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Layering Basics for Your Daytime Skin Care

Layering Basics for Your Daytime Skin Care

With the growing number of skincare products, not to mention its many sub-categories, along with their oftentimes-overlapping functions, deciding on a skincare routine can be downright confusing. You might be bewildered as you stare at your beauty vanity, wondering about the correct order of layering products for daytime skincare. Which products do I apply first? And which one goes last? We looked at portion sizes in skincare, last time. This time, let’s delve into skincare layering basics.

Skincare layering refers to the order in which skincare products are applied, to achieve maximum absorption, hence, boosting the efficacy of your precious potions and lotions. Knowing how to layer skincare products also saves your skin from possible dermatitis, breakouts, and other irritations.

Flexible Skincare Regimen

There is no absolutely right order in skincare, each product will work differently with which products are used before and after, and these dynamics will have varied impact on each person’s skin. The ‘incorrect’ application sequence, on the other hand, can irritate your skin, at the least, hinder your products from performing to their full potential. 

You do not have to have a ten-step morning ritual for skin care to be effective. Cleanse, tone, moisturise, and protect are the four pillars of daytime skincare. You can skip a step or insert a step. For example, some people dislike the feel of sunscreens and prefer to rely on the SPF protection provided by their moisturiser or cosmetics instead.

Add skincare steps as needed. Breakouts? Add acne treatment. Puffy under-eyes? Grab the depuffing eye cream. Cracking lips? Sooth and smooth them with lip balm. 

Layering Basics for Your Daytime Skin Care


Skincare Layering Rules

The two skin care layering rules to remember:

1. Apply skincare products according to texture.

Begin with the lightest and thinnest textured items and work your way up to the heaviest and thickest. Heavier creams and oils will prevent thinner serums from getting absorbed into the skin.


2. Apply water-based products before oil-based ones.

Because oil and water do not mix, and because oil is an occlusive, applying oils first will create a barrier to lock in hydration and hinder liquids from penetrating.

Start with products that have a thin consistency and higher water content, such as cleansing lotions and toners. Move on to serums and spot treatments and onwards to moisturisers and oils. The application of sunscreen is recommended to be the final step in your daily daytime skincare routine. But this depends on whether your sunscreen is chemical or physical (more on this later).


Skincare Layering Steps

1st step: CLEANSER

Skincare routines that get results all begin with thoroughly cleansed skin. Some prefer just to splash water onto their faces in the morning, reasoning that their skin was clean and free from make-up and dirt when they went to sleep. Even though your skin was clean before dosing off the night before, it can still pick up dust and dirt from the environment. Overnight, your skin also produces oil.

Oil, dead skin cells, dirt, and the night’s remnants of nighttime skincare need to be removed so that the skin is ready for the subsequent products. 


2nd Step: TONER

Toners are known for stripping the skin of excess oil and dry pimples, thus creating the assumption that all toners are generally drying and brutal to normal, dry, and sensitive skin types. This then makes some people choose not to use toners.

However, toners are now part of the active ingredient delivery system, toners are made for a variety of functions suited for different skin types and skin troubles, making them far more useful and valuable than yesteryear's harsh astringents. 

Layering Basics for Your Daytime Skin Care 2-min 


Mask (Optional)

If you are one of those people who like to use sheet masks at the start of the day, this is when you insert them—after toning. Toned skin is clean, pH-balanced, and primed to receive the ingredients from your masks.

You can choose to use a toner again after masking. Some find it suitable for their skin to double-tone, toning before and after masking. As long as your toner is the perfect formula for your skin type and will not irritate your skin, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Exfoliating masks should be used once or twice a week. And at night, when the sun rays can't harm freshly scrubbed skin.


Antioxidant Serum (Optional)

Antioxidants protect the skin from environmental skin stressors like pollution, harsh weather conditions, and sun damage. Antioxidants also combat free radicals that hinder cell repair. Moreover, antioxidants encourage cell renewal and collagen synthesis. Your skin will truly love this anti-aging skincare step!

Antioxidant serums are super-absorbable, highly-concentrated, nutrient-rich skin treatments. As part of your daytime skincare routine, antioxidant serums will help boost sun protection.

Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) are three of the best ingredients to look for in an antioxidant serum.


Treatments (As needed)

Any targeted treatments, like eye cream, acne treatment, lip treatments, and other specialised treatments are applied before moisturisers. 

Eye Creams. To maintain the elasticity and thickness of the eye area, apply eye cream daily. Regular care of your eye area will prevent and diminish pre-mature lines and wrinkles. Under-eye bags? Try eye treatments that come with a rollerball applicator. The cold steel ball will help shrink puffiness and improve circulation, as does an eye cream with firming caffeine as an active ingredient. 

Treatments. You may have different treatment products for acne, hyperpigmentation, redness, or dull, sagging skin on hand. Layer them before moisturiser and sunscreen. Make sure not to use strong retinoids in the morning, use them with your nighttime skincare. Consult your dermatologist if you have more than one treatment product, to ensure your skin won’t get irritated and that all the treatment products work well together.

Layering Basics for Your Daytime Skin Care 3-min 



Moisturising is necessary for all skin types. Even if you have oily skin, you still need a moisturiser. Overly drying your skin with ointments and astringents will likely cause your skin to produce more oil to compensate for the dryness.

As mentioned before, moisturisers and oils are occlusives, meaning they keep moisture and all the active ingredients from the previous skincare steps in your skin.

A lightweight moisturiser with SPF is ideal for use in the mornings during spring and summer. A heavier moisturiser is required for those with dry skin or for the colder weather of autumn and winter.



Are sunscreens the final step in your daytime skincare routine? This is true if you’re using a mineral (also called physical) sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens sit on top of your skin like a shield against the sun. Mineral sunscreens' ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. 

If you’re using a chemical sunscreen, it should be applied before the moisturiser because chemical sunscreens need to be absorbed into the skin to work. If a moisturiser is layered first, said moisturiser will block the chemical sunscreen from penetrating.

You’ll know if your sunscreen is of the chemical kind if you find any of these ingredients: avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone.

A moisturiser with SPF should be an easy choice for daytime skincare, as it eliminates one step from your daytime skincare routine.


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