It's Official: This Is the Correct Order For Applying Skincare Products

We’ve reached a certain age when our skin-care regimen has become a little more complex than just washing our T-zone and putting on lotion whenever we feel dry. But we’re still not exactly sure when to layer in those fancy serums or creams. (And someone please tell us when the hell our SPF comes into play.) So we did some research and created a simple step-by-step guide to your morning and evening routines. Here, the official correct order for applying skincare products.

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In The Morning

Step 1: Cleanser.

If you’re on the oilier side, use a mild wash in the mornings. Most people can get away with just splashing some water on their faces since there isn’t any makeup to remove.

Step 2: Toner.

Whereas in the past, toners had more astringent qualities (think Seabreeze), newer formulas are used to rebalance the pH levels of your skin and add back any moisture lost from cleansing. Use the palms of your hands to gently tap the toner into your skin. (Yes, really. Cotton rounds tend to soak up a lot of the product.)

Step 3: Serums.

They’re lightweight, but they’re packed with the highest concentration of active ingredients. Choose them according to your skin issue. (For example, if you want to brighten up dull skin, look for a serum with vitamin C in it, or if you want to firm up fine lines, peptides are your best bet.)

Step 4: Moisturizing sunscreen.

Though you could technically skip some of the other steps if you had to, sunscreen is always a must. Luckily, the latest formulas are super-hydrating, quick to absorb and actually wear well under makeup.

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In The Evening

Step 1: Makeup remover, Then cleanser.

On days when you’re wearing makeup, use a cleansing oil (or micellar water) before going in with a face wash to ensure that you’re really getting everything off. It might feel like an unnecessary step at first, but it makes a huge difference in keeping your skin clear.

Step 2: Exfoliator (once or twice a week).

Whether it’s a grainy scrub or an at-home peel, regularly removing that top layer of dead skin will keep your complexion bright and glowing. When you’re using an exfoliating product, it’s OK to go from your makeup remover straight to this step (so you’re not triple-cleansing and potentially irritating your skin).

Step 3: Toner.

Now that you’ve thoroughly cleansed your face, it’s time to replenish some moisture. A thin layer of gentle, alcohol-free toner will do the job.

Step 4: Mask (once or twice a week).

Save those special sheet masks for after you’ve exfoliated (so you’ve cleared a path for the ingredients to actually penetrate your skin and give you the best results).

Step 5: Serum.

Smooth on a dime-sized amount of serum over your face and neck.

Step 6: Moisturizer.

Seal everything in with a night cream or moisturizer of your choice.

Step 7: Eye cream.

Finish with a pea-sized amount of eye cream for both eyes and tap it gently under and over the tops of your lids.