The Correct Skin Care Order


Whether you prefer using just three products or an assortment of 10, the order of application is crucial when it comes to skincare regimens. Following an efficient application order ensures products work effectively while preventing product build-up.

Start with a gentle cleanser and alcohol-free toner, followed by serums and spot treatments, before finishing with eye contour cream. This way, lighter products penetrate more effectively before dense formulas block them.


Cleanser is an integral component of skin care regimen, offering effective yet gentle removal of dirt, excess oil, and makeup residue from any skin type. Cleansers typically consist of non-comedogenic formulations like cleansing balm, oil, or micellar cleansing water, which are applied directly onto dry skin for an extended period before being rinsed away with an aqueous cleanser that emulsifies in water before finally being washed off after application of an aqueous cleanser (e.g., cleansing balm).

Micellar water is a trendy and practical second cleanse option, perfect for all skin types and an additional way to remove makeup or impurities that might remain after washing your face with liquid or gel cleansers. Liquid or gel cleansers offer gentle, hydrating solutions with rich lathers to clear pores thoroughly; oily skin types may prefer cleansing oil products like our Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm; for an indulgent double cleanse experience, try our Goddess Cleansing Ritual citrus oil and charcoal cleanser set; both options promise soft, satin-like results!


Anyone familiar with alcohol-based toners might be tempted to skip this step, but they must recognize how far this skincare product has come. Modern toners use advanced formulas designed to remove residue left by cleansers and balance skin pH while simultaneously priming it for serums or moisturizers that follow.

Toners come in various formulas ranging from hydrating, soothing, and exfoliating effects – so there is something suitable for everyone. Exfoliating toners are ideal for buffing away dead skin cells from within pores or on the face’s surface to reveal fresh, new, soft, and brighter-looking skin beneath. Pore-refiner toners help minimize pores by clearing away impurities and excess oil accumulating in pores – a handy feature for oily or acne-prone skin types.

One of the great things about toners is their vast array of formulations; you’re bound to find something suitable for your skin type and needs. For instance, those with dry or sensitive skin should avoid harsh or drying toners; those with oily or acne-prone complexions could benefit from selecting one containing alpha and beta hydroxy acids – some famous examples being Kate Somerville’s Liquid Exfolikate Triple Acid Resurfacing Treatment or Ole Henriksen Balancing Force Oil Control Toner.

Another effective solution for those with oily or acne-prone complexions is an astringent toner formulated with antibacterial ingredients, like Kiehl’s toner, which features niacinamide and fermented (more potency) antioxidants to fight bacteria while remaining alcohol-free so as not to dry out the skin. Astringent toners should ideally be applied twice daily with cotton pads – once in the morning and before sleeping at night for best results.


A serum is a concentrated liquid treatment with a watery consistency designed to address specific skin problems. Like face oils and lotions, serums tend to be lightweight but provide more significant concentrations of active ingredients than their moisturizing counterparts, making them great for helping wrinkles, discolorations, dullness, and other dermatological concerns. Serums usually come packaged in smaller bottles with pipettes so users can easily control how much product they use.

Morning and night, apply a face serum after cleansing and toning before moisturizing with moisturizer. Editing first is vital since potent ingredients in a face serum can cling to dirt and dead skin cells and potentially irritate your complexion. Tip: Use tepid water; hot water can cause sweating, which inhibits absorption, while cold water closes pores, which limits how well they’ll receive its full benefits from serum application.

If you suffer from oily or blemish-prone skin, opt for a serum with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or other exfoliating ingredients to combat breakouts; those with dry skin might appreciate something with niacinamide (vitamin B3), ceramides, and hyaluronic acid for added moisture-boosting. For brightening purposes, consider serums containing glycolic acid to remove dullness, while kojic acid can lighten dark spots, according to Shainhouse.

To apply the serum, squeeze several drops into your palm and rub gently together, taking care not to rub as this could promote acne-causing bacteria formation vigorously. Next, transfer it onto your fingertips or palm-dipped brush and smooth across both outward and upward strokes for application across both face and neck areas.


Moisturizers (also referred to as emollients) are cosmetic preparations used for protecting, moisturizing, and lubricating the skin. Moisturizers often come in oil-based formulations to mimic sebum production from healthy skin, and thickness and texture will depend on ingredients and intended usage; options include lotions, creams, ointments, and waxes.

Many moisturizers contain humectants that attract and hold onto moisture for the skin to retain, as well as occlusives that form a barrier against water loss through the skin. Such substances include petroleum jelly (petrolatum), cocoa butter, shea butter, lecithin, lanolin mineral oils, paraffin oils, as well as silicones like dimethicone or cyclomethicone as occlusives; they’re even commonly found in makeup products like pore-minimizing mattifiers and primers!

Moisturizing is especially essential for the face, neck, and chest as these areas tend to shed cells at an increased rate than other body parts, leaving them more susceptible to drying out and breakouts. Moisturizing helps avoid dead skin build-up while keeping pores clear.

Moisturizers serve a crucial purpose: replacing the natural water loss your skin experiences through transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Blood vessels supply your dermis layer with moisture that migrates to your epidermis layer before eventually evaporating into space.

Moisturizing stops this cycle and can leave skin feeling silkier, smoother, and softer while protecting against dryness, which can cause itching and flaking. Moisturizers with brightening or anti-aging properties may improve skin tone and fade dark spots faster. Moisturizers should be applied after serums but before sunscreen to ensure your most potency ingredients reach the skin quickly and are absorbed adequately by its cells.


Sun damage isn’t only bad for your complexion; it can also contribute to skin cancer and early skin aging, and slathering on sunscreen is an integral part of every skincare routine. Unfortunately, plenty of misleading information out there makes applying it feel less than ideal.

Select a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and apply it 20-30 minutes before going outside, taking special care to use it on ears, lips, and neck (which tend to burn more quickly). Wearing a hat and covering up whenever possible is also highly recommended.

According to Nada Baalbaki, senior manager of global scientific communication and clinical research for CeraVe, most sunscreens contain multiple sun filters designed to protect against various wavelengths of UV radiation. She suggests opting for products containing retinol as it’s been effective against signs of aging.

As well as sun protection, many modern sunscreens contain moisturizing agents to hydrate skin and treat other concerns like redness or acne.

Romanowski asserts that some extra features, like aloe, which doesn’t significantly contribute to hydration, can be considered “claims ingredients.” These extras allow companies to distinguish themselves in a crowded market while not necessarily having any significant effect on how a sunscreen functions; such, some ingredients in Romanowski’s top picks for facial sunscreens claim they filter out blue light, but there’s little evidence this poses any threat for skin health.