What is the correct order to apply your skincare?

Hollie Shirley / Hair & Skincare Editor

When it comes to building an effective skincare routine, gone are the days when it was a simple cleanse, tone and moisturise.

These days with endless products on the market promising the best skin of your life (with a price tag), it can be quite confusing to figure out what order to put it on your skin – Vitamin C? Retinoids? Squalene? Do you really need to use CBD infused serums?

The main rule of thumb to remember when it comes to applying skin care is to start with the products with the thinnest consistency first and build up to the thickest. But it’s not just about knowing which order to apply them, it’s also important to know what products you need to use and how often to use them. It also depends on the time of day. In the daytime your skin needs protection from external factors like sunlight and pollution, in the evening it craves ingredients to help with repairing itself while you sleep. Then there’s also things like exfoliation, masks and dermatologist treatments – how often do we need these?

Confused?  To save you some time, we have put together this clear, step by step guide on which order to apply your skincare products to take out the guesswork for you.


Begin by using a light and gentle, hydrating cleanser for the morning routine. Something that will clean away any remnants of excess skincare or oils left on your skin, but not dry it out.


Using a water-based toner will help to balance your skin’s natural PH levels and prep your skin for the rest of your skincare. Something with soothing botanicals and hydrating properties is perfect for your AM routine.

Eye cream

It is important to use a separate eye cream from your facial moisturiser as the skin around your eyes is much more delicate and thinner. Therefore, this area is usually one of the first to show signs of ageing. Choose an eye cream that is rich in hyaluronic acid to keep your eyes from looking puffy. When you apply a hyaluronic acid serum to your skin, it acts like a sponge by attracting moisture to boost hydration on the surface of the skin. (Avoid these common mistakes when using hylauronic acid.)

Serum and Acids

After applying eye cream, a serum rich in moisturising properties and targeting any skin concerns should be applied. Serums are specifically formulated to penetrate deeper into the dermal layers of your skin, and layering serums can also be an effective way to target any specific skin needs. Key ingredients to consider are:

Vitamin C – an essential nutrient that can improve skin tone and protect against pollution and UV rays, as well as boosting skin cell regeneration.

Hyaluronic Acid – this is a great ingredient that helps to hydrate the skin and maintain this hydration as a humectant.


Once you have allowed serums to absorb into your skin, moisturisers will help to “lock-in” moisture and keep your skin hydrated throughout the day. Even if you have oily skin, moisturiser should be used, you can opt for a gel-based formula if traditional creams feel too heavy.


SPF is a crucial step and one of the single best things you can do to fight the signs of ageing. UV damage causes the signs of premature ageing such as wrinkles and skin pigmentation. Opt for using an SPF30 or higher daily.

Double Cleanse

For your evening routine, it’s worth switching to something with more active and deeper cleansing properties. A double cleanse is a great option, especially if you wear make-up throughout the day. Using a balm or oil-based cleanser to first breakdown your makeup and excess oil, followed with a gel cleanser to remove everything.

Exfoliate – once or twice a week

A physical or chemical exfoliator will work deeper into the skin to remove any build-up of dead skin cells and excess oils. Don’t overdo it with exfoliators as too much or too harsh scrubbing can damage your skin.


The same as your AM routine, following with your toner to balance your PH levels and prep skin for your serums and moisturizers. Look for ingredients such as glycolic acid to gently exfoliate your skin and even skin texture.

Mask – once a week

If you feel like your skin needs a little extra boost, a mask can be a great option to use. There are so many on the market, from sheet masks packed with active ingredients, clay masks to balance sebum and oil, jelly and gel masks to add back moisture, the list really is endless!


If you are really invested in fighting signs of ageing and those pesky fine lines, retinol is the way to go. Otherwise known as vitamin A, retinol is a rich ingredient which helps to fight signs of ageing at a deep cellular level. It helps to promote the production of collagen and elastin, reduce pore congestion, regulate the production of sebum and work against inflammation. Use small doses after cleansing and toning and build up gradually. Retinoids can be quite irritating if you go in too hard with them too soon.

Eye Cream

Like your AM routine, follow up with an eye cream to the orbital bone area. We recommend saving yourself some money and opting for the same morning and night.


Add a serum to your PM skincare routine as you would before a moisturiser in the day. Look for ingredients that support your skin’s physiological needs at night and pay attention to how your skin is feeling, is your skin dry? Is it showing signs of pigmentation? Is your skin feeling congested? Look for serums that will address the needs of your skin and that ideally have a variety of skin-benefiting ingredients such as alpha arbutin, hyaluronic acid and plant-based stem cells.


When it comes to your evening moisturiser, look for one that is richer and thicker in consistency than you would during the day to deliver deeper hydration to your skin overnight, with soothing and deeply nourishing extracts.

Golden rules to remember

  • Avoid using intensive physical or chemical exfoliators with Vitamin C as this can counteract the effects
  • Avoid using oil and water-based products on the same skincare routine
  • Take your time! Allow enough time between each product for it to sink into your skin fully
  • Exfoliators shouldn’t really be used more than twice a week – too much exfoliation can damage your skin
  • Always apply an SPF, even in the dark depths of winter
  • Sleeping on a silk pillowcase will allow your products to stay on your skin and work their magic overnight, rather than being absorbed by your pillow. You’re spending a lot of time on your skin, why would you want to undo all that hard work when you get into bed?
Hollie Shirley
Hair & Skincare Editor

Hollie Shirley is SILKUP’s hair and skincare editor. She’s obsessed with all things hair care and results-driven skincare, that is kind to the environment and your wallet. She has a weakness for limited edition eyeshadows and is always testing out the newest and greatest deep conditioners. Hollie has a passion for hair and is studying Trichology, working towards becoming a Member of the Association of Registered Trichologists.