How to Layer Your Skincare Correctly for Your Morning and Night Routine

How to Layer Your Skincare Correctly for Your Morning and Night Routine

When it comes to your skincare routine, order matters. If you have multiple steps to your regimen, it’s important to layer your products properly to maximize effectiveness and help deliver the results you want. The last thing you want is to reduce a serum’s efficacy by applying it in the incorrect sequence. 

Follow this guide to make the most of your anti-aging skincare regimen and ensure you’re ordering your products properly in both your morning and nighttime routines.

What is the Correct Order to Apply Skin Care?

Depending on your needs and goals, the products you use in your regimen will vary, but the basic order should be: cleanser, serums, retinol (PM only), moisturizer, and sunscreen (AM only). Your day and night skincare routine will typically differ thanks to your skin’s changing needs and the appropriateness of products for sunlight and sleep.

Morning Skincare Routine

Throughout the day, your skin is exposed to UV rays, blue lights, pollution, dirt, grime, and more. Your morning routine should refresh your skin while helping to protect it from the day ahead.

Step 1: Cleanse 

Washing your face and neck first thing in the morning with a daily facial cleanser can clear away oil and grime that accumulates while you sleep. This step also helps prepare your skin to absorb the beneficial ingredients in your skincare regimen. Use a cleanser that meets your skin’s unique needs. 

Our self-foaming Gentle Cleanser helps to remove impurities while calming the skin. As Dr. Morgan Rabach, MD, says, "[Alastin's Gentle Cleanser] is packed with antioxidants, so it makes me feel like I'm giving my skin a smoothie in the morning."  Those with dry, sensitive, or post-procedure skin should consider a creamy, hydrating cleanser like Ultra Calm Cleansing Cream that cleans while helping to reduce potential irritation.

Step 2: Serums

Next, you want to apply formulations that deliver targeted benefits to help improve the look and feel of your skin. Here’s where your anti-aging serums come into play. Remember to address your full face as well as delicate (and often neglected) areas like your eyes, neck, and chest.

We recommend powerful products that are clinically proven to address and correct your specific needs. The general rule of thumb is to go from lighter-weight to heavier-weight products. Here are targeted serums to consider in the order that you’d apply them:

  • Hydrate with HA (Hyaluronic Acid) IMMERSE Serum™. This breakthrough hyaluronic acid serum delivers instant hydration for smoother, more radiant-looking skin — while helping amplify skin's hyaluronic acid levels over time.
  • Protect and preserve with C-RADICAL Defense Antioxidant Serum. Formulated with a novel form of Vitamin C plus 14 vital antioxidants, this serum helps protect against environmental stressors while helping to conserve elastin.
  • Brighten with A-LUMINATE Brightening Serum™. This dark spot-fighter reduces the appearance of surface pigmentation and protects against future damage.
  • Combat the appearance of aging skin with Restorative Skin Complex with TriHex Technology®. This serum helps improve all visible signs of aging. The proprietary TriHex Technology® works with the skin to clear out damaged elastin and collagen while supporting the skin's natural ability to produce new, healthy elastin and collagen.

Step 3: Address the Eyes, Neck and Décolleté

For the eye area, Restorative Eye Treatment with TriHex Technology® helps decrease the appearance of fine lines, crow’s feet, and wrinkles, while helping to reduce the look of puffiness and dark circles around the eyes. Dab one pump around your eye areas and gently pat into the skin. For the neck and chest, Restorative Neck Complex with TriHex Technology® helps smooth, tighten, and even out skin tone. Apply one pump in upward strokes.

Step 4: Moisturizer

All skin types need a good moisturizer to help lock in the skin’s moisture and prevent water loss throughout the day. Because moisturizers tend to be thicker, they need to be applied last to seal in your other products and maximize their effectiveness. Look for moisturizers with added benefits like our Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer with TriHex Technology®, which supports the production of new elastin and collagen. Apply one pump to the face and gently massage into the skin. Those with sensitive or compromised skin can opt for Ultra Light Moisturizer with TriHex Technology®, which has added calming benefits in a lightweight formulation.

Step 5: Sunscreen

Arguably the most important product in our arsenal, sunscreen should be used every single day to protect your skin from sun damage, such as the aging effects of UV radiation. Look for sunscreens with an SPF 30 or higher like HydraTint ProMineral Broad Spectrum SPF 36 Sunscreen, which is all-mineral, and can be used in place of makeup (or as a primer) thanks to a tint that works for most skin types. For a sheer finish and long-lasting anti-aging benefits, try SilkSHIELD® All Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 with TriHex Technology®.

Bonus Step: Body Care 

Before you jet off to your busy morning, it pays to be mindful of your body. Apply TransFORM Body Treatment with TriHex Technology® to improve skin texture, moisturize, and address crepey skin.

Nighttime Skincare Routine

The order of your nighttime skincare routine will be similar to your morning regimen with a few exceptions:  You won’t have to worry about UV radiation while you sleep, so there’s no need for sunscreen. Plus, it’s best to incorporate retinol products in the evening only as they break down in the presence of UV light. Here’s what your night skincare routine should look like:

Step 1: Cleanser

After a day of facing natural air pollutants, microscopic dirt and grime, and makeup, your skin needs a good cleanse. Don’t forget to use a cleanser that won’t strip your face and neck of its natural oils, like our Gentle Cleanser or Ultra Calm Cleansing Cream

Bonus Step: Exfoliate 

Adding an exfoliator into your regimen can help uncover visibly glowing, radiant-looking skin. ReSURFACE Skin Polish uses both physical and chemical exfoliation to sweep away dead skin cells for instantly smoother, brighter-looking skin. Moderation is best here. Use once a week after cleansing.

Step 2: Serums 

You’re cleansed, toned, and prepped—now it’s time to restore nutrients before you hit the hay. In the evening, just repeat your morning restoration routine, depending on your skin concerns, you may layer the following serums in this order: 

Step 3: Retinol

Retinol helps reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles, but it’s only effective when used in the evening as the active ingredient isn’t stable in the presence of UV light. Some retinol products can be a bit drying and you may experience skin purging (which isn’t a bad thing) due to increased cellular turnover. Use retinol products (just a pea-sized amount) two or three times a week to start. To help combat the potentially drying effects, look for easily tolerated, hydrating formulas. Our Renewal Retinol (available in two different strengths) is packed with hydration and can help smooth away wrinkles, improve skin texture and uneven skin tone.  

Step 4: Eyes, Neck and Décolleté

Don’t neglect your eyes, neck and chest. Now’s the time to dab on Restorative Eye Treatment with TriHex Technology®. Apply one pump of Restorative Neck Complex with TriHex Technology® and smooth in with upward strokes.

Step 5: Moisturizer

Finish off your evening routine with a moisturizing night cream to help hydrate and repair the look of skin as you sleep. You’ll only need one pump of our Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer or Ultra Light Moisturizer with TriHex Technology® to give your skin hydration and a healthy dose of peptides.

Bonus Step: Body Care 

Right after an evening shower or before you tuck into bed, apply TransFORM Body Treatment to any part of the skin. This formula will help tighten and smooth skin as you sleep.

Don’t forget—skincare is self-care. The time and attention you give to your regimen is the time and attention that’s just for you. So be kind to your skin (and yourself) with a daily skincare routine, morning and night.



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  2. Sundelin, Tina, et al. “Cues of Fatigue: Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Facial Appearance.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Sept. 2013,
  3. Ye, Rose, et al. “Photostability of commercial tretinoin products differs dramatically.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 1 March 2009. DOI: