How To Apply Skin Care Products: The Right Order

Written by Ramona Sinha

Is your expensive line of skin care products not giving you the desired results? Maybe you are not using them in the correct order. The efficacy of the skin care products depends a lot on how you layer them on your face. Scroll through this article to learn why layering is essential and the correct order to apply your skin care products for the maximum benefits.

Why Should You Apply Skin Care Products In Order?

It is because each skin care product has a different consistency and different concentrations of active ingredients. Applying them in the correct order ensures that the ingredients penetrate the skin layers.

As a general rule of thumb, start with the thinnest consistency to the thickest cream or moisturizer. Toners have the thinnest consistency and should go first, and sleeping masks (for the night) and day creams and moisturizers (for the day) should be applied at the end. Here is an ultimate guide to how to layer your skin care products.

How To Apply Your Skin Care Products In Order: An Ultimate Guide

Daytime Skin Care Routine

Step 1: Cleanser (Double Cleansing)

Start your skin care routine by double cleansing your face. First, use cleansing oil to dissolve all impurities on your skin and wipe it off. Then, use a gentle, water-based cleanser. Massage your face in a circular motion for a couple of minutes to ensure thorough cleansing, and then wash off with lukewarm water.

Step 2: Toner

Cleansing opens up your skin pores, which is why you need to apply a toner next. Toning minimizes the skin pores, gently scrapes away dead skin cells, helps balance the skin’s pH, and prepares it for the following products. Toners have a watery consistency and get absorbed quickly. Make sure you choose toners as per your skin concern.

If you have oily skin and enlarged pores, choose a toner with beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) or alpha hydroxy acids (AHA). If you have dry skin, look for toners containing hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and rose water. For sensitive skin, use moisturizing toners with hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

Step 3: Serum

Serums are packed with potent and concentrated active ingredients and antioxidants. Look for ingredients like vitamins E, C, resveratrol, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides. These ingredients protect the skin from environmental and UV damage and keep it hydrated and protected. Serums are lightweight and get absorbed almost instantly.

Step 4: Eye Cream

Eye creams are gentle, light, and formulated to reduce puffiness, fine lines, and pigmentation. The skin around the eye area is delicate and sensitive and needs a specialized formula to keep it hydrated. Pick an eye cream that contains caffeine to tighten the under-eye skin and minimize puffiness. Always choose a fragrance-free formula.

Step 5: Spot Treatment

If you have acne-prone skin and use spot treatment creams, they go on your face now. Spot treatment creams contain potent ingredients like niacinamide, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid for targeted remedy. Apply them to the affected area (like on the acne lesion or the dark spot) and do no spread all over your face as that may dry out the skin.

Step 6: Moisturizer

Wait for a few minutes after applying the spot treatment and before you apply the moisturizer. Instead of a generic moisturizer, use something that is specifically formulated for your skin type. Choose a moisturizer with one potent ingredient or antioxidants that can repair, hydrate, and improve your skin’s texture. If you have oily skin, go for a lightweight, water-based moisturizer containing hyaluronic acid for hydration minus the grease. For dry and sensitive skin, choose moisturizers with antioxidants, ceramides, and peptides to soothe and soften your skin.

Step 7: Face Oils

Use face oils only if you have dry skin. Face oils are lightweight, get absorbed quickly, and keep the skin hydrated, soft, and smooth.

Avoid this step if you have oily skin and if your skin does not respond well to facial oils.

Step 8: Moisturizer

Moisturizers hydrate the skin and keep it smooth and soft. They come in lotion, cream, and gel forms. If you have dry, combination, and normal skin, opt for a cream-based formula. However, if you have oily skin, opt for water-based and gel-based lightweight moisturizers.

Step 9: Sunscreen

Stepping out without applying sunscreen is a sin, regardless of the season. It should be the last step in your daytime skin care routine. Go for a mineral sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Choose a sheer and lightweight formula that does not cause breakouts and blends easily under makeup.

Step 9: Makeup

Finish with makeup if you feel the need to cover any redness or uneven areas. Opt for a foundation (powder, liquid, or cream) or BB creams that are suitable for your skin tone.

Your skin naturally repairs itself at night. A good nighttime skin care routine provides additional nourishment to your skin. Here is how you should layer your skin care products for a perfect nighttime routine!

Nighttime Skin Care Routine

Step 1: Double Cleansing

Like your daytime routine, the nighttime routine needs to start with double cleansing, and this is non-negotiable. Remove your makeup with a cleansing balm or oil. The cleaning oil helps break down oil-based ingredients in your makeup, dirt, and grime. Follow it up with a gentle water-based cleanser to get rid of any residual makeup.

Step 2: Toner

You need to tone your skin at night to minimize the pores, exfoliate your skin, and get rid of any dead skin cells. Give it a few seconds to get fully absorbed before you move on to the next step. Also, a toner helps clean any residue from the skin and prep it for the next steps. For the night, use a toner that has hydrating ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid. You may also use lactic acid toner for mild exfoliation.

Optional: You may also layer various skin care boosters like moisture mists and essences. Since all these are lightweight and enriched with active ingredients, apply them after the toner to nourish your skin.

Step 3: Hydrating Serums

Our skin repairs itself while we sleep. Hence, it is better to apply anti-aging serums (like retinol serums), medications, and exfoliating (AHA and BHA) treatments at night time. They plump up your skin and promote cell turnover rate to minimize the signs of aging, leaving you with a bright skin tone in the morning. You may also choose a hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid if you have dry skin.

Step 4: Eye Cream

It’s time for eye cream! With the tips of your ring fingers, massage the eye cream gently around your eyes. Wait a few seconds for it to sink in. Use an eye cream with high antioxidant and peptide concentrations to improve fine lines, dark circles, and puffiness.

Step 5: Spot Treatment Creams

It is essential to use spot treatment creams twice a day to reduce the appearance of spots, scars, and inflammation. Apply these creams to the affected areas in small quantities to avoid dryness.

Step 6: Face Oil

Apply a few drops of face oil to prevent moisture loss and protect your skin. This is especially beneficial for dry skin. Use formulas that contain saturated or monounsaturated fats.

Step 7: Night Cream Or Sleeping Mask

Finish off the routine with night cream or a sleeping mask. If you have oily skin, choose a gel-based, light, and hydrating cream that gets absorbed quickly and maintains your skin’s moisture balance through the night. If you have dry, combination, or normal skin, use cream-based and heavy formulas. Moisturizers keep the skin plump and youthful.

Follow the order as mentioned above for your day and nighttime skin care routine. However, consider these points to get the desired results.

What Should You Remember While Applying Skin Care Products? Dos And Don’ts

DosDon’ts
Invest in quality skin care products.Do not use skin care products without cleaning your face.
Use products suitable for your skin type.Do not use products that contain artificial fragrances, preservatives, chemicals, and silicones.
Do a patch test before using any product.Do not use hot boiling water to wash your face.
Start with the products with the thinnest consistency.Do not use greasy products on oily and acne-prone skin.
Observe how your skin reacts to skin care products.Do not use bar soap to wash your face.
Always check the pH levels of the skin care products.Do not overuse exfoliators and products containing AHAs and BHA. Use them sparingly.

To Conclude

Using skin care products will not give you the best results unless you layer them correctly. Even if you are using just a handful of products, follow the order discussed in the article to layer them properly, make them work hard, and get the best results.

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Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.