In What Order Should You Apply Your Skincare Routine?

Your guide to mastering the art of layering

By Alexander Johnston | 7 months ago

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Whether you follow three steps or 12, your skincare routine is sacred. But when it comes to layering products in the right order, we can easily find ourselves put off by the number of creams, serums and oils on the shelf. What is the most effective way to apply our products? We chat to Alexander Johnston, General Manager of John Bell & Croyden, who provides a step-by-step guide on how to order your skincare routine at home.

In What Order Should You Apply Your Skincare Routine?

There is nothing more exciting than discovering new skincare products, selecting the ones that speak to you and getting them home to try them out. It is fair to say that for most skin enthusiasts, the ritual of applying your skincare routine is the best part of the day, but with so many amazing products out there to choose from you can end up overloading your skin with product, reducing the efficacy of your chosen products and leaving your complexion shiny and tacky to the touch.

But before you despair, know that there is an art to layering your products for maximum efficacy and glowing skin. And lucky for you, we’ve laid out the ideal order you should apply your skincare routine below:

Step 1: Cleanse

We’ve heard it a thousand times, but it is absolutely true: good skin starts with a good cleanser. In the morning, use a gentle foaming wash or an oil-based cleanser that emulsifies with water to a milky texture. Apply your cleanser to dry skin and then massage with wet fingers to work up a gentle lather. Always remove your cleanser with a linen cloth or soft flannel to add an extra gentle exfoliation that ensures the skin is left perfectly clean.

It is best to avoid scrubs and peeling cleansers in the morning, as it can leave your skin sensitive to environmental aggressors. These products are best used at night-time, in conjunction with a richer moisturiser or overnight treatment.

Step 2: Hydrate

With your face clean and prepped, now is the time to apply a hydrating serum all over your face and neck. Hydration is key to minimising the signs of aging and keeping the skin cells healthy.

Woman rubbing cream on face while wearing hair towel and white robe

(c) Sora Shimazaki, Pexels

Step 3: Eye Contour

The skin around your eyes is delicate, full of blood capillaries and up to 10 times thinner than the rest of the skin on your face, so it needs special care and attention. It is important to use eye-specific products and to apply them with a delicate touch to avoid causing irritation.

One of the issues commonly noticed around this area is dark circles. These can be a sign of fatigue or stress, but they can also be a sign of dehydration, so making sure you’re using products with hydration properties is a good place to start when thinking about the right one to use.

Step 4: Brighten & Protect

Your skin is exposed to a lot on a day-to-day basis, from pollution in the environment (free radicals) and harmful UVA and UVB rays from the sun (in both summer and winter) to changes in air temperature and humidity. These factors can cause skin to appear dull and sallow, as well as dark spots or hyperpigmentation occurring on the skin.

This damage can be prevented and, to some extent, corrected by the regular use of an antioxidant cream or serum. These work to protect your skin from free radicals and actively promote cell renewal to brighten skin, fade dark spots and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Vitamins C and E are the most common antioxidant ingredients, so look for a combination of the two for maximum protection and brightening effect.

Step 4 Alternative: Nighttime Active Serum

At night, replace the antioxidant step with an active product such as retinol or glycolic acid. These are best used overnight as they work to resurface the skin’s surface and stimulate cell renewal (these are processes that can leave your skin more vulnerable to environmental aggressors during the day).

Woman sleeping

(c) Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Step 5: Moisturise

The next step is to lock-in moisture and give the protective layer of your skin a boost. Use a lighter cream for the day to avoid overloading your skin. A richer cream could be used at night time, as will absorb slowly as you sleep.

When choosing the right moisturiser for you, think about your skin type; if you skin is dry or flaky, look for a cream packed with vitamin E, ceramides and peptides. If you have oily skin, choose a moisturiser that is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t block your pores.

Step 6: Sunscreen

We all need to wear sunscreen every day, regardless of the season. Even during the darker months, UVA and UVB are still going to damage and prematurely age your skin. Ensure that you day routine always finishes with the application of your SPF!

Look for a minimum of SPF20 for everyday use, but you may want to increase the protection factor during the summer months or when travelling to warmer climes.

Products To Get You Started

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White pump bottle with clear lid



Foaming Cleanser, £42, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

The first step in your skincare routine is a good cleanser. Biotell’s foaming cleaner is light, refreshing and leaves your skin balanced and primed for the application of your serums and creams.

Black tub with black lid


Nourishing Cleansing Balm, £52, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

Wildsmith’s cleansing balm is also a great way to start the day. It has a really rich texture that transforms into a milky emulsion for a very satisfying clean.

Clear tub with pink cream inside and silver lid


Illuminating Micro Exfoliating Mask, £25, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

For your night-time cleanse, VerdiLab’s Illuminating Micro Exfoliating mask has it all. Powered by botanical enzymes, this scrub soothes, balances and encourages cell renewal in one simple step.

Clear bottle with green liquid inside and silver cap



Moisturizing Renewal Hydrogel Targeted 4D Hydration Serum, £185, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

Cult American skincare brand ReVive have developed a hydrating serum that harnesses the power of four types of hyaluronic acid to intensely moisturise and nourish the skin, along with their signature bio-renewal peptide that actively renews the skin, giving your complexion a freshness and glow.

Brown bottle with black lid and pink label

Skin Design London

Hydrating Serum, £135, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

Skin Design’s Hydrating Serum takes this to the next level with both high and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid that gives incredible surface hydration as well as deeper penetration to really flood the cells with moisture.

White box with blue sleeve

Derm Institute

Anti-Oxidant Hydration Gel Masque, £125, spacenk.com

For very dry skin or just to give your complexion a boost, Derm Institute’s Anti-Oxidant Hydration Gel Masque is the product for you. This is a non-rinse masque, so you simply apply it, wait a few minutes, and then massage it into your skin. The effects are instant. Skin feels calmer, feels hydrated and tone looks more even and cool. It also contains powerful anti-oxidants that will help protect your skin from environmental damage to help preserve the microbiome. It really is all that.


The Hydration Concentrate, £125, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

If your skin is chronically dry and patchy, consider a hydration programme. 111Skin’s Hydration Concentrate are both seven-day programmes that deliver amazing results. Just one ampule a day applied to the skin and, by day seven, your complexion is renewed, hydrated and calmed. These are best used as a part of your evening routine for maximum effect and you’ll see what a difference a week can make!

Black tub with gold band and text

Eye Contour

Derm Institute

Youth Alchemy Eye Cream, £255, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

Derm Institute’s Youth Alchemy Eye Cream has a super light texture that is very easily and quickly absorbed. Skin appears renewed, smoothed and brightened.

Red and orange bottle with silver cap


Ulitimate Lightening Vitamin C Eye Elixir, £80, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

To banish those dark under eye circles, VerdiLab’s Ultimate Lightening Vitamin C eye elixir is the perfect choice. This wonderfully light serum gives an immediate lift to the skin and protects throughout the day.

Blue bottle

Brighten & Protect


Protect Elixir, £110, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

Decree’s Protect Elixir is a powerhouse serum that is packed full of vitamins C, E, B3, B5 and hyaluronic acid. This serum is so well formulated that it packs an incredible punch whilst being gentle enough on the skin to use on the eye contour and lips, as well as the face and neck.

White serum bottle


Vitamin C Serum, £68, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

Biotell’s Vitamin C serum is simplicity personified with just 4 ingredients; Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, Purslane Extract and Calendula Flower Extract.

Yellow and orange serum tube

Nighttime Active Serum


Retinol Serum, £35, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

BeautyLab’s Retinol Serum is a very potent, yet very affordable treatment. Retinol is buffered with niacinamides (b3), vitamin E and ceramides to protect the skin from irritation, whilst actively working to renew skin cells.

Silver tub


Flawless Complexion Skin Perfecting Mask, £93, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

The Flawless Complexion Skin Perfecting Mask from Swiss brand VerdiLab is an incredible overnight treatment. It smells divine and you wake up with renewed and refined skin, with pores minimised and vitality restored.

Blue tube of skin cream



Peptide Emollient Veil, £115, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

Decree’s Peptide Emollient Veil offers a day and night solution in one product. With ingredients like hyaluronic acid, resveratrol and over a 10 percent concentration of peptides, this moisturiser will protect, hydrate and re-plump the skin. As with all Decree products, it is designed to enhance the performance of other serums through its incredible formulation.

Clear glass tub with silver lid


Daily Moisture, £77, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

SkinCeuticals’ Daily Moisturiser will lightly hydrate and protect the skin without blocking pores or causing breakouts.

Black and brown glass tub with white label

Skin Design London

Sleeping Beauty, £120, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

For the ultimate night time hydration, Skin Design London’s Sleeping Beauty crème will soothe, restore and repair your skin, as well as giving it a plumping boost. Perfect if your skin has become irritated or fatigued.

Blue bottle of sunscreen



Day Shield SPF30, £75, johnbellcroyden.co.uk

The last step in any skincare routine is sunscreen. Decree’s Day Shield is an SPF30 mist with added antioxidant protection. It is completely invisible once applied, so it is perfect for adults and children – and super easy to apply.

White tube of spf


Actinic Control MD SPF 100, £27, lookfantastic.com

If your skin is prone to sunburn, Eucerin have recently launched a SPF100 fluid that is incredibly light and easily absorbed into the skin, whilst offering unrivalled protection from the sun.

Featured image: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels