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The Foolproof Way to Layer Your Skincare (It’s Not What You Think)

Posted by Sarah Otto on
The Foolproof Way to Layer Your Skincare (It’s Not What You Think)

The skincare industry is packed with all kinds of buzzwords lately. Think: clean beauty, all natural and pore reducing, just to name a few.

The one that really grinds my gears lately? Layering.

With all of this talk around routines, steps, mixing products together and how to layer your skincare, it’s no wonder our skin is stressed out and not functioning optimally (I, for one, find myself completely overwhelmed and frustrated by the overload of products and steps).

Maybe you know where this is going—but the foolproof way to layer your skincare is to not do it at all.

Layering skincare is simply unnecessary. It not only implies that you need to use a multitude of products to achieve beautiful skin—it gives you instructions on how to mix them all together and in what order. One popular brand goes so far as to create tutorials on how to make “skincare smoothies,” mixing multiple serums and creams together. Yikes.

The Truth? Fewer Layers of Skincare Works Best

Unfortunately, layering does more harm than good. Over-applying skincare active ingredients or layering similar active and botanical ingredients on the skin often leads to irritation, sensitization and allergic reactions. Not to mention, it’s pointless. Most skincare active ingredients have a recommended percentage of use—and if you’re using one kind of active ingredient found in your serum, sunscreen, makeup, eye cream, toner and moisturizers, you’re risking your skin’s health.

Let’s take niacinamide, for example, which is supposed to be used at 10% max. If you’re laying three different products all containing niacinamide—yep, you guessed it—you’re using way too much.

Another reason to avoid layering? Botanical ingredients are either being overused or combined, with very little research backing their safety. Beware of brands that boast a “proprietary botanical blend” found in all of their products—from eye cream to cleanser, lip balm and more. Although it sounds cool, is it really necessary? Not so much.

Sadly, the more you expose yourself to botanical ingredients—especially the same botanical extracts applied over and over—the more likely you’ll develop an allergy. Unfortunately, very little has been studied as far as the compatibility of botanical extracts, plant oils and active ingredients. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe. For example, botanical ingredients in the compositae family are the third leading cause of contact dermatitis. Plants in this family include ragweed, anica, burdock, chamomile, dandelion, blue tansy and yarrow, just to name a few.

The bottom line? As with all things skincare, even botanical and plant-based skincare, less is more.

Your Skincare Should Be Applied in One Single Layer

Read that one again: Your skincare should be applied in one single layer. Why? One serum after cleansing just works better. This way, the active ingredient isn’t competing or interacting with anything else. Instead, it can work more simply to give you great results.

No surprise here: I’m a huge fan of serums—especially ones that are designed to use either morning or night. The truth? All you need is one serum in the morning that hydrates and contains antioxidants to protect and strengthen the skin barrier, and one serum at night to treat common concerns like pigmentation, mild breakouts and fine lines. As for other products, try adding a simple moisturizer or hydrating face oil, and your favorite sunscreen. Yep, that’s it!

Don’t get caught up in the allure of steps and unnecessary products. Keep it simple and you’ll find that your skincare will not only work better—your skin will look its very best, too.

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