Skin Care Hacks: The Correct Order to Layer Products

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We love our skin care routines.

Skin care routines are as individual as each of us and that is a good thing. They need to be personalized and revolve around your skin type and skin concerns. The correct order to layer skin care products is essential.

To make you skin care work for you and make those products you use work effectively, the proper layering of products is essential. By layering your products properly, you will undoubtedly increase the effectiveness of not only your products, but your entire regimen.

Skin Care Hacks You Need to Know When It Comes to Your Routine & Layering

There is SO much information out there, and each brand or rep will tell you how to use “their” products. But let’s face it, most of us use products from many different brands and have found what works for us.

The correct order to layer skin care products doesn’t have to be tricky. While the rule that lighter before heavier is somewhat true, it is more like water-soluble before oil-based. Does that make sense?

I have done a lot of research, including speaking with my own dermatologist, a few professional estheticians, and a PA-C that specializes in skin care treatments, and this was the general consensus. It is also the skin care routine that I stick to and what works really well for me.

The Correct Order to Layer Skin Care Products


You should begin your skin care routine by gently cleansing the skin. You should cleanse the skin twice a day (max) generally in the morning and evening. Use a gentle cleanser that doesn’t leave your skin feeling tight or dry.

Tone (optional)

Most cleansers optimally correct the skin for a proper pH level, but if you are concerned and rather leave this up to a toner, you can add on in here. Just be sure that your toner is alcohol-free and that it does not interfere with any of your treatment products.

Treatment - hydrating

Hydrated skin increases the effectiveness of active ingredients in your treatments so I prefer to use treatment product that contain humectants, or water-binding molecules to hydrate the skin. If you are thinking products that include hyaluronic acid, you are correct! *You should always use hydrating treatment products before any oil-based treatment products.

Treatment - oil-based

Oil-based treatment products should be applied after any hydrating products. Oil prevents water from effectively getting into the skin, so this rule is very important.

Eye Cream

Using your ring finger, apply a very small amount of eye cream, max two times a day, to the orbital rim. You want to use very gentle pressure and never get closer than the orbital rim. This means apply and massage eye cream in gently onto the bony structure, beneath the eye and up around the eye onto the brow bone.


Any occlusive moisturizers should be applied last in your skin care routine in order to seal in all treatments, and to moisturize the sin. If you are using very humectant treatments, you can use a lighter weight moisturizer. Also, you can mix your oil-treatment in with a moisturizer.

Acne treatment + Retin-A

Applying any acne treatment such as benzoyl peroxide or retinoids for acne or Retin-A for anti-aging can be irritating if applied to freshly cleansed skin. Apply these treatments to cleansed and moisturized skin in the evening ONLY, about 20 minutes after moisturizing. Doing this at this time will decrease irritancy. Be sure to follow the directions from your physician for further implementation.


For the daytime, sunscreen is essential. Apply a sunscreen of SPF 30+ after your moisturizer. If you are spending time outside or in the sun, it is imperative to reapply every 2 hours.


Teri Cosenzi

I'm Teri, your resident beauty expert. While I'm not playing with beauty products, painting my nails or shopping for makeup with my daughter who loves trying products with me, you will probably find me sneaking off to Florida with my husband of over 25 years or cheering on one of my three sons. I like baking, re-decorating, drinking tea, fussing with my flowers and facials.