Skincare Steps in Order
Assuming you are using the correct products for your Baumann Skin Type, the correct skin care routine order will make every product work better. It matters a lot which products go first. For example, Vitamin C serums do not absorb well so they often need to be step 2 after cleansing in your routine. Whether you want a simple 3 step routine, a basic 5 step routine, or an advanced 10 step routine- the order of products is important.
This blog explains the order of skin care routine steps that I recommend to my patients in my dermatology practice to use in their morning and night skin care routine.
Best skincare routine step order for your skin type
The order that you use skin care products affects how well they work.
The steps in your morning skin care routine should protect your skin while the night skin care routine should repair skin damage.
The correct skin care routine step order depends upon which of the 16 Baumann Skin Types you are.
This skin care routine blog will give you step-by-step skin care regimen instructions to build a skin care routine. However, you need to know your Baumann Skin Type to get the best skin care routine order for your skin type.
Once you take the skin care routine quiz and learn your Baumann Skin Type:
- We will give you the exact skin care routine steps for your skin type.
- You will know how to layer products
- You will be able to build a skin care routine step by step from many brands.
- You can shop by your skin type
- You can read reviews from others with the same skin type
- You will be confident that the skin care products you choose are in the correct skin care routine step order.
You are 3-5 minutes away from seeing which one of 40,000 dermatologist-developed skin care routines is right for you!
5 step skin care routine
Routine for skin types with more than one skin problem need more steps.
A full skin care regimen is 5 steps in the morning and 5 steps in the evening for more complicated skin types.
These 10 steps a day will give you the fastest results.
Not all skin types need all 10 of these skin care regimen steps.
Skin types with fewer skin concerns can do a basic routine of 3 steps in the am and 3 at night.
How many steps you need in your routine depends upon how many underlying barriers to skin health you have.
Our skin type quiz will tell you which barriers to skin health you have and allow you to build a skin care routine step by step to target your skin issues.
Morning Routine Skin Care Routine Steps
If you want a full skin care routine for the fastest, here are the best am skin care regimen steps:
- Cleanser: A cleanser should be used first to prepare the skin and promote penetration
- Eye Cream or Serum: An eye cream or serum protects the delicate eye skin from the treatment product
- Treatment: The treatment product goes on clean skin to maximize penetration and absorption of the active ingredients.
- Moisturizer: A moisturizer goes on top to increase penetration of the treatment product. Needs to contain ingredients that protect the skin from issues identified by the skin care product quiz.
- Sunscreen: The SPF goes on top closest to the sun, to protect the skin and the skin care products from UV radiation and light.
In most of our custom skin type routines, low pH cleansers such as hydroxyacids cleansers and salicylic acid cleansers are used in the morning. They may be too strong to use twice a day so a different cleanser may be used at night. Lowering the pH of the skin with these cleansers makes some ingredients like Vitamin C penetrate better into the skin.
Night Skin Care Routine Steps
If you want a full skin care routine for the fastest results, here are the best pm skin care regimen steps:
- Cleanser: Use a stronger cleanser than in the morning to remove makeup, SPF, oil and dirt
- Eye Cream: Medications, retinoids and other ingredients that irritate the eye arrow can get on the pillowcase. Protect this delicate skin at night with an eye cream
- Treatment: Serums with concentrated ingredients go in this layer to increase absorption
- Moisturizer: A moisturizer goes on top to cause occlusion which increases absorption by slugging the important cosmeceutical ingredients into the skin.
- Retinoid: When beginning a new skin care routine, retinol and other retinoids should come after the moisturizer.
The cleansers used at night should have increased cleansing abilities to remove makeup, oil, sunscreen and sweat and to prevent clogged pores.
Cleansers may be too strong to use twice a day so many skin care routines have a different am and pm face wash.
Use an eye cream to protect your delicate eye area from any products that follow. Skin care products get on your pillowcase at night and can irritate the eye area- especially acne and antiaging skin care products.
After the eye cream, apply the treatment product which is usually the most expensive of your skin care products or may be a prescription medication.
On top of the treatment products, apply a moisturizer. In many cases you will apply a retinoid on top of your moisturizer. Use our skincare guide to know when to apply retinol in your skin care routine.
Simple Skin Care Routine
Looking for a basic 3 step skin care routine that is simple and easy but covers all the basics?
The 3 most important parts of your routine are
The products you choose should protect in the morning and repair at night.
Simple morning routine steps:
- Cleanser: A cleanser should be used first to prepare the skin and promote penetration.
- Moisturizer: A moisturizer hydrates and protects
- Sunscreen: Use a SPF of at least 15 in the am
Simple night routine steps:
- Cleanser: Always cleanse at night to prevent clog pores.
- Moisturizer: Choose a moisturizer that repairs damage
- Retinoid: Most skin types need a retinoid to slow aging, even skin pigmentation, and prevent acne
These simple starter routines are affordable but do not work as quickly as a full 10 step regimen.
What is the correct order of skin care routine steps?
The correct step order depends upon your Baumann Skin Type,
For most skin types, these are the rules on product order:
- Always cleanse at night. Morning cleansing depends on skin type
- toners and essences go on clean skin after cleansing
- serums go after toners
- Retinol goes after moisturizers when beginning a retinoid
- Retinol goes before a moisturizer once you are acclimated to the retinoid
- Sunscreens go last in the morning routine
Questions about what comes before and after in skin care routine steps? See these skin care routine blogs or search our cosmeceutical ingredient library by skin care ingredient:
Once you know your Baumann Skin Type, we can give you a custom step-by step skin care routine
Skin Care Routine Steps for Men
The skin care routine for men is slightly different than a woman's because of shaving.
If you do not shave your face, you can follow the same 10 skin care routine steps discussed above.
A good male skin care routine is:
- Wash face with a face wash using warm water
- Leave face wash on skin to soften your beard while you wash and condition your hair
- Wash off any hair conditioner and face wash with warm water
- Shave using either a shaving cream of a face cleanser made to shave with like Zerafite Creamy Cleanser and Shave Cream
- Rinse off and pat dry
- Apply any toner or serum your skin type needs
- Apply moisturizer
- In morning, apply SPF. At night apply retinol if right for your skin type
To find out what products are right for you, shop by your Baumann Skin Type.
When Should I Apply My Sunscreen in the AM Routine?
Sunscreen is always the last product applied in the am.
Sunscreen is applied on top of your moisturizer. You can use sunscreen instead of a moisturizer if you are an oily skin type.
If you choose to wear a facial make up foundation, apply it after your sunscreen.
When Do I Apply A Facial Primer for Oily Skin In My Skin Care Routine?
You only need a facial primer if you have very oily skin. If you have very oily skin and your makeup foundation streaks- we recommend omitting the moisturizer (step 4) in your skin care routine. Wash your face, apply the eye cream to the eye area, then apply the step 3 treatment product found in your skin care regimen. After the step 3 treatment product, apply your facial primer. Cover with sunscreen and facial foundation. We recommend that you consider using a tinted sunscreen as your facial foundation. This will give you fewer steps and help prevent streaking of makeup.
The best way to layer skin care products in your skin care regimen is complicated- especially if you want to mix different skin care brands in your skin care regimen.
The best skin care layering technique depends upon many things including which types of products you have in your skin care routine.
How to layer skin care products can be confusing and which products come before and after depends on the ingredients in the products.
Best Skin Care Routine Advice From A Dermatologist
I am a dermatologist who specializes in skincare- so no worries. I am here to help!
I test products from different skin care brands by layering skin care products on the skin and following outcomes. I use this information to customize skin care routines for each Baumann Skin Type.
Get started by finding your Baumann Skin Type and I will give you a list of the best products to use in each regimen step.
Why Skin Care Routine Order Matters
The order to layer your serums, creams and lotions depends upon which Baumann Skin Type you are.
One of the important things that I think about when I customize and personalize a skin care regimen for my patients is the circadian rhythm of the skin cells.
This daily skin rhythm affects the cell cycle and determines what skin care products should be used in the am and which skin care products should be used at night. (1)
Repair processes are active at night.
Your Baumann Skin Type determines which skincare ingredients are best to protect your skin in the day and which repair processes to target at night.
Dermatologist Advice on the Best Skin Care Routine Order
Below I discuss some factors that I consider when I design a skin care routine for my patients. Please understand that this is just scratching the surface of the science that dermatologists consider when developing skin care routines.
Most skin care routines focus on one skin issue only such as dryness or acne. However, the best skin care routines target all of the skin's issues. This is where deciding on skin care regimen steps becomes complex.
Things to consider when designing the skin care routine order of skin care products:
Consider how products combine and react with each other when designing a skin care routine
When two products are layered on top of each other- they combine on the skin. This causes chemical reactions that change the way the products perform.
The steps of the skin care regimen need to be carefully chosen with this in mind.
The more ingredients that are used- the more likely it is for the ingredients to adversely affect each other. This decreases effectiveness and increases side effects.
This is why you need an expert like me or one of the medical providers and doctors I have trained to help you design your skin care routine!
Once you take the quiz we will tell you the exact skin care regimen step order and you can shop by your skin type.
Products interact on the skin so product order is important
2 products that are placed on the skin together will act differently than if they are used alone.
Just like layers of paint combine to change color- the products skin care routine combine, have chemical reactions, and their activity changes.
This is why skin care product step order is so important!
What to Consider When Building a Skin Care Routine
The order of skin care routine steps is determined by a number of factors. These factors differ by skin type.
These are the issues to consider when building a skin care routine:
- How the products affect penetration of skin care ingredients
- How the products affect the skin pH
- Which fatty acids are in the products?
- Which ingredients inactivate other ingredients
- What ingredients mix with others to turn into irritating ingredients
Learn more about What Comes First in Skin Care Regimens
Here are some blogs that discuss specific products- click on the link for more information.
- Baumann L. Ch. 35 Skincare Regimen Design in Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology 3rd Edition (McGraw Hill 2022)