Remove makeup and wash your face. If you’re wearing makeup, you may need to cleanse twice at night. First, remove your makeup with cleansing oil or micellar water. Try leaving dedicated eye-makeup removers on for a couple of minutes to allow the makeup to come off more easily and avoid rubbing your eyes. Follow up with a full-face gentle cleanse.
Apply toner (optional). If you use toner, apply after cleansing your face and before everything else. Pour a few drops of toner into your palms and gently swipe onto your face. (If your toner is exfoliating, use only at night. Hydrating formulas can be used twice a day. Do not use exfoliating toner and retinol at the same time.)
Apply serum (optional). Night time is a good time to use hyaluronic acid, which keeps your skin from drying out at night, especially if you’re using anti-aging or acne treatments that can irritate and dry out the skin. Water-based serums should go underneath moisturizer; oil-based serums should be applied after moisturizer.
Spot treatment (optional). It’s a good idea to use acne spot treatments at night, when your body is in repair mode. Be wary of layering acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acids with retinol, which can cause irritation. Instead, make sure you’re doing the most to keep skin calm and hydrated.
Moisturize. Night time is a good time to use a heavier moisturizer. Don’t apply moisturizer directly on top of spot treatments, or you may end up wiping them away.
Apply retinoid (optional). If you use retinoids, know that they break down in the sun (and also make your skin extra sensitive to the sun), so they should only be used at night.
Apply face oil (optional). If you use face oil, make sure to apply it after your other skin-care products, since nothing else will be able to penetrate the oil.