Yes, There Actually is a Right Way to Layer Your Skincare Products!

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Studies have found that matching a good skin care regimen with a healthy lifestyle is the best way to slow the signs of aging.

Yes, There Actually Is A Right Way To Layer Your Skin Products!


Call it a ritual. A time tested method. The result of much toil, research, trial-and-error. It is what we’ve come to know as “The Skincare Routine”.

Ladies, we have our skincare routines down to a science. Although, as we get ever-busier, we trade portions of our regimen for a few more minutes of staying in bed in the morning. Exhausted, we forgo important steps at night in favor of returning to said bed.

A survey by SIMPLE SKIN found that only a pitiful number of us are practicing our regimen on the regular.

“Only 37% of women are actively attempting to stick to a skincare routine.”

All that time crunching can lead us to a rushed, slapdash approach to our skincare, forcing us to make compromises and adopt a philosophy of, “As long as I get the product on my face at some point, it will do what it needs to do, right?”WRONG. (Well, sort of.)

Did you know that the way you layer on your skincare products actually makes a difference?

I’m here to break it down and give you a handy cheat sheet guide on the best way to layer your skincare products so that you’ll reap the best benefits from The Routine.

Why does it matter?

It’s not that your skincare items won’t work if you don’t layer them a certain way. But, if you apply them in the correct order, you’ll get the max benefits and you’re much more likely to see results from your skincare products. And, anything worth doing is worth doing right. Right?

It’s important to consider the purpose of your products – why you’re using them in the first place – and give them time to sink into skin and deliver those benefits.

For instance, if you apply a thick moisturizer before more concentrated treatments, it can create a barrier that doesn’t allow your skin to absorb serums or liquids as well.

A general rule of thumb when layering products is to work from thin to thick. Meaning, apply those formulas with a thinner consistency first and follow it up with richer, creamier ones last.

One more thing before we get to it. Remember that this is just my general recommendation for the order of operations, but there’s no one-size-fits-all skincare routine for everyone.

You may need to add or subtract some items based on your needs and skincare concerns (such as products made to target a specific issue).

Use this as a general guideline, and find the regimen that works best for you!

Step 1. Cleanser

As long as you’re splashing water on your face first thing in the morning, you might as well use a gentle cleanser too.

This will help remove stuff like dirt, oil and makeup that your skin can accumulate from your hair and pillowcase while you’re sleeping.

Make sure you’re using a cleanser made for your skin type, so you don’t strip skin’s natural moisture.

Step 2. Toner or Astringent

A lot of people skip this step because they think astringents are too harsh for skin. Not so! Today’s toners are formulated to deliver moisture and anti-aging benefits, and modern astringents are antiseptic and clarifying rather than drying.

A toner or astringent isn’t always necessary, but if your skincare specialist or esthetician recommends one, it’s for a good reason, so use one after cleansing skin. As with cleansers, toners and astringents are specifically formulated for different skin types, so make sure you’re using the right one for you!

Step 3. Serums and Spot Treatments

Now that your skin is all prepped and squeaky clean, it’s time to apply those thinner-consistency products such as serums or those made to address a specific concerns like acne, wrinkles, rosacea and hyperpigmentation.

The reason being that both serums and treatments are more highly concentrated formulas designed to deliver benefits deep into skin’s layers, so it’s best to apply them as closely to skin as possible so they can penetrate without being inhibited.

With serums and treatments, it’s also important to wait at least 5 minutes so they’ve had time to absorb into skin before applying anything else.

Step 4. Moisturizer

Hydrated and moisturized skin is essential to fight wrinkles and blemishes, and it supports healthy skin by reinforcing its protective barrier. This includes oily skin types!

When your skin senses it’s dry, it actually produces more oil which can make matters worse, so it’s important to maintain skin balance and hydration.

You may also need to change up your moisturizer with different conditions. Does your skin get dry in the winter? More oily in the summer? Is it changing with age? Listen to your skin so you can make sure you’re caring for it accordingly.

Step 5. Eye Cream and/or Gel

These days, we have so many options! Yes, there are actually eye products specific for daytime use to combat last night’s puffy eyes. And, you can layer eye products to get max benefits.

Apply an eye gel, wait a few minutes, then follow up with an eye cream for all that depuffing, anti-aging, moisturizing goodness.

Pro tip: Eye cream isn’t just for your mom! It’s recommended that you start using eye cream as early as your 20’s since this is the age when people start seeing signs of aging in the form of crow’s feet and eye wrinkles. Better to prevent than treat!

Step 6. SPF

Don’t leave the house without applying a daily dose of broad spectrum SPF protection. Even on cloudy days. Even if your makeup contains SPF (it usually isn’t enough to provide adequate protection). And even if you’re going to be inside for most of the day.

Much of our UV exposure occurs during non-sunbathing times like driving or walking to and from your car.

Make sure to apply sun protection at least 15 minutes before heading outdoors.

You can cut down on your get ready time by using a moisturizer that contains at least SPF 20 protection. And, if you get a tinted one for light coverage and it’s a three-fer!

From here, you can start applying any liquid makeup or concealers, or go barefaced and show off your natural beauty!

Step 1. Cleanser

Now it’s time to remove all that lovely makeup and gunk from the day. This is important to avoid skin irritations, blemishes and even infections. One survey actually found that 40% of women don’t even wash off their makeup before hitting the sheets!

Use a good cleanser to remove dirt and makeup. You can start with a precleanse or a cleansing oil to dissolve makeup, and/or cleanse twice with a lather-rinse-repeat approach to make sure you’re getting rid of all the day’s residue.

Step 2. Exfoliator

This step is optional, but highly recommended. To save time, you can combine this step with the aforementioned second cleanse. Use a physical or chemical exfoliator to remove dead skin cells which will brighten your complexion and keep pores clean.

Be sure not to overdo it! Follow use instructions. If it’s a product designed for daily use, that’s fine. If not, stick to 2-3 times a week so you don’t risk damaging or drying out skin.

Step 3Toner or Astringent

Put a few drops on a cotton round and swipe over cleansed face, neck and chest. You’ll be surprised at all the dirt, makeup and residue your cleanser can leave behind. Toners and astringents are the best way to balance skin and make sure you’re removing all that business for clear, healthy skin.

Step 4. Serums and Target Treatments

Let these wonderful formulas work their magic while you get your beauty rest. Evenings are also the best time to apply products with exfoliating ingredients like retinol and glycolic acid since they can make skin sensitive during sun exposure.

For the same reason, this is also when you’ll want to apply any skin peels.

As before, wait a few minutes for serums and treatments to absorb into skin before moving on to moisturizer.

Step 5. Moisturizer or Face Oil

Skin repairs itself while you sleep, so you’ll support this process by applying a good moisturizer. Don’t limit it to just your face either! Remember to moisturize your neck and décolleté as well, since this delicate skin can also benefit from hydration.

Step 6. Eye Cream

If you’re only going to use eye cream once a day, then the night time is the right time. Make sure to apply a rich formula around entire eye area for maximum benefits.

So there you have it, and here’s a handy little guide to help you remember the order of operations.

Final Thoughts

While this is the way to get the best benefits from your products, there’s no one magic skincare solution that works for everyone (although, wouldn’t that would be great?).

We each have unique skin and our own set of concerns and goals, so the bottom line is that you have to find a routine that works best for you. You gotta listen to your skin and do you!