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 • Skincare  • Skincare Guides  • How to Layer All Your Skincare Products in 7 Steps for Your Best Skin Results

How to Layer All Your Skincare Products in 7 Steps for Your Best Skin Results

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Main image – Juliememe/Stocksy

A skincare routine can be a little bit like building bricks. You put one on top of another, on top of another and another, and so forth. And when you get to the top all you can do is just pray it all sticks. 

So, when it comes to layering your skincare products, it’s important to know which order to apply it in, so that all your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Whilst the general rule of thumb is to layer your products from thinnest to thickest, for some this can still be a little vague.

So, with help from expert tips courtesy of Dr Sonia Khorana and Dr Ahmed El Muntasar, we explain the exact order of play so that you can get the very best out of your products (and have great skin in the process).


Step 1: Cleanser

Your cleanser always comes first as that’s the first step towards creating a blank canvas for your night-time products or washing off makeup. But whilst this is usually the first step, it’s important to note that not everyone needs to cleanse in the morning, according to Dr El Muntasar

“This step is not essential,” he says. “If you’re someone that has really dry skin, leaving some of these oils on naturally is actually quite a good thing. However, if you’re someone that’s excessively oily, then it is really important to make sure that everything is nice and clean.”


Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy


Cleansing is essential for everyone in the evening though and it helps your other products work better too. “It’s really important to get rid of the dirt from the day by cleansing, especially living in a big city so it’s a good way to make sure that the products that you apply are applied on clean skin, rather than anything else.”


Step 2: Toners or essences

Again, Dr El Muntasar says a toner isn’t essential. “For your average person it is not really that important,” he says. 

“If you have a specific medical problem, i.e. acne or rosacea then toners are a good step to introduce more actives into your routine. For my acne patients, toners are a great step to introduce things like salicylic acid or something a little bit more active, whereas an average person should be fine to go without using toners.”

If you are following the latest trend of using multiple toners, Dr El Muntasar says to consult a professional first. “You wouldn’t usually use so many different toners,” he explains. “This is why people should really be checking with a doctor to check that they’re using the right things because sometimes we use too many steps when we don’t need to,” he explains. 

Also, if you use a chemical exfoliant toner in place of a standard one, remember that they don’t always have to be used every day and that it depends on either personal preference or the amount or type of active ingredients it contains.


Step 3: Serums

There are people who like to apply one serum for day and one for night. And there are others who like to layer multiple serums on top of each other to address different issues. 

For example, they might layer a vitamin C serum over an antioxidant serum. But how do you know which one goes first?

Dr El Muntasar reminds us of the general rule of thumb. “Go from thinnest to thickest but most patients wouldn’t really need more than two serums,” he says. “There’s a lot of different combined serums these days.” 

Dr Khorana adds, “if your antioxidant serum is oil based and your hydrating serum is watery I would apply the water hydrating serum first then apply the oil-based antioxidant serum,” she says. 


Step 4: Treatments

When it comes to targeted treatments for things like anti-ageing for example, Dr El Muntasar says it’s down to the user. “Serums first, then anti-aging, then a hydration product, however this is just more of a personal preference from my side,” he says.

When it comes to treatments for acne, Dr Khorana agrees. “I would apply your blemish treatment after a hydrating serum (if you use one) and before applying moisturiser,” she says. 


Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy


Step 5: Eye products

Eye cream goes before moisturiser,” says Dr El Muntasar. This is so that it can penetrate into the skin more easily instead of it going over the top of a thick, harder to penetrate moisturiser.


Step 6: Moisturiser or face oil

Personally, I like my facial oil to be the last thing that goes on my skin at nighttime. If my skin is feeling particularly dry, I will apply a hydrating serum, followed by my moisturiser and then layered with my facial oil. Other times, I will skip the oil and just finish with my moisturiser.


Step 7: SPF

Only to be applied in the morning, this is your final step. “Yes, SPF can always be used as your last skincare step in the daytime,” Dr El Muntasar says. 

Your SPF is likely to be thicker than any of your other products (that’ll be all that wonderful protection it’s giving you) so this correlates with the ‘thinnest to thickest’ rule.


The takeaway

A multi-step skincare routine may appear to be overwhelming at first, but once you figure out which order to apply everything in, all becomes much clearer.

Remember the ‘thinnest to thickest’ rule and that in the daytime, cleansing comes first (unless you prefer not to cleanse in the morning) and SPF comes last. At night, it’s your cleanse first again with your facial oil or night cream last. Slot in your toners, serums and treatments in between (in that order) and you’ve got yourself an expert approved skincare routine.


Meet the experts

Dr Sonia Khorana is a GP with a special interest in dermatology, working as an aesthetic doctor, laser specialist and wellness & menopause lead. She is also the Dermatology Expert for Olay UK and Hero Cosmetics UK and a judge for this year‘s Glamour Beauty Power List Awards and Get The Gloss Beauty Awards.


Dr Ahmed El Muntasar is a GP and award winning aesthetician.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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