The Right Way to Layer Your Skincare

Applying moisturizer on face
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How many products do you use on average when it comes to your skin care routines?

For some, this may be no more than two or three, whereas for others, it could be anywhere from 10 to 15.

No matter how many products you use, the key to experiencing maximum results from your skin care is to ensure that you are layering it properly.

How should you be layering your skin care?

Here are some guidelines for you to keep in mind…

Go from Lightest to Heaviest

The general rule of thumb when it comes to layering skin care is that you should always start with the lightest product, and then end with the heaviest.

How do you know if a product is light or heavy?

You simply look at its texture. If you look at a serum, you will see that it is extremely lightweight, almost like water, whereas a cream is much thicker. This means that the serum is lighter than the cream.

Of course, not all serums or creams will have the same texture either. For example, an eye cream will be lighter than a face moisturizer, while an essence will be lighter than a serum.

Why do you need to go from light to heavy?

Because the heavier products are thicker, meaning that the lighter products will not be able to penetrate through their layers in order to actually reach your skin.

By starting with the lightest first, each subsequent layer of product you apply will be able to make its way through the lighter layers in front of it, meaning that all of the ingredients from each product you use will be able to easily access your skin.

Specialized Treatments are an Exception

Are you using any specialized skin treatments on your face?

This could be anything from anti-acne products to wrinkle-busting solutions.

Well, if you are, it goes without saying that you want those products to be as near to your skin as possible.

Most of the specialized treatments out there are spot treatments, meaning that you only apply them to the parts of your face that need them.

So, go ahead and use these treatments after cleansing and toning, before you apply your other products, even if those treatments may be slightly thicker than the products you are going to be using next.

Here’s Exactly How to Layer Your Daily Skincare Products

Still feeling a little confused about layering your skin care?

Don’t worry, you can always look at this list when applying your products to ensure that you are doing so in the correct order.

Of course, you likely don’t use all of the products on this list, but it is always handy to know about any extras should you decide to one day add them in.

1) Cleanser

A cleanser should always be the first step of every skin care routine. After all, if you don’t clear away the dirt, dead skin cells and oil that sit on the surface of your skin, how will the other products you use be able to actually make their way into your skin cells?

While everybody needs to cleanse, you do need to make sure that you choose a cleanser suitable for your skin type.

Woman cleansing skin

Those with oily skin will need a stronger cleanser, such as a foaming one that contains salicylic acid. On the other hand, this would be far too drying for those with dry skin. In this case, a nourishing milk or mousse cleanser would be idea.

Since this is the very first step of your daily skin care routine, it is one that you really do need to get right.

2) Toner

Although a toner is not essential, using one on a daily basis will quickly bring about improvements to your skin.


Because a toner works to re-balance the skin’s pH level, which is usually disrupted after cleansing. This isn’t the fault of your cleanser – pretty much every cleanser out there does this, due to the ingredients that they need to have in order to properly cleanse the skin.

How do you know if your skin’s pH level is off-balance?

It can be tough because the symptoms are so varied. However, they commonly include:

  • Eczema
  • Dryness
  • Oily skin and acne
  • Psoriasis
  • Signs of premature skin aging
  • Redness

It doesn’t take long for a toner to put all of this right, making it no surprise that they have become much more popular lately.

The 24K Purifying Toner is always a good place to start after cleansing your skin. Simply apply a few drops on a clean cotton pad, and lightly pat this over your face and neck. 

The best thing about it? You can also use it a refreshing mist during the day.

3) Essence

These days, the boundaries between essences and serums are pretty blurred.

However, to begin with, essences were more lightweight than a serum. They were designed to be an extra step between a toner and a serum, providing the skin with an addition hit of hydration.

4) Ampoule

Ever heard of an ampoule before?

It was the world of Korean beauty that made ampoules famous, and these products can now be found just about everywhere.

What exactly is an ampoule?

It is basically an extremely potent serum, packed with a very high concentration of active ingredients.

They are designed to target specific skin issues, and are only meant to be worn for a certain amount of time, rather than indefinitely.

5) Serum

Now on to serums, which are products that just about everybody should be using.

Yes, this is a step in your skin care routine that you should never skip.

Why are serums so important?

Because they are highly concentrated yet lightweight, meaning that they can penetrate into the deeper layers of your skin. Heavier products, such as moisturizers, usually cannot delve quite as deep, and instead focus on the surface layers of your skin.

Woman applying serum on fingertip

Can you use more than one serum?

Yes, you can! Feel free to add two or three serums into your skin care routine.

In fact, there are so many different kinds of serums that you’ll want to ask…

Which serum should be applied first if they all have a similar texture?

Pick the one that has the highest concentration of active ingredients, since you want these to be able to sink into your skin as quickly and easily as possible.

If they all feature similar levels of ingredients, then it does not really matter which one you apply first.

6) Eye Cream

Eye creams are such important products.


Because the skin around the eyes is usually the first part of the face to experience damage and develop wrinkles.

What makes it so susceptible to this?

Three things:

  • There are fewer oil glands here, making it more difficult for the skin around the eyes to stay moisturized. This makes it more prone to dryness, which makes fine lines and wrinkles appear so much more pronounced
  • The skin around your eyes can be up to ten times thinner than the skin on the rest of your face, meaning that it is easily damaged
  • This part of your face is constantly moving, from the thousands of times you blink a day to facial expressions that you make. This means that it experiences more wear and tear than the other parts of your face

An eye cream not only nourishes and hydrates the skin around the eyes, helping it to heal, but it also provides protection, preventing future damage. The 24K Intensive Eye Formula Cream, for example, contains a powerful boost of retinyl palmitate and caffeine to really brighten and awaken the eye area, giving the eyes an overall more vibrant look.

7) Moisturizer

Almost everybody’s skin needs help staying moisturized, which is why a moisturizer is a vital part of any skin care routine.

Now, when it comes to how heavy a moisturizer is, this can vary quite a bit…

However, whether you opt for a lighter lotion or a thick and greasy ointment, your moisturizer will still be heavier than your serum, making it the perfect product to follow on from your serum.

Happy smiling woman applying moisturizer to face

Just like with all of the other products on this list, it is essential that you choose a moisturizer that works well with your skin type.

8) Face Oil

A face oil isn’t an essential part of a skin care routine, but it can definitely be helpful.

What does a face oil do?

It moisturizes the skin while providing it with nutrients and antioxidants. It also adds an additional layer of protection to the skin, which can be helpful for those who have extremely dry or sensitive skin.

Think you can’t use a face oil because you have oily skin?

There are some face oils that can actually be really beneficial to oily skin, because they work to re-balance the skin’s sebum production, bringing this back down to normal levels. Jojoba oil is the perfect example of this.

When you use a face oil, it forms a seal over the surface of your skin, preventing anything else from entering through. This is why a face oil should always be layered over the top of your other skin care products.

9) Sunscreen

While you won’t need a sunscreen at night, this is a crucial part of your daytime skin care routine, and is one that should never be ignored.

Of course, the exception lies with moisturizers that also contain SPF. However, make sure that this is an SPF of at least 30, and that you use enough of the moisturizer on your skin to actually provide your skin with an adequate amount of protection.

Adding in Weekly and Bi-Weekly Treatments

Infographic on applying different skincare

While the above products are used on a daily basis, what do you do about the products that you only use every week, or twice a week?

Let’s begin with face masks…

These should be applied after the cleansing and toning step, before you use anything else on your face.

Once you have rinsed the face mask off, you can then carry on with the rest of your skin care routine.

How about exfoliants?

Since exfoliating is something that you likely do a few times a week, it is important to ensure that you are doing it at the right time.

Ideally, you should be exfoliating after you cleanse. This will ensure that any surface debris has been rinsed away, allowing your exfoliant to effectively clear out your pores.

Once you are done exfoliating, you can then move on to the toning step, and carry on from there.

Oil-Based and Water-Based

It is common knowledge that oil and water do not mix, meaning that if you have a layer of oil on your skin, anything water-based will not be able to make its way through. After all, this is why a face oil is applied right at the end of a skin care routine.

But what should you do if some of the earlier steps in your routine are oil-based?

Oil-based serums in particular are becoming extremely popular.

Well, ideally, you would separate your products out into two lots; water-based and oil-based.

You would then follow the above steps with your water-based products, before doing the same with your oil-based products.

If that sounds too complicated, try using only your water-based products one day, and then your oil-based products the next.

How Long Should You Wait Between Layers?

Now that you know the best way to layer your skin care products, you are probably wondering how long you need to wait in between each layer…

Well, this all depends on the products that you use.

Ideally, you should wait until each product has been absorbed by your skin before moving on to the next layer in your skin care routine.

This will prevent the ingredients in each product from being diluted by the ingredients in the next product.

Now, you might be thinking…

But don’t products absorb better when the skin is slightly damp?

Yes, they do, and damp skin also means that any hydrating and moisturizing products work so much better.

The answer to this is a facial mist.

Once each product has been absorbed, simply give your face a spritz with a facial mist before moving on to the next step in your routine.

It goes without saying that you want to get the most out of your skin care. After all, you have probably invested quite a bit of time and money into choosing the best products for your skin. Well, so long as you layer those products in the right way, your skin will be able to gain maximum use out of them, and it won’t be long before your skin really starts to thrive.