Skin Care Routine Order: Morning vs. Night
While your skin type determines the types of products you need in your skin care routine, the order in which you use them also matters. For the best results, your skin care routine order in the morning and night should be slightly different.
Does the Order of Your Skin Care Routine Really Matter?
The order in which you apply products affects how well they work. In general, for both morning and nighttime skin care routines after cleansing, you'll want to apply products from the lightest formulas to the heaviest. And no matter the product, always read and follow the instructions for use.
Your Morning Skin Care Order
The right morning routine will help keep your skin feeling calm and hydrated all day.
Step 1: Cleanser
A clean face is your starting point for a healthy, glowing complexion.
- Why you need it: A thorough cleansing removes impurities such as dirt, oil and pollution from your skin.
- How to use it: Apply the cleanser with warm water and rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. Gently pat (never rub) skin dry with a clean towel.
Step 2: Toner
Whether you need to hydrate dry skin, combat oil, or soothe sensitive skin, the right toner makes all the difference.
- Why you need it: A toner helps replenish your skin after cleansing while prepping it for the rest of your skin care routine.
- How to use it: Apply your toner to a cotton pad, then sweep the pad outwards from the center of your face. Or you might prefer a gentle mist formula that goes on with a quick spritz. In either case, allow the toner to dry before moving on to the next step.
Step 3: Serum
Whether water- or oil-based, serums are easily absorbed by the skin—and a little goes a long way. They're typically packaged in bottles with a dropper or pump.
- Why you need it: A serum designed for daytime will hydrate and protect your skin and is a key part of your morning face routine.
- How to use it: Gently pat it in, starting at the center of your face and moving outwards.
Step 4: Moisturizer
Moisturizing is vital to keeping skin healthy and helps aging skin appear more youthful.
- Why you need it: The right moisturizer can help prevent both dryness and extreme oiliness.
- How to use it: Gently massage your moisturizer into slightly damp skin. A pea-sized amount is generally enough for your entire face.
Step 5: Eye Cream
The sensitive skin around your eyes needs special attention and the regular use of eye cream is especially important.
- Why you need it: Eye cream helps with the appearance and formation of wrinkles and is formulated specifically for this delicate facial tissue.
- How to use it: Apply your eye cream in very small dots near the inner corner of your eye and smooth it outward. Follow the orbital bones that surround your eye, including the area just under your eyebrow, gently patting it into your skin with your ring finger.
Step 6: SPF
Sunscreen is essential all year around, even on cloudy days.
- Why you need it: It protects your skin from the sun's harmful UV rays, which can damage cells and age skin prematurely—and it's crucial in preventing skin cancer. For your morning face routine, use an SPF 30 or higher.
- How to use it: Apply at least 30 minutes before going outside.
Your Nighttime Skin Care Order
To make sure you wake up as fresh-faced as possible, use a slightly different routine before you hit the pillow.
Step 1: Double Cleanse
Here's where it really pays to vary your skin care routine order for morning and night. Double cleansing with two types of cleansers ensures you're removing all the impurities from your skin. To get the full benefits, be sure to select products formulated for your skin type.
- Why you need it: Double cleansing starts with an oil-based cleanser, which is most effective for removing oil-based products like makeup and sunscreen. That's followed by a water-based cleanser, which better targets sweat and bacteria.
- How to use it: Gently massage the oil-based cleanser into your skin for about 60 seconds, then rinse with lukewarm water. While skin is still damp, repeat the process with your water-based cleanser. Gently pat skin dry.
Step 2: Toner
For your night face routine, you can use the same toner and method as for your morning face routine. Choose a toner that's formulated for your skin type and conditions.
Step 3: Serum
While you sleep, a nighttime serum gives your skin some extra TLC. Choose one with AHAs or BHAs, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants or peptides.
- Why you need it: A serum can boost your skin's ability to repair itself at night.
- How to use it: Gently pat the serum into your face, from the center outwards.
Step 4: Moisturizer
For this step of your nighttime skin care routine, use the same method as for mornings. Depending on your skin type, you can use the same product morning and night, or you may choose one that contains SPF in the morning and a more hydrating, creamier product for night.
Step 5: Eye Cream
Use the same method as for your morning face routine. The same eye cream can work for both day and night, or you can select one with SPF for mornings and a heavier, hydrating eye cream for your night face routine.
Step 6: Retinol
Retinol is available in several forms including as an oil and as a serum and is often mixed with a cream moisturizer to reduce irritation. Keep in mind, depending on the product, it may be an earlier step in your routine. Retinol causes sensitivity to the sun's UV rays, so it's best used as part of a nighttime skin care routine.
- Why you need it: Because retinol speeds the rate at which skin regenerates, it can improve your skin's texture. For aging skin, it can reduce fine lines and lighten dark spots. It also improves oily or acne-prone skin by reducing oiliness, unclogging pores and removing dead skin cells.
- How to use it: To start, do this step just once or twice a week—once your skin adjusts, you can use it more often. Even though you're using it at night, be sure to apply sunscreen each morning, as your skin will likely be extra sensitive.
- Important to note: Retinol isn't right for all skin types, especially if you have sensitive skin, and don't use it if you're pregnant. Make sure you do some research to make sure it's appropriate for you.
Since you invest time and money into your skin care regimen, you deserve the best return on your investment. By changing up your skin care routine order in the morning and night, you'll see and feel the benefits. When you dedicate just a few minutes twice a day—and choose quality products that pamper your skin—you're giving your face the nourishing treatment it deserves.