The Correct Order of Applying Skincare at Night

The Correct Order of Applying Skincare at Night

When it comes to a night-time regimen, most women ask: Which product should go first? Which should sit on top? Which should come last? 

And what time should I apply them? The product list changes if you consider that it will be a skincare abomination to use sunscreen at night.

However, if you’re one of those whose night regimen is scattershot, this guide will provide you with a definite order to follow the next time you face the dressing mirror staring at a long list of cosmetic products. Read on to find out more!!!

What Order to Apply Skin Products At Night?

In this section, we provide you with a sequence of steps that guide you on applying skincare products at night. You will also find useful tips on how to choose the right product for your skin type.

Step 1 – Remove Your Makeup

The first step in your skincare night routine is to remove your makeup and strip the skin down to its natural look. It’s wrong to sleep with your makeup on. Every skincare night regimen begins with a makeup remover rather than a cleanser. This is because cleansers stand no chance against products such as lipstick, mascara, eye shadow, and eyeliner.

Step 2 – Use a Gentle Cleanser

Cleansers can’t be ignored because they prepare the skin for rapid absorption. When we talk about cleansers, the list doesn’t include bar soap. This is because their alkaline level is high, making them unfit for your face. On the other hand, Cleansers are liquid and can be dabbed on the skin with a clean cloth or cotton swab. As easy as it may seem, picking the right cleanser isn’t a stroll in the park. 

You need to be clear about your needs. The general rule of thumb is to identify your skin type and be clear on what you’re dealing with – is it acne? Dark spots? Wrinkle? Hyper-pigmentation? Or dark circles?

Whatever your answer is, ensure your choice is aligned toward these needs. For instance, if you have acne-prone skin, the perfect choice will be a foaming cleanser since they help remove oil, making it easier for other ingredients to penetrate. In the case of dry skin, you want to opt for a creamy cleanser, especially lipid-based ones.

You know you’re using the right cleanser if it leaves your skin smooth and hydrated. A feeling of dryness after using a cleanser is a dangerous sign and one that notifies you of imminent changes. Also, we’ve heard many suggestions that you can use an exfoliator in place of a cleanser for this step. That doesn’t always end well.

Unlike cleansers, exfoliators can’t be used daily, and they strip the skin of its natural oil if used excessively. Only a cleanser can remove stubborn stains and oil the makeup remover couldn’t get rid of.

Step 3 – Apply a Toner

Skin toners are like the secret recipe no one likes, yet your food won’t taste great without them. They’re controversial, and most ladies swear that they would rather not deal with them. However, toners are a useful addition for women with acne-prone skin since they balance their skin’s pH level.

Unlike what most women fear, modern toners aren’t like they used to be during the Marilyn Monroe days where they contained a lot of alcohol. Far from it. 80% of toners sold in cosmetic stores nowadays are alcohol-free and won’t strip the skin of its natural oil.

However, the choice of toner is dependent on that of your cleanser. Your cleanser should prep the skin to introduce the toner; otherwise, the results will be less satisfying.

Despite its popularity, it’s easier to choose the wrong toner than the right one. This is because aside from identifying your skin type, you also have to narrow it down to your needs. This implies asking yourself what purpose you want the toner to serve – Acne? Eczema? Dark spots? or Wrinkles?

Women with acne-prone skin should choose toners packed with stearic acid, while those with sensitive skin have to be “selective” with their options. In this case, botanically-formulated toners will work better than chemically-formulated ones. On the other hand, alpha- hydroxyl and Glycolic acid-based toners are beneficial to women with large pores and who need something to remove dead cells.

Step 4 – Go In With A Serum

There are many serums sold online nowadays, which makes it difficult to choose the right one. It’s no surprise that the best-selling serums on Amazon are those that promise vague results like eliminating wrinkles, dark spots and protecting the skin at the same time.

The fallacy is that one serum can’t deliver all of these results. A good serum shouldn’t be a “generalist’; rather, it should be formulated to solve a specific problem. Take, for instance, Vitamin c serums act as a good anti-ageing agent for women in their 20’s and 30’s. Serums made from plant-based ingredients like licorice and papaya induce whitening effect, while Retinol-based serums help with acne and might also help reduce fine lines.

You will observe that serums deliver faster results than regular face creams. It’s no coincidence. This is because serums contain 70% more active ingredients than regular moisturizers. The downside is that the active ingredients expire quickly. Hence, their usability period is short.

On the other hand, if your serum meets your needs, you’re likely to use fewer skincare products but to achieve such results, you need to follow the rules that bind the serum usage at night. Dermatologists warn against using serum daily; even worse, they frown against using the same serum during the day and night.

For best results, it’s better to go for night serum, but this means you have to do away with serum during the day. This is because using two different serums at the same time might cause skin irritation.

Also, the quality of serum doesn’t always depend on its price tag. Although expensive serums tend to pack high-quality ingredients. However, there are low-priced options that deliver satisfactory results, provided they suit your skin type.

Step 5 – Introduce a Skin Treatment

We understand that some women prefer to explore other treatment options such as prescription meds and exfoliating products rather than going for a serum. This is important if your skin needs a lot of repair and restoration. In this case, treatment options such as face masks, over-the-counter medications, and peel pads might be a Plan B.

Just to be clear, if you’re already using a serum, you do not need to use any of these treatment options. The key is to keep things simple to avoid any form of irritation. It’s best not to combine a serum with any of the treatment options mentioned earlier. This means you can’t use a retinol serum and an exfoliating mask at the same time since they both contain active ingredients.

The rule of thumb is to identify one treatment method that works for you and stick to it. As mentioned earlier, if you opt for exfoliating treatment, ensure you apply sparingly. Depending on your needs, two to three times weekly is ideal. Daily usage isn’t advised.

Step 6 – Lock in Moisture with a Moisturizer

Unlike serums, you can use a moisturizer during the day and at night. For your night regimen, opt for night moisturizers since they’re formulated with the condition of “night-time” in mind. This is why night moisturizers are thicker than that of daytime. This is done to create a protective coating that helps the skin lock some moisture while you sleep at night.

The right moisturizer should leave your skin smooth and supple till the next morning. The key is to apply them early, so the skin has enough time to absorb all its ingredients. For excessively dry skin, it’s best to combine your moisturizer with oil, so it stays glued to your skin.

How Should I Apply the Skincare Products?

Aside from the sequence of application, it’s also important to consider your timing. It does take some time for the skin to absorb every ingredient—the more reason why this should be done early and not deep through the night.

Experts advise that there should be a little pause between each step. Theoretically, a 20-minute break should do, but we don’t have that much time. For this reason, we recommend you take, ideally, a 3-minute break as you move from one step to another. This means after you use your cleanser, you should wait for three minutes before applying the moisturizer and so on.


You want to pay attention to how your skin responds to a combination of these products. It’s hard to pinpoint which product you’re reacting to if things go south at some point since you’re using a lot of numbers. This is why we advise you to let your dermatologists go through each product ingredient list before you proceed with your regimen. We do hope this article has helped you figure out the sequence of applying your skincare products.

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