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How to Layer Skin Care Products

Whether you’re putting together a stylish outfit or making a delicious trifle, a skilled approach to layering can make or break an outcome. The same is true of skin care products, and all skin types can benefit from following a proper order of application to enhance results. With the goal of healthy, glowing skin in mind, here’s how to layer your skin care like a pro.

1. Start with a Clean Slate

First things first, you need to use a cleanser to remove any excess oils, sweat, SPF, makeup, and microscopic bits of dirt and debris from your face. Choose the right cleanser for your skin type and use it in the morning and evening to start your skin care routine. Even if your face doesn’t look or feel ‘dirty’ before bed, it needs to be refreshed after exposure to environmental pollutants. Plus, sun care products – a daily essential for everyone – are made to stick to skin (that’s how they provide UV protection) and that residue must be washed off every night to avoid clogged pores. 

2. Steady Your Gaze
If eye cream is part of your routine, then apply it now. The skin around the eye area is very thin and delicate, and it deserves the chance to absorb the full benefits of a brightening, hydrating or firming eye cream formula. Also, most active-rich serums are not intended for the eye area so it’s best to create a soothing barrier to avoid any potential irritation.

3. Work by Weight
Always layer products in terms of texture, starting with the thinnest and working gradually to the thickest. At this stage you want to apply any product with a watery consistency that targets concerns, such as an antioxidant serum. A formula with a lightweight fluid texture tends to have a smaller molecular structure compared to a denser cream or even a gel. A thin texture allows active ingredients, such as Vitamin C, to be absorbed easily and penetrate the skin at a deeper level where it can be most effective. If you were getting dressed for a winter activity, you wouldn’t put a gauzy thermal on top of a chunky sweater, right? Same idea here, you want the base layer (that’s your serum) against your skin for maximum efficacy. 

4. Be Aware of Actives
While texture is a general guiding principle, it shouldn’t be treated as the only rule for optimal layering. Being mindful of powerful ingredients is also important because some simply don’t get along being in the same place at the same time. To avoid potential irritation, products that contain exfoliating acids (like glycolic acid) and retinol should not be layered together. However, that’s not to say they can’t both be used in an overall routine. If you love what each ingredient offers skin, you can try rotating them. Separate usage by time of day (i.e., use an acid-based scrub in the AM and a retinol cream at night), or assign each one alternating evenings during the week. With scheduled appearances they can co-exist and make your complexion happy.

5. Take Protective Measures
It’s now time for face cream! The end of a routine is where thicker textures should rule. Designed to melt into the upper layer of skin, restoring hydration and providing a protective barrier, a moisturizer will either be the last or second last step in your routine. It all depends what time it is. In the morning, apply face cream and then finish up by applying daily sun protection, like a tinted mineral sunscreen. Every skin type needs SPF every day to shield against damaging UV rays that contribute to premature aging, as in fine lines and dark spots. In the evening, apply a cream with powerhouse ingredients, like peptides and retinol, on your face, neck, and chest, and you’re done. Using formulas at night that specifically boost cell turnover and replenish skin will take your beauty sleep to the next level.

Proper layering can help you get the most out of your beauty products. From serum to eye cream and SPF, being intentional with the order in which you apply every product can be the little change that leads to dramatic results.


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