Tip of the Week: In What Order Should I Apply Topical Products?

Paul M. Graham, D.O.

This week’s tip pertains to a question that my patients always ask me on a weekly basis, “What order do I apply topical products? My recommendation always remains the same, let me explain.

Many of you have meticulously designed your very own personalized skin care regimen and have perfected the art of buying products to use, but often neglect to use them on a daily basis. Therefore, I am here to explain the proper way to apply topical skin care products

Face Washing


  • Use face wash prior to applying any other skin care products
    • This should already be well known, but I have had some patients tell me that they use their face wash after applying other skin care products.


  • Apply medicated products second
    • For example, if you are using prescription products such as a topical antibiotic for acne or a bleaching cream for dark spots make sure you always retin-creamapply medicated product first. Anytime you apply an OTC product to the face first, it may act as a barrier, preventing the absorption of some prescription medications.
    • Keep in mind that Topical vitamin A products (Retin-A, Tazorac, tretinoin, and retinol) should be applied in the evening as sunlight may deactivate the product making it less effective.29194.jpg


  • Apply over-the-counter products third
    • Topical antioxidants should be used in the morning as they provide protection against sun-induced damage. Moisturizers can be applied if the skin becomes excessively dry. Make sure to use facial or non-comedogenic moisturizers.


  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen lastTotal-Defense-Repair-skin-medica-santa-rosa-586x600
    • This is the most important part of your skin care regimen. By applying a sunscreen last, you decrease the possibility of product dilution.





Check out our other articles pertaining to sunscreen for more information on what we recommend:


Please note, our medical disclaimer applies to all information, images, recommendations, and comments published on this page.

Published by Dr. Paul M. Graham

Paul M. Graham, D.O. (Founder/Editor-in-chief) founded Dimensional Dermatology in May 2016 with the vision to provide concise, easy to read, up-to-date dermatology and aesthetic medicine information to patients, medical staff, providers, and the general public. Dr. Graham is currently completing his training as a cosmetic dermatologic surgery fellow in Virginia Beach, Virginia at the McDaniel Laser and Cosmetic Center. He completed his dermatology training at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and was a clinical instructor at Michigan State University. He received his B.S. degree as Summa Cum Laude at Old Dominion University, his D.O. degree as Cum Laude at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, completed his internship at Largo Medical Center in Largo, Florida as chief intern, and completed his dermatology residency training at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor, Michigan.

One thought on “Tip of the Week: In What Order Should I Apply Topical Products?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: