The Correct Order for Skincare Products—everything You Wanted to Know About Skincare Layering

Posted February 2, 2024 by in Beauty

Taking care of your body extends beyond healthy lifestyle choices and eating habits. To truly enjoy everything that your body has to offer, you may also need to perform a daily skincare routine—or two!

But studying the correct order for skincare products can be challenging, especially due to conflicting information on the subject. This can make it nearly impossible to develop a safe and beneficial routine. However, this guide can help.

Let’s learn more about the simple skincare routine order you should be following:

Morning Routine

Mastering the morning skincare routine is often more challenging than doing the same with the nightly one. That’s because it’s easy to fall into bad habits during the morning hours.

Individuals that aren’t “morning people” may forget to start their day with skincare products, opting instead to wander to their coffee maker and snack on breakfast foods. While eating breakfast is an essential part of eating right, it can distract you.

Exercise, also a healthy habit, can be equally distracting. To make matters slightly worse, rigorous exercise can also make you sweat. If you don’t wash away this sweat, it can clog your pores, resulting in irksome acne.

Consequently, it’s vital to work at your routine. Try to apply skincare products after exercise, showering, and breakfast. This way, your skin and stomach can both start the day off right.

Every morning skincare routine can be boiled down into five essential steps. These steps are:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Add Serums (Vitamin C is a great a.m. serum)
  4. Moisturize
  5. Apply Sunscreen (the sunscreen from Kinship is my current favorite)

Let’s go ahead and jump right into these steps so that you can know exactly what to do to achieve a flawless complexion that lasts all day long. To start things off, you’ll need a cleanser.


The very first thing you should do when starting your morning skincare routine is cleansing your skin. You can do this with warm water and dermatologist-approved soap, or you could use a cleanser. For Instance, using skin care goat milk soap regularly, can keep your skin free from bacterias and give it a natural glow.

As the name of this product might suggest, a cleanser will help wash away any dirt or oils clinging to your skin. When applied with warm water, it may also help your pores open up, allowing for deeper cleaning.


Once you’ve washed your skin, it’s time to apply a toner. Many toners function as anti-acne products, which may benefit those suffering from oily, acne-prone skin. If you don’t suffer from oily skin or acne, dryness may be your concern—thankfully there are moisturizing toners on the market as well. The hydrating toner from CeraVe is a great option that won’t break the bank.

The purpose of a toner is to remove any stubborn grease and grime, resulting in a more even (or toned) complexion. Though it may seem odd, once you’ve removed these hard-to-reach pockets of dirt, you’ll be ready to apply fresh oils to your skin.

Add Serums

If you use specific types of oils, serums, or essences, now is the time to apply them. Just be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions when applying such skincare products.

And if you’re going to exfoliate, only do it up to three times a week. Otherwise, you may be doing more harm than good. If you’ve been exfoliating daily but forgetting to moisturize, now is the time to change that.


Even if you have naturally oily skin, it’s worthwhile to apply a moisturizer. This is especially true of those who’ve cleaned and exfoliated their skin during their morning routine. This step should feel like a soft hug for your face, so enjoy it!

Apply Sunscreen

Though you may not be terribly afraid of excess sun exposure, especially if you spend the majority of your time indoors, it’s crucial to apply sunscreen during your morning skincare routine. Melanoma is more common than you might think.

Most forms of skin cancer form after excessive exposure to radiation, including the kind that comes from our sun. If you spend time near windows or plan on going outside at all during the day (even for just a moment), you’ll need sunscreen.

If you’re primarily an indoor person, you might be able to use a sunscreen with a low SPF. However, individuals that are often out in the sun should invest in a product with a high SPF.

Still, depending on the UV index for the day and the time spent outdoors, they may also need to reapply the sunscreen throughout the day. Below are some of my favorite sunscreens on the market right now:

Night Routine

Your nighttime skincare routine is going to be very similar to your morning one, with some slight changes. Most notably, you will not be applying sunscreen during this routine and you’ll likely be adding an active such as lactic acid or retinol.

Generally, a nighttime skincare routine consists of four simple steps. They are:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Apply Serums and/or Actives
  4. Moisturize

For healthy skin, be sure to follow these steps in succession. It’s also crucial to be aware of the things you’re applying to your skin, as some ingredients have negative interactions with each other. 

Still, just as with your morning skincare routine, you’re going to want to start with a nice gentle cleanse. This way, your skin is a blank canvas that is open to receiving the products you’re about to apply. 

Additionally, you’ll want to apply a toner before moving on to the next product. In this way, the night routine is precisely the same as the morning one. However, when we get to serums and oils, things can change. 

Apply Serums

If you’re using an anti-aging product that contains retinol, you can go ahead and apply it now. If you use an anti-acne product to help eliminate pimples, this is also the time to apply it.

However, under no circumstances should you put both of these products on your face simultaneously or right after one another. That’s because retinol reacts poorly with certain chemicals and compounds. 

Salicylic acid, one of the most common active ingredients in acne-fighting products, is one such compound. Should you accidentally apply salicylic acid and retinol within the same routine, you may immediately notice redness, dryness, and blotching.

If you’re determined to use a salicylic acid product and a retinol one, use the retinol option in the evenings only. This way, you can apply your salicylic acid treatment during the morning and your retinol at night.

My favorite budget-friendly retinol products can be found below:


Lastly, you’ll want to apply a gentle moisturizer to your skin before hitting the hay. You can use the same moisturizer you use in the a.m. as long as it doesn’t have sunscreen, however a more moisturizing cream may be needed if you experience dry skin. I love the IT Cosmetics Night Cream and the CeraVe Night Cream—both are very moisturizing.

Learn the Correct Order for Skincare Today!

Learning the correct order for skincare products could help make them more effective. Besides, putting on your products in the wrong order can also be somewhat detrimental, especially if you’re using retinol.

Be sure to start your skincare routines with a quick cleanse before applying toner. After that, you can apply your serums and oils, then moisturize. During the morning, you’ll also want to add sunscreen to your routine.

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