Skincare Routine Order: The Best Order to Apply your Skincare Products

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Are you applying your skincare products in the right order?

It’s hard to know sometimes.

With moisturizer, serums, toners, oils and a plethora of other products, it’s easy to find yourself freezing up with indecision once you’ve rinsed away your cleanser.

But, don’t panic.

Here’s a simple guide to help you to apply your skincare products in the right order.

Applying Products: A Simple Skincare Routine Order

Okay, so the first step in a good skincare routine is always cleansing – that should go without saying.

No matter what your skin type, you should cleanse your face twice per day – once in the morning and once in the evening.

If you’re using a mask, then you should use it right after cleansing and then rinse it off. After that, it’s time to apply the rest of your products.

Once you’ve cleansed your skin, this is the skincare routine order you should follow:

1. Tone

The first thing you should do after cleansing is apply your toner – if you use one (read here about whether you actually need to use a toner or not).

At this point, the skin is clean and fresh and ready to be replenished with the ingredients in your toner. A good toner can also help you to really get rid of those last traces of makeup.

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2. Exfoliate

There are two main ways that you can exfoliate the skin:

  • Manual exfoliation – such as using a washcloth with your cleanser or a Clarisonic.
  • Chemical exfoliation – using a product (it has to be something that you leave on your face) that contains salicylic acid, lactic acid or glycolic acid.

If you exfoliate using a chemical exfoliant, like the Paula’s Choice BHA, then now’s the time to apply it.

Using your exfoliator before heavier, more emollient-rich, moisturizing products, like oils, serums and lotions allows it to penetrate the surface of the skin, where it can really work.

If you use products like moisturizers first, then it stops the chemical exfoliants from working as well.

Chemical exfoliants are excellent for reducing the appearance of dull skin, eliminating rough or flaky patches, unclogging the pores, clearing blackheads and other products and improving the appearance of an uneven skin tone.

This post on the best chemical exfoliants includes more detail about exfoliating and provides more product recommendations.

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3. Apply a Serum

Serums can be a great supplemental product in any skincare routine. They’re excellent for adding a few skin-boosting ingredients that might be missing from the other products in your skincare routine, usually antioxidants and other restorative, replenishing ingredients, like vitamin C or retinol.

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4. Moisturize

Now’s the time to apply your moisturizer or an oil.  In the morning, you should always use a moisturizer that contains broad-spectrum SPF.

Using SPF not only keeps your skin safe from the sun’s harmful rays, but, it also prevents premature signs of aging, like wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.

At night-time, SPF is, obviously, not needed.

This is also the time to apply oil, like jojoba oil or coconut oil to the face. You can add a few drops to your moisturizer, or you can use oil in place of your moisturizer at night time.

Recommended Moisturizers for Day Time

Recommended Moisturizers for Night Time

Recommended oils:

Tailoring your Skincare Routine Order

Now, you might not use all of the products mentioned above in your skincare routine – which is completely fine. I don’t use a toner because I don’t need to, but you might like to use a toner. Whereas I have dry skin, so I like to use oils sometimes, but you might have oily skin so you don’t need to use oils.

So, if there are any products mentioned above that you don’t use, don’t worry, just discount that step and move onto the next one.

At a minimum you should be using at cleanser, exfoliator and moisturizer – just three steps.