Let’s talk product layering!
If you follow our instagram feed, you might know that I enjoy a systematic process of product layering. Product layering is sometimes associated with overloading the skin, so I wanted to tell you a little bit about my process & rationale for layering.
When I talk of product layering, I am basically talking about just four steps: 1) Mist/tone; 2) water or aloe-based serums (oil free), 3) oil-based serum; 4) cream/balm/emulsions. That’s it! Sometimes instead of layering, I might also make microemulsions with water & oil-based serum. If you were using treatment serums, they would go in step 2) or 3) depending on if they are water or oil-based. Now, this is not the last word on layering and some products may not lend themselves to this routine. However, this layering system allows you to adapt & fine-tune a routine with changes in your skin as well as changes in the weather without rethinking or overhauling your whole routine on a daily/seasonal basis. For example, when it gets colder, instead of completely changing all the products, you might be able to just switch in a heavier oil or a more hydrating serum & make the routine work beautifully for your skin. Think of it like layering clothes in winter or transitional weather. The layering of clothes, allows you to keep yourself comfortable: not too hot, not too cold. Rather than using only one thick sweater or coat that is far less versatile with temperature changes. It also ensures that you are not buying too many products that occupy the same step in your skincare routine.
Another thing I like is that this layering system, allows you to develop an intuition about your skin. Often people apply a bunch of products on their skin in a non-systematic manner and are unable to figure out what works and what doesn’t. However, using a layering framework, you might be able to augment or pare down your routine as required. For example, you might find that you might be able to skip the oil in your routine and just use a cream, or that a mist is enough to hydrate your skin and that you don’t really need a hydrating serum. In these cases, you are reducing this system into specialized cases for your skin (if we were talking about mathematical equations, skipping layers would be the ‘limiting cases’ of the layering equation). You might find that the water-based serum you are using is not hydrating enough and that you need more water-based moisture. Or that the cream you are using is too rich for your skin. Moreover, layering may also allow you to decode your own skin issues, answering questions like: is your skin experiencing dehydration, or dryness or oiliness, etc.
A few common-sense rules :
1) Ask the formulator how they intend their product to be layered & then examine your routine to check where the product may fit in. Generally, it is recommended to layer starting with lighter products (with more water components) first followed by heavier products that will help seal the nutrients in.
2) Apply anhydrous products to damp skin.
3) You might be able to layer one or two water-based serums, but I would avoid layering more than one oil-based serum (unless you are adding a drop or 2 of the second oil into your cream). I find that you do not need to feed a lot of oil to your skin. But 1-3 drops of a well-formulated oil can really make a lovely difference to your skin, supporting the skin barrier & providing a nutritional boost.
So tell me, do you like to layer products. Have you found a system that works for your skin? Do share!