A woman applying cream to her face

How to Layer Skincare Products in the Right Order

Back to all posts March 28, 2024

Welcome to the world of skincare, where the order in which you apply your products is just as important as the products themselves. Whether you’re a skincare aficionado or a beginner, understanding how to layer skincare products effectively can make a significant difference in your skin’s health and appearance.

This guide aims to demystify the order of skincare products, providing you with a step-by-step routine for both morning and night. We’ll cover everything from the basic rule of thumb in layering to the specifics of applying serums, moisturizers, and more.

The Basics of Skincare Layering: What Order to Apply Skincare

Layering skincare products correctly is essential for allowing each product to work effectively and penetrate the skin properly. The fundamental rule of thumb is to apply products from the thinnest to the thickest consistency. This ensures that lighter products, which often contain active ingredients like vitamin C or glycolic acids, are not obstructed by heavier creams or oils. By following this sequence, you can maximize the benefits of each product and truly protect your skin against environmental aggressors and free radicals.

Morning Skincare Routine: How to Layer Skin Care Products

  1. Cleansing: Start your day by washing your face with a gentle cleanser. This step removes any residual products from the night and prepares your skin for the day’s skincare routine.
  2. Toning: After cleansing, toner can help to balance your skin’s pH and remove any remaining impurities. It also helps to prepare your skin for the next steps.
  3. Applying Serums: Serums should be applied next. If you’re using a Vitamin C serum, the morning is the perfect time for it. Vitamin C is known for its antioxidant properties, helping to combat free radicals and brighten the skin. Apply your serums gently, ensuring they penetrate the skin effectively.
  4. Eye Care: The eye area requires special attention. Use a dedicated eye cream to address concerns like dark circles or puffiness. Since the skin around the eyes is delicate, eye cream can provide targeted care without irritation.
  5. Moisturizing: Now, do you put serum on before or after moisturizer? Always before. Once your skin has absorbed the serum, follow up with a moisturizer to lock in hydration and the benefits of the serum.
  6. Sun Protection: One of the most critical steps in your morning routine is applying sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Sunscreen should always be the final step in your morning skincare routine to ensure maximum protection.

Evening Skincare Routine

  1. Double Cleansing: In the evening, start with double cleansing. This involves using an oil-based cleanser first to remove makeup and sunscreen, followed by a water-based cleanser to clean your skin.
  2. Exfoliating: Depending on your skin type, several times a week, incorporate an exfoliant into your routine. Products with glycolic acid or lactic acid are excellent for gently removing dead skin cells, promoting cell turnover, and revealing brighter skin.
  3. Applying Night Serums and Treatments: Nighttime is the perfect opportunity to use serums with active ingredients that work while you sleep. These can penetrate the skin more effectively at night without interference from sun exposure or makeup.
  4. Eye Cream: Apply a nourishing eye night cream to tackle concerns like fine lines or overnight hydration specifically for the delicate eye area.
A woman applying cream to her face

Special Considerations in Skincare Layering

Skincare isn’t one-size-fits-all, and layering your products effectively requires some customization based on individual skin concerns and types. For those dealing with specific skin issues like acne or aging, incorporating targeted treatments into your routine is crucial. Consult a board-certified dermatologist for advice on integrating products like retinoids or acne treatments.

For different skin types, the choice of products will vary. Oily skin might benefit from lightweight, non-comedogenic formulas, while dry skin requires richer, more hydrating products.

When layering these products, always follow the rule of applying lighter products first. For instance, a hydrating serum should precede an acne treatment cream. It’s also important to be mindful of the active ingredients in your products to avoid irritation. For example, using retinoids and glycolic acids together might be too harsh for some skin types.

Additional Tips for Skincare Layering

Skincare is a daily commitment, and how often you apply certain products can impact their effectiveness. Exfoliants like products containing lactic acid should generally be used only a few times a week to avoid over-exfoliation. Always pay attention to how your skin reacts after applying a product and adjust the frequency accordingly.

Seasonal changes can also dictate adjustments in your skincare layering routine. During colder months, you might need to layer more hydrating products to combat dryness, whereas in the summer, lighter, more protective products could be more beneficial.

Common mistakes in skincare layering include using too much product, which can prevent proper absorption, or layering products in a way that they cancel each other out. For instance, applying a rich cream before a lightweight serum can hinder the serum’s ability to penetrate the skin.

Advanced Skincare Layering

For those who have a well-established skincare routine and are looking to take it to the next level, incorporating advanced products and techniques can offer additional benefits. This could include using more potent active ingredients or specialized products like facial oils or essences.

When layering these advanced products, it’s crucial to understand their function and how they interact with other products in your routine. For example, facial oil can be applied after your moisturizer to seal in all the layers underneath and add an extra level of hydration, which is especially beneficial during the winter months.

The Bottom Line

Mastering the art of skincare layering is a journey that involves understanding your skin, being aware of the product’s functions, and knowing the correct order to apply them. From cleansing and toning to applying serums and moisturizers, each step plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and appearance of your skin.

Remember, the morning routine is all about protection and prevention, focusing on products that protect your skin from the sun and environmental aggressors. The night routine is about repair and rejuvenation, utilizing products that support skin recovery and treat specific concerns.

By following these guidelines and adjusting as needed for your specific skin type and concerns, you can create a skincare routine that not only addresses your current skin needs but also helps to prevent future issues. As always, when in doubt, consult a board-certified dermatologist for personalized advice tailored to your unique skin. Happy layering!

Want to simplify your skincare routine? Shop our skin care treatments and remove the guesswork.

Dr. Andrew Jacono

Dr. Andrew Jacono, M.D., F.A.C.S., is a Dual Board Certified, Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon with a thriving practice on Long Island’s Gold Coast and in Manhattan on Park Avenue.

Dr. Jacono specializes in reconstructive surgery, specifically facelifts, rhinoplasties and eyelid lifts with flawless, yet natural results. He’s internationally recognized for his innovative non-surgical and minimally invasive facial rejuvenation techniques. As Director of the New York Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery, Dr. Jacono's expertise attracts a wide range of clientele, from prominent celebrities to everyday individuals seeking various enhancements. He is also sought-after for his expert opinion as a lecturer and presenter. Dr. Jacono has presented his innovative techniques at leading universities in the US, and has conducted live surgery at over 100 global plastic surgery meetings and symposiums across multiple countries and organizations.

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