How Long Should I Wait Before Applying The Next Skincare Product?

by Gio

how long to wait before applying next skincare product

In my teens, I’d just wash my face and slap on moisturizer. Done.

These days, my skincare routine is a little more complicated. There’s exfoliant, serum, moisturizer, sunscreen, sometimes even toner…

I used to apply them all quickly one after the other, until I read in a magazine that you need to wait 5 minutes after we’ve put on one product before we slather on the next. And, who has time for that?!

Besides, is it really necessary? I did some digging, and here’s what I found out:

Do I Really Need To Wait A While Before Applying The Next Skincare Product?

I’m afraid so. We already know that, to work their best, skincare products need to penetrate the skin. If you apply two products one after the other, chances are, the first one won’t be able to get in as well as it could.

The second one (which usually has a thicker texture that makes penetration harder) will get in the way of the first one. That’s not to say it’ll make it completely useless. But, for best results, it is indeed best to wait a little while.

Related: The Right Products To Apply Your Skincare Products For Maximum `Effectiveness

Ok, So How Long Should I Wait Before I Apply The Next Skincare Product?

Good news is, you don’t need to wait 5 minutes. Phew!

As a rule, we need to wait until one product has been fully absorbed by the skin before applying the next.

That means, there really is no set amount of time to wait. It depends on the products you use and the amount you apply. The thicker the texture and the more you apply, the longer you have to wait.

When skin is dry again, that’s when you know you can go ahead and use the next product.

If your skin is still a little tacky, instead, the product hasn’t been fully absorbed, yet. If you use another product anyway, it may not be able to get past this layer of product still on your skin, and so won’t work as well.

By the way, if it takes more than one minute for any skincare product to fully sink in, it simply means you’ve used too much. Just apply less next time.

How long do you wait before applying the next skincare product?

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Vonvon August 2, 2011 - 3:34 pm

Normally,i wouldn’t count the time. As long as I feel my skin is already ‘dry’, then I’ll proceed to the next one.

beautifulwithbrains August 2, 2011 - 6:00 pm

Vonvon, I agree with you. I don’t think there is an exact waiting time. As soon as skin is dry, you can apply the next product. 🙂

Amy August 2, 2011 - 9:24 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I’ve always wondered what the rule of thumb is, but it sounds like I’ve been following it, so that’s a relief!

beautifulwithbrains August 3, 2011 - 6:27 am

Amy, you’re welcome. I’m glad you found this post useful and that you’ve been doing it right. 🙂

Ling August 3, 2011 - 12:54 am

Sometimes I get so ultra-lazy that I don’t wait till it dries fully and I slap on the next. But thanks for this great post! I shall try and be better 😛

beautifulwithbrains August 3, 2011 - 6:21 am

Ling, you’re welcome. I know it can be annoying to wait until skin is fully dry, especially when you’re very tired, but you risk to compromise the efficacy of a product if you don’t. 🙁 If it’s taking too long, you may have used too much product though so you can try to apply less next time. It’ll dry sooner and you’ll still have the same benefits. 🙂

herroyalbleakness August 3, 2011 - 2:25 am

I wait for my face to dry up before putting on the next skincare product. 🙂 It takes quite a while but it’s better to take more time than not maximize the effects of these bottles we’re using up!

beautifulwithbrains August 3, 2011 - 6:27 am

herroyalbleakness, I completely agree with you. 🙂 If a product is taking more than a couple of minutes to sink it, you might be using too much though. You’ll have the same benefits if you apply less and those bottles will last longer (sunscreen is the only exception). 🙂

Rachel August 4, 2011 - 11:37 pm

Professionally speaking, as long as you go thinnest to thickest an gel-est to creamiest, you’re doing okay. The reality is you want those products on your face while your skin is still most receptive to them and if you find yourself needing to wait a while then you can probably cut down on how much you’re slathering on. Thirty second should do, when I’m giving a fcaial the massaging in of the product takes no longer thn 60 seconds per product.

beautifulwithbrains August 5, 2011 - 6:54 pm

Rachel, thank you for your comment. I agree with you that if it’s taking too long, then you should just apply less product. It should really take less than a minute for a product to sink in.

Christie April 10, 2017 - 5:53 am

Hi, i usually wait less than a minute but i’m still confused as to how to tell when a product as fully sunk in. After applying moisturizer, I usually wait about 10 seconds (or less) before applying sunscreen. Is that too short of a time? After applying moisturizer and waiting a few seconds, when i use my fingers to touch my skin, there’s no product residue on my fingers and my skin feels soft and i guess you can feel that I did apply product but it’s not oily and there’s no residue left on fingers. Would u say that my moisturizer has already sunk in and I can continue to apply my sunscreen?

Gio April 10, 2017 - 6:58 pm

Christie, yes I’d say you can safely apply your moisturizer in this case.

Christie April 11, 2017 - 3:44 am

Hi, thanks for the reply! But did you mean sunsceen? Because I’m talking about how my finger doesn’t have product residue on my fingers but my skin feels like I did apply something on it after I apply moisturizer. ‘And am wondering whether it is alright to apply my sunscreen then. Thank you!

Gio April 21, 2017 - 8:26 pm

Christie, I think it’s ok but if you want to be on the safe side, you can apply sunscreen first and moisturizer later.

Ella December 8, 2018 - 12:12 am

If I wait my skin will dry out which is pretty bad for my oily skin as I wake up with it more oily in the morning and harder to work with

Gio December 9, 2018 - 8:45 am

Ella, if applying them quickly works better for you, go for it.


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