Something still quite some people ask me about is in which order they should use their skincare.

Well, here is a quick post about skincare layering 🙂

Side note: if your skin is happy with the products you are using, don’t feel obliged to add more products! It is not always “the more, the better” in skincare!


The first rule of layering: always start with the thinner, more liquid texture and work your way towards thicker products.


Why is that? Because the thinner the texture, the smaller the molecules, the easier it absorbs in your skin. Also, the deeper it absorbs into your skin. The thinner products such as toner, essence, serums are meant to work in a deeper level while creams, balms and oils often don’t absorb into your skin that fast and meant to protect and strengthen the upper epidermal layers.

1. Cleanse/double cleanse

That is definitely a no brainer! However, if your skin is very dry or often gets irritated, try not to cleanse your skin in the morning. Just use a little water and then toner. Otherwise you can actually over cleanse and strip your skin off of the needed oils!

Also, double cleansing with oil cleanser + gel or cream cleanser in the evening is really great if you are wearing makeup!

1.b. Wash-off masks

If you are having a home-spa day or just really need some pick-me-up treatment and decide to go for a wash off mask, this is the best time to use it. Since you wash it off, it is the best not to use any product before.

2. Toner

I think both in the morning and the in evening it is a good habit to use toners. They are great multi-tasking products and there are a lot of different types. My suggestion is to always use a treatment toner (aka with AHA/BHA or other more active ingredients that suits to your skin’s needs) in the evening and a hydrating/antioxidant toner (e.g. with hyaluronic acid or vitamin C) in the morning.

3. Essence/serum/ampule

I like to group these together since the only difference is the concentration of the actives in there. Essence is usually lighter and more hydrating while serum is more concentrated and ampules are usually very concentrated.

3.b. Sheet masks

If you want to incorporate sheet mask in your routine, the best to use it after toners and serums. Or what most people do, instead of toners and serums! Since sheet masks are basically soaked in essence, it gives you the same effect as the above products.

4. Eye cream

Never forget about your eye area! Best to add your eye cream just after serums.

5. Creams/SPF

Again, many people love to separate them and use two different products. In the evening you obviously don’t need SPF. But for the day it should be a must for everyone.

If you ever tried Korean or Japanese sunscreens that are specifically designed for the face, you will never go back to any European or US brand! Also, they are usually formulated with really good basic ingredients, botanical extracts and often specifically targeted for certain skin types. Like that you don’t really need two separated products 🙂 I actually have the tendency to add even a little foundation (shoutout for The Ordinary Serum Foundation) to my SPF, mix it and then put it on. 3-in-one!

If you have dry skin, or irritated, damaged skin, a good moisturizer with ceramide, shea butter or some Centella Asiatica can really help you out.

6. Oils / sleeping masks

A facial oil should be the last step in your skin care routine, since it tends to “sit on your skin” and not penetrate it fast. Also, if you want to add some extra hydration with a sleeping mask, it should be the very last step in your evening routine. Similarly to facial oils, they are designed not to sink into your skin that fast.

My current layering routine

Here is my current layering routine for autumn/winter (combination skin with very oily T-zone/blackheads and rather sensitive cheek areas)

    • DHC Deep Cleansing Oil to remove makeup in the evening
    • HEIMISH All Clean Green Foam (gentle, non-drying)
    • THAYERS Witch Hazel Facial Toner with Cucumber (nice, lightly exfoliating but not too much and can be use in the morning too)
    • PYUNKANG YUL Essence Toner (my ride or die for a couple of weeks now, best hydrating essence ever! I add usually multiple layers both in the evening and in the morning)
    • SOME BY MI Galactomyces Pure Vitamin C Glow Serum in the morning (great antioxidant serum, gives you a glass-like skin)
    • SOME BY MI Truecica Mineral 100 Calming Sunscreen in the morning and COSRX Low pH BHA Overnight Mask in the evening

I don’t really use facial oils right now, since it would neutralize the BHA’s effect. If I am feeling really dry – rarely happens – I usually go for one of Bottega Organica’s Facial Oils.

If you have questions about layering your skincare or designing your skincare routine, just ask it in the comment section below!


Founder of The SKIN Stories and the indie-beauty shop, The Curated SKIN.

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