The million-dollar question: What is the correct order to apply skincare products

Make-up enthusiasts and women in general struggle with finding and applying products in the right order. Why is the order important? Does it affect the rate of absorption of each product? Does a boost lab syrum go first, or do serums go after the toner? These queries are all Frequently asked questions about a make-up routine. 

The order is integral because each product has a different consistency, which affects its absorption rate. If the products are not applied in the right succession you are merely wasting your products and your hard-earned money. 

The effects of not applying products in the right order are:

  • They will not penetrate the layers of the skin
  • They may not be as effective
  • You can harm your skin- If not applied correctly, they may cause irritation, allergic reactions, dehydration, etc. 

There are four basic rules to remember that can help you to pay attention to the order:

  1. Thinnest to thickest consistency:- Move from thinnest to thickest. Begin with the watery products like toners, serums for example; boost lab syrums. Products on the heavier side like moisturizers, lotions, and creams are applied later on. Sunscreens are applied the last.
  2. Water-based before oil-based: It is a well-known fact that oil and water do not mix. These two will remain separate. This quality means that water-based products have to be applied first. Give them time to be absorbed by the skin. Apply the oil-based products later on top. 
  3. Lowest to highest ph levels: If your products have active ingredients, you must keep in mind their ph levels. The products must be applied, in order of their ph levels for optimum effect. 

Acidic products are the ones that range from 3.0 to 4.0. Neutral products are the ones between 5.0 to 7.0. The former should be applied before the latter. Australia is well-known for its love for vegan products, which usually have ideal ph levels.  

  1. Low and high Ph levels do not combine: If the products you include in your routine are of widely different ph levels, you should wait before you apply each product. This process will ensure that those products are absorbed completely. 

So let us look at the ideal order to apply skincare products. These are the order of application in the morning

  • Cleanser- a mild cleanser to clean the dirt and oil 
  • Exfoliant or scrubs- It gets rid of the dead skin in the outer layer of the skin and to open pores
  • Toner- toners reduce inflammation and tighten pores
  • Eye cream- It reduces the appearance of under-eye wrinkles by keeping them moisturized.
  • Serum- They are oil-based products that seep into the skin deeply.
  • Moisturizer- Moisturizing prevents dryness and inhibits excessive sebum production.
  • Face oil- It will prevent loss of moisture. 
  • Sunscreen- Protects the skin from harmful UVA/UVB radiation that causes aging.
  • Make-up

The order to be followed at the end of each day is 

  • Make-up remover
  • Cleanser
  • Exfoliant
  • Toner
  • Retinoid 
  • Serum
  • Lip balm

Some of the products in this list, such as exfoliants, need not be applied every day. If they are daily scrubs that have low levels of exfoliation, then they are used daily. Otherwise, it is best to exfoliate the face twice or thrice a week.


For optimum results, remember to follow the same routine each day. It may take a few days for your skin to show the effects if you start a new skincare routine.