How To Layer Skincare Products

Layering skincare in the right order can make your products all the more effective. By following these tips, you can ensure the products you are using fulfil their potential and offer the best possible results. 

Here at Krī, we believe in a minimal skincare routine using plant-based and active ingredients. We focus on loading our products up with the good stuff, helping you maintain a ‘less is more’ yet highly effective approach to your routine. But even when you opt for simplicity, there is still a method to applying products in the right order.  

Take face oils, for example. One of the questions we’re most commonly asked is “can I use this oil under my moisturiser?” The simple answer is “no”. Why? It’s complicated, but we’re here to break it down for you.

First, let's consider the anatomy of your skin. The outermost layer - the stratum corneum - is a complex structure of different cells that act as a physical barrier to prevent water loss, and at the same time stopping substances from entering the deeper layers of your body. Given the importance of this outer layer of our skin, it’s in our interest to protect its barrier function from environmental elements.

For some ingredients to deliver the most effective results they need to penetrate the skin. If you are applying your skincare products in the wrong order you can actually block these beneficial ingredients from doing their job. This is where layering comes into its own. 

Layering Step 1: Serums

Active ingredients such as niacinamide, ascorbic acid and hyaluronic acid need unrestricted access to the stratum corneum to be most effective.

Among its many benefits, niacinamide protects your skin’s barrier function, helps prevent inflammation and reduces the appearance of pores. Hyaluronic acid has the unique ability to retain moisture on the surface of the skin, helping it from drying out when exposed to the elements. It also improves the skin's texture.

Both these ingredients are fine white low molecule powders that are water soluble. And that’s why they’re used in water-based serums that are quickly and easily absorbed, creating the perfect base for your next step.

How To Layer Skincare Products

Similarly, exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids need unrestricted access to the surface of your skin to be most effective. They unglue and detach dead cells and buildup, revealing a brighter and smoother complexion. 

Our serums are highly concentrated formulas - all with multi-molecular-weight hyaluronic acid - so you only need to use a drop or two. A little goes a long way and you’ll find that you need less of step two after applying a serum first. 

Layering Step 2: Moisturisers/Creams

+ why they go before oils

The most basic function of a cream is to keep skin moisturised and prevent it from drying out. Creams are made with oils, waxes and fatty alcohols that form a film which works as a protective shield to trap and hold the water onto the surface of your skin. Waxes (emulsifiers) also bind everything together to keep the cream from separating because water and oil don't mix.

How To Layer Skincare Products

And therein lies the reason you shouldn’t apply facial oils under your moisturiser: oils and waxes create a film that can't be penetrated by water. If you've ever run a greasy plate under tap water, you'll know that the water simply dribbles off the surface of the oil.

In the same way, if you apply a facial oil first, your moisturiser is not actually performing as well as it could be (or at all) because it can't get past that layer of oil.

Layering Step 3: Face Oils

You now know that when layering skincare, always be sure to start with most watery products first and finish off with oils. 

All the oils in our products are emollients, which means they condition the skin and make it feel smoother and softer. They also help to further seal in moisture from your serums and creams, and keep your skin nourished throughout the day and night. 

How To Layer Skincare Products

Not a fan of the feeling of oils over moisturiser? We understand. You can still get the benefits of your oil by mixing a couple of drops in with your daily moisturiser in the palm of your hand before applying. 

Do you need all three steps? Possibly not. Judge how your skin is getting on, but don't forget to keep your skin hydrated.

[Daytime] Layering Step 4: SPF

The last and final step of any morning routine should always be SPF. All the other steps are pointless if you don’t protect your skin from damage caused by sun exposure. Apply your SPF after your other skincare products (including oils) but before your makeup. Mineral sunscreens will sit on the surface of your skin and create an occlusive barrier that protects your skin from damage.

Light to Heavy 

While we prefer to keep things minimal, we appreciate you may want to slot other products and treatments into your routine. How do you know which water-based formulas go first and in what order to apply your oils?

The easiest way to think about your products is by weight.  What is the consistency?  Does the formula have a thick texture? Is it runny? Can you feel it sitting on your skin?

A good rule of thumb is to start with the lowest viscosity and gradually move towards the highest viscosity. But what does that actually mean?

Viscosity refers to the thickness of a fluid. Generally speaking, the thinner the consistency, the more water there is in the formula, so you should start with the lightweight products that are more liquid in consistency.

Fluids, gels and serums only really require around 30 seconds between applications.  Once the product feels like it has absorbed and your face is not wet, continue to the next step. When it comes to creams, try waiting a minute before moving onto the next product.  

By using this as a guide, you are making sure that all of your products have the best possible chance of performing well and your skin is getting the full benefits of any specific ingredients.

Ready to start layering? Save 15% when you customise your layering trio

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How To Layer Skincare Products