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The Best Way to Layer your Skincare

How often do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of skin care products you have and the best to order to use them?

"Apply your skincare products from thinnest to thickest" <~~ I'm sure many of you are familiar with this helpful rule of thumb. And sure, it works for the most part but there are still some loopholes and we want to talk about that.

Our approach to applying skincare shifts your focus from the texture of your product to its function. Our rule of thumb is to use your products in an order that allows you to first hydrate your skin and then seal it all in. This is based on the molecular size, weight, formulation, and functions of your ingredients and products.

Here's why: We want to give our skin opportunities to absorb skin penetrating ingredients first (usually found in products like toners and serums) and then seal it in with moisture (found in moisturizing creams, oils, and even sunscreens).

Skin penetrating ingredients are able to do so due to their smaller molecular sizes and weight. Moisturizing ingredients tend to have larger molecules that cannot penetrate our skin. As a result, they will sit on top of our skin and create a protective layer or film that will help prevent the loss of hydration.

Let's talk about hydrating products, moisturizing creams, and moisturizing oils/butters.

HYDRATING PRODUCTS (products intended to hydrate the skin but not  necessarily capable of sealing in the hydration on its own)

Hydrating products usually have higher water content than creams. This results in them being thinner and easier to absorb into the skin and should be used first.

Example of hydrating products and ingredients: Toners, Serums, Water, Aloe Vera Juice, Sodium Lactate, Propanediol, Glycerin, Lactic Acid, Extracts, and Hyaluronic Acid

**Hyaluronic acid can be hydrating and/or moisturizing depending on its molecular size & weight**

Hydrating products will evaporate from the skin if not sealed. This is where moisturizing comes into play.

MOISTURIZING CREAMS (products intended to moisturize [add hydration and seal it into] the skin):

Moisturizing creams have a lower water content than hydrating products.  They also tend to have heavier/thicker ingredients (occlusives) including oils, butters, and sometimes waxes. This often results in thick and creamy products.

The heavier ingredients used in moisturizers are usually too large to be absorbed into the skin. As a result, they sit on top of your skin and form a barrier that makes it difficult for hydration to evaporate from your skin. This is the good ole sealing we are looking for. 

Moisturizing creams do contain hydrating ingredients that absorb into the skin. The difference is that they also have moisturizing ingredients that help seal in the hydration. The fact that they have both hydrating and moisturizing ingredients make them a wonderful option to use after toners and serums but before oils and butters.

Examples of moisturizing cream ingredients: Shorea Butter, Rice Bran Oil, Proteins (Silk, Wheat, Hydrolyzed Collagen), Squalane, Hyaluronic Acid, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, and more. 

MOISTURIZING OILS/BUTTERS (water-free products made of oils and/or butters, and other occlusives)

These are moisturizing products that, while they may have some ingredients small enough to penetrate the skin (e.g. almond or jojoba oil), primarily seal in the moisture and should be used after toners, serums, and moisturizing creams. 

Examples of moisturizing oil/butter products and ingredients: Face Oils, Anhydrous (waterless) Face Butters, Shea Butter, Lecithin, Rosehip Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Beeswax, and more.

Moisturizing butters tend to be the thickest but moisturizing oils? not so much. Moisturizing oils can be more runny than some serums but that doesn't mean use them before a serum or moisturizing cream.

Let's look at it this way - If you used an oil (larger molecules) on your face first, followed by a serum, your skin wouldn't be able to absorb much beyond the oil  as you've created a layer on top of your skin with the oil consisting of larger molecules. The smaller molecules of the serum would just sit on top of your oil and possibly evaporate.

One more reference point to make things even easier!
Apply your products in the following order (unless advised otherwise by your skincare specialist)

Toner ➡️ Serum ➡️ Cream ➡️ Oil ➡️ Sunscreen 

Sunscreen is not listed here due to it being the thickest, but rather, by its function! It should be the last product we apply to our faces so that we can receive UV radiation protection. It wouldn't be able to serve its purpose optimally if we put another product on top of it. 

As you can see, the thinnest to thickest rule is applicable in most cases but not with all products, especially not oils. That's why it's helpful for us to know a little bit more about how formulations impact the function of our products. 

Trivia Question: Which product would you use first if you have a thick moisturizing niacinamide face cream and a runny face oil? 


Cream puff, You guessed it! You was right ---> Face cream first followed by your face oil. 

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