You’ve likely developed an evening skincare routine to maintain clear, radiant skin. But are you applying your products in the correct order? Does the order even matter? Skincare experts say yes.

Young woman cleaning her face with sponge

Applying your products in the right order ensures you reap their full benefits. As a general rule of thumb, apply the thinnest products first, followed by the thicker ones. Here’s what we recommend:

Step 1: Makeup Remover

Simply washing your face isn’t enough to remove the day’s makeup. Before you cleanse, use a gentle makeup remover to get rid of your BB cream, foundation, blush, lipstick, and eye makeup. Whether you use a liquid makeup remover or cleansing wipes, be gentle, especially when cleaning the delicate skin under your eyes. Check out some great makeup removers here.

Step 2: Cleanser

Once you’ve removed your makeup, use a facial cleanser to wash off any makeup residue and dirt and oil buildup.  Like with all your skincare products, make sure you’re using a cleanser that’s designed for your skin type. If you have normal or dry skin, we suggest Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Gel ($38). For sensitive, dry or traumatized skin, try this Gentle Cleanser from SkinCeuticals ($34).

Step 3: Toner

Many people choose to forgo the toner, but it’s an important part of your nighttime skincare routine. The harsh toners of the past have been replaced with advanced formulas featuring antioxidants, hydrating ingredients, and soothing agents to replenish what was stripped during cleansing and improve your skin’s surface. Toner can also remove any remnants of dirt or makeup that your cleanser left behind.

Toners are available for every skin type and issue, so be sure to use the right one for you. For dry or sensitive skin, you’ll need an alcohol-free toner, such as Thayer’s Witch Hazel ($9.31 on Amazon). For oily skin, try Kiehl’s Since 1851 Ultra Facial Oil Free Toner ($16 at Barney’s).

Step 4: Spot Treatment

If you have acne-prone skin, use a spot treatment after your toner. In order to experience their full benefits, spot treatments need to be applied as close to the skin as possible. An acne treatment like the Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion ($17) is designed to reduce breakouts while promoting natural healing, soothing irritation, and reducing redness. Wait five minutes before applying your next product to allow your skin to absorb the treatment.

Step 5: Serum

If you have specific skincare concerns, such as uneven skin tone, extreme dryness, or advanced signs of aging, then you might want to use a serum. Serums contain a concentrated level of nutrients and antioxidants that can penetrate the skin deeper than your average moisturizer to sooth, repair, and brighten your skin.

You may apply multiple serums for various skincare concerns, or use an all-in-one product. We recommend Fresh’s Rose Deep Hydration Face Serum ($55 at for dryness, or Caudalie’s Vinoperfect Radiance Serum ($79 at Sephora) for damaged or acne-prone skin.

Step 6: Eye Cream

The area under your eyes is the thinnest and most delicate skin on your body. It’s also among the first areas to show signs of aging. To protect your under eye area, you should be using an eye cream. A good formula will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and promote firming and collagen production. We like Hydraboost Eye from M-61 ($78 at

Step 7: Moisturizer

Last but not least is your moisturizer. Your nighttime moisturizer should be different from your morning moisturizer (which should contain SPF).  We suggest using Dermalogica’s Pure Night ($80 at Ulta Beauty). This nourishing night cream is suitable for all skin types and hydrates, nourishes, and restores your complexion while you sleep.

For more skincare tips, visit our Skincare section!


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