If you’re unsure of how to layer your skincare products, you can rest assured that there’s a lot of standard rules and methods of application that have been developed through decades of advancement in skincare science. It’s important to learn how to layer your skincare products since doing it wrong will reduce their effectiveness and prevent certain products from penetrating into your skin. At worst, it can even cause harm to your skin if ordered incorrectly.
Before we go into detail, here are some basic rules that anyone can follow:
- When layering, start from the thinnest products and end with the thickest. Putting thin products on top of thick products will stop the thinner product from being able to even reach your skin.
- The same can be said for oil and water-based products. Everyone knows that water and oil doesn’t mix properly, so applying water-based products onto oil-based products won’t work. Instead, apply water-based products before oil-based to get the benefits of both.
- Keep the pH levels of your entire routine similar, we’d say within 1 or 2 levels of each other, and start with the lowest pH products and end with the highest so that they can all work their magic.
How to Layer Your Daily Routine
The first step of any responsible skincare routine will be cleansing. Some can get by with splashing water on their face to clean up and unclog pores, but if you want to get the best results, you’ll want to use a cleanser to completely eliminate any bad oil or skin residue. You don’t want cleansers to dry your skin, which means you’ll likely want to get products that have no sulfate in them, and you certainly don’t want them to strip your skin of its natural, healthy oils.
Micellar water is a great universal cleanser since it’s compatible with most skin types, otherwise you want creams or lotions for dry skin, oil-based cleansers for sensitive skin, or foaming liquid for oily skin. The famous Korean skincare routine will have you use two different cleansing products, your usual oil cleansing and a low-pH cream or foam cleansing to double up on how clear your face is when you begin.
At this point you can manually rub away any dead skin cells with a silicone cleaning brush or some other non-abrasive scrub, but this is optional and only an alternative to using acid-based exfoliant products.
Next you should apply toner, especially if you cleanse with cream products since they can leave a film on your skin. Toners are nutrient-packed liquids that balance your complexion and don’t take much effort to apply. They contain a lot of reparative and hydrating contents like hyaluronic acids and the vitamins C and E. When applying toner, you should have clean hands and shy away from cotton application pads since you don’t want to waste toner if it gets saturated into the pad material.
Then you should be applying your chemical exfoliants, if you’re using them, to keep dead skin cells out of the way. Look for products with ingredients that include alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic or glycolic acids, or beta-hydroxy acids like salicylic acid. Alpha-hydroxy acids make your skin more vulnerable to the sun than beta-hydroxy acids do, so try to use a combination of both to keep you covered.
At this point you can also add some eye cream into the mix if you’re worried about the skin around your eyes. Your eyes lack a lot of the same natural moisturization that the rest of your skin has and may even get drier during the cleansing and exfoliating process. Most eye serum should suffice for this, so you don’t need to worry about your skin types.
From here you can go straight to your moisturizers, but if you want some extra steps that will improve your routine, you can go for vitamin C serums and light hydrating serums. The vitamin C serum, or more specifically the L-ascorbic acid in Vitamin C, brightens dark spots on the skin. Serums or essences that contain humectants are best for adding some pre-moisturizer moisture to your skin. This isn’t necessary, especially if you’re using a cream moisturizer for the next step. Adding an emulsion is also an option at this stage, too.
Moisturizer is the final stage in many people’s skincare routines, paying off all the preparation you’ve done so far by adding moisture to your skin and locking in all of the previous products you’ve applied. The kind of moisturizer you use should change depending on your skin type. You should use gel for oily skin, cream for dry skin, and balm for sensitive skin.
Where many stop here, the cultures known for having the best skincare routines add a few extra steps to maximize their skin’s protection. The main additional step is sunscreen. In the West, many apply sunscreen only as and when they think they need it, but the UV rays that the sun sends your way are present whether it’s sunny or outcast outside.
In Asian skincare routines, sunscreen is an essential final step, particularly sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB rays, so shop around for those products. It’s not only a final step but a repeating step, with sunscreen being applied every two hours or so when on the Korean ten step regimen. You don’t need to take it this far, but try to get some protection from sun damage into your routine.
How to Layer Your Nightly Routine
You start your nightly routine by removing your makeup, if you’re wearing any. Micellar water is again great for most skin types, but most other cleansers should work too so know your skin and use the correct cleanser types.
Once the makeup has been removed, you’ll want to cleanse the skin underneath. This means another round of a cleansing agent of your choice, which can be the same cleanser you used to remove your makeup in the first place, and the same cleanser you use in the mornings.
Then you can, just as you did in the morning, use a cleaning brush or some similar implement to physically exfoliate your skin. If you don’t have a skin-cleaning brush, you can use some cloth that’s wet with warm water. This again isn’t necessary if you’re planning on using chemical exfoliants, but many want to apply as little product as possible at night.
Finally, you should apply some toner to restore your skin’s pH balance, especially if you’re planning on applying chemical exfoliant, and then some moisturizer or night cream to keep your face moisturized throughout the night. You can also add eye cream or treatments for acne or any other skin blemishes you may have. You can also apply a sleeping facemask to lock in these products and keep the skin soft during the night.
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