What Should You Be Using In Your Skin Care Routine?

Take my quiz and get personalized recommendations from a licensed esthetician!

Skin Care Quiz

Yes, There Actually is a Right Way to Layer Your Skincare Products!

Call it a ritual. A time tested method. The result of much toil, research, trial-and-error.

It is what we’ve come to know as “The Skincare Routine.”


Ladies, we have our skincare routines down to a science.

Although, as we get ever-busier, we trade portions of our regimen for a few more minutes of staying in bed in the morning.

Exhausted, we forgo important steps at night in favor of returning to said bed.

A survey by Simple Skincare found that only a pitiful number of us are practicing our regimen on the regular.


All that time crunching can lead us to a rushed, slapdash approach to our skincare, forcing us to make compromises and adopt a philosophy of, “As long as I get the product on my face at some point, it will do what it needs to do, right?”

WRONG. (Well, sort of.)

Did you know that the way you layer on your skincare products actually makes a difference?

I’m here to break it down and give you a handy cheat sheet guide on the best way to layer your skincare products so that you’ll reap the best benefits from The Routine.

Why Does It Matter?

It’s not that your skincare items won’t work if you don’t layer them a certain way.

But, if you apply them in the correct order, you’ll get the max benefits and you’re much more likely to see results from your skincare products.

And, anything worth doing is worth doing right. Right?

alana eye cream 2

It’s important to consider the purpose of your products — why you’re using them in the first place — and give them time to sink into your skin and deliver those benefits.

For instance, if you apply a thick moisturizer before more concentrated treatments, it can create a barrier that doesn’t allow your skin to absorb serums or liquids as well.

A general rule of thumb when layering products is to work from thin to thick.

Meaning, apply those formulas with a thinner consistency first and follow it up with richer, creamier ones last.

One more thing before we get to it: Remember that this is just my general recommendation for the order of operations, but there’s no one-size-fits-all skincare routine for everyone.

You may need to add or subtract some items based on your needs and skincare concerns (such as products made to target a specific issue).

Use this as a general guideline, and find the regimen that works best for you!


Step 1: Cleanser

As long as you’re splashing water on your face first thing in the morning, you might as well use a gentle cleanser too.

This will help remove stuff like dirt, oil, and impurities that your skin can accumulate from your hair and pillowcase while you’re sleeping.

Make sure you’re using a cleanser made for your skin type, so you don’t strip skin’s natural moisture.

Step 2: Toner

A lot of people skip this step because they think toners are too harsh for their skin.

Not so! Today’s toners are formulated to deliver moisture and clarifying and anti-aging benefits.


Toner isn’t always necessary, but if your skincare specialist or esthetician recommends one, it’s for a good reason, so use one after cleansing your skin.

As with cleansers, toners are specifically formulated for different skin types, so make sure you’re using the right one for you!

Step 3: Serums and Spot Treatments

Now that your skin is all prepped and squeaky clean, it’s time to apply those thinner-consistency products such as serums or those made to address specific concerns like acne, wrinkles, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation.

Both serums and spot treatments are more highly concentrated formulas designed to deliver benefits deep into skin’s layers, so it’s best to apply them as close to your skin as possible so they can penetrate without being inhibited.

With serums and treatments, it’s also important to wait at least 5 minutes so they’ve had time to absorb into skin before applying anything else.

Step 4: Moisturizer

Hydrated and moisturized skin is essential to fight wrinkles and blemishes, and it supports skin healthy by reinforcing its protective barrier.

This includes oily skin types!

When your skin senses it’s dry, it actually produces more oil which can make matters worse, so it’s important to maintain skin balance and hydration.


You may also need to change up your moisturizer with different conditions.

Does your skin get dry in the winter? More oily in the summer? Is it changing with age?

Listen to your skin so you can make sure you’re caring for it accordingly.

Step 5. Eye Cream and/or Gel

These days, we have so many options!

Yes, there are actually eye products specific for daytime use to combat last night’s puffy eyes.

And, you can layer eye products to get max benefits.

Apply an eye cream, wait a few minutes, then follow up with an eye cream for all that depuffing, anti-aging, moisturizing goodness.

Pro tip: Eye cream isn’t just for your mom! It’s recommended that you start using eye cream as early as your 20’s since this is the age when people start seeing signs of aging in the form of crow’s feet and eye wrinkles. Better to prevent than treat!

Step 6. SPF

Don’t leave the house without applying a daily dose of broad-spectrum SPF protection.

Even on cloudy days.

Even if your makeup contains SPF (it usually isn’t enough to provide adequate protection).

And even if you’re going to be inside for most of the day.

Much of our UV exposure occurs during non-sunbathing times like driving or walking to and from your car.

Make sure to apply sun protection at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors.

You can cut down on your get ready time by using a moisturizer that contains at least SPF 20 protection.

And, if you get a tinted one for light coverage and it’s a triple whammy!

From here, you can start applying any liquid makeup or concealers, or go barefaced and show off your natural beauty!

Here are some of my top picks to kickstart your day and get the most out of your AM skincare!

Alana Mitchell Foaming Pumpkin Cleanser

My gentle foaming cleanser is a great way to start off your skincare for the day. It purifies and refines pores while delivering hydrating and anti-aging benefits to your skin. Plus, it smells wonderful!

Rhonda Allison Beta Green Tea Lotion

This is a unique combo of lotion and toner in one! All-natural ingredients nourish your skin with moisture while salicylic acid balances oil content. This is a great toner for those who have rosacea, sensitive skin, or are prone to acne! You can look forward to even, supple, and shine-free skin that looks healthy and clear.


Alana Mitchell Hyaluronic Moisture Boost Serum

My ultra-hydrating serum uses the power of 20% hyaluronic acid to promote your skin’s hydration levels by 10x and plump fine lines and wrinkles. It also doubles as a fast-absorbing makeup primer!

Alana Mitchell Daily Vitamin C Moisturizer

I’m so excited to bring you my daily moisturizer. It features 20% vitamin C to fight free radicals that cause signs of aging and to boost collagen production to fight fine lines and wrinkles. It also boosts your skin’s hydration levels by 10x!

Alana Mitchell Anti-Aging Peptide Eye Cream

Say goodbye to signs of aging! Peptides help revitalize your skin by retaining firmness and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. My eye cream also helps improve dullness, fatigue, and crow’s feet and quickly absorbs into your skin to deliver moisture.


Dermaquest SheerZinc SPF 30 – Tinted

This is one of my go-to’s for daily sun protection! The tinted formula gives you sheer coverage while providing you with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, and it goes on smooth. Zinc oxide physically blocks harmful sun rays, making it suitable for sensitive skin.


Step 1: Cleanser

Now it’s time to remove all that lovely makeup and gunk from the day with a cleanser that’s right for your skin type.

This step is crucial to avoid skin irritations, blemishes, and even infections.

You can start with a precleanse or cleansing oil to dissolve makeup, and/or cleanse twice with a lather-rinse-repeat approach to make sure you’re getting rid of all the day’s residue.

Step 3: Exfoliator

This step is optional but highly recommended.

To save time, you can combine this step with the aforementioned second cleanse.

Use a physical or chemical exfoliator to remove dead skin cells which will brighten your complexion and keep pores clean.

Be sure not to overdo it! Follow use instructions.

If it’s a product designed for daily use, that’s fine.

If not, stick to 2-3 times a week so you don’t risk damaging or drying out your skin.

Step 4: Toner 

Put a few drops on a cotton round and swipe over your cleansed face, neck, and chest.

You’ll be surprised at all the dirt, makeup and residue your cleanser can leave behind.

Toners are the best way to balance skin and make sure you’re removing all that business for clear, healthy skin.

Step 4: Serums and Targeted Treatments

Let these wonderful formulas work their magic while you get your beauty rest.

Evenings are also the best time to apply products with exfoliating ingredients like retinol and glycolic acid since they can make skin sensitive during sun exposure.

For the same reason, this is also when you’ll want to apply any skin peels.

As before, wait a few minutes for serums and treatments to absorb into skin before moving on to moisturizer.


Step 5: Moisturizer or Face Oil

Skin repairs itself while you sleep, so you’ll support this process by applying a good moisturizer.

Don’t limit it to just your face either!

Remember to moisturize your neck and décolleté as well, since this delicate skin can also benefit from hydration.

Step 6: Eye Cream

If you’re only going to use eye cream once a day, then the night time is the right time.

Make sure to apply a rich formula around your entire eye area for maximum benefits.

Wrap up your day with some of my favorite formulas to beautify skin before getting your beauty sleep!

Alana Mitchell Organic MCT Facial Oil

This concentrated form of coconut oil absorbs seamlessly into your skin and easily eliminates stubborn makeup! Simply apply 1-4 drops to your face, rub in circular motions, and rinse. It gets bonus points for its antioxidants and fatty acids.


Alana Mitchell Daily OC Cream Cleanser

Gently remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup with my moisturizing and gentle cleanser that contains coconut oil, green tea, and lavender extract. The formula is 99% natural, soap-free, and non-irritating.


Ilike Organic Skin Care Mineral Exfoliating Wash

Gently exfoliate your skin by buffing away dead skin cells and deep cleaning your pores! You’ll eliminate excess oil, neutralize acne-causing bacteria, and fortify your skin’s protective barriers to lock in moisture.

Skin Script Cucumber Hydration Toner

Soothe, calm, and cool your skin on contact with this hydrating and anti-inflammatory toner. It gives your skin an even appearance by refining its texture and reducing the appearance of pores. Your skin’s natural barriers are fortified with lipids that also lock in moisture.

Alana Mitchell Night R1 Retinol Facial Oil

Wake up to glowing, youthful, and moisturized skin! My 100% natural and lightweight retinol formula stimulates collagen production in your skin to smooth out any wrinkles and fine lines, while dark spots and discoloration are repaired overnight to even your skin tone. No flaking, redness, or peeling like traditional retinol products, but with all the benefits!


Epicuren Evening Emulsion Enzyme Moisturizer

This moisturizer is designed to be used at night to deliver benefits while you catch some zzzzzs. The rich, moisturizing formula is enhanced with enzymes, proteins, and B vitamins to improve cellular memory and help your skin retain elasticity. It will leave your skin hydrated and supple, so you’ll wake up looking rested and ready to go!

Epicuren Eye Cream

I’ve used this eye cream day and night for over 10 years so I can tell you it’s incredible! It includes powerful anti-aging enzymes to improve firmness and color around your eye area. It also boosts cell repair to mend UV and free radical damage.

So, there you have it!

Here’s a handy little guide to help you remember the order of operations.AMPM

Final Thoughts

While this is the way to get the best benefits from your products, there’s no one magic skincare solution that works for everyone (although, wouldn’t that would be great?).

We each have unique skin and our own set of concerns and goals, so the bottom line is that you have to find a routine that works best for you.

You gotta listen to your skin and do you!

How do you layer your products? Have you found a method for success? Share your tips with us in the comments section!

Last updated by at .

17 thoughts on “Yes, There Actually is a Right Way to Layer Your Skincare Products!

  • Tremaine

    During this process, when do you use face masks? And is it preferably in your night time routine?

    • Alana

      That’s a great question! I recommend using face masks after cleansing and toning the skin. Then after you remove the face mask, apply your serum and moisturizer. You can use a face mask at any time of day using the same steps. The takeaway is to ensure your face is clean before applying the mask.
      Some face masks are formulated for overnight use, and that will be indicated on the label. In that case, go through your whole nighttime regimen, THEN apply the mask last. You’ll wash it off when you wake up.
      I hope this helps!

  • Shelley

    Is vitamin c ok for rosacea my skins dull dehydrated and oil. Can you give me any advice. It’s also acne prone. I need to keep cleansed and moisturised well controlling oil brightening and keeping smooth appearence. Thanks you. Shelley

  • Kate

    Hi Alana,
    I use Rhonda Alison products and was wondering, do serums go on before gels?? Thank you!

  • Leslie

    Just curious, I apply all my products at nighttime (I have a pretty in depth nighttime routine), but I have only been applying my CC cream (+ SPF) and makeup in the morning. I work 12 hours in the hospital and I don’t have a lot of time to get ready in the morning. Would cleanser, toner, and moisturizer before makeup be okay on the days I work?

    • Alana

      Hi, Leslie! On the days that you are going to work, it is vital to apply at least a moisturizer before your makeup. It would be ideal to cleanse, tone, and moisturize in the morning to maintain healthy skin. Hope this helps!

  • Leanne Koch

    Dear Alana, after all the steps of product my skin is sticky, does that mean I’m using to much product?

    • Alana

      Hi, Leanne! I would recommend using less product to start. I always use a pea-sized amount for eye cream and a nickel-sized amount for serums and moisturizers. If you’re still experiencing stickiness, it could just be the formula of one of your products.

  • rita

    hi thanks for the info but my question for you is will my acne treatment cream allow my serums to be absorbed properly into my skin… i dont spot treat i apply it all over my cheek and forehead i tend to get clogged congested pores that for deep down acne blackheads whatever you make call it your feedback will definitely be welcomed

    • Alana

      Hi, Rita! I would recommend applying the serum first, and THEN your acne cream for maximum benefits. Your skin is likely absorbing some of the serum, but not all. I hope this helps!

  • Esther

    Dear Alana,
    Thanks very much for always putting so much helpful information into your blog posts!
    I am learning so much reading them!
    In the PM how long do I need to apply my Retinol Serum before bed, so it absorbs and doesn’t just rub off on my pillow?

    Depending on how my skin is feeling, if I’m on the dry side I will apply a Moisturizer over the top of my Retinol Serum 🙂

    Thanks very much for your help!

    Love E xxo

    • Alana

      Hi Esther, thank you for the kind words! If your retinol is taking more than 30-60 seconds to soak into your skin, you may be using too much. Retinol is a very potent ingredient so you don’t need much.

  • Bri

    Thanks for the information! I was always kinda clueless about the order in which to apply each item to my face.

    However, I must say that the prices on those products ou listed are a bit (no, really) ridic. To Amazon/Walmart/Target I go! Imagine paying $80+ for ounces of liquid, lmao. Unless it’s going to give me my 1984 newborn skin back, I think I’ll pass.

    • Alana

      Hi, Bri! I’m happy to make other recommendations for you based on your price range 🙂 I always try to include a variety of products in my posts (i.e. my Pumpkin Cleanser is $32 – and a discount is offered to new customers). One of my skincare philosophies is that you get what you pay for (most of the time). If drugstore brands are working for you, though, that’s wonderful! I appreciate the feedback 🙂

  • Wanda Manuel

    I like the way you out lined all the steps to Skin Care. I like to see the cost of your products as you display the pictures you should also display the cost

Leave a Reply to Alana Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *