When we spend so much money on our skincare regime, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than feeling like our skin isn’t bringing the A-game. But the reason why your skin isn’t slaying could simply be because you’re applying your creams in the wrong order. We know it seems crazy militant, but if you don’t apply your lotions and potions in a specific order, you’re seriously disenabling them from doing their job.

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The most important thing is to ensure your skin is completely clean before you apply any hydrating lotions or oils. The general rule is to apply the most lightweight formulas first so they can be easily absorbed without the barrier of heavier creams. After each layer, give your skin time to absorb the product, this will also mean when you’re layering your products they won’t pill – those tiny little balls you get when you’ve used too much product.

How to layer your skincare like a pro:

Step 1: Cleanser

Cleansing should remove any makeup or dirt from your skin while also adding a burst of hydration, and if you wear makeup, you should definitely be double cleansing. To double cleanse, start with a cleansing oil (the most nourishing way to remove any makeup as they’re free from harsh chemicals, soaps, and parabens), then use a foam or gel cleanser (or whichever best suits your skin type). It sounds extra, but it will make sure there’s absolutely no makeup or dirt on your skin before you continue the rest of your regime.

Mask or Exfoliate: Once your skin is completely clean, now is the time to do any extra steps in your routine, like a clay or peel-off mask or exfoliating your skin. If you want to use a sheet mask, you can do this after you’ve toned.

Step 2: Toner

Toning is super important as it removes any grime or makeup residue that your cleanser wouldn’t budge, plus any minerals or chlorine from your water. It will also instantly tighten your pores and help restore your skin’s pH levels for a more even skin tone. For more guidance on choosing the right toner for your skin type, check out our toner guide here.

Essence: If you use an essence in your skincare routine, now is the time to apply.

Spot Treatment: Apply your spot treatment now so it can absorb properly and start working its magic. Allow a few minutes before moving on to your next step.

Step 3: Serum

Serums are lightweight and contain a high concentration of active ingredient. The formula is made up of smaller molecules that are absorbed into the skin at a much deeper level. This makes serums ideal if you’re trying to target a specific skincare issue, like wrinkles or dry skin, as many are packed with hydrating ingredients as well. Like essences, which are basically a more watery version of serums, you only need a small amount – about the size of two pomegranate seeds!

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Step 4: Eye Cream

Eye creams can brighten under eyes, reduce puffiness, and add an extra hit of moisture. Depending on the formula it may look like a serum or a thick moisturizer, but now is the time to apply it, as there are fewer ‘barriers’ for it to get through, and it can be absorbed more easily! Always apply your eye cream with your fourth finger in a tapping motion, as this is the weakest finger so you won’t tug or pull the delicate skin. We also love to keep our eye cream in the fridge; it’s the ultimate eye wake-up call in the mornings! Check out our fave eye creams for dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines here.

Tip: If your eye cream contains retinol, you can apply after your moisturizer, as this will lower the risk of it irritating the skin.

Step 5: Moisturizer

Hydrated skin is glowing skin, so NEVER skip your moisturizer. The right moisturizer will hydrate, replenish, restore your skin’s pH levels, and nourish and repair any issues like dry, flaky skin. But it’s also essential that you choose one with the right formula and ingredient list for your skin type. Like if you have dry skin, you need a really rich formula, but if you have acne-prone or oily skin, a gel formula will be your best friend. For our top tips on how to choose the right one, read our moisturizer guide.

How much product you should actually be using:a guide to formula sizing

Step 6: Facial Oil

Without a doubt one of the most powerful potions on your shelf, the small molecular structure of face oils allows them to penetrate deeper into your skin and hydrate at a much deeper level. They also repair and plump your skin, and feed it with amazing natural vitamins. Oil needs to go last because it will create a protective barrier on your skin and lock in water, if not applied last, it could block your other skincare products from penetrating. If you’re on the oily skin list, we recommend only using your face oil at night. Find out how to choose a face oil here.

For our guide on how to pick the right oil, check out our guide here. We like The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane – it combines an amazing natural oil (squalane) and a form of retinol, which is the ultimate anti-aging ingredient. You can also make your own face oils for a fraction of the price, check out our DIY tutorial here. You can also skip this step for daytime if you’re using a moisturizer, and go straight to the SPF.

Step 7: Sunscreen

For daytime, this is THE most important step, even during the winter months. Applying a good sunscreen every morning will protect your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays. An SPF will sit on the surface of your skin acting as a protective barrier against the sun, so you should always apply it last. Check out our fave suncreens here, and our tip for applying sunscreen over your makeup here – remember you need to reapply SPF every two hours.

From this point on you’re officially ready to start applying your makeup!