How To Layer Your Skincare

(Yes, there is actually a right order of skincare products)

With so many product options, it can be confusing when trying to determine how to best layer your skincare to maximize the performance of each product. Is it serums first? What about oils? We’ve been there. We’ve perfected the art of layering skincare by product so you can make the most out of an effective and simple skincare routine and know the proper order of skincare products. 

Our Indie-Approved Skincare Order Breakdown:  

  1. Cleanser. Washing your face is the first step to every skincare routine. Dampen face and then massage into skin, then rinse. Gently pat dry. Ridding your skin of makeup, dirt, and other impurities ensures a clean canvas for the rest of your skincare products to deeply penetrate and work their magic. This is a critical initial ritual for your face routine order of layering. 

Pro Tip: When drying your face, be sure to pat instead of rub to avoid unnecessary tugging of the skin.

  1. ExfoliatorsExfoliators are a great addition to any skincare regimen, but definitely an added luxury. Meant to gently exfoliate and boost luminosity of skin, peels are a great way to remove dead skin cells and reveal a fresh face. There are several types of exfoliators, physical and chemical, each with different properties. To learn more about the difference between the two here and decide which one may be right for you, read this. If you prefer peels to toner, wipe on freshly cleansed skin 2-3 times per week to start and build more frequent use. 
  1. Toner. While this is a must in our skincare routine order, using toner comes down to personal preference. If you are an avid toner user (may we suggest our best-selling CoQ-10 Toner) you’ll want to apply the toner on a cotton pad and gently wipe over a freshly cleansed face for perfectly primed skin. If you’re not so into toning post-cleansing, skip right to step four. 
  1. Serums. A staple in most people’s daily skincare routine, serums are the trendier cousin of the reliable moisturizer (we’ll get to that later). Meant to deliver an added dose of hydration and supplement skin with nutrients that penetrate deep, there are countless different iterations of face serums including antioxidant-rich formulas, acid-based blends, and delicate eye serums. All of which serve a distinct purpose aimed at amplifying skin’s texture and tone. Serums should be applied to cleansed skin underneath any oils or moisturizers. The dry downtime (or time you should expect to wait until the serum is dry enough to apply subsequent products) differs, but 30-60 seconds is a safe rule of thumb. 
  1. Moisturizer. Traditionally the last step in your well-rounded skincare routine, moisturizing your face and neck, is absolutely essential for getting your best skin and, therefore, a critical habit in skincare routine steps. Whether you’re a moisturizing cream fanatic or prefer moisturizing oils, this final step seals in all of your other products while locking in moisture for a smooth and hydrating finish. 
  1. SPF (AM). So, this should technically be the last step of your morning skincare routine, right after your moisturizer. Applying SPF to your skin, whether it’s in your makeup, moisturizer, or a spray bottle in your cabinet, is without a doubt the most important of all of your skincare steps. Protecting your face from harmful UV rays will prevent premature aging and harsh sun exposure. While most of us tote a multi-step method, if there is one skincare step you should never skip, it’s this one. 


Targeted solutions (PM). Much like the SPF application is the saving grace of every morning regime, spot treatments should be the last step of every nighttime skincare routine. Most of us, aside from a lucky few, are prone to an imperfection every now and then, and when the unwanted guest makes its way onto your face, use a targeted solution such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide atop the rest of your meticulously applied skincare before you turn down for the night, so your skin can recover while you catch some zzz’s. 

There you have it. Now you can be sure that your beloved skincare products are being layered properly for an optimized morning or night skincare routine so you can put your best skin forward, always.