Layering skincare is a process I practice with my clients and at home every day. The concept is simple, but the benefits are extensive. When you apply skincare in the correct order, it penetrates deeper and becomes much more effective, making the most out of your products and successfully treating skin concerns.
Once you understand the methodology of layering skincare, applying your products in the proper order will become second nature.
What is Skincare Layering?
The concept of skincare layering is nothing new, but it's become more complex with the increased use of serums, SPF, and several varieties of moisturizers. The phrase "layering" refers to the order in which skincare products are applied to increase efficacy and improve skin health.
Ordering products by texture or pH level is the basis of properly layered skincare. Whether your routine is three steps or ten steps, when you use products in a sequence of thinnest to thickest, they can reach the skin more effectively and penetrate on a deeper level. Proper cleansing and toning, in the beginning, balance the skin's pH levels, allowing for better absorption of serums and moisturizers.
You'll also want to consider which products in your routine target your specific skin concerns and then apply those closest to the skin. In most cases, the most concentrated product in the lineup is a serum.
How Does Layering Skincare Work?
You’ve spent time and money on your skincare products, but unless you use them in the proper order, they may not work at their full potential. For example, if you apply a serum after a moisturizer, it will only sit on top since the moisturizer has a thicker consistency.
Each product in your regimen was designed to function based on a particular order of application. Take moisturizers as another example. Because of their emollient-rich formulas, they perform best applied last so they can lock in hydration and provide a barrier, protecting the skin from environmental irritants.
Benefits of Properly Layered Skincare
We all want our skincare products to perform at their highest level, especially when you’ve spent time curating a customized routine. Thankfully, layering your products in the correct order will help them work remarkably better. Here are even more benefits of properly layered skincare:
- Increases product efficacy
- Quicker resolution of skincare concerns
- Better sun protection
- Encourages a balanced pH level
- Reduces inflammation
How to Layer Skincare Products in the Correct Order
No matter what your skin condition is at the moment, the methodology behind layering your skincare remains the same: products should be applied from thinnest to thickest. The same goes for whether you’re following your morning or nighttime routine. The ingredients in the products may change, but the consistency still matters.
I’ve found that using my products in this order maximizes their effectiveness.
- Cleanser - Cleansing removes dirt and makeup from the pores, so they are clear to absorb the rest of your products.
- PH controlling Toner - This frequently missed step is one of the most critical in your routine. After rinsing with water, the skin needs to be brought to a proper pH before treating inflammation or other skin concerns. Toners also remoisten the skin so it can soak up serums.
- Serum - It’s important that serums can reach the skin because they contain the highest concentrations of active ingredients. Applying them under moisturizers to properly toned skin allows for maximum absorption.
- Eye cream - Many people apply eye cream last. But by doing that, they are missing out on all the incredible benefits and ingredients that specifically target the skin around the eyes.
- Moisturizer - Whatever makes your skin the most comfortable, whether a light lotion or creamy balm, should be applied last to lock in moisture and seal in serums.
- SPF - This step is obviously for the daytime and can be skipped during nighttime routines. Apply mineral or zinc sunscreens over moisturizers because they physically block UV rays.
Lastly, when it comes to skincare, more isn’t always more. It’s easy to overdo it and accidentally use more product than you actually need, especially moisturizers and serums. Following the directions on the label will help guide you toward the correct amount to use.
Best Skincare Products for Layering
The right skincare for you depends on the day, whether you’re experiencing inflammation, feeling dehydrated, or looking for a lift. Here are some of our favorites that allow you to customize your routine based on your skin condition.