The Order of Skincare? How to Layer Skincare in the Right Order

by Claudia Christin on Dec 14, 2020

skincare layering insert image 1 We know that most of you feel overwhelmed by the number of skincare products in the market right now. On top of that, there are so many different categories of products from toner, serum, emulsion, lotion, cream, oil, and many more. It comes with another new question, “which products should come first?”. If you are feeling lost and clueless, you’re not alone! So let me tell you here about the rules of thumb in skincare layering. Applying your skincare in the right order can totally level-up your skincare game. Not only will it make your skincare work better, but also save you from all the skincare mishaps such as product piling or even irritation! 

What you should take into consideration

We believe there is no absolute right or wrong in skincare. Do whatever feels right for your skin and yourself. Don’t stress too much over it and experiment a little bit here and there! But, it doesn’t hurt to change the order a little bit, you may see a better result just by switching the order. skincare layering insert image 2 Each product has a different function and role in your skincare. In general, there is no one size fits all rule for everyone and every skincare product because it may be different depending on one’s skin concern and also how one’s skin can tolerate different layer of products. Here are some factors you should take into consideration:  
  1. • Function of products 
  2. • Texture of products 
  3. • pH of products 
  4. • How your skin tolerates a certain order

Function of products 

Get to know your products and their main function:  skincare layering insert image 3  
  • • Cleanser of course is meant to remove any remaining dirt / excess sebum on your skin.
  • • Toner is a product that is meant to restore your skin's normal pH, hydrate, or exfoliate your skin. 
    • Exfoliating toner: Remove layers of dead skin cells, allows the next serum or product to absorb better. 
    • Hydrating toner: Add another layer of light hydration and feel refreshing.   
  •  Serum will deliver the most potent amount of active ingredients to your skin and target your specific skin concern.
  • • Essence, Ampoule, Lotion is almost similar to a moisturizer but usually is lighter in texture to provide and lock in moisture.
  • • Moisturizer is a product that is meant to prevent water loss, prevent and give your skin the moisture it needs to function properly.
  • • Sunscreen is meant to protect your skin from the damage of UV radiation and is supposed to be the first layer of guard on your skin. 
Looking at the function itself, you can get a better idea of which one should be layered on top of the other. The only absolute rule out of all is that you should put your sunscreen as the last step of your skincare routine, period. No matter how many layers you put on your skin, always given enough time for it to set on your skin and top it off with a layer of sunscreen. 

Texture/consistency of products 

The easiest and basic rule to follow is to use the one with the thinnest consistency to the thickest one. So always start with something that has a more watery texture to it than the one that is most occlusive or creamy. Most products with a thin consistency, just like a toner, have more water content in it to replenish hydration without the ‘protective’ properties. It will help the absorption of products that are applied afterward like a serum. Then to top it off, you finish them with a creamy moisturizer with more occlusive properties that helps to lock in all the hydration and active ingredients in your skin. So, imagine when you put on your moisturizer before your serum, it will definitely prevent the active ingredients from absorbing and doing their job. A moisturizer can’t distinguish between the good and bad guy since they are just ordered to kick every foreign matter out of your skin.  No matter how well-formulated your products are, with the incorrect order of application, you may not be able to see their full potential.  skincare layering insert image 4 

pH of products 

Some products are very pH sensitive to function in their role. For example, water-based ascorbic acid as well as AHA / BHA are usually formulated at a pH that ranges from 3-4 for it to be effective. Most of the time, we have to put products with the lower pH early on our routine before the ones with higher pH. However, for those whose skin can’t tolerate low pH products, they found that layering low pH products on top of moisturizer can minimize the chance of irritation although the products may not work as effectively as it should. 

The order you put them does matter, always listen to your skin

In the end, it’s about how your skin likes it. There is no absolute right or wrong, therefore, just enjoy the process and find out what works best for you! Your skin, your way.

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