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Layering Skincare: Is More Really More? How to Get the Most Out of Multiple Skincare Products

There is something luxurious and romantic about skincare. A skincare ritual offers an opportunity to prioritize our own needs and well-being. By making time to care for our skin, we are acknowledging our self-worth and demonstrating that we value ourselves. This simple act can help to cultivate a positive self-image and a healthy relationship with our bodies.

However, are DIY, multi-step skincare systems delivering real results, or are we overloading our skin with competing products?

First, let’s take a look at what layering skincare products involves.

What is Product Layering?

The key concept behind layering skincare is that each product should be applied in a specific order to allow optimal absorption and interaction with the skin. The order of application is generally based on the product’s consistency, with lighter products applied first and heavier products applied last.

  1. Start with a clean canvas: Before layering any skincare products, it is crucial to cleanse your face thoroughly. This step removes dirt, oil, and impurities, allowing the subsequent products to penetrate the skin.
  2. Follow the thinnest to thickest rule: When layering skincare, it is recommended to start with the thinnest, most water-like products and work your way up to the thickest, which allows each product to absorb properly without any interference.
  3. Incorporate serums: Serums are highly concentrated formulas that target specific skincare concerns. They are highly concentrated with ingredients that can absorb deeply into the skin. Apply serums after toner and before moisturizer to address concerns such as hydration, brightening, or anti-aging.
  4. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize: Moisturizers are essential for providing hydration and sealing in all the previous layers of skincare. Choose a moisturizer that suits your skin type and concerns. Apply it after serums and eye cream to retain moisture and create a protective barrier.
  5. Protect with sunscreen: The final step in your skincare routine should be applying sunscreen, especially during the daytime. Sunscreen protects the skin from harmful UV rays and helps prevent premature aging and skin damage.

Seems logical, right?

Well… there might be a few other factors to consider.

The Challenges of Product Layering

While skincare product layering can offer numerous benefits, its effectiveness may vary depending on individual skin types, concerns, and product compatibility.

Overwhelming Complexity

One of the primary drawbacks of a multi-step skincare routine is its complexity. With numerous products and steps involved, remembering and performing the routine consistently can be challenging, making it difficult to maintain over an extended period.

Potential for Skin Reactivity

The abundance of products used in a complex routine increases the likelihood of inflammatory responses. Each product contains various active ingredients, and the combination of these can sometimes lead to adverse reactions such as redness, irritation, or even breakouts. For individuals with sensitive or reactive skin, this can be particularly problematic.

Overloading the Skin

By layering multiple products, a multi-step routine can overwhelm the skin. An overabundance of ingredients can inhibit the skin’s ability to absorb and benefit from the active ingredients in each product. Instead of providing desired results, this overload may lead to product buildup, clogged pores, and ineffective skincare.


Undoubtedly, a multi-step skincare routine demands a significant time commitment. Moreover, the pressure to follow such an extensive routine can cause unnecessary stress, further impacting overall well-being.

Financial Burden

Another factor to consider is the financial burden associated with a multi-step skincare routine. With a multitude of products involved, the cost can quickly add up. High-end brands and specialty products often come with a hefty price tag, making this routine inaccessible to many individuals.

It is important to conduct thorough research and consult with skin care professionals to determine the most suitable routine for your skin.

How Do I Layer Products Effectively?

Skin is complex. The primary reason we turn to product layering is that there might not be a single product that effectively addresses multiple unique issues. However, the strategy can fall apart when the different product ingredients interfere with one another. Here’s how to make sure your routine is effective.

Start Small

It’s important to note that while many skincare layering guidelines suggest using as many as 10 individual products, starting with a two or three-step routine might give you a better idea of which products yield the best results. Let’s say you start with a cleanser, exfoliating product, toner, serum, moisturizer, eye cream, oil, and sunscreen. If you achieve sub-optimal outcomes, you won’t be able to identify which products are working and which aren’t.

Determine your core issues when building your skincare system. Do you want to control acneCombat drynessControl oilHydrate? Do you have a dermatological issue that requires a prescription?

The foundational elements in any skincare routine are:

  • Cleanser
  • Moisturizer
  • Sunscreen

You can build a routine over a few weeks, which will help you recognize any changes to your skin’s appearance and texture.

Use Compatible Products

While exfoliants, toners, antioxidant serums, and retinol frequently appear in skincare routines, using products with incompatible ingredients can negate the effectiveness of the products and cause irritation. The best way to ensure your products aren’t working at cross purposes is to use a skincare system containing products specifically designed to support each other.

Dry Skin

Adding hydration back to your skin has never been easier. WestDerm offers a comprehensive system that works to soothe and repair dry and reactive skin. You’ll find everything you need in this bundle, from a soothing cleanser to hydrating serums to a replenishing cream to a powerful yet gentle sunscreen.  

Acne-Prone Skin

If you are susceptible to breakouts, finding a system that targets acne while being gentle enough for sensitive or reactive skin is critical. Combining proven anti-acne ingredients, WestDerm’s system helps unclog pores, minimize large pores and scarring, and promote healthy, clear skin.

Damaged/Aging Skin

Pollution, harsh environmental conditions, and sunlight combine to cause gradual skin aging every day, which poses a serious threat to youthful, healthy skin. These elements can cause fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, and discoloration on the skin, but SkinCeuticals antioxidants and sunscreens offer potent, targeted protection.

To discover the best solution for your unique issues, consult a board-certified dermatologist for a comprehensive evaluation.


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