Cleanse, tone, moisturise. Ten years ago, this was the basic go-to skincare ritual. But long gone are the simple days when a quick splash of water followed by a slap of face cream was considered a “routine.” For those unfamiliar with today’s frou frou world of skincare, contemporary rituals are all about layering. 

First cleanse, second cleanse, toner, facial essence, ampoule, serum, eye cream and moisturiser, all topped of with a generous application of SPF protection. Phew! Best cancel my morning meetings. In all seriousness, I’m actually a fan of the multi-step Asian technique, perhaps not with quite so many stages, but I find that when you find the right products with the right textures for your skin, your face will never feel clogged up or heavy.

The order in which you apply your products affects how they work on your skin. Piling on an excess of lotions and potions without considering application can lead to irritation, congestion and dullness- the exact opposite of what we’re all aiming for. So as a very general rule of thumb, stick to what you feel you need and always start with the lightest consistency building up to the heaviest.

By no means are you expected to use all of the types of products mentioned here. This is merely to show you where in the routine they would go, should you choose to include them.

layering skincare products

1- Cleanser

Whether you like a face wash and sonic brush or you prefer the heavy cream and warm washcloth method, your first port of call should always be a cleanser- both morning and night. Not only does it get rid of pore-clogging gunk, it preps skin for all the active ingredients that are about to be applied to it.

2- Toner

This is a take it or leave it step for me. I don’t use traditional astringent toners as I find they don’t really do anything for my skin. But if you enjoy using them, by all means wipe over your face with your favourite one after cleansing. As an alternative, this is also where you would use a facial treatment essence.

3- Serum

Serums are generally the most potent product in any routine. This is because they’re jam-packed full of active ingredients that target complexion problems. Because serums are very fine in texture, they penetrate easily in to the skin, getting to work straight where you need them. If you apply a heavy cream or oil on to your skin first, your serum won’t be absorbed. Take a small amount and massage it well in to dry skin, from your forehead all the way down to your décolleté.

4- Eye Cream/Treatment

Another take it or leave it product. More often than not, your serum will work well on the problems around the eye area, targeting lines, sagging and dark circles. If you suffer from dry skin around your eyes, you’ll benefit from the added hydration that an eye treatment provides. Use your ring finger to pat your cream or gel around your eye contour in an anti-clockwise direction.

5- Moisturiser

Lotions, creams, and hydrating gels can all be massaged in to the skin after your serum to provide comfort and protection. This is also where you would use your night cream and neck cream. Massage your product from the centre of your face outwards and upwards to boost micro-circulation and reduce puffiness.

6- Face Oils and Retinol Treatments (NIGHT ONLY)

More intensive rejuvenation treatments should only be used at night. If you like to use face oils, avoid applying them during the day as they often contain potent essential oils that could react in the sun. Applying a moisturiser before retinols will help them absorb better and also minimise irritation and dryness. As they also cause skin to be extremely sensitive to sunlight, you should only ever use them before bed.

6- SPF Protection

Sun protection is always the last skincare product you should apply. This is your barrier product that protects skin from UV rays and other harmful external aggressors. Choose a dry touch fluid that’s light and sits well under makeup. Apply a generous amount and don’t forget your neck and ears.

7- BB and CC Creams 

If you feel your skin doesn’t need a moisturiser, you could actually apply a BB or CC cream straight after your serum and be done as they often provide enough hydration and sun protection without the need for a moisturiser underneath. Explore the various options available according to your skin’s needs as they range from very light and oil-free to rich and creamy. Finish with a light dusting of powder and you’re good to go!

Do you layer your skincare products? How do you do it?

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