How to Layer Skincare? - Merindah Botanicals

How to Layer Skincare?

Learn how to layer skincare and achieve glowing, healthy skin.

There is NO miracle facial, BUT there are miraculous results with a regular skincare routine.

The key to skincare success is consistency, patience, and understanding which skincare ingredients work best together and the order they should be applied on your skin.

Learning how to layer skin care products will help you get glowing, healthy skin. 

There is a definite order to applying skincare products to maximise their benefits.

After washing your face, start with the lightest products and end with the heaviest products.

Spot treatment, toner and serum should always be applied before moisturisers, face oils and lotions.

Anything water-based will penetrate into your skin easier without any heavier products getting in the way.

Concentrated treatments like Retinol or prescription topical treatments should be applied at night time only since for the most part, they can cause sun sensitivity.

Always put lotions, moisturisers, face oils, night creams and sun protection on last.

It’s important to consider the purpose of your products – why you’re using them in the first place – and which layers of the skin they affect to get maximum benefits.

Let's take a look at a cross section diagram of the skin.

skin anatomy diagram

The outer layer of the skin, the epidermis or skin surface is made up of layers of dead skin cells tightly packed like roof tiles, which are constantly shedding, this is the visible layer.

The deeper layers of the epidermis is where new skin cells are formed and this is where our targeted active ingredients and treatments are formulated to penetrate down into.

Products that affect the skin surface are:

Cleansers, Exfoliators/mechanical scrubs, Toners, Eye Creams, Moisturisers (Day Cream & Night Creams), Sunscreen

Products that affect the deeper layers of the skin where the new skin cells are formed:

AHA’S/ chemical exfoliation Retinols Vitamin C Masks Spot Treatments

Now let's look at what each of the above products actually do.

Products that affect the outer layer of the skin:


Cleansing should always be your first step in your routine both morning and night. Morning cleansing is important as your skin regenerates overnight, it will produce toxins, dead skin cells, sweat and excess oil.

Your evening cleanse will remove makeup, dirt, grime, pollution, dead skin cells and sweat that accumulates and sticks to the surface of the skin throughout the day.


Toner is an important second step to your layering, as a good toner should contain antioxidants to fight against environmental damage and restore the natural PH of the skin after cleansing.

It also refines open pores and prepares your skin for your concentrated treatments.


Exfoliation is the removal of dry/dead skin cells on the surface of the skin and is one of the most important aspects of your home skin care routine.

Exfoliation helps many skin problems but it also increases blood circulation, which in turn helps to achieve healthy and glowing skin. It also stimulates cellular turnover which then stimulates collagen production to slow down the ageing process.

It’s important to remove dead skin but you need to be careful as not to strip away too many of your natural oils. I recommend exfoliating 2 to 3 times a week as part of a good skincare routine.

Moisturiser/Day Cream/SPF

Moisturisers are designed to sit on the outer surface of the skin as a protective layer to lock in hydration and prevent moisture loss. I prefer a moisturiser with a broad spectrum SPF, but this is a personal choice.

If you choose a moisturiser without SPF then your last skin care product to layer in the morning is a broad spectrum sunscreen before your make-up.

Eye Cream

The skin around the eyes is fine and delicate and one of the first areas to show signs of aging. That is why it's important to use a product specifically designed for this area. An eye cream should be applied both morning and night.

Night Cream

It’s not called “Beauty Sleep” for nothing. At night while we sleep our body is regenerating. A night cream is like a ‘Super Food’ for the cells, packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to nourish and replenish the skin while we sleep.

Let’s now look at the products that penetrate deeper into the epidermis. These are your specific Treatment products such as serums, masks and spot treatments targeted to correct skin conditions such as aging, pigmentation, sun damage, dehydration, sensitivity and acne.

AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids)

Remember those outer dead skin cells that are tightly packed like roof tiles? As we get older this layer thickens resulting in dull, lacklustre looking skin. Fine lines begin to appear, pigmentation and dry flaky patches resulting in an uneven skin tone.

Dead skin cells are held together by a 'glue' substance. Mechanical exfoliants remove the superficial dead skin cells while AHA's dissolve the 'glue' substance and release the dead skin cells, resulting in a deeper exfoliation.

This speeds up cellular turnover and stimulates collagen production.

So it is a must if you are looking at slowing down or reversing the signs of ageing, sun damage and pigmentation. Concentrated AHA’s can be found in serums and masks.

Retinols (Vitamin A)

Retinol is one of the most popular active ingredients on the market and is known for cell renewal, as it can assist with reducing wrinkles and sun damage. It's the most effective substance for the care of ageing and UV damaged skin.

Retinols should only be applied as a night treatment as Vitamin A is photosensitive and it’s important to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen during the day. Retinols are usually found in a concentrated serum form.

Vitamin C

The antioxidant properties of vitamin C and its role in collagen synthesis make vitamin C a vital molecule for skin health as it protects your skin from the effects of ageing.

Vitamin C is not only necessary for collagen production and maintenance, but it is also a potent antioxidant that can neutralise free radicals in the skin. Vitamin C usually comes in the form of a concentrated serum.


A face mask is intended to treat your particular skin condition so it's important to choose the right one... Depending on their ingredients, masks can tighten and tone, hydrate, nourish, draw out impurities, help blemishes heal, calm and soothe, and rejuvenate the skin.

A mask can be applied weekly after cleansing and exfoliating. Then follow with toner, serum, day cream/night cream.

NOTE: Some masks are formulated as an overnight treatment and usually there is no need to apply a night cream over the top.

Spot Treatment

The best way to apply a spot treatment is after cleansing and toning without any other product on you skin as it works best at maximum strength and undiluted and it can penetrate deep down into the pores to kill acne causing bacteria.

There’s no other oils, gels, or lotions on your face creating layers that keep your skin from getting the maximum effect of the spot treatment. The longer you can wait to apply the rest of your products, the better.

In Conclusion

Most effective skin care ranges are designed to work synergistically, and I have always advised my clients to stick to one complete range at a time. Using bits and pieces from different ranges may have an adverse affect on your skin as getting the balance of active ingredient just right will give you maximum benefits and results.

And remember it takes at least 30 days for new skin cells to reach the surface of the skin and to see true results. So patience and consistency is the key.

The Essential Beauty value pack from Merindah Botanicals is a great pack that offers you all the basic products you need to get started with a necessary skincare routine. You can buy it here. 

About The Author:

Carol Hazimarcu is a qualified Paramedical Skin Therapist with a passion for helping clients achieve a healthy, youthful, glowing skin. With nearly 30 years in the industry, 15 of those teaching Beauty Therapy at a private college in Melbourne Australia and having her own salon business for 8 years. Carol now how a very successful online Health and Wellness Direct sales business.