Often doing things in a certain order isn’t essential. Like say, watching the Marvel movies (oh no, I’m probably going to get trolled for saying that aren’t I?). Or eating meals (cereal for dinner, anyone?) Other times order and timing is everything and the latter is true when it comes to skincare.

With active ingredients, different textures and purposes at play; layering products correctly will help them penetrate correctly, treat the right layer of skin and get to work more effectively. Skin expert Jocelyn Petroni helps demystify the issue, breaking down the best order of skincare application for the dream (read: extensive) day and night routine, product by product. Consider this list the next time you apply your skincare.

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Credit: Instagram @maartjeverhoef

1 Cleanser
Starting the day with a gentle cleanser will not only remove overnight oil build-up and allow for a smoother make-up application, but also ensures the creams and serums you layer on afterwards can penetrate properly.

2 Exfoliation
Be it an in-shower scrub or an acid-based wipe or lotion, exfoliation comes after cleansing. “These products help remove dead cells so they should always be applied after removing make-up and cleansing.”

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3 Toners and essences
“Waters or essences ‘prepare’ the skin to receive subsequent products and help them penetrate more deeply.”

4 Serum
“Serums are designed to penetrate skin layers and deliver ingredients where they’re needed most,” says Petroni, explaining the reason why serums should always be applied before moisturiser. “If you use two serums the general rule is to apply the serum with the lightest texture first because it has deeper skin penetration. Thicker serums and oil serums should be applied second as they tend to work on the more superficial skin layers.”

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5 Face Oil
Any oils such as jojoba, avocado can be applied after your serums to add an extra level of hydration and give a dewy look to the skin. They can also be added to your moisturiser/ sunscreen and foundation for dry thirsty skins.”

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6 Eye Cream
“Applied after serums an eye cream will partially soak in to deeply hydrate as well as rest in the top skin layers for superficial hydration and protection.”

7 Moisturiser or Day Cream
“Moisturiser ‘locks’ in all of the hydration and active ingredients that you’ve just applied.”

8 Sunscreen
“If you’re using a physical sunscreen like zinc oxide, this should be the last step in your skincare regime, it acts as a protective layer for the skin.”

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1 Cleanser
Cleansing at night is essential to remove the day’s debris, oil and make-up.

2 Toner/ Essence
“If wiped over the skin using a cotton pad, these products remove cleanser residue,” explains Petroni. “If sprayed or applied onto the skin they deliver ingredients without leaving a residual layer, that would prevent subsequent products soaking in.”

3 Vitamin A
“Vitamin A products such as retinol can make the skin more sensitive to UV light hence should only be used at nighttime and underneath other serums.”

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4 Serum
“Hydrating serums and oil serums are applied second because their target skin layer is closer to the skins surface where water and oil are not retained as well in the skin.”

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5 Face Oil
“Oils soak into the skin fairly superficially where they have a nourishing and protective function.”

6 Eye Cream
“I like to bring my face serums quite close to my eye area and my eye cream will not penetrate as deeply as my serums will.”

7 Moisturiser/Night Cream
“Always last applied to the skin to lock in active ingredients and prevent trans-epidermal water loss over night.”