Using your skincare products in the correct order is just as important as choosing the right formulas for your skincare products. If applied in the wrong order, they may not prove effective and may even irritate your skin.
However, figuring out what order to apply your skincare products can be pretty challenging and confusing, especially if you’re a newbie to the vast world of skincare and beauty. That’s why we are here to break down why it’s important to use skincare products in the correct order, rules for determining the correct order of applying products, and how to layer them correctly in your day and nighttime skincare routines. So, let’s get to it!
Why Does the Correct Order Matter?
If you are wondering why layering your skincare products in the correct order matters, here’s why:
- For Better Absorption - Although our skin’s function is to keep harmful things outside the body, that’s not the case with skincare ingredients. We want our skin to absorb many of the ingredients used in our skincare products. However, only a fraction of these ingredients gets penetrated into the skin, even if you apply the right products in the right way. So, if you don’t layer the products in the correct order, your skin may not receive its ample supply to keep it looking and feeling healthy to achieve the most out of your skincare routine.
- To Ensure Effectiveness - Skincare experts recommend using skincare products in the correct order to ensure that your skin is delivered with the full benefits of ingredients in those products, or the products may not be effective in yielding the desired results. Moreover, certain ingredients work better when applied away from each other. Slathering them together may neutralize them or produce a chemical reaction. Both these scenarios can render them ineffective.
- To Avoid Irritation - Sometimes, applying skincare products in the wrong order can lead to new skin problems. For instance, if you layer your serum on top of facial oil, it may not work effectively to hydrate the skin because your skin will not receive enough hydrating and nourishing ingredients. This can result in dry, dehydrated skin, making it more prone to irritation and itching. Similarly, using a serum, cream, or facial oil on top of sunscreen will disturb the sunscreen coverage and compromise its protection against oxidative damage, leaving you vulnerable to premature wrinkles, age spots, and fine lines.
Some Rules for Layering Your Products Correctly
Here are some key points to be pay attention to while deciding the correct order of layering your skincare products:
- Thinnest to Thickest Consistency - Always layer your products, moving from thinner to a thicker consistency.¹ Start with a light textured product (like water or gel-based products), including your serums, toners, mists, and essences. Layer the products with heavier textures, like facial oils, moisturizing creams, and lotions on top. Follow with sunscreen.
- Water-based to Oil-based Formulas - Another rule for applying your skincare products in the correct order is to remember that water and oils don’t blend well together. Therefore, if you apply an oil-based product first and layer it with a water-based product, the underlying product will block its ingredients from penetrating the skin. Hence, apply your water-based products first and allow your skin to absorb them, then follow with your oil-based products.
The Correct Order To Apply Skincare Products
Now that we have talked you through why you need to use your skincare products in a particular order to get maximum results from them, let’s move to our comprehensive guide of the correct order to use when applying your skincare products during your day and nighttime skincare routines.
The Correct Order to Apply Products During the Day
Your daytime skincare routine is all about preparing and protecting your skin from a range of harmful factors, such as UV rays, pollution, and free radicals, which it comes in contact with during the day. Here’s how to layer your products in the correct order in the morning:
- Cleanser - You can start your daytime skincare rituals by simply splashing your face with lukewarm water alone. However, if your skin tends to get oily during the day or you still have residue from the products used before bedtime, use a non-drying, gentle cleanser to cleanse your skin of impurities and control excess sebum for that healthy, happy skin.
- Toner - If you skip this step thinking that a toner might over-dry or irritate your skin, choose an alcohol-free gentle toner that is antioxidant-rich and filled with hydrating and nourishing ingredients. Applying a toner after cleansing not only assists in removing traces of other products and impurities, it helps close enlarged pores and enhances the absorption of products. “Toner is like a primer for the rest of your skin care routine like serums and moisturizer,” as explained by New York-based dermatologist Arielle Kauver.²
- Serum - The next step is applying your serum. Serums are an excellent way of providing your skin with a high concentration of active ingredients to reduce and treat various skin concerns. Their ability to seep deep into the skin enhances the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and humectant benefits of different active ingredients. Consumers choose a variety of different serums in their skincare routines, from vitamin C serums to hyaluronic acid serums to niacinamide facial serums. Here at Sundree, we formulated our RYSE+SHYNE facial serum with all three of these ingredients plus additional nourishing ingredients for that soft, cushiony skin. So whether you are looking for a vitamin C serum, a hyaluronic acid serum, or a niacinamide facial serum, we have got you covered with one serum to minimize the steps in your routine while enhancing your glow with our optimistic skincare approach.
- Eye Cream - As we age, the skin around our eyes can be susceptible to getting dry and developing fine lines quite easily. It’s essential to keep it hydrated and moisturized to maintain the health and elasticity of the skin around the eyes. It is recommended to apply eye cream after using your facial serum.
- Treatment Product - Next is the time to take care of your skin concerns using targeted treatment products. If you struggle with acne or inflammatory skin conditions, use spot treatment and other prescription products for optimal effect. If your concerns are wrinkles, age spots, redness, dullness, melasma, dryness, blemishes, or sunspots, layer a treatment serum (preferably containing vitamin C, peptides or niacinamide) specifically aimed at addressing these issues.
- Moisturizer - You might be wondering why you still need to apply a moisturizer after applying layers of facial serums and treatment products. Well, if you have oily skin, a serum, facial oil, and sunscreen may be enough to keep it sufficiently hydrated and protected. However, using a moisturizing gel, cream, or lotion, depending on your skin type, is critical for ensuring the health and dignity of the lipid barrier.
- Sunscreen - It’s almost needless to reiterate the importance of protecting your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen every morning and throughout the day. You can choose from chemical and physical formulas to neutralize the harmful effects of UV rays and free radicals. Layering sunscreen is the last step of your daytime skincare routine, and then you can finish with your makeup as usual.
Correct Order to Apply Products at Night
Since your skin works to repair and renew itself at night, your nighttime skincare products should facilitate the natural restoring process of the skin. Here’s the order we recommend following for a nighttime skincare routine:
- Cleanser - Double cleansing is recommended to remove makeup effectively and any build-up accumulated on the skin. If you’re not in favor of using a cleansing oil, another option is to use micellar water before using a cleanser to wash your face.
- Toner/Essence/Mists - Apply your hydrating and refreshing toner after cleansing, just like you do in the morning. But, to take your hydration game up a level, incorporate mists and essences in your nighttime skincare rituals. You can apply them after your toner or replace your toner with them.
- Chemical Exfoliator - Regular exfoliation is essential for drawing out dead cell build-up from the pores and revealing a soft, smooth, and bright complexion underneath. However, chemical exfoliation is your best bet to avoid skin irritation and redness. Use your AHA or BHA exfoliant at night if you didn’t use it in the morning.
- Eye Cream - Applying an eye cream at night is a must to protect and rejuvenate the delicate skin around your eyes. Layering it before your treatment products form a film on the skin and protects the sensitive eye area from potent ingredients in products applied afterward.
- Serums and Treatments - You can use your treatment serums and prescription creams (like retinol, tretinoin, and hydroquinone) to regenerate, restore, and repair damaged skin. However, be mindful to avoid using these treatments after applying chemical exfoliators to prevent skin irritation. If you do not use treatment serums or prescription creams, pick your favorite serum to add an extra boost to your routine. For example, we like to use Sundree’s RYSE+SHYNE, a Niacinamide facial serum that will serve up fresh-faced skin.
- Moisturizer/Night Cream - You can apply your daytime moisturizer on top of your treatment serum or use a repairing and nourishing night cream. Night creams have a thicker formula and help to heal and hydrate the skin as you sleep.³
- Facial Oil - Adding a layer of your favorite facial oil is the last but optional step in moisturizing and hydrating your skin. Facial oils have occlusive properties that help to lock in moisture from other products and inhibit the loss of water and moisture from the skin. In addition, natural oils have high antioxidant powers, which make them ideal for blocking out harsh environmental elements.
We hope this write-up will give you the guidance you need in deciding what order to apply your skincare products. Your skin is unique, and we all have concerns about our skincare. However, with time and trying a variety of products, you will see when to use them and what works with your skin for that optimal healthy, happy skin.
- Davidson, Emily. (2020). ‘This is the correct order to apply your skincare products’, Accessed June 24, 2021. Available at: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/beauty-hair/
- Abelman, Devon. (2020). ‘What is Toner, Anyway? Our Guide to the Benefits of Toner in Your Skin-Care Routine’, Accessed June 24, 2021. Available at: https://www.allure.com/story/what-is-toner
- Sharkey, Lauren. (2019). ‘What Order Should I Follow When Applying Skin Care Products?’, Accessed June 25, 2021. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-