Yes, There Is Actually A Correct Order To Apply Your Skincare Products

Here's when to apply what, according to Adore Beauty's beauty editor.

Ask any beauty editor and they’ll tell you: one of the most commonly asked questions is always some variation of what products to apply when. Does serum or sunscreen go first? Is glycolic acid only safe to use at night? And when the hell are we meant to apply eye cream?

It’s a fair question. Given there’s a lot of conflicting information out there, most of us can be left scratching our heads when it comes to creating a skincare routine. And, while it’s tempting to slap things on without giving it much thought, this approach may not help to achieve the results you crave. 

Rather than figure it out ourselves, we decided to call in the big guns. Enter Adore Beauty’s beloved beauty editor, Joanna Fleming. You’ve likely seen her face on Instagram, or heard her voice on Adore Beauty’s podcast Beauty IQ Uncensored

Given that she’s a fountain of knowledge on the topic (and has one of the most enviable complexions around), we decided she was the perfect person to ask. 

Below, Jo’s much-needed advice on the age old question. Let’s settle this once and for all, shall we?

And pro-tip: if you need a hand figuring out what skincare products you need, a few skincare brands offer a ‘regime builder’ to help you figure out what products will meet your skin concerns (like this one from SkinCeuticals).

joanna fleming
Joanna Fleming (Credit: Instagram)

Does the order we apply our products actually matter?

Yes, the order you layer your skincare products impacts the absorption of those products, so applying in the wrong order could mean you’re not getting the most out of them.

How long should we wait in between each step?

Depends on the product; for something like a lightweight hyaluronic acid, you’ll notice it goes tacky after a couple of seconds and you can apply subsequent products to the skin pretty quickly afterwards. For a product like an AHA lotion, like Alpha-H’s Liquid Gold, I tend to allow a couple of minutes between applying that and any serums to allow the chemical exfoliating properties to do their thing before I lather something else over the top. There’s no scientific answer to how long should be left between skincare steps.

how long skincare takes to work
Adore Beauty (Credit: Instagram)

Does everyone need the same number of steps or can it vary?

Your skincare routine should always reflect your individual needs. Your friend might have a 10-step routine, while yours is only 3. That’s perfectly fine. If you’d rather keep it simple, a cleanser, moisturiser and SPF are all you need.

Okay, so what is the correct order?

Layer thinnest to thickest in terms of consistency. In an extensive routine, that would look like: cleanser, toner/essence, serums, eye cream/serum, moisturisers, oils. Sunscreen is always your last skincare step in the morning.

What is your skincare routine with products and steps?

Something I’m really big on is not buying skincare based on what someone else uses, and for this reason, I very rarely share my “routine”. I say that in inverted commas because my routine changes day to day depending on how my skin is behaving. I don’t want anyone being influenced into buying the skincare I use without researching it themself to see whether it’s suitable for their skin type and concerns; that’s only going to lead to wasted money and disappointment. I did recently share my current AM routine on Adore Beauty’s YouTube channel which consists of Aspect Super PD Complex rotated with Dermalogica’s Smart Response Serum, followed by Murad’s Vita-C Eyes Dark Circle Corrector, Aspect Phytostat 9 and Ultra Violette Lean Screen SPF50. But that’s subject to change at any time!

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