The Correct Order to Apply Your Skincare Products

  • Copy by: Amanda Holstein

With all of the cleansers, toners, serums, and more out there, your skincare routine can get seriously overwhelming. Figuring out the right order to apply your skincare products, so that they are the most effective, can be difficult. But after some research, what I discovered actually makes a lot of sense.

The general rule is to layer your products from thin to thick. So, for example, your moisturizer goes last because it’s the heaviest. It’s also helpful to think of layering based on how effective you want each to be. Apply an acne treatment before moisturizer so that it doesn’t need to penetrate so many layers to do its job. Make sense? Here is step-by-step guide to applying your skincare products, below. Happy layering!


1. Cleanser
Start your morning off with a gentle cleanser. Your skin doesn’t typically need much washing in the morning so you can even just splash it with water. If you do opt for a cleanser, Clarins Cleansing Milk with Alpine Herbs is gentle and perfect for a quick cleanse in the morning.

2. Toner
A cleanser can only do so much, so using a toner is a great way to finish off this first phase and assure all dirt and oils are wiped away. Just make sure to avoid harsh cleansers that contain alcohol. Mario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion is the perfect alternative.

3. Serum (optional)
Next, it’s time to focus on any problem areas. Serums are a great solution to uneven skin tone, dull skin, fine lines, and more. I currently use RevelationsRX Deep Hydrating & Brightening Serum to counteract my dry, dull skin.

4. Moisturizer with SPF
No matter what your skin type, it’s important to use a moisturizer that contains SPF daily. Kiehl’s is great for just about any skin type. And if you need extra hydration, opt for something heavier like Mario Badescu The Moisture Magnet SPF 15.

5. Eye Cream
Apply eye cream last (after moisturizer). It’s really helpful to use an eye cream (no matter your age) because the skin around your eyes is different from the rest of your face. Try Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado or Kiehl’s Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Eye Cream if you want to focus on combatting fine lines.


1. Cleanser
Start with cleanser, per usual, but opt for something stronger to really deep clean the dirt away from the day. Shiseido Ibuki Gentle Cleanser works wonders and leaves your skin squeaky clean.

2. Toner
Toner is especially important at night to really wash away any impurities from the day.

3. Acne Treatment (optional)
Next, it’s most effective to apply any acne treatment right after you cleanse so that it’s closest to the skin. Murad Acne Clearing Solution is amazing for on-the-spot treatments or you can apply a thin layer to your entire face.

4. Serum (optional)
If you’ve applied an acne treatment, wait for it to dry before adding serum. Use the same one from the morning for best results.

5. Night Cream
Now it’s time to apply your night cream—yes, this is different from your daily moisturizer. Night creams slowly absorb into the skin overtime and are super hydrating. Dermalogica Pure Night is a great choice for all skin types.

6. Eye Cream
Add eye cream after night cream, just as you did in the morning.

7. Facial Oil (optional)
For those of you with dry skin, facial oils are my latest obsession. Gently pat the product into your skin when you’ve finished applying everything else. Using facial oils over time can really improve the state of your skin. NUDE Skincare is a recent favorite, particularly because their products are all natural. I recommend their Progenius Omega Treatment Rescue Oil.

  • Shamira West

    I was always told to apply your eye cream before your moisturizer.

    • Emma


  • I’m so lazy with my skincare, hoping this will get me into a better habit! Thank you,
    Tara xo

  • I was just thinking about this morning! I’m glad to see this post. I really need to get a new eye cream and night moisturizer.

    • Missy Wu

      Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil and Eye Cream have done wonders for me 🙂 Their avocado eye cream for the morning is great as well!

  • schacha8

    If I use an actual SPF and a day moisturizer separately do I add the spf before moisturizer? Or the thinner one first? I’ve always wondered this. THANKS.

    • Mai

      my facialist has told me spf always go on last.

      • schacha8

        Yes, makes sense. Thnx!

  • Emma

    These steps I feel are a little off. I work in the industry and always advise clients to put eye cream on first, and don’t even bother with a toner. If you are cleansing twice then you don’t need a toner and if your cleanser is a decent one then it shouldn’t be stripping. Serums are your go to instead of a toner.

    • Janine

      toners are used to adjust the pH the skin, one of the most important things for ensuring healthy skin. NEVER skip your toner. your skin should maintain a pH of about 5.5, and if someone is using the wrong cleanser, say something extremely alkaline, then they’d destroy their skin otherwise.

      • MrsD Ware

        Would I use my Retinol oil before or after my spot cream that I put all over my face?

  • Isabella Magalhães

    Ok, guys. But for the day, when should I appy sunscreen?

    • Hanny

      Always last.

  • Sahra

    seriously was needing this! I’ve really been getting into a skin regimen lately but have been so nervous about how to layer products that I actually haven’t opened up my products yet! Now I know, thanks!!

    XO Sahra
    Que Sera Sahra

  • Cyntia Cantu-Voyles

    Mario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion lists alcohol as an ingredient. Is isopropyl alcohol not the same thing?

    • Hanny

      Yes they are both the same thing. Try finding one with rose water and alcohol free.

  • Christiannag

    This would be so perfect in a postcard to hang in the bathroom!

  • Stef Scott

    I usually apply steps 1-4 and apply Solvaderm instead of night cream.

  • Stef Scott

    I usually just apply steps 1-4 and apply Solvaderm at the end of it all.

  • Lily F.

    I know this article is not necessarily about the products, but I am in search of an eye cream so I thought I would check out the ones you provide. Do you have any recommendations outside of Kiehl’s? I try not to use their products as they test on animals.

    • MAB

      I really like Acure’s eye cream. Cruelty free and bonus: it’s also non-toxic.

  • Heather White

    Thanks for the post. Developing a strict skin care routine the sooner is the better!

  • Sheila Nico

    I has really in the dark when using beauty products to improve my skin, ugh I dont know if my Solvaderm should go first or last :\'(. I should have researched more on the proper way rather than putting it in random. I wish I knew about this site before :\'(

  • ireumeun

    What if I use facemasks during the night? What order should I put the face mask? 🙁 i hope you see this.

  • ireumeun

    What if I use facemasks during the night? What order should I put the face mask? 🙁 i hope you see this.