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How to Layer Skincare

23.07.2020 | Skincare

Firstly, let’s start with the basics – the reason it’s important to know how to correctly layer your skincare is so that you can optimise your routine and ensure your skin reaps maximum rewards every time. The good news is that it's not complicated, and once you’ve got the hang of it, you can tailor specifically to your own skin needs and trust us, you’ll never look back.  

An effective skincare routine is based on having the right products, using them at the right time, and applying them the right order. As an example, think about when you make a sandwich – if you didn’t have the top and bottom of the bun in the right place, it wouldn’t taste as good. It’s exactly the same with your skincare. Layering your products in the correct way means instead of cancelling each other out, they’ll work together in perfect harmony leaving you one step closer to your skin goals.  

As with everything at The INKEY List we’re all about making skincare simple so, we’ve done the hard work for you and rounded up the core steps you need to know and how to layer your products within each step.  


The first step in every skincare routine, AM and PM, is always a full facial cleanse. This step is key to remove makeup, SPF, and other impurities that build up on the skin’s surface as well as creating a clean base to apply further products. Remember to make sure the water isn’t too warm as hot water can strip skin of its natural oils leaving your skin feeling dry and tight. 

You may also want to double up on your cleansers to maximise benefits – for example, using our bestselling Oat Cleansing Balm to effortlessly melt away makeup followed by Fulvic Acid Cleanser for a gentle exfoliation.  

Our recommended cleansers:  


After cleansing, our hero hydrator Hyaluronic Acid Serum is an essential next step in every routine.  Boosting hydration in the skin is key not only to help maintain moisture levels and an effective skin barrier but, also acts as a transporter for other skincare products to help them work more effectively.  

Formulated for all skin types, our Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a staple for everyone. Famed for its non-sticky or tacky texture, this super serum glides on and instantly melts into the skin leaving you with a hydrated, dewy base while reducing the appearance of fine lines too*. 

Clinically proven to deliver greater hydration when applied to damp skin, use Hyaluronic Acid Serum straight after cleansing to help draw and lock in maximum moisture to the skin**.  

*4-week independent consumer study of 22 people under dermatological control 
** 4-week independent clinical study of 22 people under dermatological control 


Also known as the serums and treatments step. This is where your layering knowledge really comes into play. As a general rule, all you need to remember is start with the products which have the thinnest consistency and layer up to the thickest/heaviest formulas.  

Thinner products like serums won’t be able to penetrate thicker products like moisturizers so applying them in this order will ensure your skin gets the benefits from each individual product. If using multiple products in this step, wait a minute or so between applying each one to help avoid pilling. 

In this step you should also consider the split between AM and PM routine. Some products like 15% Vitamin C & EGF are better suited for your morning routine to help perk up dull, tired skin and maximise its antioxidant properties. Whereas Retinol Serum should only be used in the evening as it makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays and sunlight decreases the efficacy of the product.  

Our recommended serums: 

In this step, don’t forget the eyes too. Most eye creams are formulated with active ingredients and are designed to target specific concerns so applying them before moisturizers will allow them to penetrate the skin better.  

Apply your eye cream around the orbital bone and under the brow - steering clear of your eye lids and gently pat in with your ring finger for the perfect amount of pressure.  

Our recommended eye creams:  

  • Dark Circles? Try our Brighten-i Eye Cream to instantly illuminate while long-term helping to restore skin to its natural tone. 
  • Puffiness? Try our Caffeine Eye Cream which can help reduce water retention under the eye. 
  • Signs of aging? Try our Retinol Eye Cream to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 


Moisturizers are a vital step in the routine as your skin barrier requires moisture and hydration to stay healthy. Applying a moisturizer will help draw and lock moisture into the skin while the oils work on the surface helping to keep your skin barrier strong and improving overall texture. Adding a moisturizer at this stage will also help to seal in serums and treatments which can make them more effective.  

Our recommended moisturizers:  


The most important step in any skincare routine, SPF. Unprotected sun exposure can damage skin, cause accelerated signs of aging and increase signs of hyperpigmentation. You should be wearing sunscreen with SPF 30 every single day – even when it’s cloudy or raining outside. That’s because the UV rays that cause sun damage are always present, with up to 80% of the sun’s rays still potentially being absorbed by your skin on overcast days. 


  • Vitamin C and Retinol can cause irritation if mixed. Use Vitamin C in your AM routine and Retinol in your PM routine.  
  • Use any exfoliating acids on alternate nights to any Retinol products you may be using to avoid risking irritation. 
  • If using Niacinamide in your routine, avoid layering with any exfoliating acids or Vitamin C to minimise irritation.  
  • Avoid using more than one exfoliating acid a day, you could risk over exfoliation and irritation. 


Now you’ve got your layering knowledge locked – why not take our 2-minute skincare quiz to find a skincare routine that’s personalised for you and your skin goals.  

Have another question about skincare layering? Need advice on your routine? Our #askINKEY experts are ready and waiting to help you, chat to them today. 

Photo of Written by one of our askINKEY skincare advisors

Written by one of our askINKEY skincare advisors

Our askINKEY team are available 24/7 on our live chat. A friendly bunch, all experts with deep product knowledge, ready to make skincare as simple as possible. Whether you are an ingredient expert or starting your journey, no question is too big or too small, no judgement or jargon, we’re here to help and be part of your journey.