How to Layer Skincare Products - Complete Step-By-Step Guide

March 01, 2021

How to Layer Skincare Products - Complete Step-By-Step Guide

Does it truly matter the order in which you apply and layer your skincare products? YES! “As long as I am using skincare products, isn’t that good enough?” NO!

Just as you would follow a recipe for making a decadent layered cake, you simply could not add the icing to it before mixing the ingredients and actually baking the cake’s individual layers…it wouldn’t make any sense! So, in answer to your question, YES, the foundation literally does matter! So once you have established which product should be applied first, THEN you can start layering the additional skincare products.

Step 1: Let the Layering Begin

First and foremost, make sure you ALWAYS start your skincare routine by washing your face and using your favorite toner! These two steps are the basic foundations of Skincare 101.

Second, you want to start the layering process with the thinnest products, such as serums. Serums are designed to deliver high concentrations of any formulation’s active ingredients into the skin. Due to their smaller molecular size, the ingredients can penetrate and have a direct outcome on the appearance of the skin.

A helpful hint: if you have oil-based serums as well as water-based, please remember to apply the water-based serums first. Oil-based serums can block the absorption of any water-based serums. And since serums can tend to be on the pricey side, you definitely want to make sure you are layering your skincare serums in the correct order to get the best bang for your buck!

Step 2: Eye Creams and Moisturizers Layering

The next step in the layering of skincare products is often confusing. For example: should I apply an eye cream or a moisturizer first? We have found that a simple rule of thumb is based on the actual thickness of the product itself. As mentioned, always apply products from thinnest to the thickest, all while allowing each layer of skincare product to fully absorb.

Moisturizers are one of the most commonly used, and often most important skincare products you can use. It is also a good place to find a product that does more than just moisturize. When applying moisturizers at the same time as other products, your moisturizer will most likely be one of the last products applied. A good moisturizer usually contains oils and butters which seal in the moisture and provide a soft, smooth feel to your skin.

How Weather Affects Layering Skincare Products

Weather is an important factor in choosing a moisturizer to use. Extremes of cold and hot tend to dry out your skin quicker which necessitates a heavier product. During the more comfortable spring and early fall temperature days you can use a lighter moisturizer. The same goes for humidity. It makes sense that when there is more humidity in the air around you, you lose less moisture to the air, meaning that a lighter moisturizer is enough.

Why Ingredients Matter With Moisturizers

A great moisturizer will prevent dryness and damage which can lead to discomfort and early aging. Certain ingredients are hallmarks of good quality moisturizers.
Humectants are ingredients such as glycerin, sorbitol, propylene, and other glycols, which pull moisture from the air around you, and also from deeper layers of tissue, to concentrate moisture on your outer layers of skin.

Your skin has certain components which help it to form a barrier against the outside world. When your skin is dry, this barrier doesn't function properly. Certain ingredients such as ceramides, cholesterol, niacinamide, and fatty acids are excellent additions to moisturizers for rebuilding that barrier.

Lipids and other occlusive ingredients are what really make a moisturizer shine. These can include beeswax, lanolin, oils, waxes, and butters. They prevent the loss of water from your skin by sealing in the moisture. Ingredients such as petroleum jelly or mineral oil are also used at times, but these ingredients have some downsides as well, so the more natural alternatives are often better.

Extra Benefits Of Using Moisturizers

Moisturizers are also a great place for more active ingredients which can be used to bring extra benefit. Oftentimes vitamins, natural plant extracts, peptides, and other anti-aging ingredients can be incorporated to really pack a punch! A good moisturizer may decrease wrinkles, smooth the skin, improve dark spots, or strengthen skin.

Oftentimes one area which needs an extra boost from moisturizers is the under-eye area. This area can carry extra stress and dryness for many people. A good moisturizer for the eye area may reduce puffiness, improve dark circles, and bring a bit of life to tired eyes.

Step 3: Sun Protection

While getting a little sun can be great for your mood and give you a boost of Vitamin D (arguably one of the most important vitamins for your health) you are being constantly bombarded by UV radiation throughout the day which can be harmful to your skin.

UV protection can be a potentially confusing step when you layer skincare products. “Do I put it on first? Last?” “Somewhere in the middle?” “How much do I need?” “One of my products lists an SPF, is that enough?” It is a difficult question.

“How much do I need?” Well, the simple answer is that you need as much as YOU need. Every person has their own sensitivity to UV radiation, which you likely have some idea of already. Fair-skinned individuals will need more than those with darker complexions, but you know yourself better than anyone else. It also depends that day on how much sun you think you are going to get. In general, however, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends a minimum of SPF 30 for daily use.

When To Layer Sun Protection

When should you put it on? That depends on the product being applied. The same basic principles apply to sunscreen as any other product. If it is a thin product it should go on before a thicker, greasier product. Many cosmetics include some level of SPF protection as well, so a separate layer may not be necessary. It is important to note however those mineral-based sunscreens create a physical barrier on your skin, so that may interfere with some of the effectiveness of certain ingredients such as peptides reaching your skin to perform their function, so you will likely want to put mineral-based sunscreens on top of most other layers.

Layering Multiple SPF-Based Products

If you have multiple products which each have SPF ratings, you can certainly use more than one. However, due to the complex way in which these products work, simply adding the SPF numbers together will not necessarily give you the SPF you will experience from the combination of products. This should be kept in mind when choosing an appropriate level of SPF protection.


Before you go, if all this information has left you a little overwhelmed or slightly confused, here is a quick tip for simplifying your skincare routine:

  • Most of us have a variety of different skincare concerns and goals. As you start adding more and more skincare products to your routine it will get more and more complicated, not to mention more and more expensive!
  • Learning how to layer skincare products properly shouldn't have to be a full-time job.

At Aprisa®, one of our most important company goals is to create products that not only work but that are multi-functional, and can easily fit into a simple skincare routine.

We strive to create products that replace multiple other products you might normally use.

There is not one miracle skin care cream that can solve all of your problems, but if you could use a product that evens your skin tone, actually moisturizes, and actually helps hide the signs of aging, now THAT could save you time and money.

Remember: Your skincare routine should fit into your life, not control it!

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