Comprehensive Skin Care Routine Orders for the Best Results

Taking care of your skin is just as important as exercising, but can be a whole lot more fun! Just as many people have their go-to exercise routines baked into their days, you should also have a skin care routine that allows you to take care of your largest (and most visible) organ: your skin! 

A solid skin care routine is even more important as you age. Your skin can no longer bounce back with the resiliency it once had, but thankfully there are products that can give it a hand.

The very good news is that you can craft a skin care routine with plenty of rejuvenating treatments for aging skin, or whatever your skin concerns are. Be sure to check out each section to see why your morning skin care and nighttime skin care routines should look different from one another. 

As a general guide, you should apply your products in the following order:

  1. Cleanser
  2. Mask
  3. Toner
  4. Serum
  5. Face Oil
  6. Moisturizer
  7. SPF

Why does the order you apply your skin care products matter?

The order you apply your skin care products matters because certain products can “block” others from even reaching your skin or keep your skin from receiving the full benefits of the key active ingredients. Why even use skin care products if your skin isn’t receiving the beneficial ingredients from them?

A general rule when it comes to layering products is to apply the products in order from thinnest to thickest. When deciding if a product is thin or thick, it can get complicated. Basically, water-based products are thinner while oil-based products are thicker. An oil-based product will effectively “seal” in the other products you applied, which is why they are applied last.  

If the “thin or thick” debate confuses you, keep reading to find our guide for the exact order to apply your products during your morning and evening skin care routines.

Does your skin type affect the order of your skin care routine?

While the order you apply products will generally stay the same, the actual products in your routine will vary based on your skin type. 

There are four generally agreed upon skin types: normal, dry, oily, and combination. While each person’s skin is different, the four main skin types are used to identify how much sebum one’s skin naturally creates. Sebum is the oil produced by your sebaceous glands to protect your skin. 

Your skin care routine will be based around this classification. For example, if you have oily skin, that means your skin experiences an over-production of sebum and you should look for products that combat that specific issue.  

The Correct Order for Your Morning Skin Care Routine

Starting with cleansing your face helps to wake you up, get rid of any product left over from last night, and give you a clean slate to start the day. Most importantly, your morning routine will include SPF to guard your gentle skin from the damaging effects of the sun. 

Here is the exact order to use your products during your morning skin care routine:

  • Cleanser: Use a cleanser to wash your face in order to remove the products you applied the night before as well as any oil or other materials that have accumulated on your skin overnight. 

While many people think cleansers are just like hand soap, meant to wash away anything on your face, you can actually get cleansers with active ingredients that have benefits for your skin other than just washing away oil. Take our water-based antioxidant face wash with humectants for example; while effective at cleansing your skin, it also is enriched with antioxidants such as green tea, edelweiss, white tea, and vitamin C.

Antioxidants protect your skin by countering the harmful effects of free radicals. Things like sun and pollution exposure can reduce the antioxidants that are naturally found in your skin, but they can be replaced by products that contain antioxidants, according to Mount Sinai.

The daily-use foaming cleanser also has moisture-retaining humectants like aloe vera, which hydrate your skin by helping it hold onto water. Both antioxidants and humectants have impressive anti-aging benefits, which prove to be much better than just washing the oils off your face!

  • Mask: If you have time to use a face mask in the morning, this is where you  would do it! Most people choose to do face masks at night however, so there’s more information on face masks in the Night Time Routine below.
  • Toner: Toners are hydrating liquid products that help your skin retain moisture, and thus have anti-aging benefits. Toners also help your skin absorb products better, so technically you can use them between each step in your routine, but that’s entirely up to you!
  • Serum: There are many, many different types of serums that all have key ingredients with different benefits. The type of serum you choose to use will likely depend on your skin type and concerns. Some different types of serum are:
  • Vitamin C serum: Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects skin from free radicals. In terms of skin care, free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that break down your skin cells and cause the formation wrinkles. A Vitamin C serum will protect your skin and give it a brighter, healthier look.

Vitamin C serum can be used in your morning or nighttime routine, but use in the morning can have some extra benefits. When used with SPF, the antioxidants in the serum actually work with the sunscreen to further protect the skin from damage caused by UVA and UVB rays.

  • Hyaluronic acid serum: Hello, hydration! Hyaluronic acid serum is a super hydrater that can help you slow signs of aging skin. Your body actually produces hyaluronic acid, but your hyaluronic acid levels decrease as you age, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Using a hyaluronic acid serum can help bring firmness and hydration back into the skin, as well as decrease the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Hyaluronic acid serum has no conflicts of interest, meaning you can use it in your morning or nighttime skin care routine.

  • Retinol serum: If you have wrinkles and sagging skin, you definitely want to be incorporating a retinol serum into your nightly routine. Retinol is a superstar product that works by causing your skin cells to turn over more rapidly. That process helps diminish acne, reduce wrinkles and dark spots, and overall smooth the surface of the skin.

Retinol should live in your nighttime skin care routine as it makes your skin more sensitive to the damaging effects of UVA and UVB rays. Sun exposure also decreases the efficacy of retinol, which is why it’s best to use a retinol serum at night. 

If you’re new to using retinol, introduce the ingredient into your routine slowly as it can be too harsh for those with sensitive skin. Try using it one night a week and see how your skin reacts. If you’re seeing only good things, you can start using it more often. If you are very concerned about aging skin, you can reduce wrinkles with Retin A, which is a more potent version of retinol that requires a prescription.

  • Moisturizer: Like serums, there are many different types of moisturizers out there. The one you choose will likely depend on how dry your skin is. Whichever moisturizer you choose, it will come after you apply serum and before you layer on your product containing SPF.
  • SPF: It’s extremely important to use a product with SPF every single morning. This is an important habit to commit to because SPF not only guards against skin cancer, but also reduces signs of aging, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    The sunscreen you choose depends on preference. You can use a moisturizer that has SPF built in, like our moisturizer-clarifier combo, built for daily use with SPF 18 protection. You can also use standalone sunscreen that does not have moisturizing properties. Both are effective methods of protecting your skin from harmful and damaging UVA and UVB rays.

The Correct Order for Your Nighttime Skin Care Routine

Your nightly skin care routine is built to wash away the day and set up your skin with active ingredients that it can absorb while you sleep. An effective nightly routine will include moisturizing products, as well as ones that target your specific skin concerns. 

Here is the exact order to use your products during your nightly skin care routine:

1. Cleanser: You can use the same cleanser you used in the morning to wash away any oil and other materials that have clung to your skin during the day. If you wear makeup or are interested in the concept of “oil pulling” you can also use an oil-based cleanser. Your oil based cleanser will come before you use your water-based cleanser.

2. Toner: Generally, you can use the same toner at night that you use in the morning. Toners will help your skin absorb products better, so feel free to use it throughout your routine.

3. Face Mask: There are many different types of face masks that have different benefits for your skin. While you can do any of these masks in the morning, the majority of people simply won’t have time to build them into their routine.

Experimenting with different types of masks can be a fun form of self care, and remember, each type of mask will have different benefits for your skin. For example, if you have ever wondered how to tighten loose skin without surgery, exfoliating masks are the right product for you.

A few different types of masks to consider are:

  • Exfoliating masks
  • Sheet masks
  • Charcoal masks
  • Peel-off masks
  • Cream masks
  • Clay masks
  • Gel masks
    1. Serum: As mentioned, there’s a sea of different types of serums and you should choose the one that’s right for you based on your skin concerns. One that is generally a good option for anyone past the age of 20 is a retinol serum. Retinol can make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure, so it should be only used at night.

    2. Face Oil: Face oils are tricky when it comes to their placement within your skin care routine. There are many different kinds of oils out there, with many different benefits. Most likely, a face oil will come before or after your moisturizer, but it’s best to follow the directions on the oil you are using.

      Some people like to use face oils in the morning and night to replace the use of a moisturizer, while others like to use it only at night in addition to their night time moisturizer. Basically, with face oils, best practices are based on preference, your skin type, and your main skin concerns.

    3. Moisturizer: The moisturizer you use at night will likely be different than the one you use in the morning. Most nighttime moisturizers are thicker, allowing for deep-penetrating moisturization that you just don’t get with a day-time moisturizer.

      For example, our night cream is fortified with anti-aging ingredients, helps to preserve and stimulate collagen production, and reduces the appearance of fine lines, enlarged pores, and deep wrinkles. The moisturizer also contains alpha-hydroxy acid, which is a chemical exfoliant that exfoliates the surface cells to lighten dark spots and improve skin texture.
  • Nighttime sleeping mask: As promised, sleeping masks are those that you actually wear to sleep and that work overnight to improve your skin. Be sure to read directions on the specific mask, but most of the time they are put on over all the other products as the last step in your routine.

  • This may sound like a lot, but that’s just what it takes to have beautiful skin. If you think of time taking care of your skin as self care, instead of a chore, your morning and nighttime skin care routines will likely become favorite parts of your whole day.

    Building a morning and night skin care routine will help you start your day and wind down at night, often giving you time to reflect on what needs to be done that day or how your day went, respectively. If building your arsenal of skin care products intimidates you, try purchasing products together, like our 3-Pack face cleanser, morning moisturizer, and night cream bundle to get started! Most importantly, have fun with your routines and don’t be afraid to switch things up.