Layering 101: How to Apply Your Skincare Products in the Right Order

Written by: Lisa Benner


Gorgeous skin doesn't happen by accident. There is an art to taking care of your complexion, and it all starts with a skincare routine that includes layering your products in the correct order for maximum efficiency. The good news? It's "almost" not as complicated as it sounds! With this guide on layering skincare products, you will soon be one step closer to achieving glowing, healthy skin.

Understanding Your Skin Type

To maximize the effectiveness of your skincare regimen, it is essential to determine what type of skin you have. This not only helps to select the best products for your skin but also the sequence that you follow when applying them. It's like piecing together a jigsaw - understanding where each component belongs gives you the entire image. Let's start by identifying your skin type.

Normal Skin

An even skin tone, minimal blemishes, and small pores characterize normal skin. If you notice that your skin feels comfortable and balanced without any excessive dryness or oiliness, there is a good chance you have normal skin. However, this doesn't mean you should skip out on moisturizers. Even if you don't experience any extreme dryness, it's important to keep your skin hydrated to maintain its health. So, embrace your normal skin type with confidence knowing that you have all the tools to keep it looking its best!

Dry Skin

If you often feel like your skin is tight, flaky, or itchy, then it is likely that you have dry skin. But don't worry, having dry skin is not a bad thing, and you can easily tackle it by picking the right products. One of the most essential steps in caring for dry skin is using moisturizers. You should choose products that have gentle, hydrating ingredients. These ingredients will help lock in moisture and prevent water loss from the skin. With the right care and dedication, you can easily alleviate discomfort or irritation and restore a healthy glow to your skin.

Oily Skin

Do you ever feel like no matter how much you wash your face, it still looks shiny halfway through the day? Chances are, you might have oily skin. But don't worry, there are plenty of ways to manage it. Oily skin occurs when your skin produces too much sebum, a waxy substance that helps keep our skin moisturized. While it's great to have hydrated skin, too much sebum can lead to clogged pores, blackheads, and breakouts.

To know if you have oily skin, pay attention to how your skin feels and looks throughout the day. Foundation or other makeup products may break down more quickly on your face. You may also notice your T-zone area, which includes your forehead, nose, and chin, looking shiny or greasy. But don't fret - with the right skincare regimen and helpful tips, you can keep oily skin under control. One important step is to choose the right moisturizers and avoid products that are too heavy or greasy. By caring for your skin, you can feel confident and beautiful in your skin!


Combination Skin

A proper skincare routine is crucial, but how can you tell if you have combination skin? Well, if your skin tends to be oily in the T-zone but dry in other areas, then it's likely you have this skin type. It can be frustrating to deal with, but don't worry! With the right products and understanding, you can easily take care of your skin. Finding the perfect moisturizer can make a huge difference. Look for ones that provide hydration without causing excess oil production, and use them regularly. Embrace and love your skin, no matter what type it may be!

Sensitive Skin

If you've ever experienced irritation, redness, or breakouts after trying a new skin product, you may have sensitive skin. The good news is that you're not alone, and there are ways to identify and care for your skin's unique needs. One tip for identifying sensitive skin is to pay attention to how your skin reacts to certain products or ingredients.

For example, if you notice that your skin becomes irritated or inflamed after applying a new moisturizer, it's likely that your skin is sensitive to that specific product. It's important to address your skin's needs by using gentle, fragrance-free products that won't further irritate it. Don't let sensitive skin hold you back from feeling confident in your skin, with the right care and maintenance, anyone can have healthy and happy skin.

Key Takeaways:

Knowing your skin type - normal, dry, oily, combination or sensitive - is like solving a puzzle that lets you create an effective skincare routine. Embrace this knowledge to tailor your regimen accordingly.

The Basics of Skincare Products

Every skincare journey begins with understanding the fundamental products of an effective skincare routine: cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers, and sunscreen. These aren't just fancy names on bottles; each plays a critical role in keeping your skin healthy.


Think of cleansers as the gatekeepers to great skin. They're designed to remove dirt, oil, makeup - everything accumulated on your face throughout the day. But remember, not all cleansers are created equal. You need one that suits your unique skin type and doesn't strip it of its natural oils.


Moving onto toners, these often misunderstood heroes balance pH levels after cleansing and prepare the skin for further product absorption. If you've been skipping this step, thinking it's unnecessary, give it another shot. Your serum or moisturizer will thank you for laying down a smoother path.


Serums, ah yes – packed with potent ingredients promising transformational results like brighter complexion or diminished fine lines (sounds magical.). Unlike creams or lotions, which contain fewer active substances, serums have concentrated amounts of key ingredients, making them powerhouses in tackling specific skincare issues. And because of their thinner consistency, they are better at delivering nourishing ingredients deeper into your skin.


Taking care of your skin is important, and a key component of any good skincare routine is moisturizers - including body and face moisturizers and spot treatments. Moisturizers can help to keep your skin hydrated and nourished, leaving you with a healthy, glowing complexion. By incorporating moisturizers into your daily routine, you can help prevent dryness, flakiness, and other skin irritations - and strengthen your skin barrier.

There are many different moisturizers available, so it's important to find one that works for your specific skin type and skin concerns. With the right moisturizer, you can feel confident in your skin and know that you're doing everything you can to keep it healthy and happy.


Did you know that using sunscreen as a component of your daily skincare routine is more important than ever? Not only can it prevent skin damage and premature aging caused by the sun, but it can also reduce the risk of skin cancer. While many of us remember to apply sunscreen when spending a day at the beach, it's just as important to incorporate it into our daily skincare regimen.

Plus, many moisturizers already contain SPF, so it's easy to make it a part of your routine without adding extra steps. So, let's take control of our skin health and make sunscreen a daily habit. Your skin will thank you in the long run!

Key Takeaways:

Cleansers remove dirt, oil, and makeup from the face.
Toners balance pH levels after cleansing.
Serums contain concentrated amounts of powerful ingredients for tackling specific skincare needs.
Moisturizers hydrate and nourish the skin for a healthy glow.
Sunscreen prevents skin damage, premature aging, and skin cancer.

Step-by-Step Guide to Layering Skincare Products

Your skincare routine can make or break your skin's health. But do you know the right order to apply them? Here is a step-by-step guide to ensure you are applying your skincare products in the right order for maximum benefit.

Step 1: Cleansing

Cleansing should be the first step in any skincare routine - morning and night. This helps remove makeup, dirt, and oil from your face. It gives you a clean canvas for other products and lets them work more effectively. Regardless of your skin type, it's best to use a gentle cleanser that won't aggravate existing skin conditions.


Even if you have oily skin, you don't want to strip all the natural oils from your skin since this can lead to irritation - and can actually trigger excess oil production. A customer favorite for all skin types is this Gentle Face Wash that moisturizes while gently cleaning away the dirt and grime from a hectic day.

Step 2: Toning

Toners are not just fancy waters. They help balance your skin's pH level after cleansing. Some toners also contain ingredients that soothe or even treat specific skin concerns like dryness or acne.

Step 3: Applying Serum

Serums come next in line. These lightweight formulas penetrate deep into the skin with powerful active ingredients. From anti-aging retinol to hydrating hyaluronic acid, serums cater to every complexion need.

When applying serum, remember less is more. Using too many serums simultaneously can irritate the skin instead of helping it. The good news is that many premium serums available today already contain a blend of numerous skin-loving ingredients, so you get the maximum benefit from a single product. A few great examples include this Vitamin C Serum with aloe vera, Vitamin E, and jojoba oil. Or this Hydration Serum with hyaluronic acid, Vitamin B5, and lavender to plump up tired skin.

Here’s an extra tip some women have suggested - warm up the serum between your hands before application, as this can make absorption faster.

Step 4: Moisturizing

To strengthen the skin barrier and keep your skin hydrated, soft, and plump - moisturizers are essential. They also seal all the goodness from previous products into your skin. And just like serums, there are many moisturizers that not only hydrate but also help with specific skin conditions - so a single moisturizing step goes a long way.

Specialized moisturizers are ideal for delivering anti-aging benefits, like this Retinol Moisture Cream or this Brightening Moisturizer. They can be used as an all-over moisturizer or specialized spot treatment using a cotton pad. Another consideration is how you moisturize the delicate skin around your eyes. Selecting a lighter option may be your best option, like this Eye Moisturizer that helps nourish and protect your eye area from signs of aging - including fine lines and wrinkles.

Always remember to apply moisturizer to damp skin – this helps to trap in that extra moisture.

Step 5: Sun Protection

Did you know that using sunscreen as a component of your daily skincare routine is more important than ever? Not only can it prevent skin damage and premature aging caused by the sun, but it can also reduce the risk of skin cancer. While many of us remember to apply sunscreen when spending a day at the beach, it's just as important to incorporate it into your daily beauty routine. Read more about sunscreen here.

Plus, a lot of moisturizers already contain SPF, so it's easy to make it a part of your routine without adding any extra steps - just be sure to use an SPF30 and apply it frequently, especially when being active. So, let's take control of our skin health and make sunscreen a daily habit. Your skin will thank you in the long run!

Morning vs. Evening Skincare Routine

Regarding skincare, the time of day can make a significant difference in your routine. AM and PM skincare routines are like two faces of one coin—seemingly similar, yet serve distinct purposes.

Your morning skincare routine should focus on protection from environmental stressors such as UV rays and pollution. On the other hand, your night skincare regimen, when skin's repair mechanisms kick into high gear, aims at recovery and regeneration.

Differences between AM and PM routines

In the morning, you want to safeguard your skin from possible damage during the day. This is where an antioxidant-rich serum can help guard against free radicals caused by exposure to pollutants. Serums are also lighter, so they absorb faster and don't conflict with makeup. A great daily serum loaded with antioxidants is this Healthy Skin Serum - nourishing and protecting your skin with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Green Tea.

Come evening, though, it’s all about preparing your skin before you hit the sack. Start by washing your face or using a makeup remover, and then it's time to help undo any damage that occurred throughout the day while promoting cell renewal overnight. That's where products like a Renewal Serum or Moisture Therapy Cream step in for some heavy-duty repair - repairing damage and strengthening the skin barrier work while you sleep.

Why Your Night Routine Might Be Different?

Skin behaves differently at night than during daylight hours due to changes in body temperature, humidity levels & even hormone production, which affect how products absorb or react on your skin surface.

So consider using richer moisturizers or potent serums targeted towards specific concerns (like fine lines or uneven tone) before bedtime since this is when their ingredients will have maximum impact without interference from makeup or sunscreen.

Did you know some skincare ingredients can make your skin more sensitive to the sun? That's why it's essential to use these products at night. This way, your skin can heal and regenerate while you sleep without being exposed to harmful UV rays that can cause damage in the long run. Some of these ingredients include glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and retinoids, which are excellent for achieving healthy and glowing skin.

But remember, no matter when you use them - layering skincare products in the right order is key.

Key Takeaways:

Your skin's needs change from morning to night. In the mornings, you need to shield your skin from environmental stressors with antioxidant-packed products. At night, it's all about recovery and regeneration. That's when richer moisturizers or powerful serums come into play. And don't forget - layering skincare products is key.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

We've all been there. You're all set to begin your fresh skin care routine, but you quickly see that it's not going quite as expected. Don't worry. Being aware of the common pitfalls is the first step to avoiding them.

Applying Products on Dry Skin

Our skin is a bit like a sponge; it absorbs better when wet. But if we apply products on dry skin, it's like pouring water onto a rock—it just doesn’t sink in well. This isn’t about applying everything straight out of the shower, though.

The best way? Dampen your face slightly before applying each product (unless the product usage guide says not to, like many face masks). This will help ensure maximum absorption and delivery of the ingredients.

The 'More Is Better' Trap with Active Ingredients

Sometimes less truly is more—especially when it comes to active ingredients in skincare products such as retinol or vitamin C. Overloading these potent ingredients may lead to redness and irritation rather than improved complexion.

Avoiding Sunscreen - A Big No-No.

If skipping sunscreen was an Olympic sport, many would unfortunately qualify for gold medals. UV rays from the sun don't discriminate - they harm everyone’s skin regardless of age or weather conditions. You must use SPF daily, even if you stay indoors, because UVA rays penetrate through windows, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Remember, everyone's skin is unique. It takes time and patience to find what works best for you. The most important thing is consistency—stick with your routine with the right product sequence, avoid these common skincare mishaps, and give products enough time to work their magic.

Key Takeaways:

Don't let typical skincare mistakes steal your shine. Remember, it's best to use most products on slightly wet skin for enhanced absorption, and be careful not to go overboard with potent ingredients like retinol or vitamin C - we don't want any irritation. Ensure you always wear sunscreen, even when inside, because those crafty UVA rays can still get you. Most importantly, remember that getting that glowing complexion takes time and consistency.

Layering Skincare Products FAQs

What is the correct order to apply skincare products?

The general guideline is to apply products from thinnest to thickest consistency. A common sequence is cleanser, toner (if you use it), serum, eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen in the morning.

How long should I wait between applying different skincare products?

It's recommended to wait about 30 seconds to a minute between each step to allow each product to absorb properly. However, if you are using products with active ingredients, like retinol or acids, it might be beneficial to wait a bit longer to reduce irritation 

Can I mix serums when layering skincare products?

While some serums can be mixed, it's crucial to be cautious as not all ingredients play well together. Always research and, if unsure, do a patch test to see how the products react with each other.

Is it necessary to use a toner in a skincare routine?

It's not mandatory to use a toner; it depends on your skin type and preference. Toners can help to balance the skin's pH and remove any leftover impurities post-cleansing 

Can I skip the morning or night skincare routine?

While it's ideal not to skip your skincare routine to maintain healthy skin -  if you have to skip, it's generally better to keep your nighttime routine as it helps in repairing and regenerating your skin as you sleep.

Do I always need to apply sunscreen, even if I stay indoors?

Yes, applying sunscreen even when indoors is recommended, especially if you're exposed to natural light through windows, as UV rays can still penetrate glass and harm your skin.

Can I use oil before a moisturizer?

It depends on the type of oil and your skin preference. Traditionally, oils are applied after moisturizer to help seal in hydration, but lighter oils can be applied before moisturizer.

Is over-layering products harmful to the skin?

Yes, using too many products can lead to irritation and even cause the products to be less effective as they can counteract each other. It's recommended to stick to the necessary products that suit your skin type and concerns.

Can I use the same moisturizer for day and night?

Yes, you can, although some women prefer a lighter moisturizer during the day and a heavier, more nourishing cream at night.

Is it necessary to double cleanse?

Double cleansing isn't necessary for everyone, but it can be beneficial if you wear a lot of makeup or sunscreen to ensure all residue is thoroughly removed.


So, we've journeyed together through the maze of layering skincare products. It's been an illuminating journey, right?

You've discovered your unique skin type and learned that it dictates the care you need.

We’ve explored essential products from cleansers to sunscreens. You now understand their importance and how they work harmoniously with your skin.

Grasping the technique of a progression-by-step process is no longer an enigma. From cleansing to applying sunscreen - you know what goes where and why.

Morning or evening routines? No problem! You're aware of their differences and have some product recommendations, too!

Avoiding common skincare blunders will be second nature for you now because nobody wants setbacks on this road to radiant skin.