It’s been awhile since I did a video or post discussing the order in which I apply my skincare, so I thought I would do an updated one. I know there are some steps that people may debate over (oil over/under moisturizer), but these are the steps that work best for me.

Step 1: Cleanse – I cleanse both morning and night so this is always my first step. Many people only cleanse at night, but I prefer to do am and pm. In the morning I like to use a gel or milk cleanser, while in the evening I will do an oil/balm as my first cleanse and then a milk or gel as a second cleanse.

Step 2: Tone – I think of toning as the last step of my cleansing routine and do it both morning and evening. For me, I find that toners help to balance my skin and depending on the type I am using, can give a slight exfoliation as well. In the morning, I like to use a hydrating toner and in the evening I will alternate between a hydrating toner, peel pads or an exfoliating toner.

Step 2.5: Mask – I call this step 2.5 because I don’t mask every night but when I do it will happen before I apply my essence. Now depending on the mask that I am doing, I will tone before or after. If it’s a hydrating mask, I will typically tone before because I want to leave whatever moisture from the mask may be left on my skin. If it’s an exfoliating or clarifying mask, I will tone after.

Step 3: Essence – Not everyone may feel the need to use an essence and it’s not an essential step like cleansing, but I enjoy adding one into my routine. Essences are the beginning part of my skincare routine so I will always apply them first before any serums/moisturizers. Most essences are designed to help add in moisture, in some cases brighten and slightly retexturize and can boost the benefits of all the products you apply after. I prefer to pour the essence into my hands and pat it into the skin.

Step 4: Eye Cream – I prefer to apply my eye cream next before any serums or moisturizers so I can ensure it is getting on my bare skin. Sometimes when I apply my serums/moisturizers/face oils, some could get under my eyes and my eye cream may end up sitting on top of it which could possibly decrease the efficacy.

Step 5: Serum – When it comes to serums and moisturizers, the key is applying thinnest to thickest. Many people ask where a retinol would fall in this sequence. If my retinol is a serum, then it would get applied in this step. If my retinol is a cream, I would apply it after a serum (if I am skipping a serum that night, then I will simply apply the retinol cream after my eye cream).

  • I typically only use a retinol 2-3x/week at the moment. When I use one I try to use hydrating products in the rest of my routine to balance out the strength of the retinol and nourish my skin. Too many harsh actives and exfoliating products in the same evening can irritate the skin.

Step 6: Moisturizer – This is often my last step at night. In the morning, I don’t always apply a moisturizer if my sunscreen is creamy and emollient enough to act as my moisturizer.

Step 7: Face Oil – I prefer to apply my face oil last in my routine, and typically only apply it in the evening. Since my skin isn’t exceptionally dry, I normally will apply either a moisturizer or a face oil but rarely both.

Step 8: Sunscreen – This is for the morning only, sunscreen is always my last step before applying my makeup.

A few things that I also wanted to mention – while this is a guideline for how I typically apply my skincare, it can change depending on how my skin is feeling and when certain products may fall into a few different categories (Vintner’s Daughter is one that I can think of – sometimes I use it as a face oil, sometimes as a serum). Certain steps definitely should be done in a certain order (cleansing would be best done first), but others can be done in whatever order works best for you. And many steps can be skipped if not suitable for your lifestyle or preference. And often it can be trial and error to figure out where in your routine something should fall and what products it will work best with.

I still get confused and stumped sometimes with certain products and where to put them in my routine, so often I will go back to the basics and just cleanse, tone and apply that particular product. Once I see how that product performs after a few days, I can then figure out where it should fall in my routine. My best advice is to not overthink it too much because a skincare routine should be relaxing and a time to pamper yourself. It shouldn’t be a stressful experience that you dread. Make your routine as long or as short as your prefer so that it fits within your lifestyle.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below!

Also, I am going to link some of my tried and true products from each category/step in the widgets below.