Skincare Layering 101


Properly layering your skincare products is essential for achieving the best results. Each product serves a specific purpose, and applying them in the right order allows them work more effectively and penetrate the skin for maximum effect. 

Generally speaking, skincare products should be applied from thinnest to thickest.  This philosophy is helpful for a basic skincare routine, but when you are using multiple serums, masks, emulsions, creams, and finishing serums, a more methodical approach is necessary. In this article, we will discuss the proper order to layer your skincare products based on their function and ingredients, as well as how to incorporate a new product so all of your favorite serums and creams absorb and work well together.

Step 1: Oil Cleanser or Micellar Water

Before applying any skincare products, it is important to start with a clean slate. A double cleanse is necessary to assure that every trace of makeup and waterproof sunscreen is dissolved completely. The job of an oil cleanser or micellar water is to remove oil based and waterproof products from the skin. This allows your cleanser to be able to penetrate deep into the pores and do its job. 

Oil cleansers and micelles water should be applied to dry skin.  Massage your oil cleanser all over your face, neck and eye area to remove makeup, mascara and SPF.  Rinse cleanse and follow with your second cleanser. 

Micellar waters can be applied with a cotton round and do not need to be rinsed before moving on to your second step.

TIP: Even if you skipped on makeup and SPF (tisk, tisk) you should still be double cleansing your skin every night.  Oil cleansers and micellar waters effectively breakthrough that top layer of natural skin oils so that your second cleanser is more effective.

Step 2: Cleansing Gel, Milk or Foam

After makeup is removed, your skin is ready for a thorough pore cleanse. Water based gel and foam cleansers should be applied to damp skin and massaged into a gentle lather.

Cleansing milks often work best when massaged into dry skin and then emulsified with a small amount of water before rinsing.

Be sure to always cleanse your skin with cool to lukewarm water, as hot water can over dry the skin.

Step 3: Exfoliant

If you are exfoliating on this particular evening, use it right after cleansing. Wash exfoliants like scrubs, exfoliation masks or peels must be applied to clean, dry skin.

Exfoliants come in all kinds of formulations and textures: scrub, mask, peel pad, gel, toner…

If your exfoliant is in the form of a toner, use it during this step as well. For example, Lotion P50 1970 from Biologique Recherche is an exfoliating toner that should be applied to clean dry skin.

TIP: If you would like to use an exfoliating toner and an exfoliating mask, use your toner first. Allow it a minute to absorb into the skin and then follow with your exfoliating mask. 

If you would like to use an exfoliating scrub and an exfoliating toner, use your scrub first. After thoroughly rinsing, apply your exfoliating toner. 

Step 4: Mask

Indulging in a face mask is always a good idea. Did you know that you can mask every single night? Read more in our Daily Masking article.

Face masks work best after cleansing and/or exfoliating. Follow the instruction carefully and be sure not to leave your masks on longer than the recommended treatment time, unless instructed to do so by your esthetician.

Step 5: Hydrating Toner or Mist

Now that the full cleansing, exfoliating and masking portion of your routine is complete, it’s time to start layering in hydration.

Toners that rehydrate the skin (unlike Lotion P50 - think L’Eauxygenante Mist) should be applied after exfoliating and masking. Now that the skin is bare of any dead skin cells and pore clogging bacteria, it is ready to accept light layers of moisture.

Hydrating mists help your skin to act like a sponge, absorbing the follow serums more deeply.

Always allow your toners and mists a chance to dry before going in with your serums. Applying products on top of each other without letting them dry will dilute their active ingredients and delay results.

Step 6: Serums

Serums are a powerful step in any skincare routine. They contain concentrated ingredients that target specific skin concerns, such as fine lines, dark spots, or dehydration. When choosing which serum to apply first, two factors come into play. The first being your skincare goals. If you have a primary concern, such as pigmentation or acne, start with the serum that targets that concern first. 

After your primary treatment serum, layer the rest of your serums in order of thickness, starting with the thinnest consistency and working your way up. This allows each serum to be absorbed properly before the next one is applied.

TIP: Exfoliating serums such as IS Clinical’s Active Serum or Vivant Skincare’s 8% Mandelic Acid Serum should always be applied first, regardless of their thickness. 

Step 7: Eye Cream

The skin around your eyes is delicate and requires special attention. We recommend applying your eye products before your facial moisturizer so that your eye creams and serums are not blocked by a layer of cream, minimizing their ability to absorb. 

Eye serums should be applied before eye creams. Use a small amount of product and gently pat it onto the skin around your eyes with your ring finger.

Step 8: Moisturizer

Moisturizer is an essential step in any skincare routine. It helps to hydrate and protect your skin, leaving it soft and supple. Choose a moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin type, and apply it in gentle, upward motions. Allow the moisturizer to fully absorb into your skin before moving on to the next step.

Step 9: Finishing Serum

Biologique Recherche’s Finishing Serums are a unique step in your skincare routine. It may go against your instinct to apply a serum after your creams, but this is exactly how Finishing Serums are designed to be used.

Finishing serums act as a sealant or shield to prevent all the moisture you’ve applied from evaporating. They also ask as a barrier to prevent environmental pollution and toxins from entering the skin.

Apply a few drops evenly over the skin with patting motions. Allow to dry completely before moving to your final step.

Step 10: Sunscreen

Sunscreen is one of the most important steps in any skincare routine. It helps to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun, such as sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and apply it generously to your face and neck. Reapply every two hours if you will be spending time in the sun.