Your Morning Skincare Routine: In What Order Should You Apply Products? (2023)

Updated 04/28/22. To get the most out of your morning skincare routine, it’s important to do three things: choose products formulated for your skin type, use them correctly, and finally, apply them in the right order. Doing these three things every morning will give your skin maximum benefit throughout the day as it’s subjected to UV rays, pollution, and environmental stressors.

In this post, you’ll learn the exact order you should be applying your products for the perfect morning skincare routine. I’ve also included some helpful tips and answers to FAQs to clear up any confusion you might have. Let’s go!

5 Guidelines for an Effective Morning Skincare Routine

  • Your morning skincare routine should be slightly different from your nighttime skincare routine. That’s because your skin has different needs at different times of day (did you know your skin has its own circadian rhythm?). Daytime is all about protection. Nighttime is all about repair.
  • The main focus of your morning routine should be UV protection.
  • You should try to perform your routine rather quickly. In fact, you have a one-minute window after cleansing to apply your next product. Otherwise, you risk moisture loss. I call this the “Golden Minute Rule.”
  • Avoid using face oils in the morning. They can dissolve sunscreen, making it less protective.
  • As I said before, it’s so important to choose products formulated for your specific skin type! If you don’t know your skin type, take the Skin Type Quiz to find out.

How Your Skin Functions in the Morning

  • Skin cells have the highest water content
  • Natural antioxidant protection is increased
  • The skin’s natural barrier function improves to defend against environmental stressors
  • Improved barrier function means products are less likely to penetrate than they are at night
  • Mitochondrial energy needed for cell health is at its lowest
  • The rate of cell growth and production is decreased
  • DNA protection is increased

The Correct Order To Apply Morning Skincare Products

Step 1: Cleanser

Cleansing is a key step for the performance of your daytime products. You never want to skip this step. Learn why cleansing your skin in the morning is so important.

I recommend using a gentle, sulfate-free foaming cleanser in the morning. They contain surfactants that can cut through oil without leaving the skin feeling tight or dry. (Personally, I use and recommend the Mint Renewal Cleanser. I formulated it with peppermint oil and jojoba beads to instantly polish and refresh the skin.)

Once you’ve finished cleansing your skin, immediately go to the next step in your routine. Remember, you want to work fast!

Step 2: Toner

Toners are misunderstood, but they are very important to use and serve many purposes for the skin. In fact, they serve 5 major purposes. Just make sure you’re using an alcohol-free toner, as they’re generally more gentle and hydrating than alcohol-based toners. The latter are often drying and irritating, especially to sensitive skin types.

(Video) How To Layer Skincare - What Order, Waiting Times, Morning Or Night?! ✖ James Welsh

Apply all over the face using a thin toning cloth to avoid product waste. Leave it damp on the skin and go to the next step.

Step 3: Vitamin C Serum

The next step in your morning skincare routine should be to use an antioxidant serum, like the . Skin experts agree that using a well-formulated vitamin C serum in conjunction with your sunscreen is the most effective way to protect your skin cells from environmental damage caused by UV light, pollution, and debris. With time, it can also help brighten dullness and dark spots, so it’s a win-win!

All you need to do is apply a dime-size amount to your entire face and neck. Your skin should still be damp from your toner, so spreadability should be easy. Once you’ve applied it, let the serum absorb for 60 seconds before applying moisturizer.

Step 4: Moisturizer With Sunscreen

Next up? Sunscreen. This is by far the most important part of your morning skincare routine.

Most sunscreens double as moisturizers because they contain ingredients that act as emollients, occlusives, and humectants. This is why sunscreen feels like a moisturizer when it’s applied to the skin. Despite this, people tend to think they need to use both a moisturizer AND a sunscreen, separately.

As long as you’re using a sunscreen formula that feels like it’s giving you the right amount of moisture, it can be used as your morning moisturizer. Granted, some formulas pill up and aren’t so compatible with liquid foundation. You just have to find the one that works for you. Once you do, commit to using it every single day, rain or shine.

(Video) how to: skincare morning routine (IN THE CORRECT ORDER)

Are You Making This Sunscreen Mistake?

People go wrong when they apply an additional moisturizer or a face oil either over or under sunscreen. This could very well interfere with it, making it less effective at protecting your skin. In fact, oil can dissolve your sunscreen without you realizing it.

As mentioned above, sunscreen can double as a moisturizer. You just have to find the right one. Think of it as a 2-in-1 product. It’s better that you do this than risk UV exposure, because, trust me, it’s a lot easier and less expensive to prevent lines and wrinkles than it is to get rid of them once they appear.

What Kind of Sunscreen Is Best, Physical or Chemical?

I recommend using sunscreen that contains both physical and chemical blockers. I believe this gives your skin the best of both worlds. (Read more about the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen.)

Step 5: Eye Cream (Optional)

The reason why I say this is optional is that some eye creams use rich oils and feel greasy. This could negatively affect your sunscreen and makeup. That’s why, if you want to use eye cream as part of your morning skincare routine, I suggest choosing a lightweight formula, like an eye gel. These types of products will wear better throughout the day.

Step 6: Blemish Spot Treatment (Optional)

There is definitely confusion about the order in which to apply a blemish spot treatment during your morning skincare routine. If you apply it before your sunscreen/moisturizer, even if you let it dry, your moisturizer will re-wet it and break it down. This makes it less effective. Here’s what to do instead…

  • Wipe the blemish with a damp cotton swab to remove the skincare products that you just applied.
  • Apply the spot treatment and let it dry.
  • Lightly pat (don’t rub) a tiny amount of sunscreen back over the affected area.
  • Proceed with concealer if you choose. Ideally, your concealer would have sun protection. A mineral-based one is the best.

Step 7: Makeup

People think they should go without makeup to let their skin “breathe,” but I believe makeup should be worn every day. That’s because it plays an important supporting role in a morning skincare routine. Find out more, here.

(Video) morning skincare routine for teens!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few FAQs I get asked concerning peoples’ morning skincare routines.

How Do I Reapply Sunscreen Throughout the Day?

You should definitely be reapplying sunscreen throughout the day to ensure your skin stays protected from harmful UV rays. Here are four ways to reapply sunscreen over makeup.

I Have a Prescription Acne Medication. When Would I Apply That?

Consult your doctor to find out when you should apply your prescription medication in your morning skincare routine. It’s worth noting that many of them can be used at night. Again, your main focus during the day should be sun protection.

What’s Your Opinion on Layering Serums?

I recommend rotating serums (using different serums on different nights) vs. layering them. That’s because the skin can only absorb so much, so you might be wasting money if you’re layering multiple serums on top of each other. At a certain point, the serums won’t be able to be absorbed to deliver their full potential.

There you have it. If you follow my advice and perform your morning skincare routine with the right products for your skin type and in the right order, you’ll get the very best results!

Next, learn how to create the perfect nighttime routine.

(Video) Dermatologist Shares the Best Order to Apply Your Skincare Products (PM Skincare Routine)

Your Morning Skincare Routine: In What Order Should You Apply Products? (1)

Renée Rouleau

Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skin care expert has created a real-world solution — products that are formulated for nine different types of skin so your face will get exactly what it needs to look and feel its best. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”

(Video) What is the Perfect Morning Skin Care Routine? - Dr. Anthony Youn


What is the order of products in a skincare routine? ›

Be sure to always start with a clean face.
  • Step 1: Cleanser. After removing all your makeup, cleanse your face with an oil-based or water-based cleanser—or both if you're doing a double cleanse! ...
  • Step 2: Toner. ...
  • Step 3: Serum. ...
  • Step 4: Spot Treatment. ...
  • Step 5: Eye Cream. ...
  • Step 6: Moisturizer. ...
  • Step 7: Face Oil.
Jul 10, 2020

What are the 5 steps in a skincare routine? ›

  • Step 1: Cleanse. During the day, your skin goes through a lot. ...
  • Step 2: Exfoliate. ...
  • Step 3: Hydrate. ...
  • Step 4a:Treat. ...
  • Step 4b: Moisturize. ...
  • Step 5: Protect.
May 31, 2021

When should you do your morning skincare routine? ›

I find the best time to do your morning skincare routine is as soon as you wake up. Applying your skincare first thing allows the products time to fully absorb. You can then have a cup of tea, breakfast, get dressed, brush your teeth etc before applying your makeup.

Does the order you apply skincare matter? ›

The order in which you apply skincare products is critical. Not only does order impact efficacy but failing to follow the proper order could result in wasted time and, even worse, wasted money. If you're just starting a skincare routine, avoid the temptation to load up on new products.

Does order matter in skincare? ›

Applying skin care products in the proper order is essential to getting the most out of them. Order matters because some products can create a barrier between other products and skin, rendering any treatment products applied after their use less effective. Treatment products should be applied directly after washing.

What is a good skincare routine step by step? ›

Here are the steps for a good skincare regimen:
  1. Wash your face. Morning and night, rinse your face water and rub a small amount of gentle cleanser between clean palms. ...
  2. Apply toner. ...
  3. Apply serum. ...
  4. Apply eye cream. ...
  5. Use spot treatment. ...
  6. Moisturize. ...
  7. Apply retinoid. ...
  8. Apply face oil.
Jun 7, 2021

What is the first skin care routine? ›

For beginners, we recommend starting with a basic three step routine—cleanse, moisturize, and apply sunscreen. Of course, this can be modified, and products can be added depending on your individual skincare needs. For example, if you're struggling with acne, you may consider adding a spot treatment.

What is the 10 Step skin care routine? ›

It goes a bit like this: a balm or oil cleanser (1), a foaming cleanser (2), an exfoliant (3), a toner (4), an essence (5), an ampoule or serum (6), a sheet mask (7), an eye cream (8), a moisturizer (9), and then either a thicker night cream or sleeping mask or an SPF (10).

What is the 7 step skin method? ›

What exactly is the 7 Skin Method, you ask? Well, to put it simply, it's the act of applying a toner or a lightweight, watery essence to your face up to seven times—hence, the name "seven"—right after you cleanse and before you moisturize, explains Young-Ji Park, the founder of Korean beauty skin-care brand Purpletale.

How do I organize my skincare routine? ›

  1. 7 OTHER WAYS TO ORGANIZE SKIN CARE PRODUCTS. So, you don't have a medicine cabinet, or you simply prefer to go through your skin care routine at your vanity. ...
  5. FILL VASES. ...
Aug 16, 2019

What is 8 step skin care routine? ›

The Best Morning Skin Care Routine. Step 1: Start With A Cleansing Oil. Step 2: Follow-Up With A Water-Based Cleanser. Step 3: Use A Toner. Step 4: Don't Forget The Serum.

How to layer morning skincare? ›

“The rule of thumb when applying skincare is to apply the lightest first and the heaviest last, since thinner products can't penetrate thicker products,” says Dr. Idriss. So, for example, if you were to incorrectly layer a serum over your moisturizer, that serum would be rendered almost ineffective.

What goes first serum or moisturizer? ›

In a skin care routine, it makes sense to apply serum before moisturizer. This is because serum is usually more lightweight, whereas moisturizer tends to be thicker. Applying serum first can also give the skin more opportunity to absorb the active ingredients. In many skin care routines, moisturizer is the last step.

What is the best way to layer skincare products? ›

The main rule you need to follow when it comes to layering skincare products is to apply them from lightest to heaviest. The general product order is a cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, and SPF.

What order should serums be applied? ›

Order Matters: Serums are applied after cleansing and toning and before your moisturizer. If you don't use toner, then apply serum directly after cleansing. Keep It Simple: It's best to layer no more than two serums at a time. Too many layers can possibly prevent the ingredients from absorbing as effectively.

Should I wait between each skincare step? ›

The short version: Your skincare products will be more effective if you wait for a little bit of time in between adding each layer. How long? Each product is different, but wait until the tackiness of the product has subsided. A good rule of thumb is to wait about one minute in between each product.

What happens if you do skincare in the wrong order? ›

The order matters because it determines what ingredients and products are the first to soak into your skin, which can ultimately affect how your skin looks and feels once your routine is complete," explains Shuting Hu, cosmetic chemist and founder of Acaderma.

What goes first oil or moisturizer? ›

How to Layer Moisturizer and Oil. As a rule of thumb, all skincare should be applied thinnest to thickest, so, moisturizer first, facial oil second. The one exception to the rule is our Antioxidant Oil-Serum; because it has both oil and serum properties, it can be applied before, after, or in place of your moisturizer.

Why do we need skin care routine? ›

Good skin care is important at any age. The skin has strong collagen and elastin production in the first few decades of life, but it decreases. A good skincare routine helps regenerate skin cell production to keep the skin looking and feeling its best throughout your life.

What goes first serum or retinol? ›

Must-mention: let your hyaluronic acid serum dry before following with retinol as, if applied to damp skin, there's a higher risk of redness and dryness. Nevertheless, if your skin is already used to retinol, it is okay to apply your retinol serum first, then pat on your hyaluronic acid serum.

What are the 4 steps to skincare? ›

The Core Four includes a cleanser, an exfoliant, a moisturizer, and a SPF. Cleansing is the most basic aspect of skincare, everyone should do it daily – from the guy with perfect skin, to the MAC makeup artist.

Do I need a 10 step skincare routine? ›

Conclusion. You do not need to practice a 10-step skincare routine to get the results you want. Skipping breakfast and missing out on night-time chats with people are not worth it... especially because your skin may look even better with only a 3-step routine.

Why Korean skincare is the best? ›

Korean beauty products are buzzed about by experts in the beauty world for innovation, high-efficacy, and the use of natural ingredients. Korean beauty is also known for customized and often extensive product layering regimens to deliver a multitude of benefits gently over time.

Why is Korean skin flawless? ›

Koreans take skincare very seriously, and that is evident from their beautiful glowing skin. Not all of that is genetic. It's the result of an extensive skincare routine and naturally sourced hydrating extracts present in almost all Korean skincare ranges.

What are the 6 steps of skin-care? ›

Here's our guide to an easy, six-step skin care routine to get you started.
  • STEP 1: CLEANSER. Properly cleansing your skin is an essential step, because it removes impurities from makeup and your environment. ...
  • STEP 2: TONER. ...
  • STEP 3: EYES. ...
  • STEP 4: SERUMS. ...

What are the 5 basic skin types? ›

Based on these characteristics, there are five types of healthy skin: normal, dry, oily, combination (both oily and dry skin) and sensitive. Below, we describe the main characteristics of each type of skin.

What are the Korean skincare steps? ›

How to Follow the 8-Step Korean Morning Skincare Routine
  • Step 1: Wash with a Cleanser. ...
  • Step 2: Prep the Skin with Toner. ...
  • Step 3: Apply Essence. ...
  • Step 4: Apply Ampoule. ...
  • Step 5: Target Skin Issues with Serums. ...
  • Step 6: Eye Cream. ...
  • Step 7: Lock the Products in a Moisturizer. ...
  • Step 8: Sunscreen.
Aug 31, 2022

Why is the 5 basic skincare routine important? ›

It helps your skin stay in good condition: You're shedding skin cells throughout the day, so it's important to keep your skin glowing and in good condition. An effective routine can help prevent acne, treat wrinkles, and help keep your skin looking its best.

How do you use 7 day skin care? ›

In the morning: Use the Seven Days Power Exfoliating Sun Protect Sunscreen 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. With SPF40 to protect from harmful UVA and UVB rays. At night: Apply a thin layer of Seven Days Power Exfoliating Night Cream on face and blend lightly. Use once a day before bedtime for 1 month.

What are the steps in a morning face routine? ›

5-Step Morning Skincare Routine for Glowing Skin
  1. Cleansing your skin. Cleaning the face is necessary, similar to having a bath. ...
  2. Applying Serum. As you get older, the skin loses its natural ability to produce collagen. ...
  3. Apply an antioxidant-rich eye cream. ...
  4. Moisturize well. ...
  5. Don't skip sunscreen.

What serums go on first? ›

When it comes to deciding which serum goes first, Dr. Austin says the rule of thumb is to always start light. “Always layer by consistency. Lighter serums will be easily and quickly absorbed while the heavier hydration serums/oils seal in the ingredients and leave your skin soft,” explains Dr.

Which moisturizer is best after serum? ›

Belif Aquabomb and Clinique moisture surge are the best moisturizers! Moisturizer is supposed to be used after the application of a serum, as it locks in everything.

Should my morning and night skincare routine be the same? ›

While your skin type determines which products you need in your skin care routine, the order in which you use each product matters too. For the best results, your morning routine should be slightly different from your nighttime routine.

How do I schedule a skincare routine? ›

Washing your face in the morning helps to prep your skin before applying moisturizer, serum, and sunscreen. In the evening, it helps gets rid of any impurities that build up throughout the day like dirt. Using a gentle cleanser that doesn't strip the skin, whether it's a gel, cleansing balm or cleansing oil is crucial.

Should you do skincare right after waking up? ›

We say yes! Overnight, skin renews and cell production increases, meaning there's reason to cleanse and refresh in the morning. Cleansing first thing wakes up sleepy skin, removes oil, dead skin cells, impurities from pores, and gives you a balanced base ready for your next skincare steps.

Should I do my morning skincare routine before or after shower? ›

Have no fear – we've done our share of research, and the answer is clear: post-shower is definitely the way to go. Sure, washing your face in the shower saves time but it can also do more harm than good – like, clogging pores with other products (gross) or drying out skin with hot water (ouch).

What comes first in skincare routine? ›

The first step to your skincare routine is always cleansing. Cleansers are designed to help remove dirt, debris, and makeup. Cleansing in the morning is necessary to remove oil and build up that may happen overnight. Cleansing at night is equally important, especially to remove makeup.

What are the 7 steps of skincare? ›

Your Daytime Skin Care Routine: A Step-by-Step Guide
  • STEP 1: CLEANSER. ...
  • STEP 2: TONER. ...
  • STEP 4: EYE CREAM. ...
  • Step 7: SUNSCREEN.
Sep 28, 2022

How to layer skincare products? ›

The main rule you need to follow when it comes to layering skincare products is to apply them from lightest to heaviest. The general product order is a cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, and SPF.

What are the four steps of a skincare routine? ›

The Core Four includes a cleanser, an exfoliant, a moisturizer, and a SPF. Cleansing is the most basic aspect of skincare, everyone should do it daily – from the guy with perfect skin, to the MAC makeup artist.

What should I do after waking up to my face? ›

A person might try the following strategies in the morning:
  1. Cold water. Splashing the face with cold water or using a towel to make a cold compress may quickly reduce puffiness.
  2. Coffee or tea. ...
  3. Jade rollers. ...
  4. Exercise. ...
  5. Creams, masks, and other products.
Sep 30, 2020

Should you do your skincare routine before showering? ›

As a general rule, you should always do your skincare routine after shower. With the exception of toners and other alcohol-based products that can be applied to damp skin, applying skincare products while the pores are open is ideal because they absorb better into the skin.

What is the most important step in a skincare routine? ›

Dermatologists agree: Sunscreen is the most important step in any skincare routine for every skin type and age. “If you don't wear sunscreen, you might as well not do any of the other steps,” Dr. Magovern says. “The sun is the number one reason skin ages prematurely.”


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