What To Know When Layering Skincare
Some skincare topics are more interesting than others, let's be honest. But that doesn't mean they're any less important. Au contraire! Say you're being a good human, helping elders cross the street and stuff, doing your ten-step routine every day, and one day someone tells you that vitamin C and niacinamide don't mix! Omg! You feel like your whole life was a lie and that the secret of true (skin) happiness lies in something as simple as piling on products. How could you be so naive? You should have known that nothing in life is that simple. Okay, it's time to calm yourself down with a sip of your favorite tea and stop beating yourself up. Let's work on this together.
MIXING & LAYERING PRODUCTS
Before we get any further, you should know that this guideline does not overwrite instructions on the bottle of your product. Always stick to what is written there because there are so many different, existing formulations and new ones popping up every day, so it's kinda hard to stay on top of everything. Some formulations are great for mixing, others not so much. Read the labels. Also, ask yourself why you want to mix it? Is it for convenience or something else? It's usually best to layer products one by one to have more control over the whole process. If you're doing that, go from thinnest to thickest. So start with toners, essences or serums that are water-based and sink right into your skin, then layer on creams and lastly oils. This is also good if you're looking to get the most out of your product. For example, if you're using vitamin C for brightening, layer that baby on right after cleansing and then continue with the rest of your routine. The same goes for purifying, rebalancing ingredients that fight acne. If you want to get the most of your product, layer it first. As for mixing, feel free to spice up your face cream with a product that targets your specific needs. Customize your moisturizing cream by adding a few drops of hyaluronic acid for extra hydration, or niacinamide to keep down inflammation. Pick and choose according to what your skin tells you. Just be careful not to mix (or layer) vitamin C with niacinamide and AHA products with retinol. The first pair just doesn't work together, and the second one tends to be too irritating. Steer clear of using too many potentially irritating products in one routine. Alternate between them instead or use one active ingredient at once, and you'll be safe. Mixing is also great if you're a beginner, and you're just introducing new actives to your routine. It dilutes the concentration and minimizes the chance of irritation.
THE WAITING GAME
There's no right answer here. Some say it makes no sense to wait, others like to take their time when applying. The general rule of thumb is to wait for each product to fully dry/absorb, before continuing with another. This might take a few seconds or a full minute, sometimes even more. It depends on the product. The point is to let it settle and do its magic. Waiting for products to absorb is especially helpful if you're struggling with textures rolling up. Of course, there are a few exceptions where you should be more cautious and perhaps prolong the waiting time. For example, if you're simultaneously using (and are used to) acid peels together with other active ingredients such as vitamin C, retinol or niacinamide. In this case, give them a few minutes each, to really settle in before continuing. Keep in mind that this kind of mixing is for advanced users only.
DRY OR DAMP SKIN?
And if all of this still isn't complicated enough for you, let's look at applying products to dry or damp skin. To put it simply, damp (not dripping wet) skin absorbs products better than dry because it is more permeable. Just like a sponge. So if you're looking to get your products as deep as you can, layer them on right after showering or cleansing. Don't wait for your skin to dry completely, keep it moist. This is especially beneficial if you're using active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, niacinamide, etc. On the other hand, be careful not to do this with AHA or BHA acids and retinoids, such as tretinoin, Retin-A, Differin. Doing so can cause irritation, so it’s best to apply them on dry skin for a more controlled and slower absorption. Again, read what the instructions on the bottle say and you'll be okay.