How To Layer Your Morning and Nighttime Skincare Routines
What order do I apply my skincare products? This is my most commonly asked question and I understand why. I have a multi-step skincare routine, so I know the order in which you apply can be overwhelming or confusing. To make it super easy for you, I’m going to give you three separate breakdowns: morning routine, nighttime routine with retinol, and nighttime routine with an exfoliant. I created a few TikToks to easily break down the steps, too. You can view them here.
The following tips are how I layer my skincare. You don't have to use every product, but this is what works for me and keeps my skin clear and glowing all year round.
How to Layer Your Morning Skincare
The morning routine is easy and quick. You can eliminate the toner, serum, and/or Vitamin C if you really want to, but I do recommend at least using Vitamin C (and sunscreen, of course).
Gentle Cleanse: Use an oil cleanser, cleansing balm or just warm water. You want to use a gentle cleanser because, if you did your nighttime routine, you don’t need to do a deep cleanse in the morning. You’re just washing away leftover product from last night. Over-cleansing will strip your skin and dry it out.
Toner: I’m not talking about a traditional toner here. I’m talking about a toner that contains Hyaluronic Acid and won’t strip your skin of natural oils. I use Heritage Store Naturals Rosewater Toner. It contains Hyaluronic Acid to help draw moisture into the skin and helps the rest of your products penetrate deeper.
Serum(s): In the morning, I apply two serums. Hyaluronic Acid for hydration and Niacinamide to help with oil production around my nose and to reduce breakouts. A few serums you can use are hydrating serums, peptide or collagen serums, dark spot serums (if you’re wearing sunscreen), or oil-control serums. You’ll want to avoid Retinol, Glycolic, Lactic and Salicylic Acids in the morning because they work best overnight while out of the sun.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a super antioxidant that protects your skin’s cells from free radicals caused by sun (UV) damage. It can also help brighten dark spots, hyperpigmentation, even out your skin tone and add a little extra glow. Fun fact, when paired with sunscreen, their benefits multiply to protect your skin from damage even more than on their own!
Eye Cream: I prefer to put my eye cream on before moisturizer because most eye creams tend to be thinner than moisturizers, and as a result, the eye cream wouldn’t be able to penetrate through the moisturizer.
Moisturizer: Whether you need a hydrating moisturizer or one to control oil, don’t skip this step. Moisturizer provides a multitude of benefits, but most importantly, it helps protect your skin barrier function.
Sunscreen: You know how I feel about this. Most important step of your routine. Don’t you dare skip this step!!!
Lip Balm with SPF 30+: Your lips are skin, too! I like to use Aquaphor Lip Repair + Protect Broad Spectrum SPF 30. Keeps your lips hydrated without being sticky and protects them from the sun. Don’t skip this step either - your lips are always the first part of the skin to dry out!
How to Layer Your Nighttime Routine: Retinol Edition
The nighttime routine is very similar to the morning routine with only a couple of differences and additions. You can skip the toner and or serum if they're not something you want in your routine.
Oil Cleanse / Cleansing Balm: Nighttime calls for double cleansing, especially if you wear makeup, so this is step one. An oil cleanser or cleansing balm will help remove your makeup.
Cleanser: Now you can use your cleanser to remove any excess makeup, dirt and oil.
Toner: Same as the morning routine!
Serum: You can use the same serums from your morning routine, too.
Retinol: Now we add retinol to the mix, but if you’re just starting out, only 1-2x per week. Retinol is a very strong active ingredient, most commonly sold .5 - 2%. The lower the number, the stronger the retinol. My skin can tolerate .5% because I’ve been using it for a long time, but you may want to use 2% if you’re starting out.
Eye Cream: Again, same as the morning routine.
Moisturizer: Also the same as the morning routine, but if you have a moisturizer that is heavier or contains retinol, you can use them at night.
Oil: Best to use oils at night so they have time to penetrate and help your skin absorb maximum hydration.
Lip Balm or Mask: I like to use the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I think it’s the most hydrating lip product out there, but you can use whatever you want. Just don’t forget your lips!
How to Layer Your Nighttime Routine: Exfoliant Edition
Very minor differences for adding an exfoliant to your routine, but pay attention.
Oil Cleanse / Cleansing Balm: No change here.
Cleanser: No change here either.
AHA or BHA or Physical Exfoliant:It’s best to apply your chemical exfoliant to dry skin. This will cause less sensitivity.
Toner: You know the drill.
Serum: You can use any of your hydrating, oil-controlling, or antioxidant serums. No retinol or vitamin C at nighttime when using an exfoliant. Too many active ingredients can irritate and dry out the skin.
Eye Cream: Nothing changes here.
Moisturizer: Same here.
Oil: Again, use only at night time.
Lip Balm or Mask: Stop forgetting your lips, people!!
I hope these three breakdowns are helpful in guiding you down the right skincare path. As always, feel free to reach out to me via email or Instagram with any questions!