How to Layer Skin Care


Not sure how to layer your skin care products? It can be confusing, we know. Without the proper sequence of formulas, it’s easy to end up with that less-than-ideal feeling of your products pilling and flaking off your face. But feelings aside, layering your products correctly also helps them reach your skin and work to their utmost potential.

With this this easy guide, you’ll be on your way to perfectly-layered products that work – and feel – the way they should.

What’s the best order to apply skin care products?

There’s one key rule when layering skin care: apply from thinnest to thickest. That means your toner will go on first, and your sunscreen will be applied last. Now that you’ve got that down, we’ll break down the rest.

Step 1: Cleanser

The first step in any skin care routine– both morning and evening –begins with cleansed skin. Grab a formula that’s appropriate for your skin type, and make sure to rinse it off entirely to avoid leftover residue.

Step 2: Toner

Toner helps remove excess dirt, oil & debris that your cleanser may have left behind. And, depending on the formula, it can also help balance skin’s pH and more. Use it morning and evening, after you cleanse and before you apply serum.

Step 3: Serum

After toner, apply a few drops of your favorite serum all over. If you use more than one, the same rule applies here: thinnest to thickest. The thicker the formula, the easier it is for it to penetrate the formulas beneath it. For example, we’d recommend applying Professional-C® Serum before ELASTIderm® Facial Serum if using them together in the morning. Always allow your serum to dry for a few seconds before you apply your next layer 

Step 4: Lotion

If you have a lightweight lotion in your regimen, apply this after serum but before any heavy creams. Not sure what the difference is? We explain that, here.

Step 5: Cream

Seal the Deal. Creams come in a wide variety of formulas that can be used either in the morning or evening. Some help minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles, some are moisturizers, and some are both. For example, Obagi® Retinol 1.0 is a cream formula – apply it at night after toner and serum, but before a rich, hydrating cream.

Proper moisturizing will help lock in moisture, as well as the products you just applied. Some moisturizers, including Obagi Hydrate®, work by increasing the skin’s water content while helping it& hold onto its own moisture by sealing it in.

Step 6: Sunscreen

Every morning, no matter what, finish with Sunscreen. No skin care regimen would be complete without it. Look for a broad spectrum formula that protects against both UVA and UVA rays, like our Sun Shield™ Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreens. Learn more about sunscreen, here.


* Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher together with a comprehensive sun protection program including wearing sun protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, and avoiding the sun between the hours of 10am - 2pm may help reduce the risk of premature skin aging.


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