layering skincare: 2 posts

The Ordinary Summer Skincare Routine

Since I’ve shared my general skincare principles, many of you asked me to describe in more detail my summer routine. In many ways, even as someone who dislikes hot weather and burns easily, I find that taking care of my skin in the summer is far simpler than in the cold, dry months.

Why is that? First of all, any of the exfoliating treatments that you might indulge in during the winter have to be put on hold. When I talk of exfoliation, I mean only chemical exfoliation with acids like lactic acid, AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHA (beta-hydroxy acids). Retinoids and retinols have a different function other than exfoliation, but they are also included in the group of skin sensitizing ingredients. The risk of sun damage is too great to use such products on a regular basis in the summer, even at night. The same applies to any aggressive brightening treatments. I find that most people overdo the exfoliation anyway, with the result being sensitized, easily reddened skin, so it’s a good item to scale back in the summer.

The same applies to using too many layers of products. If in the winter I might layer a couple of different serums and top my moisturizer with a drop of oil, all such products go in the fridge for the summer to bide their time till colder months. I pare down my routine to the essentials.

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A Guide to Skincare Layering

If you were to read beauty magazines, you’d be forgiven for thinking that layering skincare is a skill beyond the ken of mere mortals. One is expected to have a working  knowledge of organic chemistry, active ingredients and the latest in Asian skincare discoveries. Failing that, one should simply follow the magazines’ recommendations and splurge for the editor’s favorites.

In reality, layering skincare is fairly simple. All of us do it to an extent when we start with a toner and finish with a moisturizer. It always helps to know what Vitamin C does to one’s skin or how to use AHA as part of a routine, but layering doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Nor does it have to take up a big chunk of your morning.

The other day I timed how long it took me to finish my skincare in the morning, and I discovered that it was around 5 minutes. So, I thought that it might be a good idea to describe what I do in more detail, demystifying the layering process. Whatever skincare products you use, you can tailor your routine to your skin type and your goals.

From Light to Heavy

The main principle of skincare layering is to start from products with the lightest texture and build up to the heaviest. The idea is to ensure that all layers absorb properly without diluting each other. Toner goes on first, if you’re using it. Wait for it to be absorbed, which should take a minute and then move onto the serum, moisturizing lotion or moisturizing cream. It’s a good idea to wait a little before moving onto another product, 30 seconds to a couple of minutes.

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