This is the correct order you should be layering your skincare products in the morning and evening

2 November 2023
By Fashion Quarterly

All the gear and no idea? We ask skincare expert Sunday Riley on how we can get the most out of our products and close the gap on our road to a radiant and flawless complexion. 

Image: supplied.

Sunday Riley, the founder, CEO, and lead product formulator of her eponymous skincare brand, has dedicated herself to developing innovative solutions that deliver real results. With a passion for achieving healthy and luminous skin, her insights into the art of skincare layering are invaluable – especially when there are so many conflicting opinions in circulation on social media.

Below, we will delve into the expert wisdom of Sunday Riley herself, as she guides us through the intricacies of layering skincare products for maximum efficacy.

The correct order you should be layering your skincare:

Explore the nuances of skincare routines, harness the potential of layering, and turn your daily regimen into a personalised, results-oriented journey towards radiant skin, all under the expert guidance of Sunday Riley.


A general rule of thumb is to apply products with the thinnest consistency to the thickest, but this will also depend on the product’s active ingredients. 

Your morning skincare routine

Step one: Cleanse and hydrate

Personally, I wash my face with Ceramic Slip then I’ll spritz my face with Pink Drink, which helps to support the microbiome while firming the appearance of the skin.

Step two: Apply serums

I then apply our newest product, the B3 Nice 10% Niacinamide Serum. B3 Nice helps to diminish the appearance of pore size, regulates oily skin, reduces the look of surface redness and helps to support the skin’s natural moisture barrier.

Step three: Apply acids / facial oils

Then I’ll mix around 2-3 pumps of C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Serum, with about 2-3 drops of C.E.O. Glow Oil so both Vitamin C and mix them together in my hand then I apply it. I’m pretty diligent about application, I’ll apply all over my face, under the eye, over the eye, I make sure I apply around the mouth, face, neck and chest. From here, I might go do some emails, do my thing around the house. I’ll come back and apply Good Genes.

Step four: Moisturise

This is followed by an application of C.E.O Afterglow Brightening Vitamin C Gel Cream. Powered by THD Ascorbate, C.E.O Afterglow instantly brightens the skin for a plumper, brighter and more youthful-looking complexion. During winter months, I also love to layer C.E.O Afterglow with ICE Ceramide Moisturising Cream.

Step four: SPF

Plus, I always have product at my desk throughout the day. I’ll always apply CEO Serum and (at the moment) C.E.O Afterglow Vitamin C Brightening Cream throughout the day at least once. And a tonne of SPF!

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser $63 from Mecca.
Sunday Riley 5 Stars Retinoid + Niacinamide Eye Serum, $118 from Mecca.
Sunday Riley C.E.O Afterglow Brightening Vitamin C Cream, $118 from Mecca.

Your evening skincare routine

Step one: Cleanse

Retinoid products should always go into your evening routine. I’ll start by cleansing and prepping my skin. Next, I’ll apply my retinoids. They have a little further to travel into the skin, so I always like to give them a head start. 

Step two: Apply retinoids

I’ll start with my A+ High Dose Retinoid Serum, then move to the eyes, applying our new 5 Stars Retinoid + Niacinamide Eye Serum to smooth out the appearance of fine lines around the eye area. 

Step three: Massage in facial oils

Next, I will layer on 3 –5 drops of our Luna Sleeping Night Oil and massage well into the skin. I’m an expert retinol user so yes, I layer my retinol products at night.

Step four: Apply AHA 

Once I am done with my retinoids, I’ll pop on my AHA – so our Good Genes All in One Lactic Acid Treatment Serum – if I haven’t used it in the morning, which layers beautifully over Luna. Although you can easily move this into your morning routine if you wish.

Step five: Moisturise

Then I’ll finish with my moisturiser. If you are new to retinoids or have particularly sensitive skin, you might want to start applying your retinoids two nights on then take two nights off, then repeat and slowly start increasing the number of days you’re applying until you’re at daily use.

Sunday Riley Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, $87 from Mecca.
Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum, $154 from Mecca.
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil, $190 from Mecca.


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