How Long to Wait Between Skincare StepsOne of the most common question received by the skincare experts is how long to wait between skincare steps? Considering the wide range of skincare products available at your disposal, we found it to be a pretty logical question.

In this article, we are going to address different skincare steps and their wait time. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of how skincare regime work. So, to make you understand certain things more comprehensively, we have curated this article.

The answer to this question is simple. You don’t have to wait at all. However, we find waiting between skincare steps more of a personal preference and not a necessity. In this article, we will explain why!

Time Doesn’t Matter; Correct Order Does

Time doesn’t matter when it comes to following a set skincare regimen. As long as you’re applying all the oils, lotions and serums in the correct order, your skin can handle it. Putting on one product right after the other isn’t going to hinder its efficacy. Likewise, skin can handle loads of ingredients together as long as they are beneficial.

To be precise, it is all about your preference. As far as we know, people prefer skincare products at their own pace—some like absorbing each product by taking a lot of time and massaging their skin. But, at the same time, others would like to finish the routine as quickly as possible.

How long does it take skin to absorb products?

Some skin care products can penetrate your skin on contact. However, some products take a little time to absorb completely. This is because these encapsulated ingredients are introduced to your skin in small amounts over an extended period.

It doesn’t mean you must wait for the encapsulated ingredient to absorb entirely. Instead, it can continue to penetrate various layers of skin, and in the meantime, you can apply other products as per your preference.

This is the primary order to apply a skincare regimen,

  • Cleanser
  • Toner
  • Serum
  • Eye cream
  • Spot treatment
  • Moisturizer

Moreover, when doing your skincare during the day, don’t forget to apply sunscreen once you are done. This is the only skincare step you will have to repeat several times daily.

Wait time for specific skin care steps.

We are mentioning the wait time for specific skincare steps below,

Acne treatments

If you apply a product on prescription like treating acne, it definitely requires some wait time. First, you must ensure the product you have applied to your face is completely absorbed before moving on to a moisturizer or a serum.


There is no wait time for retinol. First, ensure you have purchased a high-quality product that doesn’t cause your skin to itch. Retinol absorbs the second it gets in contact with your skin. So, you can conveniently move on to the next step without waiting.

Moisturizer and serums

Both need time to absorb, whether you are using a serum or a moisturizer. Give it a minute or two, so it can penetrate your skin, and you can apply the next product.

Waiting time between applying different skincare products

Your preference is whether you’d like to wait between applying different skin care products. However, we have briefly described how long you should wait before applying different products. Take a look,

Serum and Moisturizer

Speaking from experience, there is no specific wait time required between applying a serum and a moisturizer. Some skincare enthusiasts even mix both ingredients and apply them together.

The only exception is sunscreen. Never mix sunscreen with a moisturizer in your daytime skin regime. It will hinder the protective effects of sunscreen and lose its efficacy.

Retinol and Moisturizer

Again, you don’t need to wait between applying retinol and moisturizer. You can apply both of these products together. It won’t lessen the effects of retinol, so you have nothing to worry about. Moreover, many people have said that applying a water-based moisturizer before retinol helps them tolerate the product better. So, if you have sensitive skin, you might want to try this out.

Toner and Serum

Toner is something that you can never mix with another product. You must always apply it separately from the rest of the products. However, once you have applied toner, there is no need to wait, and you can apply serum immediately.

The rest of the skincare products can all be applied one after the other without waiting. You just need to massage your skin well before you move on to the next ingredients.

Everything you should know about exfoliants

As far as exfoliants are concerned, the BHA and AHA exfoliants will work effortlessly regardless of how long you wait before applying the next product. Exfoliants get rid of the dead skin and ensure your skin is deeply nourished.

Using an exfoliant in a skincare regime will pave the way for the next products you will use. They will permeate better.

A few exceptions to skin care wait time

Skincare routines are subjective. What might be suitable for one person may not work for another. So you all must consider your experience. A few exceptions regarding skincare are mentioned below,

Someone with oily skin may experience that products begin to roll up when you apply ingredients quickly. in this case, it would be better for you to wait a few minutes for your skin to dry before applying the next product. You don’t want your skin to feel too heavy or cloggy. So it would be better to absorb one product and then apply the other.

As we mentioned earlier, sunscreen is the last skincare product in a regime. So, waiting a few minutes for the sunscreen to settle in would be more effective before you start makeup.

However, if you’re going to layer your face with a foundation that is SPF 30, then it shouldn’t be a problem. You can apply your foundation or other products without waiting if they are SPF grade. They are not going to affect the efficacy of the sunscreen. These products will provide you with ultimate protection against the sun.

Final thoughts,

So, this is everything we could gather regarding how long to wait between skincare steps. As you have read, waiting isn’t really necessary. It is completely up to you and your comfort. For those of you who are always in a hurry but having a skincare routine is a must, it would be better to keep it simple.

This way, there is less chance of avoiding it. Hopefully, this article has provided you with enough information. Do you leave us with your feedback? We would love to know about your skin care regimen and what works for you.

Thank you for reading.