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Skincare 101: How to Layer All Those Products On Your Vanity


Figuring out how to order your skincare lineup can feel like trying to solve a rubik’s cube—not impossible but clearly a challenge. You’ve got a bathroom shelf filled with products, but which comes first? 

The good news is you don’t to have to be a dermatologist to learn how to get the most out of your beauty routine. Just use this nifty diagram and the tips below to layer your products like a pro.

First things first: always start with a clean, freshly washed complexion. Our most recent go-to is Benta Berry’s G-1 Facial Cleanse. It’s made with a dose of zinc to help calm your skin’s oil production. The resulting matte effect provides a smooth canvas for the rest of your skincare and makeup routine. 

Layer One: Toner

Not-so-fun-fact? Even the best cleansers can’t get all the oil, dirt, makeup, and sunscreen that have seeped into your pores—that’s where toners come in. These skin savers further clarify and remove irritants. The toners of yesteryear often caused redness and tightening, but today’s updated toners rely on gentle ingredients to get the job done. Case in point? Vivant Skincare’s Mandelic Acid 3-in-1 Toner. Great for all skin types, it uses mandelic acid, a super gentle form of alpha hydroxy, to loosen dead skin and kill acne-causing bacteria. If you’re new to toners, moisten a cotton ball with liquid and gently swipe across your face, neck, and chest. Start by applying every other day for two weeks, then once your skin adjusts, feel free to apply daily. 

Layer Two: Spot Treatment

Now that you’re prepped, use a spot treatment to calm down any existing or burgeoning blemish. Zit-busters work best when applied directly to clean skin and help heal your complexion faster. Opt for a product that battles blemishes without drying out your skin, like our favorite cure-all Juice Beauty’s Blemish Be Gone. Let the treatment sit for about 10-15 minutes before adding your next layer so it can really penetrate into your skin. 

Layer Three: Serum

Next, apply a small pump of serum. Often confused with moisturizers, serums are made of concentrated active ingredients that amp up the effectiveness of your products. Think of them as multivitamins for your face. Made with skin-rejuvenating anogeissus bark extract, ORIGINS Plantscription Anti-Aging Serum multiplies the powers of your moisturizer, but that’s just the beginning. It also increases collagen and helps ward off fine lines and wrinkles.

Layer Four: Moisturizer

Even if you have combination or oily skin, moisturizing is an essential part of any skincare routine. It helps calm hyperpigmentation, cures dryness, and protects skin from harsh environmental factors by locking in necessary hydration. In other words, moisturizer is your skin’s BFF. For glowing results, try a lightweight formula rich in emollients like hyaluronic acid and vitamins. A great option is stila’s face the day multi-use moisturizing gel cream, which boosts and infuses pores with antioxidants. 

Layer Five: SPF

Don’t leave the house without SPF, even if you’re just heading to the office. It may seem like a pain now, but doubling up on sun protection will pay off in the future. Reach for a super lightweight, grease-free option, we like Supergoop!’s SPF 30+ Everyday UV Lotion for Face and Body

Layer Six: Makeup 

Hooray! You’ve made it through your skincare journey. Follow with your go-to makeup routine, which FYI you should always kick off with a primer—especially in steamy weather—to help keep makeup intact. Birchbox cofounder Katia swears by Benefit’s brand new Stay Flawless 15-hour primerInsider tip: you can skip a bunch of the next steps in one fell swoop with a great BB cream. Lately, we’re digging L’OCCITANE Sublime Beauty Cream. The velvety formula blends in easily and has a shine-free finish. 

We know you’re a busy gal and these steps seem a little, well, labor intensive. But trust us, investing in your skincare routine will pay off—in as soon as several weeks! The most important part of all of this though—not to get all Barney on you—is that everyone’s skin truly is unique. So don’t be afraid to fiddle with the combination a bit to find one that works for you.


And what about the skin below the neck? Tackle dryness with Caldrea’s collagen-boosting body lotion.

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