Beauty 101: How To Layer Your Skincare – The Right Way


When we spend so much money on our skincare regimen, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than feeling like our skin isn’t bringing its A-game. But something as simple as the order that you apply your skincare products can actually make a huge difference to your skin. We know it seems crazy militant, but if you don’t apply your serums and moisturizers in a specific order, you’re seriously disenabling them from doing their job properly.

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The most important thing is to ensure your skin is completely clean before you apply any hydrating lotions or oils. The general rule is to apply the most lightweight formulas first so they can be easily absorbed without the barrier of heavier creams.

After each skincare layer, give your skin time to absorb the product; this should also help prevent products from pilling – those tiny little balls you get when you’ve used too much product. Work your skincare into your morning and evening routine; brush your teeth between steps, give your makeup sponge a wash, whatever you’re doing that will give your skin a little extra time to absorb products between steps.

How to Layer Your Skincare Products Like a Pro

Step 1: Cleanser

Cleansing should remove any makeup or dirt from your skin while also adding a burst of hydration, and if you wear makeup, you should definitely be double cleansing. To double cleanse, start with a cleansing oil (the most nourishing, effective, and gentle way to remove makeup), then use a water-based cleanser as your second step. It sounds extra, but it will make sure there’s absolutely no makeup or dirt on your skin before you continue the rest of your routine.

Extra Step: Mask or Exfoliate

Once your skin is completely clean, now is the time to do any extra steps in your routine, like a clay mask or peel-off mask, or exfoliating your skin. (Check out our fave skin-transforming exfoliator, the WISHFUL Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub). If you want to use a sheet mask, you should do this after you’ve toned your skin (as it’s essentially like a serum step).

Step 2: Toner

Toning will help to rebalance your skin and prepare for the next step. Although not its job, it can also help remove any leftover makeup residue from around your hairline that you missed with your cleanser. Check out why toner is so important here.

Step 3: Essence

If you use an essence in your skincare routine, now is the time to apply. Essences are like a more hydrating, thicker toner. Essences are patted into the skin and can have amazing hydrating and healing properties. Find out all about essences here.

Extra Steps: Sheet Mask or Spot Treatment

Sheet Masks are an incredibly powerful way to hydrate your skin. Essentially sheets are soaked in a liquid serum that will help to rejuvenate, brighten, and nourish your skin.

Our new WISHFUL Thirst Trap Cocoon Mask, $9, is made with a double-layer-fiber technology that allows each mask to hold significantly more of the vitamin-rich essence than a conventional sheet mask. A potent cocktail of Hollyhock Rose Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, and Aloe Vera helps to immediately transform dry or dehydrated skin.

Spot Treatment: Apply your spot treatment now so it can absorb and start working its magic. Allow a few minutes before moving on to your next step.

Step 4: Serum

Serums are lightweight formulas and contain high concentrations of active ingredients. The formula is made up of smaller molecules that are absorbed easily into the skin. This makes serums ideal if you’re trying to target a specific skincare issue, like acne, pigmentation, fine lines or dry skin. Like essences (which are basically a thinner ‘more watery’ version of serums), you only need a small amount – about the size of two pomegranate seeds!

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Step 5: Eye Cream

Eye creams can brighten under eyes, reduce puffiness, and add an extra hit of moisture. Depending on the formula it may look like a serum or a thick moisturizer, but now is the time to apply it, as there are fewer ‘barriers’ for it to get through, and it can be absorbed more easily! Always apply your eye cream with your fourth finger in a tapping motion, as this is the weakest finger so you won’t tug or pull the delicate skin around your eye. We also love to keep our eye cream in the fridge; it’s the ultimate eye wake-up call in the mornings! Check out our fave eye creams for dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines here.

Tip: If your eye cream contains retinol, you can apply after your moisturizer, as this will lower the risk of it irritating the skin.

Step 6: Moisturizer

Hydrated skin is glowing skin, so NEVER skip your moisturizer. The right moisturizer will hydrate, replenish, restore your skin’s pH levels, and nourish and repair any issues like dry, flaky skin. But it’s also essential that you choose one with the right formula and ingredient list for your skin type. Like if you have dry skin, you need a really rich formula, but if you have acne-prone or oily skin, a gel formula will be your best friend. Check out 11 amazing moisturizers we love.

How Much Formula Should You Use?


Step 7: Facial Oil

Without a doubt one of the most powerful potions on your shelf, face oils help to repair and plump your skin and feed it with amazing natural vitamins. Oil needs to go last because it’s typically heavier than other cream products and will create a protective barrier on your skin and lock in water. If not applied last, it could block your other skincare products from penetrating properly. If you’re on the oily skin list, we recommend only using your face oil at night.

For our guide on how to pick the right oil, check out our guide here. You can also skip this step for daytime if you’re using a moisturizer, and go straight to the SPF.

Day and night skincare routine

Step 8: Sunscreen

For daytime, sunscreen is THE most important step; even during the winter months. Applying a good sunscreen every morning will protect your skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays. An SPF will sit on the surface of your skin, acting as a protective barrier against the sun, so you should always apply it last. Check out our fave suncreens here, and our tip for applying sunscreen over your makeup here – remember you need to reapply SPF every two hours.

From this point on, you’re officially ready to start applying your makeup!