How Long to Wait to Apply Moisturizer After Toner

You’re not alone if you’ve often wondered how to properly use a toner and a moisturizer in tandem. Though logic tells us to cleanse our face first before applying anything else, we may have other concerns, such as what should come next after using a toner. Of course, we need to moisturize our skin once it’s clean, but how long do you wait to apply a moisturizer after a toner?

You only need to wait about 30 seconds to apply moisturizer after toner. Toner absorbs into your skin very fast, in less than a minute. After applying the toner, when your skin is almost dry, then apply your moisturizer. If you wait too long, your skin can dry out from the toner.

We say that you should wait for your skin to be ‘almost’ dry before applying a moisturizer because, in this way, it will make the skin absorb and retain the moisturizer a bit longer. Applying the moisturizer on slightly damp skin will also allow you to consume the product economically, as you will likely use a lesser amount than what’s necessary.

While there’s nothing wrong with waiting for the toner to be completely dry on your skin before applying a moisturizer, experts tend to agree that hydration is facilitated and better preserved when you moisturize on dewy skin.

Continue reading to learn more about how long to wait to apply moisturizer after toner, plus more useful information.

How Long to Wait to Apply Moisturizer After Toner

Not all people who have a skincare routine fully understand what a toner is supposed to do, or they may know what it’s for but don’t know how to use it properly. Using a skin cleanser is important, but following it up with toner is recommended. A toner is a fast-absorbing liquid that assists in:

  • Removing dirt, bacteria, oil, dead skin cells, and traces of cosmetics
  • Regulating the pH balance of the skin [1]
  • Controlling pimples and acne

But if a toner finishes off the process started by a skin cleanser by doing the preceding functions, a clean skin should not be left to dry. Enter the moisturizer, which plays the part of restoring the skin’s hydration.

Skincare experts recommend that even after taking a shower or a bath and patting our body dry, we should apply lotion (a moisturizer) right away to ensure that moisture is retained, leaving our clean skin more supple softer, and better protected. The same principle applies to how we care for our face – and it should not take long to wait to apply a moisturizer after a toner; it should only take 30 seconds or less, in fact.

See our full list of recommended moisturizers here.

And since we’re on the subject of moisturizers, now you might be wondering when they start working on our skin.

How Long Does It Take for a Moisturizer to Absorb?

Moisturizers don’t simply “provide moisture” to the skin and hydrate it; products on the market actually vary in their active ingredients, giving added benefits to the skin. But regardless of the components present, all of them should only need a few minutes to be absorbed by the skin (the moisturizing base with active ingredients), provided that you have prepped your skin properly, e.g., cleaning it properly with a cleanser and toner.

The remaining part of the moisturizer stays on the skin surface to protect and strengthen it, assuming other functions based on its formulation. Generally, different moisturizers perform any of these roles:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-aging agent
  • Skin healing
  • Lubrication
  • Sunscreen

Note, however, that even though it only takes a few minutes for moisturizers to be absorbed by the skin, their ability and the time it will take for them to “go and finish the job” will depend on what their active ingredients are. Their efficacy on the body can linger anywhere from 1 to 8 hours for antioxidants and a few hours to 24 hours (e.g., peptides) for those with anti-aging agents.

How Long Does It Take for Toner to Absorb?

Toners that you buy at your local store come in both zero-alcohol formula as well as with some alcohol content. Still, the latter formulation is much milder than astringents that normally contain solvent alcohols. However, dermatologists will always recommend using toners that are alcohol-free as they won’t harm the skin, regardless of your skin type.

Formulations nowadays are predominantly free from alcohol and help soothe and brighten the skin and reduce lines and creases. Generally, it will only take some seconds for toners to be absorbed by the skin, though their complete and lingering effects will depend on their active ingredients. Some of these are:

  • Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) – great for those with oily skin or those susceptible to acne.
  • Glycerin, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, coenzyme Q10 – for those with mostly normal skin
  • Salicylic acid – for those with frequent acne, though this component can be rather strong for those with sensitive skin.
  • Plant extracts and essential oils – some products have these, claiming to provide a more natural effect, but it’s best to first ask your dermatologist to avoid skin irritation.

People who have combined natural and oily skin (e.g., like those with mainly normal skin on the face but with an oily T-zone area) can apply an alcohol-free toner in the morning and at nighttime. For those with dry skin, it’s recommended that they apply toner only at night, after cleansing.

See our full list of recommended toners here.

See the below video for more tips on when to apply moisturizer after toner:

How Long to Wait Before Applying Other Products

Since we’re already on the subject of the waiting time involved after using a toner and before applying a moisturizer, it might interest you to learn how it is for other products which have different roles in skincare. You don’t really need to wait long when applying one product after another!

Our skin is easily absorbent, and granting that the products that you use are all gentle and well-formulated, not one of them should interfere with another in doing its job. So any waiting time in between applying different products is more a matter of what you prefer. Now, that should make your skincare regimen easy!

The general rule is to wait until the previous product is absorbed; however, you don’t have to wait too long between products.

Some longer waiting time between products might be advisable, however, in a few minor cases:

  • If, upon applying one product after another, you see a tendency for the products to clump together or roll-up. Should this happen, then it’s best to let one product dry completely before applying the next one in the line-up.
  • If you’re using sunscreen before any makeup, then it’s recommended that you wait a few minutes for it to be completely absorbed or set before putting on anything. If your moisturizer or foundation has sun protection of at least a sun protection factor or SPF 30 [2], then no need to wait.
  • Dermatologist-prescribed skincare treatments/topical medications need to be completely dry and absorbed by the affected area of the skin to ensure the efficacy of the formulation (usually a couple of minutes). Then, you can apply the next product such as a moisturizer.

You want to maintain great-looking skin by caring for it as best as you can using your routine, but such a regimen does not have to be time-consuming and tedious. At this point, you might want to have a rundown of the usually recommended skincare products out there and understand the most effective way of using them in their proper order.

In What Order to Apply Skincare Products

how long do you wait to put on moisturizer after toner

Whenever you do your skincare routine in the morning and at night, you follow a series of steps that you can do with your eyes closed. And it doesn’t matter if yours is a simple three or five-step regimen or a much longer one; what does matter is the sequence of steps that you use or, specifically, the order in which you use the products. Here’s a basic guide to making the most out of your skincare regimen.


To protect your skin from harmful elements in the environment, these are the basic products in order of their use:

  1. Cleanser – water-based on oil-based, to remove oil or sweat that surfaced during the night.
  2. Toner – preferably alcohol-free
  3. Serum – an optional, but highly recommended product for skincare, containing a high concentration of antioxidants.
  4. Moisturizer – cream or balm
  5. Sunscreen – cream or liquid, with SPF of at least 30


To repair the damage done to the skin during the day from the sun, dirt, oil, and makeup, these are the products you can apply in order of their use:

  1. Makeup remover – oil-based
  2. Cleanser – water-based or oil-based
  3. Toner – preferably alcohol-free
  4. Serum – optional but highly recommended product
  5. Night Cream – your nighttime moisturizer

Of course, there are other skincare products waiting to be utilized like acids, oils, eye creams, masks, etc. Unless you’re prepared to invest more money in getting all these beauty products, you can just stick to the basics, and you’ll be okay.

Conclusion – How Long to Wait to Apply Moisturizer After Toner

So how long to wait to apply moisturizer after toner? As the toner liquid easily evaporates once applied, it only takes some seconds for you to follow through with a moisturizer.

After applying the toner, wait about 30 seconds to one minute for your skin to be almost dry, and then apply the moisturizer. In this way, the moisturizing effect stays longer on the skin, making it properly hydrated while letting you use just the right amount of moisturizer.

Meanwhile, moisturizers take just a few minutes to be completely absorbed by the skin, and they work for some hours to a day to provide moisture, protection, and antioxidating effects. It all depends on the active ingredients present and formulation.

Related reading:

How Long Does It Take for Ceramides to Work?

How Long Does It Take for Retinol to Work?

How Long Does Salicylic Acid Take to Absorb?

Retin-A vs Benzoyl Peroxide vs Salicylic Acid for Body Acne

How Long to Leave Moisturizer on Your Face?