How to Layer Your Products for the Most Effective Skincare Regimen
“Do I apply serum before or after moisturizer?” Good question. In fact, we get asked about product layering all the time on our Skin Hotline so let’s settle it once and for all. The order in which you apply skincare products is directly related to how your skin is going to absorb them. To truly get the full benefits of your products, there is a rule of thumb: apply your skincare from thinnest to thickest. That means liquidy products, like toners and serums come first so they can sink in and get to work. Then, seal it all in with oil-based, creamy, or whipped products, like moisturizer and oil. To see the best results from your regimen, follow this order:
Step 1: Cleanser
Whether you’re looking for a clean slate to start your day or a wind down to end it, wash up with your favorite cleanser. Make sure to use one that is free of sulfates, soaps, and detergents (like our Wash It Out Gel Cleanser), which can strip your natural oils and create that uncomfortable squeaky clean feeling. Or double cleanse. If you're a double cleanser, use an oil-based cleanser as your first cleanse.
Step 2: Toner
A good toner can restore the skin’s pH, remove hard water residue, and replenish skin. The water-like consistency of toner penetrates quickly and preps your skin for the rest of your regimen. If you love K-beauty and use an essence, this is the time to do so—after toner and before serum.
Step 3: Serum
Serums are packed with active ingredients that target specific concerns. During this step, really take your time to massage the product in with your hands or with a facial roller. You can also add in a booster, like a couple drops of hyaluronic acid or vitamin C, to your serum or layered under or over it (just follow the thinnest to thickest rule).
Step 4: Eye Care
As you may know, the skin around your eyes is the thinnest on your body—meaning your eyes can always use some extra TLC. Once your facial serums have absorbed, hit the eye area with your favorite eye serum, gel, or cream.
Step 5: Moisturizers
Seal it all in with a moisturizer. Moisturizers are usually thicker in consistency because they are designed to absorb slower than your other products—this helps to lock in the moisture and protect your skin. Gel-cream, lotion, or rich cream? You decide. If you're an oil person, this is where you'd want to layer it in—either on top of or instead of moisturizer.
Step 6: Spot Treatment
When it comes to addressing unwanted visitors, you have two options: Moisturize first—using a light layer of product over the affected areas— before topping off with a blemish treatment, or apply the spot treatment first, then moisturize everywhere but the affected area. This will prevent any smearing and make sure your product gets where it needs to go. Depending on the size of the breakout area, one way may work better for you than the other.
Step 7: Sunscreen
And finally, let’s not forget to protect our skin from the sun every day. Applying sunscreen should be the last and final step in your AM skincare routine. The AAD recommends choosing SPF 30 or higher with broad-spectrum protection to ward off both UVA and UVB rays.
Incorporate Bi-Weekly: Masks and Peels
These targeted treatments products can work their way into your rotation, typically 1-3 times a week when your skin needs it most. For wash-off masks and peels, work these in after cleansing and toning but before applying your serums. For leave-ons, layer them on after serum or simply on freshly cleansed skin.