Is layering more products on your skin good?

Skincare Article

I found this article “Multi-Layered Beauty” in last week’s copy of the Urban from The Straits Times rather interesting and useful. Those from Singapore are likely to have read the article but I thought I’ll highlight a section of it here for the benefit of those who did not read it, as well as for my readers from the other parts of the world.

The question raised in the article was “just how much layering do you really need on your face?” because the new La Mer Hydrating Infusion apparently calls for a five-step skincare routine which adds two more steps to the basic three-step skincare routine we are all familiar with.

And the five-step skincare routine include a cleanser, a toner, an infusion, a serum and a moisturizer. Actually I thought it’s funny they did not mention sunscreen at all, because that would add one more step, making it a six-step skincare routine. I guess we can assume that the moisturizer has built-in SPF then.

Over applying products isn’t all that good
According to the article, there is no limit to the number of products we can slap on our face but the skincare professionals warned that using two or more products together “may affect the pH level and this may also deactivate or reduce the stability of the active ingredients and affect the absorption of the products” especially if we’re talking about prescription-based products which have higher concentrations of active ingredients. In addition, the indiscriminate use of several products may also lead to side effects like redness, irritation and flaking.

So effectively, this means we’re better off not slapping too many products on our face at any one time.

Another important information I picked out from the article is “ingredients penetrate better when they are dissolved in water” which confirms what I have been writing all along that serums and moisturizers work best with moist skin. The skincare experts also indicated that we should “wait one to five minutes between layers” as this will allow our skin to fully absorb a product before moving on to the next.

Well, these advices definitely sound good to me because I don’t like applying too much products at any one time. As it is, I use a four-step skincare approach which include a cleanser, a toner, a serum and a sunscreen that doubles up as a moisturizer. On top of that, I wear my makeup. So you can imagine the “burden” on my skin. But unfortunately, as much as I like to keep my beauty regime simple, I’ve come to the age where I can no longer revert to just the three-step skincare routine!


  1. nicole says:

    As my skin is sensitive, currently I sticked to 3 steps, ie cleanser, toner or lotion or serum and moisturizer with SPF. I’m consider sunblock as makeup base or premier. :p

    Nicole: Ah…then in that case, I can say I’m also using a 3-step skincare routine! ?

  2. Theresa says:

    There is a reason that your blog is my daily read, this is another piece of useful tip to know.

    BTW, have you cover anything on anti-aging product? I’d love to read.

    Keep up your good work!

    Theresa: Hey, your comments made my day! ? Thank you! I cover anti-aging stuff under a broad category although I haven’t done an article specifically on that. Let me see what I can do and if I can find something new and interesting to say in that area.

  3. Momo-san says:

    I am using 5 steps regime, cleanser, toner, serum, mosturizer and super defense from Clinique. On top of all those basic regime, I do apply foundation.

    something feel like very heavy for my skin.

    Momo-san: Yes! I know exactly what you mean. That’s why I use my sunscreen to double up as a moisturizer. Otherwise, my combination skin also cannot take so much stuff!

  4. sel says:

    my moisturizer doubles as my sunscreen’s not very high, it’s spf 19, from Olay. Besides my foundation has spf 20 plus. I don’t like layering too..the most I have is 3, toner, serum and moisturizer, followed by eye care.

    Sel: If I take away cleanser, then the steps are the same as yours. Like you, I do eye care too. And on most days I’m out, I need my foundation too.

  5. michelle says:

    hello, i have a question…what kind of sunscreen do you guys use because i use the shiseido sun care line and it is too much for my skin. i think my face appears whiter (i hate the consistency of sunscreen *blah*) after i put on the sunscreen so i add a moisture on top of it and it’s too thick for my skin. what to do? do they make any sunscreen that’s the consistency of a moisturizer, soft, creamy…not thick like actual sunscreen??? thanks in advance!

    Michelle: I’m not sure what ingredients your sunscreen contains but it does sounds like it has titanium dioxide. Most of the Shiseido ones have both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide and the former can make the texture very white. But the one I tried before Shiseido Extra Smooth Sun Protection Lotion with SPF34 PA++ is okay. However, it can get a little oily if you apply too much. I recommend that for dry, normal to combination skin only.

    Yes, there are sunscreens with the consistencies of a moisturizer but there are some issues. One, if it is a mineral-based sunscreen, it is likely to contain nano particles. I’m going to write something about this later today or tomorrow. And two, it is a chemical sunscreen and some pple do not like that. I alternate between both types and the chemical sunscreen I got from La-Roche Posay. Consistency is good. You can look up my category on sunscreen to get a review on some of the products.

  6. Edith says:

    I use a 2 step process using products from the Dead Sea. A facial cleanser gel that balances the pH to 5.5 followed by a facial serum or Moisture Complex that has SPF 17 protection and protects from UVA & UVB.

    Edith: Dead sea products? Sounds interesting. I’ve been testing with rhassoul clay these days. Not quite dead sea, but very earthy as well!

  7. Andre says:

    I use Curel moisturizer and neutrogena visibly even b/c i find I need alot more moisture than neutrogena visibly even provides!

    Andre: It could be too light for you or the ingredients are not moisturizing enough.

  8. janis says:

    i used cleanser, toner, moisturiser.

    wither serum i am not sure which brand is good, not evern sure why people use serum for what is the importance of it?

    and goes with my toner – after using my skin feels tight and firm is that good or bad?

    your blog has become a must daily read, thanks for all your advice.

    Janis: Thanks for your comments! Glad you find some of the info useful. ?

    Serum is good if you want to go a little deeper into the 3 layers of skin to strengthen your skin cells for better benefits. Usually the serum would have ingredients that help you with whitening, anti-aging, getting rid of wrinkles etc. If you’re in your mid 20s or late 20s, you should try to use it but find one that addresses your skin concern.

  9. janis says:

    how about toner? my face feels tight and firm after every time i use it, is it a good thing that it feels that way or bad? same goes with cleaners?


    Janis: Your skin shouldn’t feel too tight after cleansing or using a toner. If you’re feeling tight almost immediately, chances are the products may not suit you that well or your skin is very dry. May I ask what’s your skin type?

    Toner is an additional step and not necessary for all. However, some toners can also deliver skin benefits with additional goodies.

  10. Michelle says:

    This is why the product line i use is “ph-correct” instead of ph-balanced. All products are a pH of 5.5 to insure maximum benefit. And since the products i use are formulated with NO chemicals, dyes, animal by-products, or mineral oil and are based 100% on herbal and botanical principles, i can layer it on as much as i want.

  11. Andrea @ Mineral Cosmetics says:

    I think there’s nothing wrong with it as long as they don’t irritate the skin. But there is only one thing that I should do, deep clean my skin before going to bed.

  12. sesame says:

    True…but still I think layering about two is about right.

  13. Sally Thompson says:

    This is really great! There are so many beauty tips that I learned from this site.. Keep posting some more!
    Sally Thompson last post is: goodyear coupons

  14. Ju says:

    I have to disagree with the study. Layering of skincare has improved my skin. I think effectiveness of layering depends on the products that you are using. My rule of thumb is, if it feels too heavy, skip it.

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