The Exact Order You Should Layer Your Skin Care Products
Think the order you layer your skin care products doesn’t matter? Think again. Learning how to layer your skin care products is key if you want to get the most out of them. From when to apply serum to whether or not to end with moisturizer or start with it, we detail the exact order you should layer your skin care products below!
Why Order Matters When You’re Layering Skin Care
Just like estheticians have a protocol to follow when they treat your skin to a facial, there’s a similar protocol you should follow at home when caring for your complexion. The main reason for this is because it helps to ensure the products you have chosen—and have often shelled out hard earned dollars for—can live up to their promises. Take for instance a spot treatment when you have blemish. If you wait until after you’ve layered on your moisturizers and serums, chances are the active ingredients—we’re looking at you, salicylic acid—won’t even be able to reach your skin or be as effective as they can be.
It’s not just how you layer your products that matters, it’s also when you layer them. Case in point, that spot treatment we just spoke about. When you use a product formulated with acne-fighting ingredients during the daytime you may be putting your skin at greater risk for sun damage. What’s more, other ingredients are actually rendered inactive when they come in contact with the sun.
How to Layer Your Skin Care Products
Whether we’re talking about a morning skin care routine or a nighttime one, generally it’s best to layer your skin care products based on their texture—starting with the thinnest and most lightweight and ending with thicker products.
First Layer: Makeup Removal
Okay fine this isn’t really a layer per say, but it should be the first step in your skin care routine. While many cleansers can effectively remove your makeup we like to hedge our bets by using cleansing towelettes or a makeup remover first. This way we can focus solely on impurities that are lingering on our skin’s surface during our next step.
Second Layer: Cleanser
No makeup to remove? Then your morning and night skin care routine should always start with cleanser. While the method of cleansing is up to you—there’s double cleansing, oil cleansing, and even no-rinse cleansing if that’s more your speed—it’s imperative to layer your products on a clean complexion. The best moisturizers and serums can’t be expected to work if they have to make their way through a layer of makeup, dirt, and grime. Do your skin a favor and cleanse twice a day!
If you want a truly effective cleanse, consider investing in a Clarisonic cleansing device. These sonic cleansing brushes are proven to cleanse the skin up to six times better than hands alone—and with so many different sizes and colors to choose from, there’s a Clarisonic out there perfect for everyone. (Not to mention you can customize your cleanse by switching out the brush heads!)
Up to three times a week at night, you’ll want to use a cleanser that also exfoliates. You can opt for cleansers formulated with chemical exfoliators like glycolic acid or LHA or you can reach for a scrub. This step helps to ensure that dead skin cell buildup is sloughed away from the surface of your skin and the rest of your products have easier access to skin’s surface.
Third Layer: Toner
The next step in your morning and evening routine is a layer of toner. Contrary to popular belief toner does not equal astringent—so forget everything you think you know about it now. A toner helps to balance the skin’s pH balance, keeping it from skewing alkaline and potentially becoming dry. These hydrating liquids also help to remove any leftover impurities that may have evaded your cleansing routine.
Fourth Layer (Optional): Spot Treatment
Breakouts are the worst—amiright?! But thankfully there are great spot treatments available to help minimize their appearance fast. Look for formulas with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide if possible—these are considered the gold standard when battling breakouts. Use these products as directed and only on the affected area after toning in order to give it full access to the offending spot.
Fifth Layer: Serum or Oil
No blemishes? Then skip right on to the fifth layer in your skin care routine and reach for a serum or an oil—depending on your skin care needs and preferences. Oils are great if you’re looking for added hydration—and a little facial massage—and serums are wonderful for targeting certain skin care woes like the signs of skin aging.
During the daytime we’re big fans of using a serum formulated with antioxidants—like this fan-favorite vitamin C serum. Since free radicals are known to accelerate the signs of skin aging—fine lines, wrinkles, dullness, and even dark spots—it’s key to use products that can help shield your skin from their effects. At nighttime reach for an oil with anti-aging benefits and massage it onto your complexion for a little spa-like action before bedtime!
Sixth Layer: Moisturizer
No matter what skin type you have—from mature and extra day to oily and acne-prone—you must moisturize. Failing to moisturize your complexion can lead to more prominent signs of skin aging and even an excess of oil—thanks to your skin being dehydrated. Reach for products that have been formulated with your specific skin needs (and type) in mind. For combination or oily skin types look for lightweight options that are gel- or water-based and formulated with hyaluronic acid. If you have dry skin, look for thicker creams that have been formulated with plant butters or ceramides.
Seventh Layer: Eye Cream
Eye cream is great for helping to keep the delicate, thin skin surrounding the eye contour hydrated and looking youthful. To help reduce the appearance of crow’s feet, dark circles, and puffiness, use an eye cream that’s formulated for your specific needs twice daily.
Eighth Layer: Sunscreen
You may be never fully dressed without a smile, but you’re definitely never fully done with your morning skin care routine if you haven’t applied sunscreen. This final step helps to protect your skin from the harsh, skin-aging, and drying effects of the sun’s UV rays. Look for a formula that best suits your needs—think: a matte finish or a hydrating feel—and apply it before leaving the house each day. Make sure the label says broad-spectrum SPF which is the only way to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays.