Basic Skin FAQs How To Guides

How to layer skincare – the dos and donts

If you just started on your skincare journey, it is easy to get overwhelmed and over-enthusiastic. Yes, it is possible to be both at the same time. The sheer number of products on the market available is staggering. Some are one-ingredient products. Others combine more than one active ingredient and function as a multi-purpose product. But how do you incorporate them into your routine? How do you layer them to get the best effectiveness and minimum irritation?

Consistency matters

By consistency, we mean the texture of the products. A general rule of the thumb is to go from the thinnest to the thickest consistency. In practice, this means after cleansing, you go from your water-based treatment serums to moisturisers and facial oils. Why does consistency matter? Because you want thinner consistency treatment serums to penetrate as they should. And they can’t if you layer a thicker product underneath.

Morning routine

A baseline morning routine would be as follows:
• Cleanser
• Eye cream
• Antioxidant serum
• Moisturiser
• Sunscreen

But, if you have oily skin, you might skip moisturiser altogether since sunscreen can provide all the hydration you need.

• Cleanser
• Eye cream
• Antioxidant serum
• Sunscreen

Dry skin types might need a bit extra nourishment and hydration:

• Cleanser
• Eye cream
• Antioxidant serum
• Hydrating essence
• Moisturiser
• Facial oil
• Sunscreen

Things get more complicated with actives. What we call actives are treatment serums and exfoliating toners. Ingredients included in this group are vitamin C, Alpha-Hydroxy acids (AHAs), Beta-Hydroxy acids (BHA), vitamin A (retinol). If you have two products of the same consistency in your morning routine, the active treatment serums go first so that your skin gets the most benefits.

Active ingredients can produce fabulous results. But it can be easy to get overenthusiastic (in case you are wondering what over-exfoliation looks and feels like, read more here). No matter which active ingredients you use, introduce one at a time at a slower pace. Once you see how your skin responds, you can either up the frequency or scale back.

We would advise you not to go too crazy and slather several actives at the same time. Read more on which ingredients go well together.

Evening routine

How would a baseline evening routine look like for all skin types?

• Oil, cream, balm cleanser (to remove makeup and sunscreen)
• Gentle second cleanse
• Eye cream
• Treatment serum
• Moisturiser

Based on your skin type, you can add additional products.

Oily skin type

• Oil, cream, balm cleanser
• Gentle second cleanse
• Eye cream
• Exfoliating toner or Retinol serum
• Moisturiser

Dry skin

• Oil, cream, balm cleanser
• Gentle second cleanse
• Eye cream
• Treatment serum
• Hydrating essence
• Moisturiser
• Facial oil

Again, the same rule applies, go from thinnest to thickest consistency.

When it’s okay to bend the rules

Let’s say you have never used an acid-based product before, and your skin is sensitive. Apply a moisturiser before you apply an acid-based serum to slow down the delivery of acids. Also, start using an acid-based product twice per week for at least two weeks to see how your skin will respond. There is no need to go in all guns blazing. You’ll still see results, albeit at a slower pace and with no irritation. If there are no signs of dryness or peeling, you can up the frequency. You can use the same method if you are new to retinol.

The most important thing is to monitor your skin and adjust the products in your routine to the skin’s needs. Some can handle acids or retinol only a couple of times per week, others can handle them daily. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to skincare.

About the author

Roberta Striga

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