Skin Layering 101: What’s The Correct Order To Apply Toners, Serums, Moisturizers And Sunscreen

Plus, a free mnemonic device so you’ll never forget!

Layering 101
Layering 101

Anyone starting out on her or his skincare journey always has the same question: How do I remember what comes first in my skincare routine and what goes on next? Similarly, beauty junkies too are sometimes at crossroads when it comes to pairing certain ingredients together – Can you use Vitamin C with AHAs? If no, when do I apply each one and at what step in my skincare regime?

Today we’re settling the score once and for all in the easiest way possible; a mnemonic device CAS – first comes consistency, then are actives and lastly, sealants.

All you need to do is remember CAS – consistency, actives, sealants – repeat after us, C-consistency, A-actives, S-sealants.

So, let’s get started.

Skin Layering - consistency

C – Consistency – Skin layering is all about applying the lightest formulas first, then topping them off with the heavier stuff. So, toners and serums will always go on first (first toner, next serum) then you move on to spot treatments, thicker creams and lastly sunscreen. Confused? Lightweight, watery toners come first, oil-based serums come next – think Vitamin C for brightening, Salicylic Acid for acne, Hyaluronic Acid for wrinkles – you get the gist, thicker creams with nutrient-rich ingredients soon follow and sunscreen is the cherry on top.

When it comes to the American CTM (cleanse-tone-moisturize) routine or the glass-skin 10 Step Korean Beauty Regime, remember consistency of each product matters and you’ll automatically recollect the steps.

Skin Layering - Actives

A- Actives – This middle layer in skincare is the most important. Think of it as your most-trusted, fully-armed battle troop of concentrated ingredients that work together to fight skin issues like dullness, pigmentation, and aging. Packed into essences, serums, boosters, ampoules, sheet masks, and spot treatments, you can pick and choose A) How many steps you’d like to follow in your skincare regime B) Which skincare issues you’d need help dealing with.

For instance, if dullness is your arch-enemy, try incorporating a Vitamin C serum/ampoules/spot treatment into your skincare regime. This will brighten your complexion over time by lightening acne scars, blemish marks, and pigmentation spots. If you need help with acne, use a salicylic spot treatment. Not only will it zap the zit, but also tackle blackheads and combat whiteheads for an even skin tone. After a baby-face? Use ampoules and boosters packed with Hyaluronic Acid. This skin-coddling ingredient is known to boost collagen production and plump up the skin by elevating its moisture levels.

Whether you choose to slap on a sheet mask, infused with these ingredients or invest in pricey serums, remember these actives will do all your legwork as they target and strike at issues faster.

Skin Layering - Sealants

S – Sealants – Akin to a plumber fixing up a leaking pipe, sealants in his case are the adhesive cement-mix that glues the hole back together. In the case of our skin tough, that’s already been freshly cleansed, toned and loaded with a host of essences, serums, ampoules, and spot treatments, now it’s time to lock in all that goodness with the help of oil-rich emollients.

Working in two ways – 1. To seal in all the moisture from previous steps and 2. To amplify all the actives by penetrating deeper these include thick nourishing face creams, eye creams (to tackle wrinkles, crows feet, etc.) and sleeping masks that work hard, overnight. Be aware though, these are the grease-causers, so if you’ve got combination-to-oily skin, look for non-comedogenic products that won’t clog your pores causing acne. These heavy hitters cause a surge in your moisture levels, thus making skin look young and radiant. And, offer a force shield of sorts, forcing the actives to creep into your lower dermal layers and work from the inside out.

Lastly, sunscreen is your final step aka your finishing touch in this line of skin- defense. Always remember, C is for consistency i.e. thinner-to-thicker textures, A is for actives your hard-hitting troopers, and S is for sealants that bind all the previous steps together.

Still got questions? Hit us up, we’re all ears…Or bookmark this article on the 10 Step Korean Beauty Routine to make life easy!


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