This before That: How to Layer Skincare and Beauty Products in Six Simple Steps

Posted on August 21, 2014 by Rachel Duran

Woman's hands using cosmetic cream
Author: Rachel DuranA handful of lucky humans are rumored to wake up with “flawless” skin (or maybe just Beyonce). For the rest of us, achieving a healthy complexion requires a little maintenance.

Cleansing, toning, plucking, preening, blushing, bronzing, hydrating, and treating: the to-do list is overwhelming. With so many products, the question becomes: What's the best order to apply all of this stuff? 

While some experts disagree, Dr. Neal Schultz, a New York-based dermatologist and founder of DermTV, suggests that you apply the thickest product last

Allure Magazine agrees: start with the lightest weight product and move to the heaviest.

The thinking is that if you smear on a thick moisturizer, your vitamin E serum won’t be able to penetrate your covered pores beneath.

By contrast, the American Academy of Dermatology offers a minor twist. They suggest that you wash, treat (acne), and then apply moisturizer. 

But don't let differing opinions deter you. It may be best to do whatever makes sense to you. After all, what's most important is getting your skin gets the ingredients it needs. 

Whatever you do, start with a freshly washed face.

Once you begin applying products, allow each layer to sink in before moving on to the next. Try brushing your teeth, sipping some coffee, or checking emails between steps to allow those active ingredients to fully seep in.  

Consider These Six Steps 
1. Serum

Formulated with complex goodies like antioxidants and vitamin C, serve your skin the salad before you bring out the next course. Perfect as a primer for additional layers, some serums may even increase the absorption and effectiveness of other products.
2. Targeted Treatments
Time for your meds. Spot treat existing acne or apply all over treatments with your arsenal of topical prescriptions. Always use a delicate touch to avoid causing further irritation.
3. Eye Cream
Apply your eye cream all the way around the socket. “Warm the product in the hand first and press with three fingers starting at the inner corner of the eye, out toward the outer corner, and massaging into the upper cavity,” says Jean Fayard, Clarins resident skin expert.
4. Moisturizer
A must in your daily routine, add moisturizer to seal in all your other products and quench your skin’s thirst. Use a light cream or oil for daytime wear and consider a more intense hydrator for bedtime application.
5. Makeup
It’s time for beauty—primer, concealer, foundation, blush/bronzer—in that order, plus or minus your favorites. Use a BB or CC cream and glide through the routine, still ending with a shine-free, hydrated finish.
6. SPF
Never leave the house without a layer of SPF. Always apply sunscreen last since it sits at the top of your skin. Aim for lightweight formulas that promise protection without bogging you down.

  • Rachel Duran is an editor at Arithmetic
  • About Us: Arithmetic is a new skincare company focused on helping adults achieve clear, healthy skin. Check out our Acne Control Complex


Posted in cleansing, face washing, skincare routine, tips



Free Updates

Sign up for skincare tips and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.

Shop Arithmetic

Recent Articles

About Us