What Order Should I Apply My Skin Care Products?

Does it really matter when, and in what order you apply your skin care products?

Skin Care Sequence MattersAccording to Naomi Fenlin, owner and lead treatment provider at About Face Skin Care, applying your skin care products in the proper order ensures that your skin receives the full benefits of each product. ?For example, if you applied a cream-based product first followed by a serum, the thickness of the cream would prevent the serum from absorbing into the skin,? she said.

Aside from the order of application, it?s also important to consider the time it takes for your skin to absorb your products. ?Order is important, but so is your timing,? says esthetician Arin Kahan. ?You want to make sure that each of your products has had a chance to sink into your skin before you’re adding something else on top of it.”

The Correct Product Order

So which product goes on when? An easy rule of thumb to follow is to apply your products with the thinnest consistency to thickest, or from liquid to oil.

During the day, most experts recommend a simple cleanser-antioxidant-moisturizer-sunscreen routine. Nighttime is when you should apply your more aggressive skin care products.

Here?s the expert’s sanctioned order:


Your first-step will always be cleansing. You should start by removing dirt, makeup and oil buildup with the facewash of your choice.


According to Dr. Diane De Fiori, dermatologist at Rosacea Treatment Clinic, prescription medications and spot treatments need to be applied as close to the skin as possible to maximize their benefits. In the case of acne treatments, this dries up excess oil and kills bacteria in your problem spots. For best results, allow at least five minutes before layering on your next product to ensure it doesn?t knock out the benefits of the medication. Better yet, opt for spot-treatment patches, like?Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots, so you don?t have to worry about layering the rest of your skin care products.

When it comes to serums, there are a wide range of available ingredients, so most of your selection process will come down to your specific needs. One?of the most common ingredients, though, is?vitamin C.??Vitamin C performs a variety of functions within the skin, including stimulating new collagen, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, protecting the skin from environmental pollutants with its antioxidant properties, helping reduce visible discolorations on the skin and providing enhanced protection against UV exposure,? says board-certified dermatologist Jennifer Linder, M.D., founder of Linder Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center. ?Plus, since your skin doesn?t produce vitamin C on it?s own, you?ll need a topically applied method of delivery for optimal skin health.?

Serums are super-concentrated, nutrient-dense treatments that address specific concerns, so it?s better to keep them as close to the skin as possible. Some people apply multiple serums that cater to different skin concerns. If an all-in-one serum isn?t possible, apply the ones with the thinnest consistency first.


According to board-certified dermatologist Annie Chiu, it?s vital to apply an eye cream at least every night, if not twice a day, starting in your 20s. ?It?s about maintaining the health and thickness of the eyelid skin. Improving the skin quality in this area early on ensures that the eyelid skin does not easily lose laxity and its smooth appearance later on.?

For best results, consistency is key. ?Regular use of eye cream over time will keep the eyelid skin elastic and can improve or prevent against some fine lines or collagen loss. Remember: Nothing is magic. Results don?t occur overnight,? Dr. Chiu adds. ?You can further protect the delicate skin around your eyes by choosing an eye cream with SPF or applying sunscreen every day.? Dr. Chiu also advises people to remember to wear sunglasses when outside to protect against UV-light damage and lines that can creep up around the corners of your eyes from squinting.



Like the rest of the body, skin does the bulk of its repairing, restoring and regenerating as we sleep. This is why night creams are generally thicker and heavier, designed to be absorbed over the course of several hours.

But what if you have oily skin? According to board-certified dermatologist Sandra Kopp, even those with oily skin could still use a moisturizer. ?Even though your body has its own natural lubricating system consisting of glands that secrete oil (or sebum) to maintain a protective coating against harsh outside conditions and infections, most of us do need extra hydration after the havoc that sun, weather and harsh chemicals wreak on our skin.?

When choosing a moisturizer, look for key ingredients?like?glycerin (or glycerol), hyaluronic acid, ceramides, coconut oil and other plant-based oils and shea butter.?The best time to apply a moisturizer is when the skin is still moist. After using a gentle cleanser, lightly pat your face damp, apply your treatments and serums and then immediately apply a layer of moisturizer to lock in the hydration.


A Few More Things to Consider:
While following this routine allows for greater absorption of nutrients, Tart advises that it?s still better to listen to your skin and find out what really works for you. ?It?s important to remember that you are unique and that nobody else has your skin. What may work wonders for your best friend may not be ideally suited for you. My best advice is to find what works for you and be kind to your skin,? says Tart.

Still unsure, check out our ultimate cheat sheet below.