What Order Should Your Skincare Routine Be

What Order Should Your Skincare Routine Be

With all the special serums, toners, face masks, and spot treatments out there, your skincare routine is starting to get a bit hectic. And let’s face it—the more skincare products you use, the more confusing the correct order you should be using them in is.


The thing is, order actually matters. If you put one product in the wrong place in the line-up, you may not experience its full effects, and you could even counteract the advantages of other products. If you’re going to be taking the time to take care of your skin, make sure you are doing it in the correct way.


We’ve put together the definitive order of any skincare routine, whether you use two products or ten, and whether it’s night or day. Keep reading to construct the skincare routine that’s right for you!


Your Skincare Routine: The Breakdown


Ultimately, the goal of any skincare routine is to give you glowy, acne-free, even skin. Sounds simple enough, right? But picking the right products and using them in the right order plays a crucial role in how successful you will be.


Why does order matter? 


Look, if you want to throw all caution to the wind and apply your skincare products in a random order, you’ll see for yourself how this hurts your skin in the long run. See, putting each product in the right lineup ensures that it is able to penetrate the skin in the way it needs to perform its job.


Let’s look at an example: moisturizer, one of the products you put on later on in your routine. This is because moisturizer locks the previous products into the skin, creating a protective, hydrating barrier on the surface. After you’ve applied moisturizer, few products would be able to get past that barrier and into the skin.


Another example: cleanser. Besides taking off your makeup, cleanser should always be the first step to your skincare routine. If you applied cleanser at the very end, you would just strip your skin off all the products you just applied.


Here’s the thing: you don’t have to look any further for the absolutely 100% correct skincare routine order. We’re going to lay it out clearly for you and break down each step into more detail. 


So, first, here is the comprehensive order of any skincare routine. Notice that this order slightly differs from morning (left column) to night (right column): 





Makeup Remover





Eye Cream



Eye Cream 

Face Oil

Spot Treatment




Face Oil


Don’t freak out if you read this and notice products that you don’t usually use —seriously, what the heck is serum? This list is meant for people who use nine products every day and people who only use two. Just ignore the products that you don’t use and focus on the ones that you do. That said, if you read the product-specific sections below and discover a product that sounds great, by all means, try it out. 


If there’s one thing you need to know about skincare, it’s that it’s all about trial and error. You aren’t suddenly going to pick up five new products and have instantly perfect skin. In some cases, certain products won’t work for your skin, and you’ll have to swap them out. 


Be adaptable when making a skincare plan. If you want professional assistance, a dermatologist can help you pick products specific to your skin type, which may be especially worth it if you regularly deal with acne.


Let’s look closer at what each step does, why it goes in this order, and what to look for when buying a product. 

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1. Makeup Remover (Night) 


If you don’t wear makeup, obviously, you can skip past this step at night. However, if you do wear makeup, make sure to take it off every single night before bed. 


We get it; some days are longer than others and performing a detailed skincare routine at the end of all that isn’t always appealing. But even non-comedogenic makeup (the kind that doesn’t clog up your pores) can give you breakouts if you leave it on overnight. 


You have two options when it comes to makeup remover: oil-based or water-based. Oil-based makeup removers target excess oil, whether from the skin or from makeup. Water-based makeup removers focus more on other debris, such as sweat. If you have oily skin, you probably want to stay away from oil-based products, but otherwise, the decision is a personal preference. 


Follow the instructions on the bottle for gently removing your makeup, and don’t move on to the next step until all of your makeup is gone. 


2. Cleanser (Day and Night)


There’s some debate about the products that make up the essential skincare routine, but there is absolutely no question about this one—cleanse your skin twice a day. Even if it’s the only product you use, cleansers remove any excess oil, debris, dirt, and dead skin cells from the skin surface so they don’t clog up your pores.


There are plenty of cleansers to choose from, including oil-based and water-based. Many products will also state on the label which skin type they were designed for, such as oily or dry. If you have acne, use a cleanser that contains an acne-fighting ingredient, such as salicylic acid


3. Toner (Day and Night)


Toner is to your skincare routine what primer is to makeup routine. Basically, it’s a base product that will finish the job of the cleanser while replenishing any moisture that was lost in the cleansing process.


Certain toners fight acne and typically contain ingredients called alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). AHAs work best for dry skin, while BHAs are preferable for people with oily skin. If you don’t have acne, simply look for a toner that has hydrating qualities. 


4. Serum (Day and Night)


Serums typically contain high amounts of nutrients and antioxidants, which will work to soothe your skin, fight off inflammation, and otherwise spoil your skin with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to be strong and healthy. Look for serums containing vitamin C or hyaluronic acid. 


5. Eye Cream (Day and Night) 


The most delicate skin on your face is underneath the eyes, which is why there’s a separate cream for that area. Eye creams combat signs of natural aging, such as wrinkles, which start to appear under your eyes first. You can also use an eye cream to reduce the appearance of bags under the eyes.


Finally, if you need a pick-me-up in the morning, some eye creams contain a boost of caffeine. Added caffeine will minimize puffiness, strengthen the area, and energize your skin. 


6. Spot Treatments (Night, sometimes Day) 


This step is only necessary when you have a breakout, and in fact, you should not be using spot treatments regularly. These products are designed to treat the occasional pimple by applying them directly to that area rather than all your skin. If you get regular acne, spot treatments will not be as effective. 


Typically it’s best to use spot treatments at night, so they work their magic while you sleep. However, nothing is stopping you from putting them on in the morning. If you use retinol at night, you will be less likely to irritate your skin and cause a negative interaction between the two by applying spot treatments during the day.


7. Moisturizers (Day and Night)


The job of a moisturizer is pretty self-explanatory—they pack in moisture and maintain the skin’s hydration. Moisturizers also smooth out the skin and provide it with a protective barrier. 


There are so many moisturizers out there, so choose one specifically targeted towards your skin type. Avoid any moisturizer containing oil, whether you have oily skin or not. 


If you’re concerned about aging, look for moisturizers containing retinoids. Retinol triggers collagen production (the protein that gives your skin its structure), reduces the presence of wrinkles and acne scarring, unclogs the pores, and brightens the skin. 


9. Face Oil (Day and Night)


Face oils are applied last because no other product can penetrate them. When layered over the right moisturizer, they further smooth out, hydrate, and seal in the skin, giving your skin a healthy glow. In this particular case, face oils are not necessarily dangerous for people with oily skin, but they serve a greater purpose for people with dry skin. 


10. Sunscreen (Day) 


Make applying sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher!) a regular part of your morning routine. Exposure to the sun without sunscreen will accelerate your skin’s aging process and leave you more at risk of getting sunburn (along with other more severe skin conditions later on). 


Unlike other skincare products, which are meant to penetrate the skin, sunscreen should sit on your skin and soak up any UV rays. Whether you are going to the beach or simply taking a 30-minute walk outside, wear sunscreen to best protect your skin. 


11. Makeup (Day)


This is where you get some flexibility—you can choose to wear no makeup, or you can wear a lot. If you don’t wear makeup, pay little mind. However, if you do wear makeup, use products that are oil-free and non-comedogenic (or not pore-clogging), especially when it comes to concealer and foundation. Always read the labels and get to painting your gorgeous face!


Where Do Face Masks Fit In?


You may be wondering, wait, where does my Gleamin Vitamin C Clay Mask fit into all this? After all, you certainly don’t want to miss out on all the benefits this mask has to offer, such as radiant skin, acne reduction, balanced skin tone, and minimized dark spots. 


Apply any face mask after cleansing but before toner, which means face masks fit into the space between numbers 2 and 3. Completely rinse your mask off before moving on to the next steps, and maybe even wait a few minutes before applying a new product to your freshly-glowing skin.


The Takeaway


In order to get the best out of your skincare products, you need to apply them in the right order. The chart at the top of the article will show you exactly which order is correct, keeping in mind the time of day as well. 


If you want radiant skin, follow this order as closely as possible. With the right skincare routine, you can make having smooth, fresh, and acne-free skin a daily occurrence. 




The Correct Order to Apply Your Skincare Routine in 2020 (cosmopolitan.com)


Order of Skin Care: 11 Steps for Morning, Night, Layering Tips, More (healthline.com)


The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Skincare Routine Order (byrdie.com)


How to Build the Best Skincare Routine - Correct Order of Skincare Products (goodhousekeeping.com)

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