The Ultimate Skin Care Timeline Guide

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Beauty e-tailer, Dermstore, has collaborated with Board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Geeta Yadav, to release The Ultimate Skincare Timeline. The guide will discuss the correct and exact order to apply skin care products, in addition to how long clients should spend on each step of the process. 

According to Dermstore's experts, the length of the time spent applying products is as important as the order in which they are applied. Incorrectly layering products can cause products to be ineffective or irritate skin. 

"If your formulas don't have time to penetrate the skin, they won't work as well, especially when it comes to the application of subsequent steps — the active ingredients won't be able to reach the skin, making a thorough routine a wasted effort," said  Dr. Yadav.

Morning Skin Care Routine

Dermstore A Dermatologist’s Ultimate Morning Skin Care RoutineStep 1: Cleanser 

Dr. Yadav recommends spending at least 30 seconds to a minute massaging the cleanser, making sure the skin is thoroughly cleansed. Clients can rinse their face immediately unless their cleanser contains active ingredients such as AHAs.

Waiting time: Wait for the skin to feel completely dry. However, if using a hydrating toner containing hyaluronic acid, apply it immediately after cleansing, to a damp face.

Expert tip: Spend some time massaging the cleanser into the oiliest areas like the T-zone, this will help break down pore congestion.

Step 2: Toner

Now that the face is cleansed, it’s time to apply toner. Usually, it takes around 30 seconds.

Waiting time: If the formula contains alcohol or other astringent ingredients, it will dry practically instantly, and it is time to move onto the next step. 

Step 3: Serum

Time to help skin get a smooth appearance with a serum. This step should take around 30 seconds or the time it takes to smooth the product over the whole face.

Waiting time: Now it’s the time to focus on the eyes, so proceed immediately. 

Step 4: Eye Cream

The skin around the eyes is very sensitive and delicate, so we need to apply specific products for this area to avoid any damage or irritation. It should take around 30 seconds to apply a specific eye product.

Waiting time: The next step is to treat spots and because this type of cream shouldn't be applied around the eye area, the next step can begin immediately. 

Step 5: Spot Treatment

Spots can be treated one by one with a product that will help to reduce the inflammation and calm the area while avoiding infection. The time this step will take will depend on the quantity and size of the blemish, but approximately around 15 seconds. 

Waiting time: It’s important to give enough time for the product to penetrate the skin and dry, so allow at least one minute before moving to the next step.

Step 6: Moisturizer

Don't forget to apply the moisturizer to the face and neck, making sure it’s well applied. This normally takes from one to two minutes. Waiting time: The cream must absorb completely before moving to the next step, make sure to at least wait for one to two minutes, or at least until the skin doesn’t feel tacky to the touch.

Step 7: Sun Cream

This is the step that should take the longest in a skin care routine. If applying it to the whole body, spend at least two minutes thoroughly applying. If it’s just the face and neck, a minute or two should be enough.

Waiting time: Client's should wait about 10 minutes before applying any makeup after this last step in the routine. Applying makeup too soon can disrupt the sunscreen and reduce coverage and efficacy. 

Nighttime Skin Care Routine

Steps one and two remain the same as in the morning routine, however, there are a few changes in the next steps.

Eye Cream

Treat the skin around the eye with products particularly formulated for this area in order to avoid irritation.

Waiting time: Move on to the next step immediately.


Depending on the type of treatment being applied, either serums, acne, retinol or peel, follow their instructions as indicated to avoid any undue stress or damage to the skin.

Waiting time: It is very important to make sure that the different treatments being performed don’t interact with each other and are applied in the correct order. Dr. Geeta Yadav recommends not overdoing this treatment category to avoid irritating the skin.

Night Cream

This is the last step of a night routine. It should usually take around one to two minutes to apply the cream over the face and neck. However, if a facial roller or gua sha is preferred, this is the moment to take a little longer. While the routine may be over, Dr. Yadav recommends waiting exactly 10 minutes before going to bed, so all the products that have been applied don’t end up on the pillow.

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