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Best Way to Layer your Skincare products

How to layer skincare products

How to Layer your Skincare Products in the Correct Order

Ever stood in front of your bathroom mirror, armed with a battalion of skincare products, and thought, “Where do I even start?” Well, you’re not alone! Navigating the world of skincare can feel like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. But here’s the good news: I’ve spent countless hours diving into research, learning from the best in the biz, and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. My passion for skincare has led me to uncover practical, straightforward strategies that make a real difference.  

A study on PubMed found that the more detailed routine (using a cleanser, toner, eye cream, serum, and day & night cream) was better at improving skin hydration, smoothness, pores, color evenness, and wrinkles than a simple routine (just cleanser and day cream). This shows that using more skincare steps can quickly make your skin look better and help prevent aging signs. 

The Golden Rule: Thin to Thick

First things first, the golden rule of skincare layering is as simple as it gets: apply your products from thinnest to thickest consistency. Why, you ask? It’s all about absorption, baby! Thinner products can’t navigate through the dense forest that is your thicker creams and oils. So, let’s start with the basics:

Step 1: Cleanser:

 Kick off your routine with a clean slate. A gentle cleanser removes dirt, oil, and impurities, setting the stage for the rest of your products to perform at their best.

Step 2: Exfoliation:

Exfoliate to remove dead skin cells just once a week, and make sure to do it right after you cleanse. This way, your skin is clean and ready to get the most out of exfoliating.

Step 3: Toner

Think of toner as the hype man for your skincare routine. It helps to remove any lingering residue while prepping your skin to absorb the goodness that follows.

Step 4: Serums

 Here’s where the magic happens. Serums like vitamin C or hyaluronic acid are concentrated formulas designed to target specific concerns like aging, hydration, or pigmentation. Fun fact: applying serums while your skin is still damp from toner can boost absorption!

Step 5: Eye Cream

Gentle pats around the eyes can help reduce puffiness and address fine lines. Remember, the skin around your eyes is like a delicate flower—handle with care.

Step 6: Moisturizer

Time to lock in all that layered goodness. A good moisturizer hydrates and protects your skin barrier, keeping all the beneficial ingredients where they need to be. Choose a lightweight formula if your skin is oily and a richer one if you have dry skin.

Step 7: Sunscreen 

Last but certainly not least, sunscreen is your BFF. It protects your skin from the harmful UV rays that contribute to aging and skin damage. Apply it every day, rain or shine!

Nighttime Skincare Routine

1. Gentle Cleansing:Wash away the day with a gentle cleanser. If wearing makeup, start with an oil-based cleanser then wash your face with a water-based one.

2. Toner: Apply a toner to balance your skin’s pH and prep it for the next steps.

3. Serum: Use a serum tailored to your skin’s needs, such as hydrating, brightening, or anti-aging.

4. Eye Cream: Dab on eye cream to hydrate and target the delicate area around the eyes.

5. Retinol (2-3 times a week) :Apply retinol to promote cell turnover and collagen production. Follow with moisturizer to minimize dryness.

6. Moisturizing :Lock in all your products with a moisturizer to hydrate and repair your skin overnight.

A Few Pro Tips to Keep in Your Pocket

  • Listen to Your Skin:  Your skin’s needs can change with the season, your diet, and stress levels. Be attentive and adjust your routine accordingly.
  • Patience is Key: Allow each product to absorb and penetrate the skin for a minute or two before moving on to the next. This isn’t a race; it’s more like a leisurely stroll through the park.
  • Less is More: We’ve all been there—slathering on product after product, hoping for miraculous results overnight. But overloading your skin can lead to irritation and breakouts. Start with small amounts; you can always add more if needed.

The Layering Cheat Sheet

To make your life even easier, here’s a quick cheat sheet. Feel free to save it, share it, or tattoo it on your arm (just kidding…unless?).

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner
  3. Serum(s)
  4. Eye Cream
  5. Moisturizer
  6. SPF (AM routine)


Can I mix my serum with my moisturizer to save time? 

 While it might be tempting, mixing can dilute the effectiveness of each product. Stick to the layering order for the best results.

 How long should I wait between applying products? 

 A minute or two should suffice. Use this time to brush your teeth or dance to your favorite tune. Multi-tasking at its finest!

What if I use a facial oil?

 Facial oils typically go last because of their thick consistency, but before sunscreen in the AM. They can help seal in all the products applied before them.

 Can I use a moisturizer with SPF in it?

Sure, you can use a moisturizer that has SPF in it every day to keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun. Just remember to put enough on, and use a separate sunscreen if you’re going to be outside for a long time.

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