Skincare Routine Order:
Your Morning and Night Guide

Beautiful, healthy-looking skin doesn't happen by chance, it happens by choice. Embracing a consistent skincare routine is key to unlocking your skin's natural radiance and maintaining its youthful glow. But where do you start?  With so many products targeting so many different concerns, adopting a daily routine can be overwhelming. Does serum come before moisturizer? When do you exfoliate? Do you use different products in the morning and at night? Let’s clear up the confusion and get your skin on its right regimen. Here’s everything you need to know to get started—and reap the routine rewards.

Why You Should Care About the Order of Skincare Products

It may seem like skincare routine order shouldn’t matter—it’s all being absorbed into your skin, right?

“It’s actually very important to apply your skincare in a specific order so you don't compromise the efficacy of your entire routine,” says Tyla Robinson, Global Product Development for Origins. As a general rule of thumb, after cleansing your skin, your skincare routine order should be thinnest to thickest. So, a watery-thin texture, like a toner, is applied before a richer and thicker texture—like an eye cream or moisturizer. If you stop and think about it, applying a more heavily textured moisturizer first could prevent thinner products—like serums or toners, from properly absorbing into skin.

Your AM Skincare Routine

Here at Origins, we recommend both a daytime and nighttime skincare routine. They vary ever-so-slightly, in the sense that your AM routine includes an SPF, and your nighttime includes makeup removal, along with a few other slight differences. Here’s an example of a step-by-step skincare routine to help kickstart your skin’s healthiest look every morning.

Step 1: Cleanse

Cleansing is the foundation of any good skincare routine. Use a gentle cleanser (suitable for your skin type) to refresh sleepy skin and remove any sweat, oil, or residual skincare products applied overnight.

How to Choose the Right Facial Cleanser for Your Skin Type

Understanding your specific skin type is essential for choosing the right cleanser. Is your skin normal, oily, dry, or combination? Is your skin sensitive? Different cleansers are formulated to address specific skin types and concerns, so identifying your skin type is the best way to narrow down your options. For example, cleansers formulated for dry skin are typically creamier, while those for oilier skin tend to have a gel foaming texture. If you're looking for an everyday face wash that's gentle, our Checks and Balances™ Frothy Face Wash is a good choice for all skin types. Our Checks and Balances™ line now has a great cleanser for drier skin, Checks and Balances™ Milky Oil Cleanser, that works double-duty to help remove makeup and cleanse the skin. If you’re still unsure of the right cleanser for your skin type, take our Skincare Quiz to help find the right cleanser for your skin type or concern.

Step 2: Treat

The next step is a toner—or a treatment lotion—formulated for your skin type. The purpose of this step is to help maintain a proper pH balance, hydrate, refresh, and prepare your skin for the serums and moisturizers that come next. “This step is great for soothing skin and getting it ready for the more concentrated ingredients that follow,” says Robinson.

Step 3: Serum

After toning, it’s time to apply your serum, which is often referred to as the “workhorse” of your skincare routine. Serums are typically light in weight, fluid in texture, fast-absorbing, and contain a higher concentration of active ingredients. They are often highly targeted to address specific skin concerns—like hydration, brightening, wrinkle-reduction, or uneven pigmentation. Choose your serum based on what concern you want to address. If you're unsure which serum is right for you (we know, it can be very overwhelming), a Vitamin C serum, like GinZing™ Into The Glow Brightening Serum is always a good choice. Vitamin C is not only a powerful antioxidant that protects your skin from environmental aggressors, but it also helps brighten the appearance of skin.

Step 4: Eye Cream

The next step in your morning skincare routine order is eye cream. Applying eye cream after your toner and serum allows the products typically thinner in consistency to absorb into the skin first, before applying an eye cream. “This maximizes the effectiveness of the potent and beneficial ingredients in all three products (toners, serums, and eye creams),” says Robinson.

Step 5: Moisturize

After you’ve applied your eye cream, the next step is moisturizer. Since you're getting ready to face the day, it’s wise to apply a moisturizer that hydrates. “Look for a moisturizer that’s compatible with your skin type and also protects skin from any pollution you encounter every day,” says Robinson.

Step 6: SPF

The last step in our morning skincare routine is sunscreen. The reason it’s the final step is because SPF is designed to form a protective layer on top of the skin. If you apply it before other products, like moisturizers or serums, you may inadvertently rub off the sunscreen

Why it's important to apply sunscreen every morning and throughout the day:

SPF is the best way to protect your skin against damaging UV rays. Even when you’re indoors, you’re still vulnerable to the effects of ultraviolet light. “UV rays can penetrate glass—so if you work near a window or are driving in a car, your skin is exposed,” says Robinson.  Just another reason it’s important to slather on sunscreen—or a moisturizer with SPF—every morning and reapply periodically throughout the day.

Your PM Routine

Your nighttime routine is also super important: First, you want to remove all the makeup, dirt, oil, and pollutants that have accumulated on your skin throughout the day. Second, your skin is in repair mode at night, which makes it the best time to apply targeted treatments. Here’s the step-by-step skincare routine order to follow at night to help your skin look refreshed the next morning.

Step 1: Remove Makeup

No matter how tired you are, removing your makeup before bed is one of the most important nightly skincare steps. Day-old makeup can make skin appear dull and cause pores to look more noticeable. A gentle makeup remover or cleansing oil are great products to prep your skin for the next step in your nighttime skincare routine.

Step 2: Cleanse

After removing your makeup, washing your face with a gentle cleanser helps ensure skin is cleansed of dirt, oil, pollutants, and other impurities (and any residual makeup the remover may have missed).

Step 3: Exfoliate

Another important step in your nighttime skincare routine order is exfoliation. Exfoliation can help soften skin texture, enhance radiance, and remove dead skin cells, prepping skin for better absorption of your treatment products. How often you exfoliate depends on several factors, including skin sensitivity and type. Up to two times a week using a gentle face scrub cleanser—like our GinZing™ Refreshing Scrub Cleanser— is typically recommended.

Step 4: Treat

This next step is where you can tailor your bedtime routine to your specific concerns. Whether you’re looking to smooth the look of lines and wrinkles with Plantscription™ Multi-Powered Youth Serum or help boost radiance with GinZing™ Into the Glow Brightening Serum, choose a serum or treatment product based on which skin concern you want to target.

Step 5: Eye Cream

Up next in your nighttime skincare routine is eye cream. Like your morning routine, applying it as a later step, will allow for any treatments or serums you use beforehand to be absorbed into the skin as intended. You can use the same eye cream that you apply in the morning or find one specifically targeted toward nighttime or a specific under-eye concern, like fine lines or brightening dark circles.

Step 6: Moisturize

The final step in your nighttime skincare routine is moisturizer. Nighttime formulas are typically heavier - like High-Potency Night-A-Mins™ Resurfacing Cream and can -have a higher active ingredient concentration than your morning moisturizer. Much like serum, they tend to target specific concerns. Look for a moisturizer that suits your skin type and has ingredients that specifically address your skin concerns—like Retinol for fine lines and wrinkles.

The Last Word on Your Skincare Routine

While practicing a consistent skincare routine is the first step to a healthy-looking complexion, following a step-by-step skincare routine can help make the products you use more effective. How you layer your products is essential to the absorption and effectiveness of each one. Applying skincare in the correct order allows each treatment to penetrate skin properly and work together to effectively address your skincare needs and concerns.

Starting a skincare routine from scratch (or updating your current one) can be overwhelming, our skincare quiz is a great place to start! In just a few questions, we will help you find the best routine for your skin, or explore our ready-made regimens and skincare sets to target specific skin concerns and help you reach your skincare goals.