What Happens If You Apply Skincare Products In The Wrong Order? We Asked Experts


If you’ve recently made a change to your daily beauty regimen, whether it’s attempting a new skincare application technique or purchasing a different product line, it’s likely that TikTok was the first to do so. A simple search can generate hundreds of videos, but since countless opinions are presented as facts, it can be difficult to evaluate which advice are worth your time and which ones you can ignore. This is especially crucial when it comes to skincare, since improper application can result in severe effects such as chemical burns and acne.

The reverse skincare trick, which continues to amass thousands of views, likes, and comments, is the newest fad that skincare aficionados cannot get enough of. If you desire bright skin, you must reconsider the sequence in which you apply your skincare products, especially by moisturizing soon after cleaning. If you’re a skincare enthusiast or #SkinTok user, you know this is against the rules, so we consulted with board-certified dermatologists and cosmetic chemists to get the scoop on skincare application in reverse.

What is the secret of reverse skincare?
Step one is cleansing, while step two is putting a thick coating of moisturizer. The next step is to apply a toner, with the promise that doing so for 15 minutes will leave your skin radiant and supple.

Why does skincare application order matter?
According to Shuting Hu, cosmetic scientist and creator of Acaderma, “the sequence matters because it decides which chemicals and products are the first to get into your skin, which can ultimately effect how your skin looks and feels once your routine is complete.” This implies that improper application might build a barrier on the skin and hinder the penetration of active substances.

What is the proper sequence for applying skincare?
There is no one-size-fits-all technique to applying skincare, but a good rule of thumb is to utilize your morning regimen to protect the skin (think SPF and vitamin C) and your evening routine to cure and reverse damage with active substances such as retinol.

According to Dendy Engelman, M.D., a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist in New York City, products should be applied according to “their molecular size, from thinnest to thickest,” meaning toners and serums should be applied first, followed by heavier formulas like moisturizers and masks.

The first step, whether in the morning or evening, should always be cleansing, as it is essential to remove the dirt, oil, pollution, and product residue that you encounter throughout the day and night. Damp skin is also more permeable than dry skin, so it will help your products absorb more effectively.

According to Rina Allawh, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, the following is an optimal regimen.


Evening: Cleanse Tone Treat Moisturize Eye cream SPF

Purify Tone Exfoliate (1-2 times a week)
Treat Moisturize Eye cream
Exist advantages to reverse your skin?
We regret to inform you that reversing your skincare delivers no lasting advantages and merely a momentary shine boost. According to Emmy Ketcham, co-founder and chief operating officer of Experiment, applying a toner on top of a moisturizer is likely doing little more than creating an aesthetic effect, as the water and humectants in the toner are simply sitting on top of the occlusives in the moisturizer, creating the appearance of a more hydrated complexion.

Exist adverse consequences of applying skincare products in the incorrect order?
Since lighter-molecule items (like as toners) cannot penetrate, the advantages of your skincare product are rendered null and void. In addition, you are really “diluting it and worsening your skin’s dryness” since moisturizers already create a barrier on the face, and this application technique causes the toner to rest on that barrier and inhibit further absorption, according to Dr. Allawh. “If the toner used is clarifying or more on the acidic side, there is a risk of it breaking down the products applied beforehand and causing the skin to become further unbalanced,” explains Dr. Engelman. “This type of barrier can also trap sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria in the pores, causing acne breakouts and preventing the skin from breathing.”

Exist alternate strategies for sustained hydration?
Be careful to select alcohol-free formulations containing hyaluronic acid, pure squalene, or glycerin if you’re seeking true hydration. As for the sequence, Ketcham recommends always using a moisturizing toner before a moisturizer and finishing with a wet cotton pad or reusable silicone sheet mask for optimal occlusion.