Order of Application: Step-By-Step Skin Routines

You probably have a counter full of skincare products, but are you getting the most out of them? Did you know there is a correct order of skincare? It’s true! The skincare product order is as important as the products you choose.

If you want more benefits from your products, keep reading to learn the skincare order of application to uplevel your skincare routine and improve skin health.

Order for Skincare Routine

Applying your skincare products in the correct order will improve their effectiveness. Each product has its unique consistency, concentrations, active ingredients, and specific use. The order in which you use them will enhance the penetration of ingredients into the skin. You may find you don’t need to use as much of some of your products when you follow the skincare steps order.

The correct skincare order is as follows:   

Step 1: Cleanser
Step 2: Toner
Step 3: Exfoliator, Mask, or Peel (Optional treatments 1-2 times per week)
Step 4: Spot treatment
Step 5: Antioxidant serum
Step 6: Eye cream
Step 7: Moisturizer

Let’s dive deeper into each step.

Start with a Cleanser & Toner

A quality skin cleanser and toner are the first products to use. Choose a cleanser for your skin type and follow with a skin toner to help restore the skin’s pH after cleansing.

Clears Debris, Dirt, & Makeup

Most skin cleansing products use surfactants (like soap) to remove dirt, oil, makeup, and other impurities on the skin’s surface. Fine-tuning the ingredients in a cleanser allows for a gentle cleanser that doesn’t interfere with the skin’s natural processes while still being very beneficial.

Surface & Deep Pore Cleaning

The cleaning action goes beyond the surface and helps clear pores for a deeper, penetrating cleanliness. Prioritizing cleansing and toning create the perfect surface for the next steps in your skincare routine.

The best skincare products for cleansing and toning are:

  • NassifMD® Purifying Glycolic Facial Cleanser – This cleanser uses glycolic acid to gently exfoliate, deeply clean pores, and remove dead skin cells to reveal smoother, radiant, and younger-looking skin. It’s an excellent cleanser for oily skin.
  • NassifMD® Dawn to Dusk AM + PM – This dual product cleanses and exfoliates to reveal clean pores, new skin cells, and fewer lines and wrinkles. It smooths skin to prepare it for the next skincare steps and is gentle enough to use twice daily.
  • NassifMD® Pure Hydration Facial Cleanser – This cleanser for dry skin, sensitive skin, or any skin type cleans effectively, balances the skin’s delicate pH, and hydrates without irritation. It contains nourishing botanicals, including matcha green tea.

Exfoliators, Masks, & Peels

After cleansing and toning, if you use a face exfoliator, face mask, or face peel, this is the next step in your skincare routine order.

Exfoliation involves using an exfoliating scrub or chemical exfoliator to remove dead skin cells and impurities from the skin. Suppose you are using a face cleanser that includes alpha hydroxy acids such as NassifMD® Purifying Glycolic Facial Cleanser or NassifMD® Dawn to Dusk AM + PM. In that case, you likely won’t need additional exfoliation on your face, but don’t forget a body exfoliator.

For more on exfoliating and how to exfoliate, read How to Find the Perfect Exfoliator for Your Skin Type.

This is also the stage in your skincare routine to use a peel-off face mask or chemical peel face mask.

Incorporate a Few Times Per Week

To start, Dr. Nassif suggests incorporating exfoliators, face masks, and peels a few times per week instead of every day. Notice how your skin responds and choose the frequency with the best results.

Recommended skincare products for this step include:

  • NassifMD® Micro-Spa Radiance Resurfacing Peel – This two-step process is inspired by treatments at Dr. Nassif’s medical spa. Step One is a Radiance Resurfacing Mask with vitamin C crystals to exfoliate and remove dead skin. Step Two is a Radiance Activating AHA/BHA Gel to purify pores and rejuvenate and repair the skin.
  • NassifMD® Overnight Illuminating Masque – This one-step product works overnight to exfoliate, even skin tone, fight free radical damage, and moisturize. Leave it on overnight and see the results in the morning!

Spot Treatment

After cleansing, toning, and optional exfoliation, the next step is spot treatment. Use an acne spot treatment for pimples or problem areas, an eczema spot treatment with eczema-prone skin, or targeted serums.

This is another optional step that you may only need some days, but when you do, this is where you add it to your routine.

Product recommendation:

  • NassifMD® Radiance Brightening Booster - This potent vitamin C serum is perfect to use on areas of hyperpigmentation, including age spots and sun damage. With 10% vitamin C, this serum promotes collagen production, antioxidant protection, and helps to even skin tone.

Antioxidant Serum

The next step in your skincare routing is applying skin serum, which is a step not to miss! Skin serums are lightweight formulas containing antioxidants to penetrate the skin and deliver concentrated active ingredients directly to skin cells. Antioxidants help protect skin cells from damage, reduce inflammation, nourish, heal, and hydrate.

Get all the details about antioxidant face serums in the article What are Face Serums and Do You Need to Add Them to Your Skincare Routine?

The most recommended, best antioxidant serums are:

  • NassifMD® Hydro-Screen Serum – This best-selling versatile antioxidant serum contains hyaluronic acid, retinol, and ceramides in synergy to hydrate, repair, and restore the skin. It helps diminish fine lines and improve firmness and elasticity for younger-looking skin.
  • NassifMD® Night Therapy Serum – This is our go-to serum to help reverse the signs of aging while you sleep. It contains fruit extracts, retinol, and vitamin C in a deeply, penetrating and highly effective synergistic formula.
  • NassifMD® Dermaflect Smart Day Serum – Just as Night Therapy Serum is designed for use overnight, Dermaflect Smart Day Serum is designed to protect and restore your skin during the day. It includes key antioxidants from vitamin C, vitamin E, and minerals, along with hyaluronic acid to hydrate and protect skin cells from sun and environmental damage.
  • NassifMD® Hydro-Gel Serum – This serum contains a retinol-bound hyaluronic acid complex (Hy-Retin) to improve the signs of aging, skin texture, and hydration. Just a few drops go a long way. Plus, it creates a beautiful canvas for makeup applications.

The best part about antioxidant serums for the face are that you don’t have to pick one. Layer your favorite serums for extra skin nourishment and hydration.  

Eye Cream Application

After applying your antioxidant serum (or serums!), apply eye cream around and under your eyes, where the skin is thinner and more prone to damage. The best eye creams contain antioxidants and deeply nourishing ingredients to even the skin tone and texture.

The best under-eye cream choices include:

  • NassifMD® Peri-Orbital Complex – Designed to combat the signs of aging, this eye cream tightens and firms the skin. It contains vitamin C, squalene, hyaluronic acid, and other synergistic ingredients to nourish the delicate under-eye skin.

Moisturizing Lotions & Creams

The final step in your skincare routine should be a moisturizing lotion or cream to lock in hydration and serum ingredients. Moisturizers create a barrier on the skin’s surface to prevent water loss and protect the skin. You may choose a thicker moisturizer in the winter or dry climates and a lightweight one in the summer.

Lock in Moisture & Balance Complexion

The final step in your skincare routine should be a moisturizing lotion or cream to lock in hydration and serum ingredients.

The best facial moisturizer choices include:

  • NassifMD® Pure Hydration Rejuvenating Night Cream – This is the best moisturizer for nighttime use to combat aging and improve skin moisture. It contains vitamin C, galactoarabanan (from the Larch tree), and other antioxidants to smooth the skin, improving lines and wrinkles. It’s oil-free and goes on like a dream.
  • NassifMD® Soft Focus Hydrating Day Cream – This lightweight daytime moisturizer boosts your natural radiance and youthfulness, while reducing the appearance of imperfections and pores. Ingredients include niacinamide, peptides, and plant extracts.
  • NassifMD® Skin Barrier Balm – This moisturizer was developed to soothe, hydrate, and repair the skin after medical spa treatments. Featuring niacinamide and plant extracts, use it at home for deeply moisturizing treatment or as your skin slugging

Put your favorite skincare products to use by following the best order of application practices. Use this template whenever you try new products or change up your routine. When applied in the correct order, you’ll get the most effective results for your skincare investment.



  1. Mijaljica, D., Spada, F., & Harrison, I. P. (2022). Skin Cleansing without or with Compromise: Soaps and Syndets.Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 27(6), 2010.
  2. Tang, S. C., & Yang, J. H. (2018). Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin.Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 23(4), 863.


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