toner or essence should be applied to the skin after cleansing. Technically you could use a toner and then an essence (this is part of the 10-step Korean skincare routine) but it’s definitely not a necessity. I personally use a toner (this one from Indie Lee has been in my skincare routine for years). Toners are typically more for removing any impurities left on your skin after cleanings, where an essence is more for hydrating and prepping your skin for the rest of your routine. That said, it really depends on the formulation of the product. The reason I love the Indie Lee toner is because it’s balancing, refreshing AND hydrating. It’s formulated with antioxidants, Aloe Vera, and Cucumber so it’s cooling and soothing.
Peel or Sheet Mask.(Night)
A peel or sheet mask is something I would do about once a week. For weekly peels I really like Dr. Dennis Gross Daily Peels. I save sheet masks for things like travel but one of my favorites is this Vitamin C mask by Orgaid. If you’re doing a sheet mask you can let rub any remaining product into your skin before the next step (no need to wash it off).
Treatment or Serum.(Serum Day and Night, Treatment Night Only)
The next step after toner/essence or peel/sheet mask would be a treatment or serum. One thing to note, if you are doing a peel you would not follow that with a treatment that has BHAs, Glycolic Acids, Lactic Acids or Retinols. You could do a peel followed by a hydrating serum with Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide etc. For example:
- Morning: Vitamin C Serum (a great product to use in combination with sunscreen)
- Night: Peel followed by a serum with with Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide OR treatment like Farmacy Honeymoon Glow (good for sensitive skin) or Biossance Lactic Acid Resurfacing Night Serum OR Vitamin C Serum (after toner/essence)
Eye Cream. (Day and Night)
I probably didn’t start using an eye cream until I was in my 30s but I never go without it now. There’s a lot of debate over whether or not eye creams are necessary. I think it’s somewhat personal preference. If you wanted to skip a step it could be this one, and (as long as there are no potentially irritating ingredients) just pat a moisturizer or serum around the eye area. In the morning I use a brightening and depuffing eye cream. It has ingredients like Bakuchiol, Caffeine and Vitamin C, to brighten, smooth, and depuff. At night I like to go for something a bit thicker and creamy like this Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream.
Spot Treatments. (Night)
For tackling blemishes, it’s best to do it at night when your skin is in recovery mode. This spot treatment goes on clear and has 10% Willow Bark Extract, a natural source of BHA Salicylic Acid.
Moisturizer. (Day and Night)
Your moisturizer goes on top of your serum, again if you’re trying to keep it minimal I think this can be an either/or situation, a serum or a moisturizer. For day I really like the Tata Harper Illuminating Moisturizer. It’s infused with diamond dust for illuminating the skin and contains hyaluronic acid for plumping and hydrating. For something less expensive Youth to the People Superfood Moisturizer is really nice.
Overnight Mask. (Night)
Masks are a big part of my nighttime skincare routine. During Vermont winters I use one almost every night because it’s SO dry. My skin soaks it up. You can definitely apply a mask over your serum/moisturizer AND you can layer oil on top if you have dry skin. I do it all the time. My favorite masks are the Follain Hydrating Mask and Farmacy Niacinamide Night Mask.
Oil. (Day and/or Night)
When and how you use oil will depend on your skin type. You want to do oil as your last step (or before sunscreen during the day) as other products will not penetrate through the oil. I typically only use oil at night and like Biossance Squalane and Vitamin C Oil.
Sunscreen is SO important and should be worn everyday. It’s one of the best skincare products to combat and prevent signs of aging. My favorite everyday sunscreen is Saie Sunvisor. It’s a super hydrating mineral sunscreen with SPF 35 protection. It can also be layered under Saie Slip Tint SPF 35 Tinted Moisturizer for added protection.