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How to Layer Your Skincare Products + SHOP | Products for Wrinkles

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We'll all get wrinkles eventually, but it's possible to slow the process. Using EFFECTIVE skincare products to prevent wrinkles is the key!

The problem is, for most people, skincare products are confusing. There are lots of products and ingredients, but it's not clear if they work - or are worth the money. Sometimes drug store buys (like Differin) are amazing and sometimes it's worth it to spend more money on a cosmeceutical. Then there's order of application - and knowing which products work best at night (vs. applying them in the morning).

You need to get it right. If you choose the wrong products - or layer them incorrectly - they won't work as well and your risk of side effects is higher. Some products just don't mix well.

So to answer to all your questions, I've created a very basic morning and evening skincare regimen. It doesn't cover every skincare product combination, but it does cover most!

SO WHY DO PEOPLE LAYER SKINCARE PRODUCTS ANYWAY?

If you're looking for better results than just one wrinkle cream or serum can give, you might consider layering. And if your skin is so dry that 1 moisturizer just doesn't cut it, you might benefit from layering moisturizers.

The theory behind layering goes like this:

The outer layer of your skin (the stratum corneum) is made up of:

  • dead skin cells (called corneocytes),
  • natural moisturizing factors (called humectants), and
  • fatty substances (called lipids). The lipids are a natural barrier to keep the good stuff (like water & natural moisturizing factors) in.

When you correctly layer your skincare products, you enhance your skin's natural abilities. For example, oil based products (which contain lots of lipids / fatty substances) help your skin prevent water loss. They create a temporary film over your skin's surface; BUT that film also keeps water based skincare products (like toners and serums) from penetrating your skin. This is why oil based products should be applied last - after your water based products have been absorbed.

"It all comes down to penetration. If you put on a heavier cream, it will usually have a wax in it, so any water-based material applied after will have a hard time getting through."   - Ni'Kita Wilson, Cosmetic Chemist based in New Jersey

FROM THE EXPERTS:  6 TIPS FOR LAYERING YOUR SKINCARE

1. Using more products isn't necessarily better for your skin. Sometimes moisturizers tend to pile up instead of actually penetrating your skin. And skincare products like retinoids, when used with salicylic acids, can leave your skin red, irritated and tender.

"There's a common misconception that the more products you use, the better your skin will be. But like many dermatologists, my routine is simple. This approach is easy to stick with and usually makes for a healthier complexion."   - Dr. Ranella Hirsch Hirsch, Massachusetts Board Certified Dermatologist

And "if you have sensitive, acne-prone, or oily skin, you’re better off with fewer products on your skin. Less is better in these cases."  - Rita Lee, Licensed Esthetician & Harvard trained Biochemist

2. Some doctors recommend using 3 skincare products and no more.

“The problem with using so many product is that there’s a dilution factor, and possible conflicts with the active ingredients in those different items.”  - Dr. Neil Schultz, New York City Dermatologist

3. Look for skincare products that multitask - like a face cream that has moisturizing ingredients combined with antioxidants and peptides.

4. Except for sunscreen, apply your skincare products lightly.

"You only need a thin layer of most active products. Women usually apply too much of everything except sunscreen. (For that, you need a shot-glass-full for your face, neck, and chest.) Once a week, treat yourself to an extra. If your skin is oily and you're not using a nightly retinol, try a peel. Or apply a ceramide-rich mask if your dry skin needs coddling."   - Dr. Ranella Hirsch Hirsch, Massachusetts Board Certified Dermatologist

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5. In general, you should layer skincare products from thin (runny) to thick. This works because water based products tend to be thinner than oil based.

But what do you do when 2 products have about the same consistency?  “Go for the most concentrated product that will tackle your top concern.”  - Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale, New York City Dermatologist

Here's an example. If your #1 concern is acne, apply a 2% dioic acid acne treatment, like SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense, followed by a serum to calm redness, like SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel.

Which products are water based?  Most toners, mists, essences, serums and moisturizers which are labeled oil free (usually a fluid, lotion, or gel) are water based.

Which products are oil based?  Of course oils, and many creams and balms are oil-based.

6. What about using products from the same brand? Would they work better together?

"In many cases the companies do not research the products as a complete regimen, but rather as an independent product.  For this reason, we often do not know if the product will be efficacious (effective) when combined with other products.  I believe that dermatologists should choose the best “hero” products form the various brands and layer them in the proper way to increase efficacy (their effectiveness).  I prefer products from various brands because each company has a core competency.  For my patients I like to choose the best technologies form each brand and combine them.  Not one brand can have the best of every type of product.  Combining these in an efficacious layering pattern will give the patient the best of all the brands."  - Dr. Leslie Baumann, Dermatologist, Researcher, Author & Founder of Skin Type Solutions

HOW TO LAYER YOUR SKINCARE PRODUCTS

There are a LOT of steps listed below. They're meant to be used as a guideline. I'll also say that there's a lot of conflicting information about the "right time" to apply skincare products. Especially eye creams - they're never in the same place in product layering articles! My best advice is to experiment to find the layering combination that works best for your skin!

If you develop any kind of skin problem that doesn't go away, please consult a dermatologist or plastic surgeon! Good luck!

EVERY MORNING:

1. WASH YOUR FACE. Dirt, oil, bacteria, sweat, and pollution can & will prematurely age your skin. (Read more about this in our Clarisonic post.) You should use a cleanser that doesn't leave your skin feeling tight, dry or irritated.

A note about cleansers:  The wrong cleanser can react badly with the lipids and proteins on your skin. When this happens the surface of your skin can become irritated or damaged, interfering with its ability to function as a barrier (keeping the good stuff in & the bad stuff out).

For example, foaming cleansers are known for disrupting the skin barrier & allowing the skincare products used immediately afterward to better penetrate your skin. So while these foaming cleansers work well for people with oily skin, people with dry skin get a better result from a creamy, moisturizing cleanser. What I'm trying to say is that choosing the right cleanser is very important. They do so many things!

For these reasons, every ingredient and characteristic of your cleanser is important! Learn more about Cleansing Your Skin Based on Skin Type from Dr. Leslie Baumann.

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Photo courtesy of Unsplash & Annie Spratt.

2. USE A TONER. Most doctors recommend them for people with acne.

3. APPLY A SPOT TREATMENT (FOR ACNE OR A LIGHTENING TREATMENT FOR DARK SPOTS).

4. ALLOW EACH PRODUCT TO DRY BEFORE APPLYING THE NEXT.

"If you give each product a minute to dry, it won't pill (when a product balls up and leaves flakes on skin). I flow my skin care in with the rest of my morning routine. For example, I put on a product, have coffee, then put on a second product, then brush my teeth."  - Dr. Fredric Brandt told Allure in 2014

5. LAYER ON ESSENCES & SERUMS, thin to thick. These skincare products are made to prevent wrinkles, dark spots, and other skin conditions. Air pollution, sun exposure, etc., damage the collagen and elastin in your skin. (They give your skin its structure and elasticity.) Antioxidant serums that include ingredients like Vitamin C, neutralize the damage. They improve the appearance of fine lines and dark spots.

A note for people with sensitive skin:  If your skin is reactive to serums or other products, try applying a fragrance free moisturizer followed by your serums.

"The cream will reduce the potency of the serums, but they'll also be less likely to cause irritation."  - Dr. Ranella Hirsch, Massachusetts Board Certified Dermatologist

6. TREAT YOUR EYES.

The skin around your eyes is one of the first places to show age. Eye products are specially formulated to treat dark circles, puffiness, dry skin, and fine lines.

Regular skincare products do work on the skin around your eyes. But if your products don't stay where you put them, or you get stinging or burning, try a cream specially formulated for the area around your eyes. Eye creams can also protect this delicate, and often more sensitive, area from other irritating skincare products. Look for lipids in your eye products. They're protective ingredients that allow some people - who previously couldn't tolerate irritating skincare products - to use them.

Remember:  The skin around your eyes is very thin. Apply skincare products to these areas very gently!

7. MOISTURIZE. Your skin needs moisture - especially if you live in a dry climate like Colorado. Moisturizers minimize fine lines (temporarily) and smooth your skin. Some multitask. That is, they hydrate your skin AND target dark spots or wrinkles or redness. Some even include SPF.

But there are a few things you might not know about moisturizers:

  1. They protect your skin by acting as an occlusive. That is they "seal in" the skincare products applied before them.
  2. Moisturizers also improve the effectiveness of the skincare product applied just before them. Ingredients like oleic acid, hyaluronic acid, and other fatty acids can actually increase the penetration of the products applied before them.
  3. Some moisturizer ingredients, like heparan sulfate, may improve your skin cells' ability to "hear" and respond to the signals sent by skincare products applied before the moisturizer.

Moisturizer is crucial for layering because "it seals serums on your skin, which can make them more effective."  - Ni'Kita Wilson, Cosmetic Chemist based in New Jersey

8. FACE OILS COME AFTER MOISTURIZERS (most of the time) unless you're using a BARRIER REPAIR MOISTURIZER. Dr. Leslie Baumann recommends BARRIER REPAIR MOISTURIZERS be the last step before sunscreen each morning.

Wait, what's the difference between a MOISTURIZER and a BARRIER REPAIR MOISTURIZER?  Essentially, a MOISTURIZER is a temporary fix. It treats the symptom, "dry skin." A good BARRIER REPAIR MOISTURIZER treats the damaged skin barrier that created the dry skin. A BARRIER REPAIR replenishes those missing lipids that are needed to rebuild your skin.

"Although both moisturizers and barrier repair formulations can be considered appropriate for the treatment of dry skin, they do address somewhat different therapeutic goals. Moisturizers aim to rehydrate the outer layer of skin – the stratum corneum – while barrier repair agents attempt to restore the skin barrier. If they are successful in repairing the barrier, they will be correcting the defect that caused the skin to be dry in the first place."  - Dr. Mary L. Williams, Clinical Professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco

BARRIER REPAIR MOISTURIZERS, like SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore, are great for people with eczema, rosacea, sensitive, or dry skin. MOISTURIZERS work for just about everyone else.

If you use both a MOISTURIZER and an oil, the order you apply them will depend on their ingredients and thickness. You'll need to experiment to find the method that works best for your skin.

  • If your moisturizer is oil free, try applying it before your face oil.
  • If you find your moisturizer is thick and oily (occlusive), try applying the moisturizer after your face oil.

9. APPLY SUNSCREEN. You should wear a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen (or higher) every single day. There are a couple of kinds of sunscreen to choose from:  physical or chemical. Learn more in our post, Physical Sunscreen or Chemical? Which Is Better? And I'd recommend a sunscreen with lots of zinc oxide because it offers better protection from UVA rays.

10. APPLY MAKEUP.

EVERY EVENING:

1. WASH YOUR FACE. It's especially important to clean your face at night to remove all the day's accumulated dirt and pollution. As mentioned above, dirt, grime and pollution can & will prematurely age your skin. (Read more about this in our Clarisonic post.) Use a gentle cleanser that doesn't leave your skin feeling tight or dry. I love micellar water. It's gentle, inexpensive, and really easy to use (no rinsing!).

2. USE A TONER. If you like like toners, or have acne, use one after cleansing.

3. EXFOLIATE 1 - 3 TIMES EACH WEEK - but NOT to the point where your skin is red and painful! Old skin cells build up on the surface of your skin creating a dull, uneven complexion. You'll get a brighter, more even complexion from:

  • a chemical exfoliation using a glycolic acid peel.
  • Or you could use a physical exfoliant, like the Clarisonic face brush.
  • Or you could use a cleanser that also exfoliates. Some cleansers include chemical exfoliators (like glycolic acid); others physically exfoliate (scrubs are an example).

Remember:  Exfoliating too often is bad for your skin because it can damage your skin's barrier (letting the bad stuff like bacteria & dirt in AND allowing water out). If you notice your skin becoming red or irritated, try cutting back to once a week. Or if you use the Clarisonic, try using the brush once a week and / or using a softer brush.

4. USE A MASK 1 - 2 TIMES EACH WEEK.

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Photo courtesy of Unsplash & Altinay Dinc.

5. USE A SPOT TREATMENT (FOR ACNE OR A LIGHTENING TREATMENT FOR DARK SPOTS).

6. ALLOW EACH PRODUCT TO DRY BEFORE APPLYING THE NEXT.

"If you give each product a minute to dry, it won't pill (when a product balls up and leaves flakes on skin). I flow my skin care in with the rest of my morning routine. For example, I put on a product, have coffee, then put on a second product, then brush my teeth."  - Dr. Fredric Brandt, Dermatologist, told Allure in 2014

7. LAYER ON ESSENCES & SERUMS, thin to thick. These skincare products are made to prevent wrinkles, dark spots and other problems. Air pollution, sun exposure, etc., damage the collagen and elastin in your skin. (They give your skin its structure and elasticity.) Antioxidant serums, that include ingredients like Vitamin C, neutralize damage. They improve the appearance of fine lines and dark spots.

A note for people with sensitive skin:  If your skin is reactive to serums or other products, try applying a fragrance free moisturizer followed by your serums.

"The cream will reduce the potency of the serums, but they'll also be less likely to cause irritation."  - Dr. Ranella Hirsch Hirsch, Massachusetts Board Certified Dermatologist

8. APPLY AN EYE CREAM. Before bed, treat your eyes again with a targeted formula for your particular concern: wrinkles, fine lines, puffiness or dark circles.

Regular skincare products do work around the eyes. But if your products don't stay where you put them, or you get stinging or burning, try a cream specially formulated for the skin around your eyes. Eye creams can also protect this delicate, and often more sensitive, area from other irritating skincare products. Look for lipids in your eye products. They're protective ingredients that allow some people - who previously couldn't tolerate irritating skincare products - to use them.

Remember:  The skin around your eyes is very thin. Apply skincare products to these areas very gently!

9. MOISTURIZE. Your skin needs moisture - especially if you live in a dry climate like Colorado. Moisturizers minimize fine lines (temporarily) and smooth your skin. Some multitask. That is, they hydrate your skin AND target dark spots or wrinkles or redness. Some even include SPF.

But there are a few things you might not know about moisturizers:

  1. They protect your skin by acting as an occlusive. That is they "seal in" the skincare products applied before them.
  2. Moisturizers also improve the effectiveness of the skincare product applied just before them. Ingredients like oleic acid, hyaluronic acid, and other fatty acids can actually increase the penetration of the products applied before them.
  3. Some moisturizer ingredients, like heparan sulfate, may improve skin cells' ability to "hear" and respond to signals sent by skincare products applied before the moisturizer.

Moisturizer is crucial for layering because "it seals serums on your skin, which can make them more effective."  - Ni'Kita Wilson, Cosmetic Chemist based in New Jersey

10. FACE OILS COME AFTER MOISTURIZERS (most of the time) unless you're using a BARRIER REPAIR MOISTURIZER.

Wait, what's the difference between a MOISTURIZER and a BARRIER REPAIR MOISTURIZER?  Essentially, a MOISTURIZER is a temporary fix. It treats the symptom, "dry skin." A good BARRIER REPAIR MOISTURIZER treats the damaged skin barrier that created the dry skin. A BARRIER REPAIR replenishes those missing lipids that are needed to rebuild your skin.

"Although both moisturizers and barrier repair formulations can be considered appropriate for the treatment of dry skin, they do address somewhat different therapeutic goals. Moisturizers aim to rehydrate the outer layer of skin – the stratum corneum – while barrier repair agents attempt to restore the skin barrier. If they are successful in repairing the barrier, they will be correcting the defect that caused the skin to be dry in the first place."  - Dr. Mary L. Williams, Clinical Professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco

BARRIER REPAIR MOISTURIZERS, like SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore, are great for people with eczema, rosacea, sensitive, or dry skin. MOISTURIZERS work for just about everyone else.

If you use both a MOISTURIZER and an oil, the order you apply them will depend on their ingredients and thickness. You'll need to experiment to find the method that works best for your skin.

  • If your moisturizer is oil free, try applying it before your face oil.
  • If you find your moisturizer is thick and oily (occlusive), try applying the moisturizer after your face oil.

11.  APPLY A RETINOID. If you're new to retinoids, applying them on top of a moisturizer can reduce their side effects. Retinoids penetrate easily into the deeper layer of your skin (the dermis). They should always be used at night because many, including retinol and tretinoin, are broken down by sunlight.

"I put my retinol over a serum and a cream — moisturizing helps retinol to penetrate better with less irritation."  - Dr. Fredric Brandt, Dermatologist, told Allure

If you've been using a retinoid for a while, try applying it before your moisturizer. Use a thicker occlusive crème or balm on top of your retinoid, instead of a thin lotion.

Thin moisturizers “will thin out the Retin-A, in the same way that adding water to cake batter thins it out.”  - Dr. Neil Schultz, New York City Dermatologist

“Patients do it all the time (layer moisturizer on top of retinoids) to minimize dryness.”  - Dr. Patricia Farris, Dermatologist & Clinical Assistant Professor at Tulane University School of Medicine

"Barrier repair moisturizers should be the last step before sunscreen in the am and the last step before (or after) retinol in the pm. This helps seal in the ingredients placed prior to it in the regimen. Using the retinol after the barrier repair moisturizer makes less retinol penetrate into the skin and helps you adapt to retinol when you are first starting to use it. Once you get used to the retinol, you can apply it before the barrier repair moisturizer."  - Dr. Leslie Baumann, Dermatologist, Researcher, Author & Founder of Skin Type Solutions

12. USE EXTRA MOISTURIZER OR A SLEEPING MASK.

SOMETIMES THINGS GO WRONG - HERE'S HOW TO HANDLE IT!

Sometimes the promise of pimple free skin or a porcelain complexion is very enticing. After all, it's fun to try new products! Or our skin changes, both as the seasons change and as we age. Because of these changes (or because we're drawn in by the promise of beautiful, wrinkle-free skin), our skincare routine needs to change too.

There's a "best way" to try new products: CAREFULLY.

Change 1 product at a time. Allow each new product about a month (the length of a skin cycle) to deliver results - or cause a bad reaction (most side effects show up in 24 - 48 hours, but not always). By allowing a month between new products, you're giving your skin time to adjust. You'll know right away which product caused the problem - or made an amazing improvement to your skin.

If you see redness or irritation, discontinue the new product and do some research. Sometimes skincare ingredients don't layer well (like AHAs and retinoids). Other times, it's that your skin cannot handle too many active skincare ingredients at once. You may need to limit the number of skincare ingredients that you use.

Below you'll find some skincare products that are great for wrinkles!

But First, Let's talk About the Elephant in the Room: SHIPPING COSTS.

Disclosure:

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SKINCEUTICALS SHIPPING:  SkinCeuticals.com ships to all 50 U.S. States via UPS Ground for a standard charge of $5.00. If you're a registered SkinCeuticals Member and your order is $100 or more, you get free shipping via UPS Ground to the contiguous United States.

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Nurture yourself so you can enjoy life to it's fullest!

When you care for yourself first, everything in your life benefits. We all need time to refuel, and for each one of us that means something a little bit different. For most of us, it means making sleep, good nutrition, emotional, or physical health a priority. We make things like gym time nonnegotiable, or follow a certain diet, or stop checking the cell phone after 7 p.m. Most of us are happier when we are healthy - and it shows. That's where we come in. Masterpiece Skin Restoration gives you all the information you need to restore your skin's health - because healthy skin is beautiful!

We have all the information you need to restore your skin.

Masterpiece Skin Restoration was founded on the principle that each one of us is beautiful. It's an online resource to help you, our valued reader, find the very best of all things medical aesthetics, skincare, beauty, and wellness. Our registered nurse provides all the information you need to make the best choices for your skin - in language you can understand. We research skincare products and treatments that are backed by science and have proven results.

References:

https://www.mdedge.com/edermatologynews/article/163286/aesthetic-dermatology/skin-care-product-layering-affects-efficacy/page/0/1

https://www.elle.com/beauty/makeup-skin-care/advice/a39041/how-layer-morning-skincare-products/

https://www.allure.com/story/how-to-layer-your-skin-care-products

https://www.skincare.com/article/how-to-layer-skin-care-products

https://www.vogue.com/article/layering-skin-care-guide/

http://www.justaboutskin.com/2014/05/layering-skin-care-products/

https://www.allure.com/story/how-to-streamline-your-skin-care-routine

http://www.justaboutskin.com/2015/01/bad-skin-reaction/

http://lesliebaumannmd.com/what-are-the-best-anti-aging-cleansers/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15358784

http://www.skinaid.eu/woco/women-in-cosmetology-doctor-leslie-baumann/

https://lilydemai.com/blogs/news/how-to-repair-your-skin-barrier-and-why-you-absolutely-must

http://lesliebaumannmd.com/dr-baumann-recommends-barrier-repair-moisturizers-heres/

https://thenakedchemist.com/barrier-repair-the-key-healthy-skin/#

https://eliasandwilliams.com/moisturizers-vs-barrier-repair/

Disclaimer:

The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some - like melanoma - can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!

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