Our Recent Posts



The final answer to the right skin care layering order

AD: affiliate links of products I have tried and that I love.

Ciao! How is it going guys? I hope you are all well and safe.

I have got some much free time to write now that I thought I would post 3 times this week!

Today's post will deal with an very important topic for me and I believe also for all women, which is skin care, to be precise: the correct and definite list of steps we should follow to have a healthy and glowing skin.

I would like to state before starting that obviously I am not an expert.

All I am trying to do is to be well informed because I think this is something that everybody, men included, should do regularly in order to take care of themselves. After all we've only got one face. The days where I used to simply wash my face an apply a whatever cheap or even expired moisturiser are long gone. After 30 it is definitely time to upgrade. I would have appreciated that someone explained how crucial it is to me when I was 20, along with the notion that your neck should be included in my skin care routine as well.

The thing is: I am confused. Deeply. The doubt is killing me.

Every beauty guru, skin care expert, dermatologist on earth wrote a list of very specific steps on how to layer skin care products in the right order.

Now, some of you might think: it's not a big deal, who cares about the order? What matters is to put them on at the end of the day.

Well, apparently this is not true:

"If you don’t layer your products in the right way, or if you use the wrong moisturizer with, say, the wrong toner, you could render them straight-up ineffective—or, worse, hardcore irritate your face and slowly lead to your own demise."

This is exactly what Chloe Metzger, deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan, states on a very popular article on the website's blog. The second one on Google when typing in "skin care layering".

Below, another extract from Dermstore's blog:

"We asked skin experts the question we wonder every time we buy a new skin care product or add a step to our routine: In what order should I apply my skin care products, and does it matter? (After all, we absorb the same amount of sugar in sweets even if we eat them last, right? Unfortunately…) Turns out, it does matter!(...)

Sequence Matters, Here’s Why

According to board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, Dr. Heather Rogers, applying your skin care products in the proper order ensures that your skin receives the full benefits of each product.

“The order of application is incredibly important,” says Dr. Rogers. “The skin’s job is to keep things out, but many of the skin care products we use have ingredients we want to get in. Only a very small amount of these key ingredients can penetrate the skin, even when perfectly formulated and perfectly applied. If you don’t apply products in the correct order, you will not see the best results from your skin care regimen.”

More from Lauren Sharkey, Healthline:

"There isn’t much point in having a skin care routine if your products don’t get a chance to penetrate your skin."

So, just to be blunt...what is the point of buying boujee stuff to put on my face to be pretty if I am not doing it correctly? Waisting my money and time.

Going back, it all this faff started for a reason:

I honestly thought I was doing ok so far when, one lovely day, I thought I could try a tanning lotion I bought recently.

First doubt: can I use on my face? On the leaflet that comes with it says yes. Ok, good.

But then, when?

Before the moisturiser? After? Or maybe right after cleansing? Mah. It doesn't say.

I took my phone to had a look online. Found trillions of step by step online guide lines but none of them are listing when should I put the bloody tanning lotion on.

Maybe it falls under the subcategory of treatments? Not sure. It is like the hamletic question: which came first, the egg or the chicken?

I then found an article that filled me with more perplexity by Alexis Teasdale from Mamamia

"It’s not quite as easy as slapping it all on and expecting results. You’re going to need a clever routine, because face fake tan is not friends with retinol or alpha hydroxy acids (two of the main players.)"

Mmm...and so what should I do then?!

After that, the very recent post by Bridget March from Harper's Bazaar in which she interviewed the self-tanning authority James Harknett finally gave me some answers:

"The face should be cleaned before applying the tanning lotion as any surface oils will make your tanning product less effective."

Basically, "the tan is going to have more staying power if you can avoid your skincare right before application".

He then goes into further instructions:

"There is a lot of debate around product use on tanned skin, as currently people can have skincare regimes with many complicated steps. While I am obviously hugely in favour of looking after your skin, I would try to keep it as simple as possible the morning after you have applied your facial self-tanner. While it’s certainly not a time to exfoliate, it is a good time to hydrate the skin (...) I would avoid active ingredients like retinoids and exfoliating acids while using your facial tanner (of course, hyaluronic acid is fine as it retains moisture!)."

Amazing. Now we know. Thank you very much indeed.

But now my thirst of knowledge is insatiable. I want to dig deeper until I am able to nail it.

One thing leads to the other, I started to compare the charts I found in various competent websites to check if my current method is ok or if I am actually missing something.

I suddenly realise that they are all a bit different.

If the order really does matter, then why everybody has a slightly dissimilar procedure?

Some of them are even contradictory.

From what I understood reading around, the general rule to follow is to apply from thin-to-thick (or lightest-heaviest) texture. Apparently we can layer multiple products. We just need to pay attention to applying water-based ones before oil-based and wait around 30 seconds between each other. The day routine should be slightly different from the night one and we should use targeted items for each part of the day.

But then, some of them recommend to put the eye cream for last, some in the middle, some swear by using facial oils at the very end and others say that it depends from which oil and some claims moisturiser has to go after. Oh my goodness!!!

Take a look at them yourself:

If your head is spinning, welcome to the club!

Wait, it is not over yet!

I was reading an article from Skincare.com

The best chemical ingredients our creams and serums should contain are:

-Vitamin C

-Hyaluronic acid


I am not going into the detail telling you what they do and how they benefit your skin.

The key thing to know is that they are all good for you, especially after 25 years old.

Now I am only dealing with the layers and the order here, that's the major issue.

They can be combined together but there is a specific way of doing so.

I am copy pasting a bit from Health:

"Retinoids can be irritating and drying to the skin, especially when you first start using them,” says Shari Lipner, MD, PhD, a dermatologist at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine. (...)Combine retinoids with other strong ingredients found in cleansers, creams, and serums, and the results can be uncomfortable—and unsightly, too."

Ah. Nowadays we need to be a chemist to put creams on.

That's the list of products that should NOT be combined with retinol then:


-Astringents, toners, and other drying agents

-Benzoyl peroxide (a common ingredient found in acne treatments)

So make sure you are checking the ingredients your creams and serums are made of before applying them or mixing them together.

The right procedure to mix Vitamin C, Hyaluronic acid and Retinol is:

-Use the vitamin C serum in the morning to wake your skin up.

-Follow with Hyaluronic acid (which can be found in many face masks or moisturisers) to add a long lasting hydration.

-Use retinol only in the evening on your clean but not exfoliate skin and then apply a nourishing moisturiser because it can be drying. Also, retinol is not safe during pregnancy, so stop to use it if you are or you are planning to be.

Wow that was exhausting.

It is crazy if I think that sometimes I just shop randomly for skin care products online or even in stores and they might not been suitable with what have got already. This is a lesson that we all need to be mindful about these chemicals that can be good for us but they need instructions to be effective and in order to avoid damages. Also, from now on I will always ask for help to competent staff when browsing.

What I have done to clear my doubts is testing every single procedure.

I have been testing them for 4 weeks now and I have got my very personal answer.

From my experience and for my skin (dry and sensitive, sometimes prone to blemish during hormonal changes) that's what works:


1) Cleansing

2) Toner

3)Serum and/or any specific treatment


5) Face oil

6) Eye cream

7)Face roller

8) Make up

All the charts agree about the first two steps: cleansing and the tone after.

In the morning I would use something not too harsh:

The serum (mine is a calming essence for redness) should be specific for every kind of complexion and it needs to be applied in the third step in order to properly penetrate as it is preparing the skin.

The tricky part: for me, the moisturiser goes after the serum and before the facial oil. It can't penetrate the skin after the oil. I found my skin dry after 3 hours when applying the moisturiser after the oil as some charts (even some sales assistant I found in Boots) suggest.

So apply your day cream first and then the facial oil if you need to. If you have oily skin, you can skip it.

My tip to apply the facial oil: instead of pumping one or two drops onto the palm of your hand, rubbing your hands together to warm it up, then pressing the hands onto your face, I pump the oil directly on my face in three areas: cheeks, neck and forehead. Then I massage it gently with the top of my fingers.

Why? Simply because 70% of the product will stay on my hands otherwise! Don't waist the expensive stuff on your palms. There is hand cream for that.

The eye cream goes for last. I know many will complain about it but I found a deep difference in between the tests. I couldn't feel it at all when I applied it after the serum and before the moisturiser. When I put it at the end, I can physically feel my skin tightening and de-puffing. This is even more effective after I roll my face with a quartz roller. Any of the charts I found mentioned it but it is a step we shouldn't skip.

Then, wait 5 minutes before applying your make up. The skin needs to absorb all this creams.

I didn't include SPF as my foundation has it but if you want, put it after the eye cream.


1) Remove all traces of make up with either micellar water or a balm

2) Wash face with a specific cleanser for your skin type to take off the last make up bits and pollution

3)Exfoliate (once, max twice a week)

4) Tone

5) Serum or any specific treatment


7) Face oil

8) Eye cream

9) Face roller

I always exfoliate in the evening because I have more time usually.

When I feel like having a face mask, I would it after cleansing and before applying the rest of the creams (I don't use retinol as it is quite drying and my skin is too intolerant).

If you want to use a tanning lotion, do it only twice a week, better in the evening, precisely 2 hours before bed. First, clean your skin and then apply the lotion. No moisturiser or serums after.

The next morning, gently clean your face with a non aggressive product and then apply your usual moisturiser, better if it contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate deeply and for longer. Nothing else.

In the evening, you can proceed with your normal skin care routine.

In case you don't agree with my choices and you'd like to check a more professional source, I have got you covered.

I found a very informative article on the website "within the trend" that explains in a simple but detailed way everything you need to know about the topic and it also have sections for every kind of skin and age.

Thank you for reading my post today, I hope I have answered some of your questions too.

If you liked it, feel free to share it on your social media accounts to let your friends know about my blog. Don't forget to subscribe to my newsletters so you will get an email when I am posting a new article.