What Order Should I Apply Skin Care Products? A Step By Step Guide
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What Order Should I Apply Skin Care Products? A Step By Step Guide

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By , Certified Health Coach

Last Updated on November 29th, 2023 / Published on September 22, 2023

What Order Should I Apply Skin Care Products? A Step By Step Guide

A hectic lifestyle can make applying skincare products in the correct order feel like an impossible puzzle. Minimal knowledge, limited time, and multiple choices may leave you wondering how best to cleanse, tone, and moisturize. You are not alone! Understanding the significance of having an established skincare routine unlocks the secret to glowing, radiant skin. 

That’s why we’ve created this step-by-step guide to explain why it’s so important to apply skincare products in the right order and precisely what this ideal skincare routine is that will leave your skin looking and feeling good. 

Why does the order of my skincare routine matter?

When you apply skincare products in the right order, they become more efficient in how they interact with your skin. Just as following a recipe guarantees delicious food, Mastering the art and science of layering skincare products is the key to attaining flawless skin. 

Lighter products should come first before more concentrated and richer ones. Imagine your skin acting like a sponge that absorbs goodness through multiple layers.

Here’s a list of steps to guide you in putting your beauty products in the proper order:

Step 1: Cleanse

Cleansing should always be your starting point when starting any skincare regime. It prepares your skin to absorb all of its goodness. Choose a gentle, non-sulfate cleanser tailored specifically for your skin type, and feel all of the day’s stress and grime wash away as you cleanse!

Step Two: Exfoliate (One to Two Times Weekly)

Exfoliation is key to unlocking the full potential of your skin. When you exfoliate, your skin sheds dead cells, revealing a healthier and younger complexion. Choose a chemical exfoliant containing natural alpha and beta hydroxy acids, such as glycolic or citric acids, instead of harsh abrasives that could irritate your skin.

Step 3: Use a Toner 

Toning can bring some tranquility and harmony back into your skincare regimen. Try applying an alcohol-free toner containing soothing and antioxidant properties directly onto your skin to restore its natural balance and prepare it for further steps.

Step 4: Address Your Skin’s Requirements

Now, it’s time to treat your skin with some extra TLC! Try specialized spot treatments or serums tailored specifically to address your concerns – such as dark spot faders or fine line remedies. They’ll help you achieve the best possible version of your skin. Products featuring powerful active ingredients, like vitamin C or retinol retinol,1 deserve special recognition. 

Step 5: Apply Eye Cream

Your soul deserves extra special care, so consider how you treat its windows. Gently dab some eye cream onto your ring finger to give your eyes tender love and care. 

Step 6: Moisturize

Give the gift of hydration for radiant skin! Moisturizers help quench your skin’s thirst while shielding it from external stresses. Select a moisturizing product suitable to your skin type, whether oily or dry, so your complexion can soak in moisture and glow with vitality.

Step 7: Use a Sunscreen 

Always include sunscreen as part of your skin care regimen. An SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen is essential to its success. 

“While choosing the best sunscreen is important, perhaps even more crucial is using it correctly — something a lot of us don’t do,” says Henry W. Lim, MD,2 chair of the Department of Dermatology at the Henry Ford Medical Center in Detroit.

Sun protection helps avoid premature aging, skin problems, and sunburn in addition to helping preserve overall good skin.

Consider How Fast Skincare Products Get Absorbed Into Your Skin

Once you’ve mastered the golden rule of layering products, you need to understand how each one absorbs into your skin. 

By following our steps, your skincare regimen will become an orchestra of products performing at their highest potential.

Step 1: Serums, Essences, and Quick Absorbers 

These lightweight products contain potency-packed active ingredients readily absorbed by the skin, quickly treating specific concerns by their fluid nature.

Step 2: Oils 

These provide intense hydration to the skin and are rich in essential nutrients. Apply oils after serums or essences to seal in all their goodness while providing protection.

Step 3: Moisturizers 

Rich and creamy moisturizers can keep skin supple. Apply after oils for even greater hydration retention and softness. Some great ingredients to have in your moisturizer include:

  • Hyaluronic Acid3: replenishes skin by replacing lost moisture.
  • Ceramides4: crucial in supporting your skin barrier health and relieving dry skin conditions.

Step 4: Sunscreen 

Apply sunscreen as the last step in your morning skincare routine to create a barrier between harmful UV rays and your skin, protecting it throughout the day.

Daytime Skincare Regime: How to Enjoy a Radiant Glow from Morning till Night

Start fresh by giving yourself the gift of double cleansing! This skincare power duo can get your day going right by eliminating impurities from your skin, providing a canvas ready for success. Start with an oil cleanser designed for sensitive skin to remove any impurities and excess oil before switching it out for one that deep cleans pores – giving yourself a clean face to take on anything!

Apply Serums and Actives

Niacinamide in the morning, Hyaluronic Acid, and Vitamin C: Your skin has been rejuvenated and is ready for action – now let the serums and actives do their work. Niacinamide5 will reduce pore size while also increasing natural glow. Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is an essential ingredient suitable for all skin types, improving the skin’s lipid barrier and retaining hydration longer. You can find it in almost any type of skincare product, be it a serum, moisturizer, or cleanser, and you can mix it with other actives. 

Hyaluronic Acid will quench thirsty skin with hydration, while vitamin C offers ultimate brightening effects, fighting free radicals off and creating an energetic complexion! 

Apply a Moisturizer

Now is the time to moisturize because happy skin means hydrated skin. Make sure your moisturizer meets all your skincare needs: for dry skin, enjoy creamy, rich formulas, while non-greasy, lightweight ones work wonders on oilier complexions. Either way, you will feel fresh and hydrated all day long.

Apply a Sunscreen

Make sunscreen part of your daily routine, and feel great knowing you are safeguarding your skin! Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen, protecting it against harmful UV rays, and feel confident as you face the day knowing your skin is being cared for properly.

Nighttime Skincare Regime: How To Create A Ritual Of Nourishment Before Bedtime To Maximize Results

Remove Makeup to Prepare Skin for Rejuvenation

Being proactive about taking off all makeup before entering beauty rest is key for maintaining fresh, nourished skin throughout the night.

Wash off makeup, impurities, and pollutants from your day in a cleansing routine before bedtime to clear away the remnants of today and let beauty sleep take its course. This step ensures your complexion has an ideal canvas upon which nourishment can occur during restorative, restful slumber.

Add Anti-Aging Solutions: Tretinoin or Retinol, Essential Ingredients for Maintaining Youth-Enhancing Beauty.

Ah, active ingredients! Retinol and tretinoin are age-defying superstars that work their magic while you sleep, stimulating collagen and smoothing wrinkles. They also help heal fine lines, skin wrinkles, and sun damage. 

Retinol is a form of vitamin A6 suitable for the skin. It belongs to a group of vitamin A derivatives known as retinoids. You can buy some retinoids over the counter without a doctor’s prescription. Others, such as tretinoin (a synthetic form of vitamin A), are more powerful and can only be prescribed by a doctor.

Remember that Retinol (a natural form of vitamin A) can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s important to use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day — even when it looks cloudy. Always consult a dermatologist before starting a high-strength retinol or if you’re concerned about retinol’s effects.

Balance is essential when taking Tretinoin7 and Retinol products alongside other medications.

Tretinoin works by making skin cells divide and die faster so that new, healthier cells can replace them. To stimulate this process, tretinoin must ultimately irritate the skin. This is why people often experience uncomfortable side effects when first using this product.

Common side effects8 of tretinoin include mild to moderate:

  • Skin redness or inflammation
  • Dryness
  • Peeling or flaking
  • Itching

How to protect your skin from the sun when using tretinoin? 

  • Avoid excessive sun exposure.
  • Wear SPF 50+ sunscreen daily — even if you only stay indoors, as indirect sunlight through windows can still damage or burn your skin.

We recommend that you use powerful products alone on certain nights so they can work their magic without competition from hydrating products. -This will leave your skin with an impressive glow like moonlight! On alternate nights, use both to maintain skin hydration barriers for optimal results.

Hydrating and Nourishing Your Skin During Nightly Regeneration Process

As you relax, your skin begins its nighttime rejuvenation process. Apply a rich moisturizer that hydrates and nourishes to help it start its rejuvenation journey. Think of it like water pouring from a delicate bloom as its petals blossom for another day of beauty.

How to Customize Your Skincare Product Order Based on Your Skin’s Needs

Discover which factors to consider when creating an ideal skincare routine to ensure its success and your skin’s well-being. 

Understand Your Skin Type, Concerns, and Goals

To develop the ideal skincare regime, it is necessary first to understand your skin type and concerns. You may have sensitive, oily, or combination skin. Understanding this is the key to selecting appropriate products. This customized approach addresses skincare challenges like breakouts, parched, dry skin, or fine lines.

Consider Sensitivities to Allergens and Allergies

Understanding your skin’s sensitivity is paramount when developing customized skincare routines. Take note of allergies or sensitivities your skin has. Select hypoallergenic products without fragrance that soothe and nourish without irritating. 


To summarize this journey into the world of skincare, one thing is certain: creating a customized skincare routine is a powerful self-care act and an act of empowerment.

Let’s quickly summarize some actionable insights to incorporate into your daily skincare routine! 

  • Order Matters: Just as following a recipe, applying skincare products in the correct order enhances their efficiency. 
  • Step-by-Step Guide: Follow the steps in your skincare routine, from cleansing to sunscreen. 
  • Consider Absorption Rates: Understand how different product types absorb into your skin.
  • Daytime Regimen: Start your day with cleansing, applying serums and actives like Niacinamide and Vitamin C, moisturizing, and always finish with sunscreen.
  • Nighttime Regimen: Remove makeup, use anti-aging solutions like Retinol or Tretinoin, balance product usage, and apply a hydrating moisturizer.
  • Customize Your Routine: Consider your skin’s individuality and sensitivities.
  • Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen daily to protect your skin from UV damage and premature aging.

Take charge of your care, celebrate who you are as an individual, and let your unique glow shine brightly – you deserve it!


  1. Zasada M, Budzisz E. Retinoids: active molecules influencing skin structure formation in cosmetic and dermatological treatments. Advances in Dermatology and Allergology. 2019;36(4):392-397. doi:https://doi.org/10.5114/ada.2019.87443
  2. Griffin RM. Choosing the Best Sunscreen. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/whats-best-sunscreen
  3. Baum I. Your Guide to Hyaluronic Acid and How It Benefits Your Skin. Allure. https://www.allure.com/story/what-is-hyaluronic-acid-skin-care
  4. Nast C. Why You Should Add Ceramides to Your Skin-Care Routine. Allure. Published December 6, 2018. https://www.allure.com/story/what-are-ceramides
  5. Niacinamide: MedlinePlus Supplements. medlineplus.gov. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/1534.html#:~:text=Expand%20Section
  6. What Can Vitamin A Do for Your Skin? Healthline. Published August 20, 2018. Accessed September 19, 2023. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skincare/vitamin-a-for-skin#What-is-vitamin-A?
  7. Yoham AL, Casadesus D. Tretinoin. PubMed. Published 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557478/#:~:text=Tretinoin%20is%20a%20valuable%20medication
  8. Tretinoin (Topical Route) Side Effects – Mayo Clinic. www.mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/tretinoin-topical-route/side-effects/drg-20066521
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Written By
Daniela Moreno

Certified Health Coach
Written By

Certified Health Coach
Daniela is a Certified Health and WellnessCoach (IIN), an ardent Animal & Environmental Activist and Content Creator with over +15 years of experience. Her passion for integral wellness and health has motivated her entire existence. After spending over +20 years working with several organizations and people around the globe, she learned that the best way to contribute and make an impact in people's lives, is by inspiring others. She has a large social media following where she encourages people to live a conscious and sustainable lifestyle. Daniela has exceptional communication skills and has been featured on CNN, CNN International, Warner Channel and other media outlets as a result from her work. She enjoys sharing healthy and delicious plant based recipes, highlighting the importance of hydration and juicing when it comes to optimal health.

The content provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Read More.

Join our community of health and wellness enthusiasts today !!

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