skincare application order

Are you applying your skincare products in the right order?

Are you confused about all the different steps?

Here are the steps – and the right way to order them – recommended by our estheticians for the best results.

step 1: double cleanse


Start with an oil-based cleanser to remove oil-based impurities. This step is essential as water-based cleansers alone won't remove things like your makeup, your night cream, SPF, and oil commingled with impurities. This gets rid of skin baggage.

Follow up with a gentle water-based cleanser to remove residual impurities. This gentle two-step process helps keep skin cleansed down to pores while keeping the skin barrier intact.

Some cleansers effectively combine the two steps.

Getting this step right can have profound and very fast results - including less sensitivity, less breakouts, and more glow.

Shop the All-in-One Cleanser our Estheticians Recommend

step 2: toner / essence


After cleansing, when skin is still slightly damp, apply a hydrating toner. Korean toners typically balance the skin's pH back to a healthy ~5.5 while imparting instant hydration.

Follow up with an essence as they are formulated to truly drench skin with hydration. This is key for a healthy skin environment and essences are incredibly effective ways to bring moisture to the deeper layers of the skin.

Some products double as toners and essences. For toners, essences or toning essences, if they're great at hydrating, apply a handful of layers on and watch your skin get super hydrated and plumped up!

Shop the Toning Essence Our Estheticians Recommend

step 3: moisturizers / masks


Now your skin is cleansed, toned and hydrated. It's primed to be gently (remember, being harsh on skin is never a good thing) exfoliate. Typically, exfoliators should be applied as follows.
Dry/Sensitive Skin – 2 Times Weekly
Combination/ Oily Skin – 3 Times Weekly
Normal Skin – 2-3 Times depending on how your skin feels that week!

Some exfoliators can be used daily and the product instructions will specify that.

After cleansing and toning is also when you would apply sheet masks, modeling masks, wash-off masks. You can apply these daily to weekly depending on the product. Sheet masks typically are great for daily use - if you want a fast track to well hydrated skin.

Can you mask after exfoliating? Will exfoliating enhance the effects of your mask? Typically, yes. However, if the mask and exfoliator are both meant to exfoliate, that's too much for skin.

Shop the Mask Set Created By An Esthetician

step 4: treatments


You're cleansed, toned and hydrated. Depending on the day of the week, you're also freshly exfoliated. Now it's time for serums, ampoules and oils. The order of these products are generally from thinnest to thickest in consistency.

The only thing to note: if you're applying acids, generally apply vitamin C first, then BHA, then AHA, then your other treatments because you want to go from lower pH to higher pH for optimal results.

Did you use a mask after cleansing and toning? You can skip the treatments then - or double down for even more intensive results.

Typically, your skin will love the pampering (in facials, a whole lot of products are massaged into skin), but do be careful that you're not too layering on too many acids, vitamin C, or retinol-based formulas altogether. Otherwise, layers of hydrating and nourishing ingredients are loved by skin.

Shop the Recommended Treatment for Winter-time

step 5: sealants


You did so much good for your skin. Now, it's time to seal it all in with a moisturizer that's right for your skin type. If your skin is dry or normal - a slightly heavier moisturizer is great, especially in the winter months. If your skin is oily or combination - a lighter moisturizer that is water-based and one that doesn't clog pores is recommended. Don't forget the eye area needs extra love. And of course, in the AM, SPF, always.

Shop this super comforting cream that seals it all in

Want the deep dive on the skincare steps?
alicia yoon skincare steps explained
Have more questions? Email us at Our estheticians will provide personalized recommendations.

Posted on December 07, 2017
by Peach & Lily