What is the correct order to apply your skincare?


Trying to figure out a skincare routine can feel like a bit of a minefield these days with conflicting advice coming at us everywhere. Trends and fads pop up again and again and die just as quickly, so we’re left wondering – is there one right way to apply your skincare?

Turns out, it’s different for everyone, as everyone’s skin has different needs. But overall, there is a formula to your skincare routine, and an order by which you should be applying the different ingredients so that your skincare can do its job as effectively as possible.

Its important to get your skincare advice from reliable sources and to remember that what might work for one person may not work for you and your skin’s needs. But Dr Laura Lenihan is here to answer all your skincare order application questions!

Laura is a GP and mum to 3 little girls, Harper, Indie and Romy and joined Instagram to share some insights into medical conditions and issues that women come across.

‘I share my own life quite a bit, the reality of it, and any struggles I’m having. I keep sharing medical info (albeit slightly reduced at the minute because I’m so busy!),’ She shared in one post. ‘A lot of you came after seeing the breast check video, which is amazing that it has been shared so much! The power of social media just amazes me, and I hope that video will save lives!

‘I’m in the process of setting up my own private GP clinic in my home @dr.lauraclinic which will be pretty much what I do on here, women’s health & skin! I love everything about skin health & am passionate about helping women so bringing my two loves together into my own business which wouldn’t have been possible without you guys.’

She dropped her skincare routine in an Instagram post a while back and shared how it changes from morning to night according to the different needs of the skin at these different times.

Morning routine

She starts with a cleanse:

‘Currently using Jan Marini Skin Research Glycolic Wash or Cerave SA wash or Cerave foaming cleanser.'

Next she goes in with different serums that have different functions:

Firstly, ‘Skinceutical’s HA intensifier as I find I’m a little dry in pregnancy (this also has some antioxidants in it)’ and then the ‘Obagi Exfoliating Day Serum – vitamin C and acid all in one – helps brighten complexion & even skin tone – also has antioxidants in it.’ She alternates this with Skinceuticals Phloretin CF.

Then she hydrates and moisturises:

She uses ‘Obagi Hydrate (if needed – I don’t need it every day)’ – because the HA intensifier is all about hydration and plumping, therefore this step is only if her skin is very dry.

Finally, she uses SPF, the most important part of any skincare routine to protect and shield her skin from harmful UVA and UBVB rays that can cause irreparable damage.

She uses ‘ether Skinceuticals or Heliocare or Avene or Bioderma’ to get the protection she needs.

Night time routine:

Anonymous person pouring liquid product on table with pipette


She uses the same products as she does in the morning routine, though she notes that here she doesn’t ‘double cleanse as I don’t wear any makeup’. Double cleansing is handy for makeup wearers to be sure you’re getting all your makeup off. The idea is that some makeup is water based while others are oil based. Therefore you need a water based cleanser and an oil based cleanser in order to get all the makeup off your face – just fyi.

Next she uses acids to exfoliate and increase skin cell turnover.

‘Some nights I use the Skinceuticals Glycolic 10 Overnight Renew (not every night though)’. Acids can be harsh on the skin so it’s important to use them sparingly.

Person Holding Ice Cream Cone

Next she moisturises and hydrates to restore skin’s firmness and bounce, using Obagi Hydrate again, the same moisturiser from her morning routine.

‘Ideally I would use retinol or Tretinoin at night time and honestly I’m really missing it from my routine – I can see such a difference in my skin’


Laura next shared her weekly habits that aren’t a part of her daily routine but make a big difference to her overall skincare routine.

‘I try to use a mask once weekly and if you have followed me for a while you know I love The Ordinary AHA/BHA mask which makes my skin feel like a babies bum. I follow with Image Skincare Vitamin C masque and then moisturise.’

Free stock photo of after bath, aromatherapy, bath

She lists key active ingredients that are prominent in her routine that are essentials for great pores and effective skincare:

Salicylic and glycolic acid

Vitamin C – L ascorbic acid


Hyaluronic acid

Retinol (but only in the PM)

‘It’s hard to list out a “perfect” routine for everyone as concerns will be different,’ Laura finished off her post. 'But if you get to understanding actives and what they do then you can work out what you need in your routine.’

Everyone’s skin is different, but a skincare specialist’s advice is probably a good place to start!