Does Layering Skincare Products Benefit Your Skin?

woman applying skincare

Does Layering Skincare Products Benefit Your Skin?

With so many different skincare products out there, knowing what to use when can be tricky. It goes without saying that you’ll want each product to work to its full potential, and this means being strategic when it comes to applying them. This is why the concept of layering skincare has become so popular.

What exactly does skincare layering involve and is it worth taking the time to do this? Read on as Introstem explains.

What is Skincare Layering?

Skincare layering is exactly what it sounds like; layering skincare products over the top of each other. However, this isn’t done haphazardly. Instead, there’s a specific order that should be followed if you want your layering efforts to produce results.

The Benefits of Layering Skincare

So, what exactly are the results that you can expect to see if you start layering skincare? 

Here are just a few of the benefits that you’ll experience:

Increases Absorption of Skincare Ingredients

One of the biggest benefits that come from layering skincare products is how this technique increases ingredient absorption. Each product that you apply forms its own barrier over the surface of your skin. This seals in and pushes down active ingredients.

Research confirms this, with studies showing that layering skincare can influence how effective a skincare routine is. Layer your products in the correct order and each of the ingredients that you apply will be able to function so much more efficiently.

Create a Targeted Skincare Routine

If you’re trying to keep your skincare routine basic and you don’t have any major skin concerns to tackle, then there’s nothing wrong with using just a couple of multi-functional skincare products each day. However, if you have various visible concerns that you would like to target, layering skincare will enable you to do exactly that.

Once you learn how to layer your skincare, you’ll be able to add more products into your skincare routine. This means that you can go for super-targeted formulas that each hone in on a specific skin concern. You’ll be able to layer them together in a way that enhances their efficacy. This means that you’ll once again see better results from your routine.

Clever Product Combinations Produce Enhanced Results

Stem Cell Vitamin C Serum

The most important aspect of layering skincare is the order in which you apply your products (we’ll be talking about this in more detail soon!). However, once you’ve figured that out, you can then start to pay attention to specific product combinations. Certain ingredients are known for enhancing the efficacy of others, and layering your skincare will allow you to mix and match to create powerful combinations.

Take vitamin C, for example. Studies have shown that vitamin C is a great ingredient to use alongside SPF products because of how it addresses visible sun damage. So, layer a vitamin C serum, such as the Introstem Stem Cell Vitamin C Serum, underneath your sunscreen and your skin will feel even more protected!

Getting Started With Skincare Layering

As mentioned, skincare layering needs to be done in a certain way if you want to experience the above benefits. Let’s take a look at a few of the things that you should and shouldn’t be doing when layering skincare:

Never Layer Skincare on Dirty Skin

Stem Cell Mousse Cleanser

Let’s start with one of the most important rules to follow when layering skincare; always make sure that you begin with clean skin.

Applying even just one skincare product over dirty skin is bad news. You’ll end up pushing the dirt, dead skin cells, and oil that’s sitting on the surface of your skin deeper down into your pores. This will make blockages and breakouts so much more likely. 

As you can imagine, this becomes even worse when layering skincare since you’ll be applying multiple products over all of those impurities. This will, therefore, congest your skin even more. It’ll also prevent your skincare products from working properly. Instead of having direct access to your skin cells, they’ll have to fight through that barrier of dirt first, and not all products are capable of doing this.

So, before you start layering skincare, always thoroughly cleanse your skin. In order to keep your skin feeling calm, soothed, and ready to receive multiple products, use a gentle cleanser. The Introstem Stem Cell Mousse Cleanser, which is infused with grape stem cells, lavender extract, and moringa seed oil, would be a great choice!

If you plan on exfoliating, then this should follow on from your cleanser. Always exfoliate before you properly start to layer your skincare products. Again, since you’re going to be using multiple products on your skin, stick with a gentle exfoliant, such as the Introstem Stem Cell Facial Peeling.

Go From Lightest to Heaviest

Stem Cell Facial Toner

Now that your skin is clean, you can start to layer on your skincare products. However, they need to be applied in the correct order.

When it comes to doing this, there’s a general rule that you can follow to make life a little easier; start with your thinnest and lightest product and then work your way up to the thickest.

This usually means that a toner is the first product that’s applied to the skin after it has been cleansed. If you don’t use one, it’s worth considering adding a toner to your routine. Layering a toner onto freshly cleansed skin helps to rebalance the complexion. It leaves the skin feeling more receptive to any other products that are applied after. The Introstem Stem Cell Facial Toner does this beautifully, and is super hydrating too!

After a toner comes essences, followed by serums. If you’re using multiple serums in your routine, then, again, follow the light-to-heavy rule.

Finally, finish off with a moisturizer to lock all of your layers in. If you have particularly dry skin and you use a facial oil, then this should be applied after your face cream. 

Targeted Treatments Should Be Applied Directly to Prepped Skin

While the above light-to-heavy rule can be followed most of the time, there are a couple of exceptions. The first is in relation to any targeted treatments that you may be using.

Whether you have a medicated spot treatment for acne or you’re using a prescription product for hyperpigmentation, any hyper-targeted formulas should usually be applied directly to cleansed and prepped skin. This means cleansing first, applying a toner, applying your treatment, and then following the light-to-heavy rule. This way, the active ingredients in that treatment will have fast and easy access to your skin cells.

Be Clever With Retinoids

Retinoids are the other exception in the light-to-heavy rule. These vitamin A derivatives come in many forms, and they’re a game-changer when it comes to dealing with so many different visible skin concerns. From reducing the appearance of wrinkles to lightening the look of dark spots, retinoids are skincare superstars.

However, the downside to retinoids is that some of them can cause skin irritation. If your skin isn’t sensitive and has been handling your retinoids without any problems, then go ahead and include them in your light-to-heavy progression. 

However, if your skin is sensitive to retinoids, try applying your retinoid product after your moisturizer. This way, your skin won’t absorb quite as much of the active ingredient, yet it will still be receiving enough to make a difference. As time progresses and your skin learns to tolerate the ingredient, you can then switch up how you layer your retinoids and apply them underneath your moisturizer instead.

Know Where Your Sunscreen Fits in

Stem Cell Active Defense SPF

So, when it comes to the light-to-heavy rule, where does your sunscreen fit in if its consistency is similar to your regular face cream?

This all depends on the type of sunscreen that you’re using. There are two main types out there; chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and converting them to heat, before emitting them from the body. Physical sunscreens work by deflecting UV rays away from the skin.

In order for a physical sunscreen to work properly, it needs to be sitting on the outermost layer of your skin. Therefore, a physical sunscreen should be applied after your moisturizer.

However, in order for a chemical sunscreen to work properly, it needs to penetrate the skin. Therefore, it should be applied before your moisturizer to enhance absorption. 

Of course, you could always simplify this step by going with an SPF moisturizer instead, like the Introstem Stem Cell Active Defense SPF 30. Not only will this cream hydrate and moisturize your skin, but it will also keep your complexion protected from both UVA and UVB rays. Layer it onto your skin after you’ve applied your toner, essences, and serums and it will be able to provide fantastic protection while also locking all of your other layers in.

Give Your Skin Time to Absorb Each Product

There’s no denying that layering multiple skincare products takes time. If you’re trying to speed through your skincare routine as quickly as possible, you may be tempted to slap those products onto your skin as fast as you can. However, you’ll need to slow down if you want your skin to properly absorb all of those ingredients…

How long should you wait before applying each layer of product?

This is something that experts haven’t yet agreed on. Some say 30 seconds while others say 10-15 minutes, which, let’s face it, is definitely not realistic for most people. 

Instead, we would recommend waiting about 30-60 seconds. Ideally, you want to give the product a little time to absorb, but you don’t want your skin to be completely dry either. The skin is more permeable when it’s damp, so moving on to the next step in your routine sooner rather than later can actually be more beneficial.


There’s nothing wrong with keeping your skincare routine simple. A cleanser and an SPF moisturizer are the only daily essentials that you really need. However, if you’re hoping to improve, rather than maintain, your complexion, then adding targeted skincare products to your routine will enable you to do just that. Follow all of our tips and tricks when it comes to layering those products together and you’ll soon notice that your skincare routine has become so much more effective!

Click here to browse more skincare bestsellers from Introstem.

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