It can be confusing to know what order you should apply the plethora of skincare and makeup products. Is serum before or after moisturizer? What about SPF? And when am I really supposed to use my color correcters?

The correct order you should apply all your face junk actually makes a lot of sense. The first part, skin care, is all about applying anything you are going to wash off first, then layering products on from most penetrating to least. For example, you want your serum or acne medicine to penetrate deep into your pores, so that goes before, say your moisturizer which is made to sit on the surface of your skin and retain moisture.

Part two, what order to apply your makeup products, is a little more tricky only because there is no one right way. As a guideline I outlined a general order that works for most people and if you’re new to makeup it’s a great place to start. I also added a few variations at the end for those of us who like to personalize and experiment.

Part One: The Order You Should Apply Your Skin Care Products

Cleanser -

Always start your morning routine with a clean face. Layering masks, moisturizers, or (heaven forbid!) makeup on a dirty face traps all that gunk and grime into your pores causing breakouts and blackheads. If you have really dry skin and worry about washing it twice a day, try a really gentle cleanser that moisturizes and cleanses at the same time. Micellular water is a great option.

Mask -

This doesn’t have to be an everyday occurrence but if you don’t already, you should consider adding a couple to your weekly routine. The benefits are numerous. Plus, what’s more fun than spending 10 minutes reading a favorite book while pampering your face. There are tons of different masks available, but some of my favorites are homemade.

Toner -

The myth that everyone doesn’t need a toner is about to be debunked. The truth is, toner balances the pH level of your skin which protects it from pollutants in the air, removes any traces of makeup and oils left on your face by your cleanser, and helps your skin absorb your moisturizer and any products you layer on after. However, certain skin types, mainly dry or sensitive need to be careful when picking a toner. Use a gentle freshening mist that hydrates and protects your skin. Oily and combination skin can use stronger astringents but avoid anything with alcohol.

Serum or Acne Treatment -

Always apply any treatment products before your moisturizer and on clean dry skin. For best results let these products soak into your skin for a few minutes before applying anything else.


You have to be careful when picking a sunscreen for your face. Lots of the active ingredients in commercial sunscreen can cause cancer. Make sure you buy one that contains zinc oxide. Besides providing broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection it isn’t carcinogenic and is highly recommended by many dermatologists.

Moisturizer -

In the morning this step is optional depending on your skin, but never skip it at night. I use a light gel formula during the day and a heavier night cream for bed.

So that’s the end of part one. A good skin care routine will do more for your appearance than any amount of makeup. It’s never too late to start reaping the benefits, but the sooner you get started the greater difference you will see over the years. I’m talking to you  teenagers take care of your skin and it will take care of you (you’ll thank me when you’re 40).  Ready for part 2? This is the fun part!

Part Two: The Order You Should Apply Your Makeup Products

Primer -

Primer always goes on before all your other makeup because it’s job is to create a good base for you makeup to adhere to. Apply a thin layer all over your face and pat gently to help it absorb.

Color Corrector -

Mainly color correctors come in two colors, green and yellow. The theory behind them is that colors opposite each other on the color wheel cancel each other out. Green is used to combat any redness from blemishes or broken capillaries. Yellow is used to disguise blueish purple under eye circles. Here I’m using a cream formula from Smashbox. Their color correcting crayons are SUPER pigmented so use a light hand. DON’T color in a whole area. You will end up with a green face even with full coverage foundation over it. After you blend it in, don’t worry if you still see a hint of green or yellow your foundation will hide it. These are not recommended for use without foundation.

Foundation -

When you are applying your foundation make sure to blend it into your hair line and onto your neck to avoid the mask look. Start by applying it in the center of your face and blending out.

Concealer -

Most people need two colors of concealer. One to highlight under their eyes and another to cover blemishes and spots. You’ve probably heard the advice ‘pick a concealer a shade or two lighter than your foundation’ which is great… as long as you are using it to highlight and not conceal. Light colors bring attention so don’t apply a lighter concealer to acne or anything you want to hide. I don’t know why it took so long for me to learn this, because it makes perfect sense. Maybe cause I’m just too cheap to buy two concealers.

Powder -

Set everything in place with a light translucent powder. This is a really important step if you are applying any powder bronzer, blush, or highlighter after your foundation. Otherwise you will end up with a streaky finish that is less that attractive.

Bronzer, Blush, or Highlighter -

Most days I don’t apply all three, it just looks like too much and really who has that much time everyday? Not me. Usually I just stick to blush because I think it gives a lot of life to my face.

Variations -

Because makeup ain’t no one size fits all deal.

1 - If you’re using powder foundation apply concealer before. And don’t go within a mile of cream blush or bronzer. Never apply anything but a powder over a powder.

2 - For a super natural look try applying a heavy layer of contour and blush under you foundation. Then blend your foundation over it.

3 - For a luminous glow mix some highlighter, powder or cream, into your foundation and apply as usual.


I hope I cleared the murky waters of this issue at least a little. Please don’t be freaked out by how many steps there are. You don’t need all of them everyday, but I wanted to include anything you might need someday. Do you use all these steps? If not, what does your morning routine look like?

P.S. Part one of this routine is also great for night time (minus the SPF of course). And don’t forget to remove all your makeup every night. No exception. Sleeping with makeup on is the biggest no-nos. It is terrible for your skin and you will see the results of it later as well as now.



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