Layering your skincare in the correct order can seem like a mysterious process for many women. This is a common question I get asked as a skincare formulator and skin health expert which is why I wanted to address it here today to put an end to the big mystery behind the “right” way to layer your natural skincare products. Skincare should be a fun part of your self-care and should never feel like a stressor to get it perfectly right.
Having said that, the reason skincare layering is so important is because you are spending your hard-earned money on skincare products that you wish to perform in certain ways on your skin. This is true I believe for all women who spend time on their skin, but even moreso for women over the age of forty who have more skin concerns such as premature aging, wrinkles, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, adult hormonal acne, and other skin changes that affect us as we enter peri-menopause or are post-menopausal.
If you are investing your time and money in products and a skincare ritual, you do have a certain degree of interest in making it count, right?! Before I get into the science behind layering just know that it is your body and your skin. If you feel good and are getting results using your products in a different layering order than suggested here, keep doing what feels right to you, or play around with both ways to compare how your skin feels.
Remember too, skin cells renew every thirty days or so, and sometimes it may take that long to see results from your skincare ritual. The key is to be consistent with a daily ritual which includes your natural skincare products but also proper nutrition and hydration for healthy looking skin. It is all about a multi-faceted lifestyle approach to pro-aging and is never “just about the skincare”.
Is there truly a “right” way to layer your skincare?
In short the science says yes. When you layer your skincare you want to go from the lightest ingredients or products to the heaviest. In other words, from water-based products like facial tonics, floral waters and water-based moisturizers first to heavier oil-based serums and creams last.
Why does correct layering matter?
The skin has a lipid barrier and therefore the order in which you apply skincare products matter in terms of absorption into the epidermis (the top layer of skin) to keep your skin looking well hydrated, healthy and nourished. The lighter ingredients that you put on first help the heavier ingredients to penetrate better. If you put heavier products on first, it will prevent the light ingredients from absorbing and they may be just sitting on the skin’s surface or “slide” off as the day wears on. Proper layering = better performance. That’s what layering is all about.
Skincare layering 101
⇨ Think CTP: Cleansing, Treating, Protecting
C is for Cleansing:
Cleansing happens first and our recommendation is to cleanse with oil vs. a harsh or soapy cleanser that strips away the healthy oils needed for a nourished complexion.
Why not strip away the oils from your face?
Because your skin has lipids that keep it balanced, healthy and glowing. When you use a cleanser that wipes all of that away from your face you are also removing the corneocytes before their natural time to be sloughed away. By doing this you are risking an inflammatory reaction and creating greater sensitivity and possibly future issues for yourself.
Oil cleansing is a serious game changer! When I was in my mid-thirties and switched to oil cleansing to help battle my post-partum hormonal acne it completely cleared it up. Nothing else had worked until I found and fell in love with oil cleansing. I had been suffering from tiny white pimples along my jawline called Milia (jawline acne is a key sign of hormonal acne and gut imbalances) that I couldn't control no matter what I used including all the harsher acne treatments such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. Oil cleansing did the trick because it finally balanced the lipids that my skin had been craving rather than stripping it clean with harsh ingredients.
Do you need to cleanse both morning and night?
You may decide you only need to oil cleanse at night before bed or choose to do it both morning and night. That’s a personal choice based on how your skin feels when you wake up in the morning. I sleep with my hair up and on a fresh silk pillow case each night. I don't feel greasy when I wake up, but rather my skin feels nourished.
My personal morning skincare ritual is splashing only with cold water 10 times first thing when I wake up, then I do my morning workout and use my oil cleanser to remove the sweat and dirt from my workout. Of course, oil cleansing before bed is always a must for everyday whether or not I am wearing makeup or not. I have a habit of touching my face throughout the day often so I want to thoroughly cleanse away all that bacteria.
T is for Treating:
Next we want to treat the skin. The first treatment step I recommend is to calm the skin and to apply some rose + chamomile floral water to nourish the skin and seal in the hydration before other steps to follow. This is especially great for skin that is feeling more sensitive, as often happens as a woman nears peri-menopause (the years prior to cessation of your menstruation) and in post-menopause.
Next, reach for your light serums (not oil-based). Typically, your serums are the work horses of your skincare ritual. That’s because often they contain more “actives” and are highly concentrated to do a certain job they were hired for, like a skin specialist.
For example, our Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid Serum is formulated to actively work into the epidermis to protect skin from free radical damage that is present in daytime from the suns' UV rays, pollution, environmental toxins, and more. The superpower of Hyaluronic Acid is to draw water into the surface of the skin and thereby make it look more plump and hydrated. We love the actives in this Fresh Kisses serum which contains vitamin C derived from Amla Berry Oil and is twenty times for powerful of a vitamin C source.
Finally, our hard-working eyes deserve the royal treatment so be sure to apply some active ingredients that can help to firm and treat the skin around the eyes, that is thinner and more delicate than the skin elsewhere on our face.
Do I need a separate eye cream?
Yes and no. Here's the thing about eyes. The skin around your eyes is thinner than the skin elsewhere on your face. It is also more delicate and susceptible to damage, wrinkles, and irritation. For years I didn't use a separate eye cream personally but then I started doing so religiously in my forties and am thankful for it. As you get into middle age your estrogen levels decrease, your skin becomes drier and more sensitive, collagen levels drop and your eyes need more hydration. This is where a good nourishing eye cream with firming actives can really make a huge difference.
P is for Protecting:
Now is the time to protect with a creamy layer such as that provided by a daycream. Not too light, not too heavy, just right to keep Goldilocks feeling good and nourished. We love a daycream that contains actives that can also get glowing skin results such as red raspberry seed oil that acts as a natural skin protectant from the suns’ harmful UV rays, while nourishing and protecting from premature aging at the same time.
Next you add your oil serum. Oils are occlusive meaning they occlude other ingredients from getting past them and into your skin. This is why they go last, such as the case with our Rosehip Seed Oil Serum, Kiss Me You Fool. They seal it all in to keep your pro-aging mature skin looking fab.
Finally, I always recommend a daily SPF of 30 and anytime you can get a little tinted action combined with a natural SPF all the better! My personal favourite is this Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer with SPF from Beauty Counter. I wear it every single day under my makeup even just when I am indoors.
Choose Your Own Skincare Adventure
As I mentioned at the start of this post, if you are following a different layering routine and are getting great results then stick with it. However, if you are curious how to get better results from your skincare products and how to prevent skincare damage as you age, then what’s the harm in switching it up to see how it impacts your skin health?
The bottom line is that it is your adventure to choose! Your skin, your body.
How Many Layers Does One Need?
Personally, I feel you can get results with as little as three layers or as many as six. You may be reading this and thinking three??! I don’t have time for one, let alone three or six steps! If you have skin health concerns about aging prematurely and preventing damage like most other women over forty, then I am sorry to tell you that one layer isn’t going to cut it for prevention of premature aging.
Most days I use six different natural skincare products then I apply my makeup if I am wearing any that day (note: since the global pandemic started I have been wearing my skincare as my makeup most days and am loving it with the exception of the Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer I mentioned earlier that is my final skincare ritual step each day!).
What skincare layering for morning/night looks like:
Check out this quick graphic to show you the layering steps with natural skincare products to give you glowing skin results.
Optional: One or two days a week add an exfoliator to the morning ritual and/or add a face mask to the evening ritual.
What's different for nighttime?
The nighttime ritual will look differently at night time– remove Vitamin C serum because this is only beneficial in daytime to fight free radical damage, and sub out Daycream for heavier Nightcream. Remove SPF from ritual for nighttime.
Does it matter if you use a “daytime” product at night or vice versa?
Yes, it does matter because most daytime products are lighter and formulated to be worn under makeup if a person chooses to do so. Having said that, it is still your own skincare adventure to choose and if it makes your skin happy to wear a heavy night cream all day then go for it.
It’s important to note that I even have some customers who opt for a heavy body butter for their face and around their eyesI have some customers who are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment and they have found their skin to be incredibly dry and responds well to a super heavy occlusive barrier as provided by our body butter. To that I say, GO FOR IT!
Can you really get glowing skin naturally?
Yes! You absolutely can get glowing, healthy skin naturally especially if you are a woman in midlife who is searching for the solution to repair and prevent skin damage, premature aging, skin cancer, collagen loss and more.
Knowing how to layer your natural skincare products is key so that you can maximize their effectiveness and also so that you don't waste your money on products that you don't need or don't work for you.
About the Author, Jodie Pappas ~ Founder, Clean Kiss:
Struggling with hormonal skin issues? Not sure what to eat to help your skin out? Strange rashes, eczema, psoriasis, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation? Not sure what the best natural skincare products for mature woman are or how to create your own natural skincare regimen that really works? That's where I can help.
Learn more about Clean Kiss.
Clean Kiss makes natural, clean skincare for women over 40 that promotes pro-aging beauty and radical acceptance of the beautiful aging process, in mid-life.
Clean Kiss was founded by Family Natural Health Expert, Jodie Pappas, out of her own personal quest to find natural products for herself and her family that ACTUALLY worked. After first creating her signature natural deodorant, she went on to produce a full line of 100% plant based skincare and body products.
Hypoallergenic, Cruelty-free, Vegan, No Petroleum-based ingredients, No Parabens, No Silicone, No Phthalates, No Toxins, No Fragrance, No Alcohol, No Plastic.
Each product is created in small batches using chemical-free formulations that have been recognized with several awards, has developed a loyal customer base of Clean Kissers, and has gained some international media attention by Business Insider, InStyle Magazine, The Toronto Sun, Breakfast TV Toronto, CHCH Hamilton, Global TV and more!
Keep it clean and simple with Clean Kiss!