You know how important a consistent skincare routine is and have finally figured out WTH serums, face oils, and essences do, but now you’re stuck on the ORDER to apply your skincare products. How the heck do you layer your skincare?!? I GOT YOU!
Note: not all of the products in these images are used in my current routine. Many of these were grouped together strictly for aesthetics.
Your skincare products go in order of consistency: from thinnest to thickest with SPF typically being your last skincare step during the day.
Yep—that’s the general rule! There may be some product categories that will be exceptions to the rule (like face oils and moisturizer), but let’s take a look at what this would look like in a typical skincare routine.
Step 1: Cleanser
Can’t have an effective routine, if you’re not properly cleansing your skin. For more info on this step including double cleansing and exfoliation, check out this post.
Step 2: Toner
I haven’t always used a toner in my routine—back in the day when I was a youth running wild in Queens learning about skincare (haha) toners felt way harsh, yo. But today’s toners soften, they hydrate, and some are treatments that exfoliate the skin to help it reach gorgeously radiant levels. But whatever your toner does, it typically will be your next step after your cleanser.
Step 3: Essence/Serum
So I have serums and essence here with the slashy (ha—where are my Zoolander fans) because although they are not the same thing (check out my post on the difference between serums, essences, and toners here), I didn’t want to make a separate category for them because you don’t *need* to have essences in your routine. But let me give you the 411.
An essence will go BEFORE your serum as its job, aside from providing hydration and other great nutrients for the skin, is to help your serum perform better.
If you’re not using an essence in your routine, then your serum will go here. But also understand that you don’t *have* to have a serum in your routine either. It’s good to have though because the nature of serums allow them to penetrate your skin in a way that other products (like say moisturizer) can’t. Serum is a wide-ranging skincare category though—there are serums that hydrate, that brighten, that protect from environmental damage, that help to even the skin texture, etc, etc, etc.
Step 4: Eye Serum/ Eye Cream
Yup, another slashy…lol. If you’re doing an eye serum, you’ll know from our general rule of products going in order of consistency from thinnest to thickest, that it would go BEFORE your eye cream. You don’t *need* to have an eye serum in your routine, but they’re beneficial for the eye area in the ways I described above about facial serums.
My stance on eye cream though is you gotta stay ready to GET ready. While eye creams won’t give you extremely drastic results (for that you’d need to see a dermatologist), the eye area DOES need the moisture.
If you want more tea on eye creams, check out these posts:
Step 5: Moisturizer –>Face Oil OR Face Oil –> Moisturizer*
This one is asterisked because for some people, using a face oil BEFORE moisturizer is more beneficial to their routine. And for others using a face oil AFTER moisturizer is more beneficial. I personally don’t have a face oil in my routine right now (check out some face oils I’ve tried in the past and what they do for your skin here), but I would do my face oil after my moisturizer.
Let me know in the comments what you do in your routine!
If your moisturizer contains sunscreen, this would typically be your last step in your daytime skincare routine. But if it doesn’t, check out the next section.
NOTE: YOUR ACNE SPOT TREATMENT PRODUCTS (AKA “ZIT CREAM” WOULD GO AFTER APPLYING MOISTURIZER. BUT IF YOUR ACNE TREATMENT HAS MORE OF A LIQUID CONSISTENCY, IT GOES BEFORE YOUR MOISTURIZER.
Final Step: Sunscreen
Sunscreen is vital in your routine–even if you have deep, dark skin. Even the richest melanin skin has AT MOST an SPF of like 8-10 :/ I’ve written extensively about sunscreen which you can check out here.
I used to use moisturizers that already had SPF in them (and will continue to use them), but since the Olay Sun Shine Protection SPF 35 came out, I’ve been loving having a separate SPF to layer over my Olay Regenerist Micro Sculpting Cream (I use the fragrance-free formula). I feel like not only do I get the nice benefits of shine protection, but I also feel like I’m get closer to the full SPF with a product like this.
If you’re looking for TSABD-tested sunscreens that won’t leave an ashy cast on darker skin tones, check out my non-ashy sunscreen tag.
I made a graphic of this that you can pin to Pinterest or print out and save!