Layering Skincare: The Ultimate How-To
What is “Layering” Skincare?
The layering of skincare products may seem like a relatively new thing, but Asian women have been doing it for ages. In fact, we can thank K-Beauty in general for this practice, though it isn't limited to Korean beauty. In short, the intention of layering skincare in a specific order is to maximize the benefits of each product.
Applying your skincare in layers is not as easy as it sounds though, and it depends on whom you ask how to do it "right" what the answer may be. Of course, it will vary greatly on your skin concern and needs at any given moment, as most of us have dynamic skin that isn't defined by type but rather by present conditions. Layering also changes a bit from day to night routines and the season.
Confused yet? Does it sound like something out of a Harry Potter book/Hogwarts Potions class that only Hermione could ever master? Fear not, sweet layering sorceresses!
The following guidelines are based on the properties of Nuria Beauty products as well as the collective wisdom of our founder and women around the world. Remember that there really is no right way to layer skincare and that experimentation will be your best teacher.
In addition, despite what some skincare brands might say, you do not have to use items from only one brand in order to layer successfully. It's perfectly okay to mix and match products across collections within any given brand as well as use products from different brands.
The Ideal Layering Order
Cleanser should be the obvious first step in your skin care regimen, right? But now that “double-cleansing” is common parlance, which cleanser comes first? Oil-based makeup removers and/or micellar waters, like our Hydrate Refreshing Micellar Water. This helps to clear clogged pores from makeup, dead skin cells, or excessive facial oil, which can be especially beneficial for those with oily skin.
It should be noted that if you’re going extra and doing a mask in your skincare routine, it should generally be applied after cleansing, before anything else. At Nuria we believe it is important to listen to your skin instead of assigning it a static skin type because your skin is always changing due to dynamic factors like stress, hormones, lifestyle, and your environment. However above all, the key is to start with clean skin before applying the skincare products – regardless of whether you think you have oily skin, dry skin, or another skin type.
After cleansing, the rule of thumb is to go from lightest to heaviest, or least molecularly dense to most. That's because thinner and/or more watery products can penetrate more easily because of their smaller particle size. These products include Toners, Essences and Serums, generally in that order.
It's worth noting that toners can help boost your overall routine effectiveness in the process of layering skin care because they help your skin be more receptive to other products, such as hydrating serums. Toners are typically followed by essences, which help boost moisture and then by serums, which are designed to act as targeted treatments for specific skin needs such as dryness, dullness, or wrinkles.
The ideal serum for your routine is one with an active ingredient that helps address what your skin needs and this might change based on seasons, hormones, or your environment. By listening to your skin, you can go beyond skin type to give it the treatment it really craves. And don’t be afraid to hydrate skin your skin even if you perceive yourself as having oily skin. Learn more here.
Heavier-hitters like oils, eyes creams and moisturizers come next-to-last or last. The occlusive nature of these products works to keep the hydration and antioxidants/vitamins you just added in and on your skin.
If your eye cream is richer and heavier than your moisturizer, it should go on top. If it's lighter, it should be under your moisturizer. If you're uncertain, check the instructions on the eye cream's packaging and see whether you should apply the cream before or after moisturizer.
The very last step of your daytime skincare routine should be sunscreen. The sunscreen's SPF acts as a shield to protect your delicate skin barrier from harmful UV rays. Application of anything over your sunscreen can dilute its effectiveness.
General Skin Care Layering Tips & Some Caveats
An overall BIG TIP is to allow some time between each step, especially the step between serums, oils, and active ingredient treatments and more occlusive products like eye creams and moisturizers. One way to do this is to keep your favorite moisturizer in your nightstand and apply it just before turning out the light.
Another wise course of action is to allow your skin to adjust to any new product for at least a week, especially if you’ve experienced sensitive skin, before you start mixing and layering with abandon. Then, if your skin becomes irritated, you'll be able to isolate the culprit more easily.
Listen to Your Skin
By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to being a Layering Master, but you may find that you like to tinker with the order a bit. For instance, some people prefer to apply oils as the last step, over moisturizer. In time you’ll learn how to listen to your skin and adapt the products and the order in which you layer them to your skin’s changing needs.