What To Use First Serum Or Moisturizer – Everyone always wants to talk about skin care, and I get it. There are so many products out there that it’s easy to get confused about where to start. Basically, skin care is a revolving door of recommendations from friends, family and colleagues for me! Most of the products I currently use in my routine, I bought because someone told me “I have to try.”
So once you have a product, it’s a difficult sequence of applications. Serum or moisturizer first? What about eye cream? Where does sunscreen fit into the mix?!
- 1 What To Use First Serum Or Moisturizer
- 2 Which First? Serum, Moisturizer, Eye Cream, Or Facial Oil? The Right O
- 3 Should You Apply Moisturizer Or Facial Oil First?
What To Use First Serum Or Moisturizer
I’m breaking it all down for you and sharing a skincare application sequence that goes hand in hand with some of my current favorite products & tools.
Get The Most Out Of Your Skincare Routine: Layering And Alternating Products
PS – If you want to keep this little chart, you can print it here and put it in the bathroom! The science behind the skincare application sequence
What do you think, why is it even important? Because I totally am. But now that I know the science behind the skincare application sequence, it makes sense. Skin care products should be applied based on consistency: thinnest to thickest. We want a thinner product like a serum that’s packed with all the good ish to penetrate the skin, so it needs to be applied first. On the flip side, we want thicker products like moisturizers and oils to act as a barrier to lock in the rest of our skincare.
Not! And my skin is great. I try to follow my skin care routine as often as possible. But, realistically, there will be some mornings where I slap on moisturizer and go, and some nights I take off my makeup and hit the pillow. Ultimately, I think it’s important to prioritize your skin as best you can without feeling like you need a 20-step skincare routine morning and night to do it.
I like to keep it simple and clean when it comes to cleansers, and don’t like to do with too much fragrance. This Summer Friday Super Amino Gel Cleanser is my current pick.
Which First? Serum, Moisturizer, Eye Cream, Or Facial Oil? The Right O
I had previously strayed from toners because I had used some toners that were too drying. Toners have come a long way, and help balance the skin’s pH while acting as a serum delivery system. I’ve been using Fresh’s Rose Deep Hydration Toner for years which smells amazing (it’s actually fresh rose petals), keeps my skin nice and hydrated, and removes excess dirt and oil.
I also love Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Pore Tight Toner (smells like a watermelon margarita) which is great for hydrating and reducing the appearance of pores. I use this most days now, and apply it with a washable/reusable face pad.
Going back 5+ years ago, I would have never used any serums. What I have come to love about serums, however, is that you get to pick yours (what is the opposite of poison?), depending on the needs of the skin. Try the serum as a super-concentrated, nutrient-dense treatment for your skin.
As a rule, stick to a Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid) based serum in the AM. This type of serum helps prevent free radical damage (complex AF atoms that cause damage to skin cells) that occur throughout the day. Now I use Colleen Rothschild’s Vitamin C Serum every morning (give it a minute to absorb before the next step!).
Tone + Hydrate Trio
Rule of thumb: use serums that contain the keyword “antioxidant” in the AM and those that contain the keyword “anti-aging” in the PM. Use code DG20 for 20% off all Colleen Rothschild products! Step 4: Eye Cream
When it comes to eye creams, consistency is key. Regular use helps keep the skin around the eyes elastic, which can help improve fine lines or collagen loss. My main concern is dark circles and fine lines, and Colleen Rothschild’s Illuminating Tinted Eye Cream targets just that. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid, caffeine and peptides that are the perfect recipe for glowing skin. If you prefer to use a retinol-based eye cream or one that contains Vitamin C, try Colleen Rothschild’s Retinol Supreme Eye Serum.
Although technically a serum in name, Summer Fridays Dream Oasis Serum applies like a moisturizer. I like this in the AM especially because of how light it is.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about skin care in my 30s, it’s the importance of daily SPF. This is important: your sunscreen may or may not come before your moisturizer depending on whether it’s a chemical sunscreen or a physical sunscreen (read more about which is better for your skin type in this post).
Difference Between Toner And Serum & The Correct Skincare Order
Chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin, which then absorbs UV rays, converts them into heat and releases them from the body. Physical sunscreen, on the other hand, sits on top of the skin and reflects UV rays.
If you use a chemical sunscreen, apply it before your moisturizer so it can penetrate the skin and do its job. If you use it after a moisturizer, it will block its absorption.
If you use a physical sunscreen, apply it after your moisturizer so nothing sits on top and blocks it from doing its job. If you use it before moisturizer, you will create a layer between the sunscreen and the UV rays.
Hands down the most recommended face sunscreen (physical) is Elta MD’s Broad-Spectrum SPF 46. Tula’s Protect + Glow Sunscreen (chemical) is another fantastic option that will give you a nice glow without clogging the pores.
Should You Apply Moisturizer Or Facial Oil First?
You may never have heard of the “tech neck” wrinkle, but you probably have! Tech neck wrinkles are lines that form on the neck because of all the time we spend looking at our phones and laptops. My area is definitely the area I want to be in. I started using ItCosmetics’ Confidence in a Neck Cream regularly morning and night to complete my skin care routine and saw a difference in the depth of my fine lines.
Cleansing at night should be a two-step process. First, I remove my makeup with a cleansing balm that helps dissolve it, along with any surfaces from the day. I skeptically decided to try the ‘makeup melt’ balm for the first time, and haven’t looked back since. I worry about balms leaving a greasy residue on the skin, but Glow Recipe’s Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm has been a game-changer (hack: you can also use it as Gua Sha oil.
Remove makeup to reduce time!). It goes on like oil, and magically transforms as water hits, leaving no residue behind.
Second, I clean off all the excess dirt, oil and residual makeup that was loose and left behind after the first cleanse with Summer Fridays Super Amino Gel Cleanser.
The Ultimate Guide To Facial Serums
I use the same toner for AM & PM; Fresh’s Rose Deep Hydration Toner or Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Pore Tight Toner. I always feel that the toner is an extra step that removes the last dirt/makeup (
Night means business; time to break out your heavy-hitters. Your body does a lot of recovery overnight, so this is where you want to use targeted products based on your skin care needs. Try retinol, exfoliating treatments (glycolic acid, AHA/BHA pads) or hydrating serums. The goal here is to switch up. For example, I use Good Genes Lactic Acid by Sunday Riley 2-3 times per week. On days off, I usually use a hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid (sucks moisture into the skin, plumps + hydrates).
Also try: Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops, Colleen Rothschild’s Age Renewal Super Serum or Glycolic Acid Peel Pads with Blue Agave (code DG20 for 20% off) Step 5: Eye Cream
I like a slightly heavy eye cream at night so that it soaks in. Love how easy this Retinol Supreme Eye Serum is to apply. Have also heard good things about BeautyCounter’s Ultra Renewal eye cream and Glow Recipe’s Avocado Melt Retinol Eye Mask.
How To Layer Skin Care: 6 Hacks That Will Give You Better Skin
Some people prefer to use a more restorative moisturizer at night (aka night cream). I keep a few moisturizers on deck that I really like and I usually switch between Colleen Rothschild’s Extreme Recovery Cream (this product transforms my skin in the winter!) and Fresh’s Lotus Youth Preserve Night Cream. When I feel like my skin is more hydrated, I’ll skip this step and use Summer Fridays Dream Oasis Serum as a light moisturizer.
At night when I’m using treatments like lactic acid or glycolate that tend to dry out my skin, I’ll add a facial oil. This is definitely not a nightly step for me, but if I do use an oil, I always reach for Retinol Supreme Night Oil from Colleen Rothschild (20% off for DG20).
Note: I have normal/dry skin, and I never use facial oils as the last step in my skin care routine. Bonus Step: Lip Mask
I usually keep a lip mask by my bed and use it every night that I remember! Cult favorite Laniege’s Lip Sleeping Mask works
Here’s The Correct Skin Care Routine Order For Flawless Skin
Apply on the lips, because it can cause clogged pores if it sits on it
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