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Uncomplicating Skincare: How to Layer Your Skincare Products

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase a product through these links, I may earn a small commision (at no extra cost to you). I only recommend products I have personally tried and love, and will always be upfront if I didn’t like a product. I use these funds to support my bubble tea addiction.


I asked some of you on Instagram what your biggest frustration is when it comes to building a skincare routine and about 80% of the responses said: “What is the best order to layer my skincare products?”

In fact, I have friends that have given up on certain products because they just can’t figure out when to incorporate it into their routine. And, honestly, I get it. There’s so much information out there on how or when and if you should use a product and it’s overwhelming.

My unpopular opinion? Stop worrying about it! Sort of.

Is there a right way to layer your skincare products? Sure. There are general rules that are said to make your skincare routine most effective. But skincare isn’t one-size-fits-all, so those rules can have exceptions based on your skin’s needs.

I’m not suggesting that order doesn’t matter, but I’m tired of seeing people give up on their routines because they’re discouraged by all of the “rules” when it comes to routine order. My advice is to start basic, focus on finding products that work for your skin, and then worry about tweaking the order as you go. It will make the process a million times less stressful!

This post is meant for those of you that are just getting started on building your routine. So instead of giving you hard and fast rules to stick by, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind to figure out the best skincare order.

Tip 1: Start with a Clean Slate!

The first thing you want to do before applying any other products is to wash any makeup and dirt off your face. Makes sense so far, right?

If you wear makeup, be sure to use a makeup remover or oil-cleanser before using your gentle cleanser. My favorite makeup remover is Garnier’s Micellar Cleansing Water.

Here are some of my favorite gentle cleansers:

Tip 2: Thinnest to Thickest Rule

Ok, now your face is clean, and you’re ready to go! The best rule of thumb when applying your skincare routine is to apply it in order of thinnest to thickest (or liquid to oil) to allow the product to penetrate more easily into your skin.

Tip 3: Sunscreen Should Always be Last

This one is not a guideline, but an absolute rule! Sunscreen needs to be applied every single day, and it should always be the last step in your morning routine because anything you apply over it can reduce its effectiveness.

Morning skincare routine. Kbauty asian skincare Innisfree Soothing Hydrating serum. Drunk Elephant B-Hydra vitamin C C-tango. Cosrx aloe soothing sun cream sunscreen.

Here are some of my favorite face sunscreens!:

Tip 4: Start Small

Start with a very basic routine and slowly add additional products over time. This will give you time to figure out how to fit each product into your routine. As a bonus, it’s great to get into the habit of introducing new products one by one because it gives you time to tell whether a product is working for you.

Not sure how to start small? Here’s a 5-product beginner routine guideline to start with:

Levitate beauty What is the best order to layer my skincare products? How do I layer my skincare routine? Best order for skincare routine. Beginner skincare routine. Morning skincare routine. Night skincare routine.

Tip 5: Split up your routine!

By no means do you need to apply all of your products every single day. If you have a lot of skin concerns, your routine could include many products which can make routine order a little more complicated. Make it easier on yourself by alternating some of your products throughout the week.

Tip 6: AHAs and BHAs

Speaking of alternating products, let’s touch on AHAs or BHAs. So many of you asked about acid order on my Instagram this week. First things first, these are excellent products to exfoliate gently but are often too harsh to be used every day. Try to start out using them only 2 or 3 times a week to avoid over-exfoliating. And never apply them to wet skin. Ouch!

As far as routine order, this is one of the products that has rules and exceptions. I personally use my acids after my calming rosewater toner and before serums. However, if your skin is more sensitive, you might benefit from using your acids last, after moisturizer. You’ll still receive some of the exfoliating benefits, but the moisturizer will act as a barrier and can make acids less intense.

Krave Beauty Kale-Lalu-Yaha Glycolic Acid Toner

Quick note: After applying acids, some people recommend having a “wait time” of 15-20 minutes before returning to the rest of your routine. Generally, I feel that wait times come down to personal preference. But that’s a whole other thing that I’ll get into another time!

How do I apply my skincare routine?

I hope these tips were helpful and can relieve you of some stress when it comes to building your skincare routine.

I’m going to leave you with a list of how I prefer to apply my products because sometimes it’s helpful to see how other people apply their routine before building your own!

Levitate beauty What is the best order to layer my skincare products? How do I layer my skincare routine? Best order for skincare routine. Advanced skincare routine. Morning skincare routine. Night skincare routine.

Keep in mind that my routine order may differ slightly from someone else’s. For example, some people use their exfoliating toners right after cleansing. I prefer to use a hydrating toner on my damp skin right after cleansing, and then I follow up with my exfoliating toners.

Talk to me in the comments! What is (or was) the most confusing or frustrating part about building your skincare routine?


Follow me on Instagram @Levitate.Beauty for your daily dose of skincare tips and mini reviews!


2 comments on “Uncomplicating Skincare: How to Layer Your Skincare Products”

  1. nowthatsthrifty
    July 20, 2024 at 6:22 pm

    Love your tips! I definitely agree that your skincare routine differs based on your specific skin issues. I have found that if I wash my face in the morning with water or a cleanser, it produces too much oil throughout the day. When I use the micellar water instead, it looks a lot better throughout the day! I love the Garnier micellar water too!

    1. Becca Velez
      July 20, 2024 at 11:50 pm

      Absolutely! There are always helpful guidelines to follow, but everyone’s skin is different and at the end of the day you know your skin better than anyone!

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