Correctly layering your skincare products will allow you to get the most out of your products and routine. Just as important as choosing the right product for your specific skin type and concern is ensuring that you apply it in the appropriate order. With so many options, it can get confusing. Below, I break down the rules of layering skincare.
Cleanse, treat, shield
As a rule of thumb, your skincare routine should follow this basic principle regardless of how many steps or products it involves. In a nutshell, it involves cleansing to remove debris from the skin’s surface and impurities from the pores; treating with a toner, essence and/or serum to deliver antioxidants and actives deep into the dermis; and shielding with a moisturiser to seal everything in, and an SPF (during the day) to protect from sun exposure.
Layer from thinnest to thickest texture
Of course, it’s not always as simple as the three steps mentioned above. If you ever get a little overwhelmed, just think about applying your products in order of their viscosity or texture. Apply from light to heavy. Start with your most watery products, such as toners, serums, mists and essences and build up to heavier products, such as lotions, moisturisers, oils and creams come next, followed by sunscreen as your final step. This allows each product to penetrate optimally.
Water-based before oil-based
Oil and water don’t mix, and oil can prevent water from penetrating so leave oils till last and apply water-based products first (unless you are using an oil-based, richer, more occlusive creme – then you can layer your face oil underneath and finish with your creme). Let them absorb, and then apply oil-based products on top. I love incorporating facial oils into my skincare routine whether applied neat or adding a few drops into my moisturiser to boost its lipid content. It’s best to oils as a finishing touch (always followed with SPF during the day) because they have occlusive or emollient properties, meaning they create an impenetrable coating over the skin. It’s also worth pointing out that oils should never be used in place of moisturiser. Despite the misconception, oils do not moisturise the skin (they don’t have any humectant or hydrating properties). Rather, they are a lovely way to deliver additional vitamins and nutrients into the skin and lock in moisture.
Lowest to highest pH
If you’re using active ingredients, it’s important to know their approximate pH levels and go from lowest to highest. So, acidic products (pH 3.0 to 4.0) should always be applied before more alkaline (pH 5.0 to 7.0). In saying that it’s best not to combine too many actives.
3. Mist or Essence
4. Treatment Serum
5. Eye Cream
7. Face Oil
1.Oil Cleanse / Cleansing Balm
2. Active Cleanse
6.Mist or Essence
7. Treatment Serum
8. Eye Cream
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley reminded me of a great tip the other day… If you’re using an active serum, apply your eye cream first to act as a protective barrier to the delicate skin around your eyes.
It’s best not to use a chemical exfoliant or acid toner on the same night as using a physical exfoliant/scrub
Ensure that you take all of your products down over the neck and décolleté, especially sunscreen! (except for strong retinols/grainy scrubs/actives)
Remember, less is definitely more. This is just an example of what goes when, it’s best to keep your routine simple and avoid layering too many products or combining too many actives.