An expert reveals exactly why the order you apply your skincare each day matters

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Taking care of your skin is vital for anyone who wants to age flawlessly, but it’s not enough to just buy products and throw them on your face each night.

The order in which you apply your skincare routine is vital and you can end up wasting precious products if you don’t take note of which ones you should apply first.

Of course, knowing which order you should be cleansing, toning and moisturising is easier said than done, especially when you’re using a range of products from different brands.

We spoke with skincare expert Vicki Engsall, co-founder of The Jojoba Company, who explained the ins and outs of skincare routines and why you need to follow the correct application order.

She revealed what order works best for your skin, where you may be going wrong in your evening and morning routine, and what really happens if you follow the wrong order.

And don’t worry – you don’t need one million steps in your skincare routine to get the clear, glowing complexion you’ve dreamed of.

Does the order you apply your skincare really matter?

Yes! Applying your skincare in the correct order ensures that you get the full benefits from each product.

“You need to apply your products from thinnest more watery consistencies like serums to thicker like thick moisturisers,” Vicki explains.

“The reason for this is that moisturisers and oils often act as occlusives, meaning they lock everything into the skin and also stop other things from going in.

“If you were to put a moisturiser or an oil on before a serum, then you will not be getting the best effects of the serum as it may not be able to penetrate through the more occlusive or emollient layers that were applied before it.”

That means if you apply products in the wrong order, some will lose their effectiveness and your skin won’t fully benefit from them.

Vicki adds: “You want the active ingredients to be able to easily penetrate into the skin, so put them on first!”

The order in which you apply your skincare products can have a huge impact on how effective they are.

(Credit: Pexels)

What order should you apply skincare at night vs in the morning?

The basic order you should apply your skincare at night is: cleanser, toner, serums, oils, eye creams, then night creams.

“At night, start by cleansing. After cleaning, give your skin a spritz of a toning mist,” Vicki says. “This will give the skin hydration and help to reduce the pore size and dampen the skin ready to receive the next few layers (products absorb 10 times better on damp skin than on dry skin).

“Next, apply your water based serum followed by your facial oil, eye cream and then your night cream.

Vicki adds that the order in which you apply products should stay the same at night and in the day, but the products you apply could vary.

For example, you can add an SPF into your morning routine that you wouldn’t use at night, and you might skip products containing acids in the day, as they make your skin more sensitive to sun damage.

“Day creams should be all about protecting the skin throughout the day with antioxidants and sunscreens whereas night creams are all about regenerating and renewing the skin overnight.”

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Do you need to wait a set amount of time between each product?

You should definitely take your time when applying your skincare according to Vicki.

“It is always best to wait at least 60 seconds between the application of layers. This allows the product to penetrate the skin properly and prevent pilling.”

What will happen if you apply your skincare in the wrong order?

You won’t actually ruin your skin if you apply your products in the wrong order, but you also won’t get the full effects from your skincare routine if you’re not paying attention to how you apply products.

Vicki explains that you “may find you are not getting the best benefit from those great products that you have invested in. You will still get some benefit, but perhaps not the maximum benefit you could as if you used them in the correct order.”

Applying your products in the wrong order won’t ruin your skin, but it won’t be as effective either.

(Credit: Pexels.)

How many steps do you really need in your skincare routine, and which products are essential?

When it comes to how many steps you include in your routine, Vicki says it’s all about what you want to get out of your skincare.

“You don’t need a million steps in your skincare. It really depends on your skin goals and the best way to achieve them,” she explains.

At an absolute minimum, you should be cleansing your skin every single day to remove any dirt, oils, etc. from your skin and help prevent breakouts and blemishes.

It’s important to cleanse at the start of your skincare routine too, because putting products on skin that isn’t 100 per cent clean will never be as effective.

“No matter what products you use, if you are not putting them on clean skin, then you are not going to get the best benefit as they won’t be able to penetrate through the dirt, grime, sunscreen etc from the day,” Vicki says.

“A facial oil is also an essential. Facial oils offer nutrients and amazing hydration and balance to the skin. They don’t evaporate like water based products and work with your skin’s oils to nurture the skin,” she adds.

This step is important even for those with oily complexions, so don’t be scared to add one to your evening routine. Vicki says that if you’re nervous about oils, you can use a wax ester like jojoba instead.

Because it’s not an oil, it will balance out your complexion and nourish/moisturise your skin without clogging up your pores.

Vicki goes on to say: “The last essential step is a moisturiser. This is an important step as it locks in all of the goodies underneath and provides a moisture barrier for the skin throughout the day and night, helping to prevent moisture loss and protect the skin. It also makes sure your make up sits well on your skin.”

If you’re running short on time or want to cut a few steps from your routine, Vicki says you can ditch your serum (it won’t hurt for a night or two), eye cream and toning mist.

For those who want to keep it simple, just stick to the three-step regime of cleanse, oil and moisturise to keep your skin clear and glowing.

Here are some skincare essentials to try.


Jojoba Activating Cleansing Oil ($39.95), shop it here.

(Credit: The Jojoba Company)

Hydrating Gel-to-Cream Cleanser ($24 on sale from $30), shop it here.

(Credit: Paula’s Choice)


The Ordinary “B” Oil ($18.50), shop it here.

(Credit: Adore Beauty)

Australian Jojoba Oil ($19.95), shop it here.

(Credit: The Jojoba Company)


Anti-Aging Clear Skin Hydrator ($42), shop it here.

(Credit: Paula’s Choice)

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+ Pump ($50), shop it here.

(Credit: Adore Beauty)

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Girlfriend.

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