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.