Skincare 101: Which Skincare Products Do I Put on First?


hands holding skincare products with purple backgroundUse Your Skincare Products in this Order to Get Your Best Skin

This content was updated for accuracy and relevance on October 14, 2020.

When you are following a regular routine for healthy skin, especially in the winter months, the layering of your skincare products is equally as important as making sure your raincoat is the last thing you put on when you walk outside in a downpour.  

In today’s skincare 101 lesson, we provide a quick how-to beauty guide on the correct order to apply your professional skincare products to ensure you’re making the most of them.

Don’t know how to put together a skincare routine? Our experts can help. Below, we’ll be diving into the different skin care steps to follow so you can get the most out of your skincare regimen.

1. Cleanse

When it comes to skin care routine steps, cleansing is your starting point. To achieve this, you want to ensure that you’ve removed everything on your face you’ve accumulated throughout the day, this might include makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and debris.  This is an important first step in order to get your skin ready to be cleansed - yes, these are two separate steps.

You can use your favorite makeup wipes or an oil-based makeup remover, but make sure that you thoroughly go over your entire face - including eyebrows, the crevice between the nostril and cheek, back to your ears and hairline.  Dirt has a funny way of hiding and especially when it’s hot, your makeup will move from where you originally applied it!

If there happens to be an evening when you fall asleep without taking this step (we know it happens), then just make sure to do this step at the beginning of your morning routine.

Next, you’ll cleanse your face.  Ideally, you want a facial cleanser that is lightweight and won’t dry out your skin.  While you want to make sure that your face is clean, you don’t want it to strip away your natural moisture.  Our Gentle Cleanser has a unique blend of moisturizers and vitamins designed to clean, soothe, and soften the skin without upsetting skin’s delicate moisture balance.

Together, these two steps give the skin a clean slate so you can avoid irritations and breakouts before applying the workhorse skincare products to your face.  It will also ensure that the products you put on next are able to fully get penetrate into the skin and do what they were designed to do.

2. Heal and Correct

Now that your skin is down to its purest form, you can add products to help correct and heal, whether you have problem skin or not. If you’re using any products to treat skin conditions from acne or skin tone, applying these products to your skin in this state is going to allow you to get the most bang for your buck.  The skin is prepped, your pores are ready, let’s get started.

Some of our favorite skin concern treatment products are our dermatologist-recommended Renewal Retinol, and our Restorative Skin Complex and our five-star rated Restorative Eye TreatmentIn fact, our eye cream was recently featured on Shape as one of the 10 best eye creams that firm, de-puff, and brighten dark circles.

Let’s dive into these customer favorite workhorse skin care products...

The Renewal Retinol delivers the critical benefit of retinol, which is universally recognized for its ability to combat the signs of aging.  It can be used every night to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinklessmooth skin texture, calm sensitive skin, and protect against skin dehydration. Our Renewal Retinol also contains Silver Mushroom which is 400x more hydrating than hyaluronic acid and supports the production of natural hyaluronic acid for healthier skin. 

If you are new to retinol, it is recommended that you integrate it slowly and gently. We recommend starting with a pea size amount two times a day, two days a week. After three weeks add a third day and continue to add a day each week if well tolerated. Remember not to forget your daily SPF when using retinol as well.

Our Restorative Skin Complex is one of our best-selling skin care products within our Restore and Renew line. Made with TriHex Technology®, this restorative skin care treatment plumps and lifts skin cells while helping to create healthy skin. The emollient formula glides smoothly on the skin and absorbs quickly, helping to provide a deeper level of protection and moisture.

Our Restorative Eye Treatment is made specifically for those areas around the eyes that are crucial to looking refreshed. Using this best-selling eye cream morning and evening will lessen the appearance of puffiness and help improve skin firmness around the eye. It also promotes even skin tone and helps reduce the appearance of dark circles.

Talk to your favorite skincare expert about what skincare treatment products are right for you. If you need help finding an aesthetician or dermatologist, you can use our handy skincare expert locator tool >

3. Hydrate and Moisturize

Hydrating your skin post-treatment with a facial mist or hydrating serum is the best next step in your skincare regimen. Look for a lightweight formula, particularly if you have normal to oily skin, that can help bring hydration back to your skin. Facial mists are nice, particularly during summer months (try popping it in the fridge) for a nice refreshing feel that can also help lay the groundwork for the final step.  Just make sure to avoid ingredients such as alcohol, ethanol, silicone/polymers, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and artificial fragrances. These can be drying, cause build up, or irritation.

Depending on the time of year and your skin type, like if you have dry skin or if it’s the middle of winter, moisturizer is likely a must.  However, you don’t want to use a moisturizer that’s too heavy because it can cause breakouts for those with oily skin prone to acne. You might consider our Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer which nourishes, hydrates, and calms the skin.  It’s also fragrance and oil-free, bonus! 

One important note here is that the skin below the chin, known as the decollete, faces unique challenges, often different from your face, and therefore requires a product designed specifically for this area. The ALASTIN Restorative Neck Complex is the next generation of neck and decollete skincare that offers an elegant formulation to support the skin’s natural ability to produce elastin and collagen among other anti-aging benefits.

4. Arguably the Most Important Step in Your Skincare Regimen

When it comes to your daytime skincare routine, it’s essential that you end with a product that is going to protect your sensitive skin against harsh environmental elements. One of the most important skincare steps that most people forget about is a powerful sunscreen. Not only does this skincare product create a natural barrier, but it also helps to prevent dark spots, sun damage, and premature aging from the sun.


At ALASTIN, we offer two different sun protection products to help shield your skin while providing it with a deeper level of moisture.  Protecting the face from harmful UVA/UVB rays as well as environmental pollution is crucial for long-lasting, healthy and younger-looking skin.  For those days you’re wanting a more natural look, our
 HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36 is a great option to have your skin protected while also adding a little tint.  If you’re looking for a tint-free option, our Broad Spectrum SPF 30+ Sunscreen is a great choice that is water resistant for 80-minutes and formulated to be moisturizing and used daily.

Once you’re properly moisturized & protected from the elements, it’s time for your makeup.

A.M. vs P.M. Skincare Routine

While your A.M. and P.M. skincare regimens are similar, there are a few differences to keep in mind when planning out your daily skincare routine. For starters, you won’t need to use a sun protection product right before bed. That’s a no brainer. However, this product can be replaced with our Renewal Retinol that is meant to heal the skin from the inside out while you sleep. 

Whether it’s day or night, you always want to start with a cleansing product and finish with a nourishing moisturizer. Once you have properly prepped your skin with our gentle cleanser, you can then start layering on more concentrated products. 

So a quick recap of the proper order for applying skincare products:

  1. Remove makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and debris
  2. Cleanse the skin thoroughly
  3. Correct and heal skin based on your skin concerns and skin type
  4. Hydrate and moisturize
  5. Protect with a UVA and UVB sunscreen in the morning or a retinol at night

Stay In The Glow

So, were you putting your boots on before your socks?  Now that you know the correct steps, are there changes you need to make to your skincare routines? Let us know or ask your skincare questions on Facebook or Instagram!

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Article Reviewed by Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson//cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1504/4854/files/wendy_large.png?v=1588836438

Vice President, Marketing

Wendy Johnson brings to Alastin Skincare over 22 years of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and aesthetics industry experience in various sales, training, marketing and thought leader development roles.

After spending 10 years in gastroenterology at Tap Pharmaceuticals and Prometheus Laboratories, with sales and marketing oversight for in-line and pre-launch products, Mrs. Johnson transitioned to an aesthetic career at SkinMedica in 2004. While there, she was responsible for marketing one of the top 2 branded prescription hydroquinones, launching a leading branded low potency steroid, and oversight of the acne franchise line extensions.

In 2010, Wendy joined Merz North America where she developed and managed the Physician Relations department in support of injectable, topical and device business units under Medical Affairs, before transitioning into managing a Regional Aesthetics Marketing team.

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