The right order to apply skincare products


I have received several emails regarding the right order to apply skin care products especially regarding prescription topicals and here are information from two sources I have gathered.

The first, is from the book “Your Future Face” by Dr Dennis Gross, who is a dermatologist as well as the founder of the M.D. Skincare product line.  According to Dr Gross, one of the keys to maximizing the benefits of any product in our daily skincare regimen is to apply products with a thinner consistency before the thicker more creamy ones, no matter what their active ingredients are.  This is because products with heavy consistencies can block lighter-weight ones from penetrating the skin and doing their job.

This view is also echoed by Dr. Jeannette Graf, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine according to this useful how-to guide on what comes first: eye cream or moisturizer at Total Beauty.

Day skincare regimen
Hence, after cleansing your face in the day, you should be applying your toner, followed by any prescription topicals, then serums or gels before you apply your moisturizer in the form of lotions which are usually milky in texture to lock in benefits from the other products and boost their efficacy.  After which, you can apply your sunscreen followed by your makeup primer or foundation. 

The exception is when you use a chemical sunscreen which absorb UV rays and neutralize them in the skin tissues, and hence they should go on clean, bare skin first because in order to be effective, it must interact with our skin cells. (see my entry Tips on sunscreen protection & application for more details.)

Night skincare regimen
In the night, the same order is true but your moisturizer could be in the form of a cream and you would of course omit your sunscreen and makeup.  Also, I’ve read that if you’re applying bleaching creams in the night, it is best to apply at least an hour before bed so that the cream won’t slide into your eyes when your face presses against the pillow.

Dry or damp skin
While I have written earlier that both moisturizer and serum should be applied to toner damp skin to seal in the hydrating benefits from the toner deep into the skin but if you’re applying prescription topicals, then you should wait for your toner to dry before you apply the topicals on your cool, clean and dry skin, to enhance their penetration as well as decrease any chances of irritation.

Another highlight is that if your face is red for some reasons after showering or cleansing, it is best to apply any products to your skin only after the redness has subsided and calmness has been restored. 


  1. suman tripathi says:

    a very simple and informative line.thanx
    glad to find it

  2. ivy says:

    i’m using a chemical sunscreen. if i apply the c and e serum after it,will it be still effective?

  3. sesame says:

    For vitaminc C and E serum, it’s better to apply before the sunscreen. After it is possible to apply after if your sunscreen texture is not too thick.

  4. Niobe says:

    Hello, I came across your blog and found it very interesting. I’m currently using Bod’s moroccan rose face oil (just bought it), Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Lotion, Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Essence, Bliv Off With Those Heads Sebum Gel, Rojukiss Pore Tightening Source and lastly Hazeline Snow Moisturizing Cream (just bought it) 2 times per day. Just wondering if I’m using too much products? I’m 32yrs old with combination skin and pigmentation.

  5. sesame says:

    It does sound quite a lot if you’re using some of these together. My experience with Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion is that it can be rather heavy so be careful what you mix it with. Perhaps you can keep the rose face oil fand maybe pore tighening source for the night usage and the others in the day.

  6. Niobe says:

    Thanks…#k8SjZc9Dxk#k8SjZc9Dxk I was wondering if I’m sort of overdoing it with my skin care, I’m doing shift work so my skin always look dull and lifeless so I try to take care as much as I can…sigh… However, I’ve noticed for some time that my skin is getting oilier especially my nose (looking very shiny) so I’m trying the rose face oil to see whether it can help in balancing my skin. Not sure whether is it any of the items I’m using that’s causing it though. Hmm, probably will trial and error to find out.

  7. sesame says:

    Oily could also be a sign of dry skin trying to secrete oil. I am for using less rather than more. If your skin is dull, try exfoliating once or twice a week. It could be buildup as well.

  8. Smitha says:


    I am using a cream with Beta Hydroxy as the active ingredient.
    I am 29 years old.
    Is it too early to start using Beta Hydroxy? Is it meant to be used on mature skin after maybe 35 or 40 years old?
    I use a regular moisturizing cream on top of that also.


  9. Ashley says:


    I wonder what is the right order if I have the list below for basic skincare before makeover. Thank you.

    3-Eye Cream
    6-Sun Block
    8-Foundation then make-up

    Thank you so much for helping me!! =)

  10. sesame says:

    Looks about right. You can also use serum first and then eye cream cos it’s all right that some of the serum be used near the eye area.

  11. charlie says:

    hi, i wanna ask the right order of apply my skincare, especially the face oil.

    Since i bought a bottle of face oil, i dunno when to use it, just after applying my toner? or should i apply it on the last step?

    1. toner
    2. serum
    3. night cream
    4. face oil

    is it a right order? thanks

  12. Sesame says:

    You might want to apply the face oil before the night cream so that it gets better absorbed.

  13. julie palumbo says:

    Julia asks is face oil good at night? I have never heard of this ,
    does chanel or boots 7 have an oil?
    New to the site like what I’ve heard

  14. Karen says:

    Can you apply primer to eye area

  15. Sesame says:

    It depends on the ingredients. Generally should be okay but I would say if the primer is meant to smooth out your pores then it’s not necessary to apply over the eye area. The thing to be of concerned when applying over the eye area is that the ingredients should not be too rich that it might cause milia seeds.

  16. Priya says:

    Skin lightening cream and sunscreen spf100 which order should i use?

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