How To Layer Skincare Products: 5 Easy Steps + Popular Holy Grails
Maximize your skincare results just by layering the RIGHT way. Here’s how to layer skincare products for the best effectiveness.
Researched, written by Amber & The Team
Updated on July 9, 2023
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Let’s admit it: we all like to buy a bundle of skincare products for different purposes, but then we’re stuck with a ton of creams, lotions, and serums that we don’t know what to do with.
If you feel like you are not getting the desired results from your skincare products, the issue might be the fact that you don’t really know how to layer skincare products correctly.
Properly layering (adding in the correct order) can solve a lot of your skin problems (like clogged pores ahem) and improve the efficiency of the active ingredients.
Here’s how to layer skincare products properly in order to get those amazing results.
I included my personal recommendations for products I love in every step.
Do check them out – most of them are praised in skincare communities all over the internet (that’s how I learned about them).
Might save you a lot of time looking for great, working products!
How To Layer Skincare Products The Right Way
Step 1: Cleansers
The first step in learning how to layer skincare always revolves around cleansers.
You can use several cleansing products if you like but you should start with the ones that wash the most dirt off and follow in order from heaviest to lightest.
For example, the so-called double cleansing is a very popular technique that originated in East Asia.
It’s especially popular amongst people who have an oily skin type or who often wear heavy skin makeup.
When double cleansing, you first start with a heavy cleanser that can penetrate the dirt and leftover makeup on your skin.
It can be a water-based cleanser or an oil-based one – it will all depend on your circumstances.
Oil cleansers work particularly well with makeup, water-resistant sunscreen, or just simply sebum that has been accumulating on your face throughout the day.
The reason they make quick work of the above-mentioned products is because oils are lipophilic, meaning they can easily break down and dissolve other oils.
When learning how to layer skincare, it’s important to remember that regardless of what kind of cleanser you choose for the first step in your double-cleansing routine, always choose a water-based cleanser next (like micellar water, for example).
It will easily wash off any oil that remains on your face (if there is any), and break down water-soluble impurities, like sweat and dirt.
Popular holy grail cleansers:
Step 2: Toners
When learning how to layer skincare, don’t forget about toners!
The primary purpose of a toner is to regulate the skin’s pH levels before applying serums and moisturizers.
The natural pH of the skin is slightly acidic, which is not always the case for cleansers.
Using a cleanser, especially one with a high pH, can disrupt this balance, leading to sensitivity, irritation, and a broken skin barrier (the outermost layer of the skin that protects our face from environmental threats).
That’s not the only reason why toners are beneficial though – they can also finish cleaning up the skin after cleansing, and, most importantly, they can help hydrate the skin.
If you’re struggling with dry or dehydrated skin, look for toners that have hyaluronic acid or glycerin listen in their ingredients list – these two humectants really help the skin to attract and retain moisture at a cellular level.
The added hydration by the toner can then enhance the absorption of any subsequent products that you use in your skincare routine.
However, do remember that different skin types have different needs, so definitely choose a toner based on that.
Hence, depending on your skin type, including a toner in your skincare regime might save you some trouble when it comes to various skin problems.
People have been loving these lately in skincare communities:
Step 3: Serums and Eye Creams
Serum layering has some nuance to it so it’s super important to include it into the “curriculum” when learning how to layer skincare!
Firstly, serums absorb great on freshly cleaned, toned, and, most importantly, hydrated skin.
That’s especially true for water-based serums – they penetrate the skin much easier when the skin is hydrated.
That is the reason why you should always apply a hydrating agent to your skin before any serums, be it a hydrating toner, or hyaluronic acid, for example.
If you do decide to apply something like hyaluronic acid before all the other serums, remember that its molecules require water to properly activate and do their job.
So, always wet the skin first before applying it (with a few subtleties):
- Your skin shouldn’t be dripping wet, but it should feel considerably damp.
- If you’ve already applied toner, don’t put your face under the water and wash it all off; instead, use a mist – either a store-bought pure water mist or a homemade one from a spray water bottle (which needs to be cleaned thoroughly and regularly!)
Once you’ve hydrated your skin, start applying light products that have active ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin A (retinol), zinc, niacinamide, and other goodies.
When learning how to layer skincare, it’s important to remember to always allow individual serums to soak into your skin – wait for a minute or two before applying anything else.
Also, water-based serums cannot penetrate oil-based serums, so always use the water-based ones first in your routine!
And, after that, it’s time to take care of your eyes.
The skin in this region is prone to premature aging due to pollution, makeup products, or lack of proper hydration.
Hence, using an eye cream will not only hydrate the skin around your eyes but will protect your skin from possible irritation from other products.
I am slightly obsessed with skin serums, have to tell ya…
From the first day that I started using them, I noticed an immediate improvement in my skin and things just got better and better every day.
If you’re looking for cheap, yet extremely well-formulated and effective serums, definitely take a look at these beautiful boys from Tree Of Life:
Step 4: Moisturize Hard
Yes, the order is indeed correct: you first apply eye cream and after that, you get to apply a moisturizer all over your face.
A daily moisturizer will lock in all of the already-applied skincare products, letting them do their job under a safe layer of moisture.
Also, when learning how to layer skincare, try to include a night cream in your routine to keep your skin radiant and moisturized throughout the night – just opt for products that have a non-greasy formula to avoid clogged pores.
People are raving about this moisturizer both on Amazon and in skincare communities:
Step 5: Say It With Me: SPF!!!
When learning how to layer skincare, remember that the last product you should be applying to your face is facial sunscreen.
Exposing your unprotected face to the sun can cause premature aging, alongside skin damage and even cancer!
Sun protection for your face is therefore very important.
Even if it doesn’t seem sunny out, there are still harmful UV rays lurking about, penetrating the clouds, so always wear your sunscreen!
When choosing a facial sunscreen, look out for broad-spectrum protection, meaning that the cream will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.
Furthermore, you should always pay attention to the sun protection factor (SPF).
Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for adequate protection from the sun (personally, I always just go straight for the SPF50).
There are many other factors to consider too when choosing a sunscreen – your skin type, its texture and finish (for example, glossy or matte), water resistance, and so on.
And one last thing – your sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours for proper protection.
That’s because certain protective chemicals in the sunscreen start to break down when exposed to air or the sun.
People have been raving about this super hydrating hidden gem from a Korean brand for a while now:
This is how to layer skincare products for the best results!
Following those 5 steps in your skincare routine will offer you the desired result: healthy-looking, glowing, and amazing skin.
Try it out, watch your skin, and if you’re still not getting the results you want, look for better quality products and remove anything that possibly irritates your precious skin.
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