how to layer skin care products

Even for devotees and junkies, skincare is becoming sophisticated to the point of overly complicated. With so many products – from serums to sunscreens – being deemed to be absolutely essential, it is hard to know where to start let alone finish. A frequently asked question in my mail box is “which order should I use my cosmetic products”. So here’s how to get your regimen in order and some ideas for a basic regimen that covers the bases without being too fussy.

First: A Clean Start

I am a big believer in starting my cleansing routine with dry brushing. Electronic or sonic brushes such as the Sirius Sonic or Clarisonic (read this comparison) are extremely effective at removing dead skin cells and debris whilst being gentle (for more on brushes and scrubs, see my exfoliation 101 post). You can brush with a cleanser, but my personal preference is for dry brushing followed by washing my face.  Now would be the time to use a toner to help balance the skin. However, what kind and how often will depend on skin type. I use toner a couple of times a week when my skin feels oilier than usual or a little out of whack.

Next: Serums and Moisturizers

Serums started to nudge moisturizers out of the spotlight about a decade ago. Although the cynic in most of us wondered if they were little more than the beauty business’s way of getting us to spend more money, serums have proved to be an important part of the anti-aging arsenal.

So what’s the difference between a serum and a moisturizer? A serum has smaller molecules and should be packed full of actives that will penetrate the skin. Serums deposit nutrients and actives. Moisturizers hydrate the skin.

As we get older, a good anti-aging serum is more important than a moisturizer and, unless you suffer from dry skin, you may not need both.  To some extent, it will depend on the serum: I never feel the need to use a moisturizer with the MitoQ Moisturizing Anti-Aging Serum, but I find the AQ Active Serum a little too drying to use on its own. My advice, is to choose a good serum first and then only add a moisturizer if (and where) needed.

If you do use both, then a serum should be used first, after cleansing.  The other issue to bear in mind is that some serum actives can be neutralized by other ingredients (see this article for ingredients that don’t combine).

Last: Sunscreen and Finishing Touches

Sunscreen should go next – before makeup or concealer, if worn. Obviously, if you need to top up sunscreen throughout the day, it will have to go above makeup. This is one of the reasons why Colorescience’s powder sunscreen is practical choice for girls on the go.

A Basic Regimen

Here’s a suggested regimen that will efficiently touch all bases and without breaking the bank: Skinfinite Purify Facial Cleanse ($30), Trinite Organiques Trinity The Signature Serum ($45), La Vie Celeste’s Day/Night Cream ($65 in the shop) and Nutra-Lift’s Maximum Sun Protection ($22) – all for under $165!