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How to Layer Skincare Products

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

Black woman, smiling, skincare, natural skincare

Let’s be honest, for some of us, skincare products, along with skincare routines can be a bit daunting. Not everyone is clued up on how to look after their skin. A lot of us haven’t been taught.

It’s generally simple once you get the hang of it. Also, aside from any standard ‘guidelines’, it’s wise to do what works for you, as long as it’s not dangerous for your skin.

We’ve compiled some tips to help you along the road to thriving, healthy skin.

Skincare Layering Tips

Layer your products from thinnest to thickest

This is a general rule of thumb. If you slap on your thickest moisturising balm as the very first step in your routine, there’s no way that your other, thinner products will penetrate your skin after that. This is why you should start with your thinnest products first.

Also, each product has a different penetration level. Your skin is made up of several layers, and certain products will be able to penetrate deeper into the epidermis (the outer, top layer of your skin).

So, for example, if you are layering several face products, after cleansing you would start by:

  1. Toning your face (water-based)

  2. Misting your face (water-based)

  3. Using your thinnest serums first (water-based, followed by gel-based)

  4. Onto your thickest serums (oil-based)

  5. Then your moisturiser (the thickest of products, usually oil and water based)

Each step prepares your skin for the next and keeping your skin nice and damp with facial mists or essences help with product penetration. Your thicker products help to lock in hydration. Think emollients (creams and oils) and occlusives (think balms) allowing your skin to retain its moisture.

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Don’t layer too many products at once

Introducing too many new products into your skincare routine at one time can have its drawbacks. Your skin may not be able to tolerate all of the different ingredients. For this reason, we recommend introducing one product at a time into your regimen and observing how your skin responds. You may also want to avoid using some products on a daily basis if the active ingredients are very potent. You can choose to alternate and apply the product every other day. Listen to your skin. It will show you whether it likes what you’re using or not.

Follow the directions that come with your product

Ultimately, you need to follow the usage instructions that come with your product.

Cosmetic chemists and formulators create products to be used in a particular way, in particular doses, for a particular outcome on the skin. It is not wise to make up your own directions as this will either put your skin at risk, or jeopardise your ability to see real results on your skin.

If you read the directions for each product you have, there may be instructions to only use certain products in your AM or PM routine, so that the ingredients can perform their best and not damage your skin. There may also be a limit to how many times a week that product should be used.

Be consistent with your skincare routine

We cannot stress enough how important it is to be consistent with the correct skincare routine.

Products will need to be used steadily and repeatedly to see long-lasting results. The cycle for your cells to renew at the outermost layer of your skin takes around 28 days in your late teens to early 20’s. As you reach your 30’s, 40’s and beyond, the process takes even longer, spanning from 30-60+ days.

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