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How to Layer Skincare Products in the Right Order

When your routine involves several products, it’s important to know how to layer skincare to enhance their effectiveness and ultimate results.

Article Overview

  • Layering skincare products in the correct order is essential for maximizing their effectiveness and achieving desired results.
  • The order of application should start with cleanser and toner, followed by serums and moisturizers from lightest to thickest texture.
  • Antioxidant serums, like vitamin C, should be applied first to protect the skin against environmental damage.
  • Corrective serums with targeted ingredients can address specific skin concerns, such as fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, or blemishes.
  • Broad-spectrum sun protection should be applied last optimize protection from harmful UV rays.

Once you finally have a routine that’s designed for your skin type as well as your skin’s needs, layering skincare properly can help ensure you get the best results. The order to apply skincare can vary slightly from brand to brand, and SkinCeuticals has its own approach for layering skincare products.

How to Layer Skincare From SkinCeuticals

The skin can only absorb so much product, and understanding how to layer skincare products is essential for getting the best results. To keep it simple, we recommend starting with the appropriate cleanser and toner for your skin type and skin concerns. SkinCeuticals offers a variety of face wash and toner formulations that prepare the skin for more active serums and moisturizers that follow.

These first skincare steps also offer an opportunity to target specific skin issues such as fine lines and wrinkles, dryness, discoloration, excess oil or blemishes, dullness, and more. Toners are often overlooked, but we believe this is a key skincare step that not only ensures the skin is free of makeup and other debris, but provides gentle exfoliation with alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids that help clear away dead skin cells to enhance the penetration of serums and moisturizers to come.

After cleansing in and toning, we suggest layering skincare serums and moisturizers starting with the lightest texture to the thickest texture. This means starting with more liquid-like products and ending with richer products.

#1: Antioxidant serum
We always suggest applying a vitamin C antioxidant serum immediately after cleansing and toning so it can be absorbed directly into the skin without interference from other products. This is core step of any SkinCeuticals regimen for superior protection against environmental aggressors that contribute to visible signs of aging, discoloration, and other long-term skin damage.

#2: Corrective serums
Serums generally contain a higher concentration of active ingredients that address specific skin concerns. You can choose to incorporate several corrective serums into your daily routine, or select the ones that best meet your skin’s needs at any given time. SkinCeuticals offers targeted serums for dry skin, fine lines and wrinkles, discoloration, blemish-prone skin, sensitive skin, and more. Retinol or prescription-based retinoids should be applied as part of your evening skincare regimen.

#3: Moisturizers
Regardless of skin type, a moisturizer is essential for replenishing hydration and locking it into the skin. When layering skincare products, these hydrating formulas help create a seal that enhances the action of serums and their active ingredients. Depending on your skin type and the corrective serums you use, a dedicated moisturizer may not always be necessary. For example, if you have oily or blemish-prone skin, Hydrating B5 Gel can take the place of your serum and moisturizer step.

#4: Eye cream
When layering skincare products, it’s ideal to apply eye cream after serums and before moisturizer. Eye treatments are formulated with this delicate skin in mind, and designed to target an array of concerns ranging from dark circles and under-eye bags to fine lines such as crow’s feet and an overall fatigued appearance. SkinCeuticals options include A.G.E. Eye Complex, Eye Balm, and AOX+ Eye Gel.

#5: Sunscreen (AM)
In the morning, the last step of every skincare regimen should be a broad-spectrum sunscreen to shield the skin from damaging UV rays. Since sun protection (especially mineral-based formulations) creates a layer on the skin to reflect the sun’s rays, sunscreen is best used last, or else it can prevent other active ingredients from penetrating the skin.

How to Layer Skincare Products to Avoid Irritation

Layering skincare products the right way can also help prevent irritation when using more potent ingredients such as retinol or prescription-based retinoids. Those with sensitive skin may want to apply moisturizer before more active products to create a buffer that reduces the potential for side effects. However, you can follow the recommended order to apply skincare products while using retinol or a prescription-based retinoid with SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2. This nourishing, patented anti-aging cream has been proven to reduce dryness and shorten the skin’s adjustment period after starting a retinoid by one week.

Layering Skincare Products for Different Concerns

To give you a better idea of the order to apply skincare, here are three sample regimens that target different skin concerns. Although the ideal skincare routine for your unique skin may vary, but these regimens demonstrate how to layer skincare products after cleansing and toning.

Fine lines and wrinkles


Oily or blemish-prone skin

At a minimum, any skincare routine should include a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen—but the addition of targeted corrective serums helps address specific skin concerns such as fine lines and wrinkles, discoloration, blemishes, and more. Knowing how to layer skincare products can significantly improve their effectiveness and help you achieve your skincare goals.

To discover the ideal skincare routine for your skin type and unique skin concerns, use our online Routine Finder, visit one of our SkinCeuticals SkinLab locations, or schedule an appointment with a SkinCeuticals Skincare Professional for a one-on-one consultation.

Next: SkinCeuticals Formulas for Sensitive Skin

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