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How to: Layer Your Skincare (AKA Seven Steps to Stunning Skin!)

Wed, 19 June 2013 1:19PM

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I’m using about 649 different skincare products – and that’s just in the morning. Sure, I’m usually in testing mode. But even on my ‘off-duty’ days, my skincare regimen is never so routine. I’m constantly having to stop and think about what I need to use, and when.

Forget three simple steps. Skincare these days is all about layering, misting and massaging in a multitude of formulations.


And if you’re not careful, getting too complicated and confused with your routine will only lead to stressed-out skin. Which is not the point of skincare, after all.

So I’m here to get you sorted. Here’s your what, when and how of application …


I know what you’re thinking: “duh!” But this step must be included as, really, if your skin isn’t free of such gunk as makeup, oil and the other bits and pieces skin accumulates during a regular day, there’s little point putting on anything else – as your complexion won’t absorb it effectively. Also good to know: if your cleanser is active – i.e., if it promises to do anything beyond cleanse, be that soothe, de-age or exfoliate – leave it on for a few minutes so that it has time to work to full effect.


Old-school toners have been replaced by soothing face mists. Sure, they feel and smell pretty. But I bet you sometimes wonder: do they actual do anything? Well, the calming ones are a handy boost for sensitive types. But in general, mists are great because they keep skin hydrated post-cleanse. And the more hydrated your skin, the better it will receive follow-up treatment. Also, when you layer on a treatment or cream after you’ve misted, you’ll be sealing in this extra moisture, and fusing it into skin. It’s similar to how you apply a body cream after the shower, when you skin is still slightly damp, for the best hydrating effect.


Now that your skin is cleansed and prepped, it’s time to turn to your most important product of the moment – the one you’re using to correct any skin stresses. So, if you’ve broken out, on goes the spot treatment (keep it localised to avoid excessive skin dehydration). If you have rosacea, slather on a calming serum.  If you’re most concerned about pigmentation, hit the skin-brightener bottle. Or if you’re tackling signs of ageing with an AHA treatment, here’s your cue.


There’s a whole world of serums out there, and they tend to fall in two camps: the givers and the fighters. The givers hydrate, nourish, plump up and generally pamper skin (think hyaluronic acid, antioxidants), while the fighters are the heavy-duty anti-agers (usually some form of vitamin A). You can use more than one serum at a time, and a general rule of thumb to remember is that the lighter, more watery formulations go on first. A word to the wise about retinol: it should only be slathered on at night, and on completely dry skin, which helps minimise the irritation factor.

5. OIL

If you’re a facial oil fan, now’s your time to go for it, massaging your favourite blend all over. Or, you can always add a few drops to lush up your favourite moisturiser. Speaking of which …


Perhaps your facial oil has left you feeling adequately plumped up. If not – or if you’re not an oil lover – move onto moisturiser, which will not only drench skin with hydration and seal all previous treatments in – it will help keep the skin’s barrier function strong and in tact.


Yep, Primpers, even in winter! Use a high-SPF broad-spectrum formulation all year round in order to fend off the UV rays that make us look older than our years. Of course, sunscreen gets the night off. And at this time, consider swapping your usual cream for a P.M version – the extra nutrients are in night cream to make the most of the fact that skin goes into regenerative mode when we sleep.

Tell me, Primpers, has that sorted things out for you?

How many skincare products are you using at the moment?

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  • Posted by: loopy-lexy // Wed, 19 June 2013 01:52pm

    Thanks for that, Katrina! I was wondering which face mists you recommend?

  • Posted by: Katrina Lawrence Devotee // Wed, 19 June 2013 02:01pm

    Hi loopy-lexy,

    I’m currently misting up a storm with the Neal’s Yard White Tea blend (here’s more info:, as I feel the need for some extra antioxidants this winter.

    But I also regularly use Avène’s Thermal Water and Kora’s Balancing Rose Mist,

    Kat x

  • Posted by: loopylexy Master Fan // Wed, 19 June 2013 02:18pm

    Wow I actually have Avene’s Thermal Water and had no idea what to do with it! Brilliant! (Also, I didn’t go out and buy a random product, it came in a gift set, I promise! 😛 )

  • Posted by: katelouise Enthusiast // Wed, 19 June 2013 02:29pm

    Perfect article at the perfect time for me! Thanks kat! Now I’m inspired to restock all of my products, I’m also endeavouring to slather myself in all things organic and natural if you have tips for any products that would suit please let me know, I’m thinking antipodes?! Xx

  • Posted by: connor 777 Master Fan // Wed, 19 June 2013 02:43pm

    Wow thank you for making my life easier you guys are amazing
    At the moment my normal am and pm routine I’m using around 8 products and then every sunday I do my whole pamper day so then there is more xxx

  • Posted by: daylight dancer Master Fan // Wed, 19 June 2013 03:03pm

    Thanks so much for this article Kat, it has cleared alot up for me.
    At the mo i use a cleanser, mist, RHO, day or night cream and once weekly mask.

  • Posted by: Claire88 Master Fan // Wed, 19 June 2013 04:26pm

    Thanks Kat for a really informative article . I would use close to 8 products , cleanser, softening lotion, serum, brightener, anti oxidant serum, Rosehip oil , cream and eye cream … Thanks for giving me the order of application as I used to apply the serum before my brightener , now I know I need to reverse the application :)

  • Posted by: Claire88 Master Fan // Wed, 19 June 2013 04:28pm

    I forgot the sunscreen , make that 9 products in the morning .. It’s takes forever to go through my routine…
    Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a multi purpose product to cut about half the products ..

  • Posted by: Kate // Wed, 19 June 2013 06:40pm

    I’ve found the simpler the skin care routine, the better. I tried using the multitude of products and it did nothing but stress my skin out. Going back to cleanse, tone, serum and moisturise was the best thing I did for my skin.

  • Posted by: talkalot Master Fan // Wed, 19 June 2013 07:39pm

    I’m probably using about 6 to 7 skincare items. I also like to tone my skin twice a day and exfoliate about 2 to 3 times a week.

  • Posted by: jessica88 Newbie // Wed, 19 June 2013 10:16pm

    Great tips. I am actually avoiding counting how many things I use in the morning because some mornings its probably 2 and then other mornings I probably use 20 products eek.

  • Posted by: Its_Jess Master Fan // Wed, 19 June 2013 11:34pm

    At the moment I use a cleanser and moisturiser and a bb cream which is spf15+. I do have a mist but don’t use it regularly… I’ll start doing that now though!

  • Posted by: aeko91 Master Fan // Thu, 20 June 2013 12:12am

    Great tips in there, I want to use a serum but I’m unsure how my skin will react to it as it’s quite sensitive

  • Posted by: aeko91 Master Fan // Thu, 20 June 2013 12:12am

    Great tips in there, I want to use a serum but I’m unsure how my skin will react to it as it’s quite sensitive

  • Posted by: Lisa-1294413802 Master Fan // Thu, 20 June 2013 07:52pm

    Skincare isn’t for the weak any more! What would our grandmas and their cold cream applications think?

    I didn’t know I could mix my serums or add oil over them. Thanks for the tips.

  • Posted by: MsSparkles Master Fan // Fri, 21 June 2013 01:02pm

    Just seems like so many layers.. I love the less is more feel. Definitely agree with taking great care of your skin and protecting it from the sun!

  • Posted by: thecatwhosawstars Master Fan // Fri, 21 June 2013 08:40pm

    Seven steps! Wowsers I don’t have that much time on my hands to apply that many layers. I cleanse, serum and moisturise. I use face oils or serums but not both.

  • Posted by: lovefashionangel Master Fan // Fri, 21 June 2013 10:44pm

    I really love using mists throughout the day for a freshen up :)

  • Posted by: Tina-1291133452 Master Fan // Fri, 21 June 2013 11:46pm

    wow i didnt know you know you could layer skincare! very important tips!!

  • Posted by: PrettyPrincess Master Fan // Sat, 22 June 2013 06:00am

    I have just started misting again for winter, I did cut it out for awhile because I wasn’t really sure if it was necessary.

  • Posted by: jo77 Master Fan // Sat, 22 June 2013 08:20am

    That’s about the steps I have in my routine, Give or take one or two. I have got to get myself a great serum…… not just an ok one!!

  • Posted by: Erin-1312272625 Master Fan // Mon, 24 June 2013 05:44pm

    I’m using all except mist at the moment! And only sometimes oil

  • Posted by: Beautybabe1 Master Fan // Thu, 27 June 2013 11:35am

    Great tips, there are so many different products now that make up a skin care routine, I love using rose hip oil.

  • Posted by: cwingy83 Enthusiast // Thu, 27 June 2013 03:13pm

    Thank you for the great sorted out my my confusion with which product to use first and last.

  • Posted by: beautiful87 Master Fan // Fri, 28 June 2013 08:24pm

    Wow this is so many products, this takes time :)

  • Posted by: inaj Devotee // Sat, 29 June 2013 11:52am

    Great Article! I basically follow the above steps already. I am loving facial oils, particularly Antipodes Divine Facial Oil.

  • Posted by: DebstarDesigns Master Fan // Thu, 4 July 2013 04:09pm

    Good Grief! I cleanse, mist and moisturise and that’s it! I don’t have enough time in the morning to do all that!

  • Posted by: Daria Master Fan // Thu, 4 July 2013 04:45pm

    Interesting, great tips! I’m using a mountain of skincare products at the moment LOL!

  • Posted by: Jannz Master Fan // Tue, 9 July 2013 10:46am

    I only really cleanse and moisturise and use sunscreen during the day. Should really up my game in some of those areas, but am not really keen on toners

  • Posted by: Britty1 Master Fan // Fri, 12 July 2013 03:26pm

    so can you put the serum and oil and moisturiser over the spot treatment or will that render it ineffective?

    Also, I’ve always been scared of using oil after serum incase it inhibits its properties? and the same with moisturiser after? So it doesnt seal the skin and stop the moisturiser from penetrating?

  • Posted by: lovefashionangel Master Fan // Sun, 21 July 2013 09:53pm

    I like to layer up but sometimes it just takes too long. So cutting steps is cutting time. In the daytime I love using my garnier bb cream for sensitive skin. It is truely amazing 😀

  • Posted by: TLOVELAI Enthusiast // Mon, 5 August 2013 12:16pm

    cleanse and exfoliate with a clarisonic, tone, skin brightening serum, then oil or moiturise (depending how dry my skin is), then sunscreen.

  • Posted by: charmaine_g Newbie // Sun, 11 August 2013 06:09pm

    I use a cleanser (Clearasil) for my acne skin, then treat it with acne lotion (from Clearasil as well), then use this Pond’s flawless white day cream that helps me with lightening up my skin and reducing my red spots. Then my Dermaveen moisturising lotion. Then last but not least, I use Maybelline BB cream. Is that how you layer it up? or am I doing something wrong here? Sorry, I am just new at this skin care thing.

  • Posted by: Aiko // Mon, 19 August 2013 12:59am

    Really useful tips! If my night cream is water based, should i apply it before or after a facial oil? As I always read that oils should be applied after water-based products.

  • Posted by: Juuliaahh Enthusiast // Wed, 4 September 2013 10:47pm

    I thought chemical sunblock was meant to go underneath moisturiser as it’s meant to react with your skin?

  • Posted by: Erin-1312272625 Master Fan // Sun, 22 September 2013 09:14pm

    Mine goes something like this

  • Posted by: diva89 Master Fan // Mon, 14 October 2013 07:54pm

    thanks for the great tips

  • Posted by: alanakateh Master Fan // Tue, 22 October 2013 03:09pm

    Thanks Kat!

  • Posted by: diva89 Master Fan // Sat, 30 November 2013 05:55pm

    i dont use mists

  • Posted by: Sparkles17 Master Fan // Mon, 2 December 2013 04:19pm

    I love the Botani soothing facial mist so refreshing and hydrating for my skin!

  • Posted by: talkalot Master Fan // Tue, 17 June 2014 07:02pm

    Wonderful Katrina, thanks for these layering steps, makes thing a little easier.

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