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How To Layer Your Favorite Skincare Products

[email protected] April 8th, 2021

If you have ever had questions on how to layer your favorite skincare products, this one is for you. Spring is upon us and we are all stuck in that in-between phase where layers are necessary to deal with weather that can change on a dime. We carry around clothing options to get through the day, but what about the layers we apply to our skin?

Searching for the Holy Grail

Some ingredients just don’t play well together. If you put certain powerful ingredients into a formula they can actually cancel each other out rather than synergistically improving each other’s performance. The most effective results come from an ingredient with a certain level of usage, like our Lemon Peel Brightening Serum with 20% Vitamin C. We only include what your cells can actually use.

These thresholds are one reason why it can be challenging to find the single “holy grail” product that solves all your skincare needs. In most cases, you’ll need multiple products to do the trick. The sweet spot is achieved by the right layering of plant rich products.

We understand how it feels to have three different moisturizers and three different types of serums you want to use. The benefit of layering is that, if you do it right, your cells can absorb all the benefits of each product applied to your skin. You can have a morning and nighttime routine with multiple layers of nourishing goodness.

Layering Guidelines and Benefits

Thin to thick. The general rule of thumb that matters the most when you’re applying something is that you’re going from thinnest to thickest. Your thinnest product should be applied first because generally speaking, it has a smaller molecular structure. These small molecules can penetrate deeper into pores and leaves room for the other products to also penetrate.

An example of a thin to thick skincare routine: After cleansing and toning, start with Hyaluronic Acid Serum, then Vitamin C serum (because you can layer serums as well), then Deep Hydration Cream or Desert Aloe and Jojoba cream. If you’re in a hurry, you can apply one on top of the other, but for maximum results, wait 2 minutes between layers.

We usually focus on layering serums and creams, but don’t sleep on toners and mists! These featherlight superstars can be a great delivery system for getting ingredients to penetrate deeply into the skin. They work because some things penetrate better in what we call the water phase than in other formulations. After a cleanser, you would spritz on your toner as the first and thinnest layer.

Exceptions to the Rule

Now, one exception to this rule of thumb is that if you’re using an oil you want that to be your finishing product because your other serums will not penetrate past a pure oil going on your face. So, generally speaking:  serums before moisturizers before oils.

One other exception is a retinol or Retinol Serum. They tend to be fairly thin. You can apply them at any stage because it will penetrate through all the other products. The downside of applying at a later stage is that it won’t be as concentrated as if applied as your first layer on clean skin. The upside is that it won’t be as harsh.

Christina’s Layering Routine

If you are curious what the pros use, here is our founder’s current multi-layer routine: 
“In the morning, I am really very simple. I’ll start by wiping down with Mature Skin Cleansing Pads, then apply Hyaluronic Acid Serum topped by either Prickly Pear Serum or C+ Lemon Peel Serum. Then I’ll finish with either Tinted Moisturizer or Prickly Pear Daily Moisturizer. They both have mineral sunscreen, so I know my final layer will provide protection.

Morning and night, after one of our new concentrated gel cleansers, I always include Hyaluronic Acid Serum. It always comes first. Then, at night, I will apply either Retinol Serum or C+ Lemon Peel Serum. In the winter I’ll finish with a heavy cream like Desert Aloe and Jojoba Cream. For the summer, I switch to Prickly Pear Rescue Cream…or, if it’s humid, I use nothing at all.

And, if I want to do something more intensive, I’ll use our Desert Aloe and Jojoba Moisture Mask as an overnight treatment. At night, I’ll apply Hyaluronic Acid Serum to my clean skin and then slather on the mask and keep it on overnight and wash it off in the morning. This treatment allows all the ingredients to penetrate deep into the healthy layers and helps tremendously for dry skin.”

Always Wear Sunscreen!

Protecting yourself from the sun is the #1 thing you can do to prevent premature aging. You want your mineral sunscreen to be your outward facing layer, meaning you want it to be the first thing the sun hits. We want the sun’s free radical damage to be neutralized before it can penetrate through to the skin. You can apply a moisturizer or oil and finish with sunscreen or you can choose a moisturizer with SPF in it. Either way, your last layer during the day should always be sunscreen.

Layering can be pretty simple when you know the rules. Remember to go from “thin to thick” with your serum then moisturizer. And, always wear sunscreen during the day. Now that you have these tips, go ahead and play with your favorite products and layer away!





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