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Once And For All, This Is The Correct Order To Apply Your Skincare

Instead of just slapping on five creams — then washing your face because, seriously, that stuff is heavy — follow our lead.

Whether you prefer two steps or seven, we've cleared the fog on skincare routines...

Here's a scary thought: that expensive serum you splurge out on every few months might be pointless...and it's all your fault. 

Whether you have a 10-step regimen or simply wash your face with water, everyone can benefit from a little skincare 101, because the order in which you put on that expensive serum, your trusty facial oil, moisturiser, and even SPF can make them work in harder and as a result makes a significant difference to your skin.

If you're not following the correct order, it could be compromising the overall efficacy of your routine.

And why buy the most effective (often most expensive) products if you're not going to use them in the most effective (and cost-effective) manner?

It doesn't make any sense.

"The order you place your skincare products matters," says Susan Fox, owner of Eden Beauty Group.

I am always amazed that despite the rise of beauty bloggers, experts and information being thrown our way on a daily basis that the vast majority of people are still really confused about the basics of skincare ie. how and when to apply your products. 

Because I'm paranoid about wasting potent ingredients and subsequently a good amount of my paycheck due to incorrect application order, I asked Susan to spell it out for me.

Step one: CLEANSE

First things first - cleanse, always. 

"Even if you don't wear makeup and even if you cleansed last night you need to cleanse your face in the morning," says Susan. This makes sense, considering your skin can still produce oil and come in contact with environmental pollution at night. 

"To remove the dead skin cells and sebum that have built up through the night along with the makeup you likely missed the night before, cleansing in the morning and at night is an essential first step in any skincare routine. "

step two: exfoliate

Next up is an exfoliant.

"This will remove dead skin cells which will prevent products penetrating as deeply as they might."

The 'old school' way of thinking was to not exfoliate more than a few times a weekbut there are new types of exfoliant cleansers which can be used every day and eliminate the need to use both a cleanser and an exfoliating treatment separately. That said, if you're using a more intense exfoliant, go old-school and span it out to a once or twice a week.

Step three: Toner

Easily the most decisive skincare product to exist, toner is a product you either love to love or love to hate. 

"I personally don't bother with toner and really don't see the benefit of it for most skin types but if you feel you need it, now is the time to apply it" recommends Susan. 

Step four: serum

"Serum IS important," says Susan. 

"It contains far more active ingredients than other skincare products. It is usually a lighter texture as the molecules in serums are smaller to allow them to penetrate deeply into the skin. Most people think of serums are for anti-ageing but there are ones for hydrating, regulating sebum, detoxifying and more. To find the right one for your skin type and add it to your regime to see a big difference in your skin."

Top Tip: Apply your serum at night to allow it to work to its fullest as the skin regenerates at night. However, if the skin is very dry apply in the morning and at night for the first week to kick start the process. 


Some say eye creams are a myth, but chances are those people have more than likely been applying them wrong. 

"The eye area has the finest skin and is one of the first areas to age so apply eye cream religiously. Always apply to the eye socket on the bone and let the skin absorb what it needs. Remember, less is more.

"Applying too much eye cream floods the fine skin and actually causes puffiness as there is nowhere for the excess product to go," recommends Susan. 


"Allow your serum to soak in before you apply moisturiser," says Susan.

This is to ensure your skin stays balanced, hydrated, and plump. Look at moisturiser as another opportunity to treat your skin. 


Yes, even in Ireland. Yes, even in winter. Yes, even if you are in an office all day.

"Rays and sunshine are two very different things. Sun rays get through even the biggest, darkest and heaviest of clouds. They get through office windows, car windows and they damage your skin. 90% of ageing is caused by sun damage. So, if you don't want to look eighty when you are fifty, start wearing a minimum of SPF30 every day all year round, now," advises Susan.

That's it. That's the proper order for applying skincare products so they all work most effectively.

If your routine differs from the one outlined above or you don't use that many products, that's okay. Just remember the golden rule: thin products to thick.

Main image by @beautylookbook on Instagram

READ: A Guide To How Much Product You Should Be Applying

READ MORE: Dear Derm: Which Skincare Trends Are Just Fads?