Breaking Down Your Skincare Routine Order


| LAST UPDATE 08/31/2022

By Peral Simons
Skincare Routine Steps Order
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Cleanser before exfoliator? Eye cream after moisturizer? Does anyone really know what the correct order for skincare is? While we're confident that a skincare routine is essential, that's about as much as we know for sure. With so many brands, products, and hacks flooding our social media pages, it's easy to quickly feel overwhelmed, throwing in the towel entirely on the venture. But hang in there! We're here to break it all down for you slowly, step by step.

"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," Shereene Idriss, MD, told Cosmpolitan. For example, if you're applying a serum, make sure to apply it before the moisturizer. Otherwise, the serum will be unable to access your skin and work its magic. Likewise, face oil is thicker than a moisturizer, so it should be applied after it for hydrated, soft skin.

Skincare Routine Cleanser Moisturizer
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As recommended by Dr. Idriss, a full-blown skincare routine will involve around eight steps twice a day - and the order to apply them is outlined below. That being said, only three products are of high priority. So if committing to an eight-step routine is not for you, we're happy to show you where to cut corners. Essentially, all your face truly needs is a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen, in that order, morning and nightToo many products can often damage your skin, in many cases causing breakouts, irritation, and reactions. 

Before doing anything, it is essential to wash your face and remove all makeup. (Tip: cleansing oil is much better for your skin than makeup wipes). This will help to ensure your face is free of grease and grime to absorb other products properly. Follow this up with a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser that will finish off the first step of the process. Apply a fragrance-free moisturizer twice a day, and then use a mineral or chemical-based sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30. Once you've got that down, you can throw in a few extra steps to your routine, depending on your skincare needs. Face oil, and hydrating serum will help with dry skin. Retinoid or acne toner can help with breakouts. Good luck!

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