Have you ever found yourself wondering why we layer skincare products in a certain way? Or what science goes behind using so many skincare products in one single routine? Well, you aren’t the only one raising this question.
When I used a serum for the first time, I didn’t care to lock it in with a moisturizer. As a 22-year-old, I was new to serums and toners and didn’t understand why I needed to add layer after layer of skincare products to get optimal results. It was only when my elder sister told me about the importance of layering skincare that I found answers to many of these questions.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures.
Layering plays a huge role in deciding the effectiveness of your skincare products, which means that there are strong reasons for why you should apply them in a certain order rather than slathering your skin with a cocktail of these products.
While the product recommendations vary from skin to skin, the process of layering is very much universal.
So if you’re still confused about the do’s and don’ts of layering, here’s how you should be going about it:
1. Always Start With Damp Skin
Layering is done only after your skin is damp enough to absorb the products you choose to apply on it. And there’s nothing better than water to dampen up your skin.
How It’s Done: In order to give yourself a clean base to layer the products on, make sure that you’ve washed your face with a hydrating cleanser. Now pat it gently with a soft washcloth or towel until it’s damp or moist. This is exactly when you should be applying toner or an essence to lock some of the water in your skin. This step is incredibly important to ensure maximum absorption of toner, serums, moisturizer and any other products in between.
2. Go From Lightest To Thickest Product
Take this as a thumb rule for applying skincare products if you want to get maximum results. Start light and end thick.
Water, being the lightest of all, goes first on your skin during the process of cleansing. Toner goes next because it helps lock some of the water into your skin and provides an extra layer of hydration to it. Serums are thicker than toners and lighter than moisturizers which is why they go between the two layers. Moisturizer, being the thickest of all, always goes last for locking in the previous layers of products.
If it’s daytime, layer your SPF after the moisturizer. Sunscreens are thicker than moisturizers and act as a protective barrier between your skin and the UV rays.
3. Wait For A Minute Before Going For The Next Layer
This is where many people go wrong when layering skincare. They rub in the products one after the other without letting them settle on their skin. While you must always apply toner or essence immediately on damp skin, make it a point to wait for at least a minute before adding further layers of products.
How It’s Done: Once you’ve applied toner, give your skin a minute to absorb it. Then slather it with serums and let them sit for a minute before going in for spot treatment. Once you’re done targeting the spots, blemishes and pigmentation, wait for another minute before rubbing in the moisturizer.
4. Layering Of Serums
Instead of using just one serum, many women like to go for a cocktail of serums to address their different skin concerns, which by the way is great. But if you want to layer your serums one by one rather than going for a cocktail of them, make sure that you start with the lightest serum and end with the thickest one. Apart from that, there are certain serum combinations that you must avoid going for:
- Retinol and Vitamin C
- AHAs and Vitamin C
- Retinol and Retinoid
- Benzoyl Peroxide and Retinol
- Benzoyl Peroxide and Vitamin C
5. Layering The Spot Treatment Cream
If you have acne or pigmentation or blemishes, you might need to use a spot treatment cream to address these skin concerns. Now if you are wondering when to layer the spot treatment cream, the answer is simple. As spot treatment creams or gels are usually thicker than serums, they are applied after the latter and before the moisturizer.
Again, many spot treatment creams may contain benzoyl peroxide that must never be used with a Vitamin C serum.
6. Add An Antioxidant
Antioxidants are literally a holy grail for your skin. They help fight sun damage, brighten your skin and boost collagen production. I know many women who hail the power of antioxidants and credit it for their radiant skin.
While layering the skincare, choose a serum or a moisturizer rich in antioxidants to benefit from its amazing properties. Vitamin C is a great antioxidant which is why many women use it in both their AM and PM routines. But if you are using a spot treatment cream with Benzoyl Peroxide, avoid using vitamin C as the two products can get reactive together. In that case, use a moisturizer rich in other antioxidants to make your skin feel hydrated and ultra glow-y.
Paula’s Choice EARTH SOURCED is one of the best antioxidant enriched moisturizers out there, and works great on my skin. While looking for an antioxidant-rich moisturizer, go for something infused with green tea. Besides that, always try and patch test the products to choose what best suits your skin.
So there you have it! The science of layering is very much the same across the globe irrespective of the number of products you slather your skin with. So if you have been layering the wrong way, I’m pretty sure you will make the necessary tweaks for better results. Be sure to stay consistent with your skincare routine if you want your skin to look happy and healthy.
If you are a skincare beginner, this might just be too much information to soak up. So you may as well save this post for later.