Thinnest Products First
The general rule of thumb is to apply the lightest skincare products first and the heaviest last, says Shereene Idriss, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist. Toners and serums are the thinnest products so they should always be applied first and layered upon. Toners prep the skin and serums deliver active ingredients (such as Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid) directly into the skin.
Give It a Sec
If you've got the time, it's a good idea to let your serums absorb into the skin. Use this time to brush your teeth or start your coffeemaker. The time increases penetration instead of allowing your serum to get swept up or wiped off by the other products you apply.
Next comes targeted products like eye creams or spot treatments for blemishes. You want to tap them onto skin before applying moisturizer so they can get to work without having another barrier to penetrate. Make sure a zit cream like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid is dry before applying your regular moisturizer.
Lock It Moistuire
A facial moisturizer is key to skin health. Even oily skin requires hydration to keep your skin barrier in good, working order. Plus, it helps trap in all the products underneath it to make the ingredients even more effective, says Dr. Idriss.
During the day, this means an SPF to protect the skin from sun damage. If that's already included in your regular daytime moisturizer, then you're all done. At night, a face oil can further hydrate and seal in the products you just applied—preventing them from evaporating or rubbing off. And since oils can easily penetrate moisturizers but no products can penetrate an oil, they should always be applied last.