How to Layer Your Skin Care Products

Woman with her hand on her face

After spending time and money selecting your skin care, applying it incorrectly can literally be a waste of both. Skin care products have advanced in the last few decades to include specific action ingredients, and how you apply them makes the difference in how effectively they perform. Here’s the a b c‘s on skincare product layering.


Begin with your thinnest consistency product. Serums are light in consistency and packed with concentrated ingredients. Skincare serums containing growth factors or antioxidants such as vitamin C are usually delivered in a serum formula. Serums penetrate the skin most effectively so applying them to clean skin ensures that nothing occludes their potency. You may apply more than one serum, but allow each product to dry before layering the next serum.


Next step apply lotions. Some of the newest anti-aging skincare products on the market are dispensed in dual pump containers. One side is a lotion delivering antioxidants or retinols while the other chamber delivers a serum. The same rule of application applies here. Apply your single serums first (as in A.) allow to penetrate and then add any dual chamber product you have. Regenica® Dual from Suneva and Skin Medica® TNS Essential Serum are two such products.


Skincare creams are richer and thicker than topical lotions and therefore are applied to seal in the thinner products and provide a barrier of moisture. Skincare creams that are specially formulated for the neck and decollete can be applied at this stage as well.


Know when to alter the order. If your skin reacts to any treatment serum or lotion in an adverse way, try applying your moisturizer first, then layer the culprit product on top. The cream will act to minimize the potency of the action ingredients by blocking its direct absorption.


Always, always apply sunscreen. It is the protective shield between you and UVA/UVB sunlight. It is meant to sit on top of your other skincare products as a protective barrier. Applying sunscreen first will block the absorption of your other skin treatment products, so make this your very last step.


Get your beauty sleep. Your body’s ability to heal is heightened during sleep so this is a great time to apply retinoids (an anti-aging super ingredient) and hydroquinone (skin lightening) products. Both ingredients can trigger photosensitivity and should not be used in the day. If you are ultra-sensitive to either ingredient, apply after your moisturizer to minimize irritation.

Skincare should not be intimating or confusing.  Following these simple guidelines should help you whether you’re applying 4 products or 14 (we hope not).  Our skincare product offering at Changes Plastic Surgery & Spa is designed to supply you with everything your skin needs and have been formulated specifically for Dr. Gilbert Lee.  In addition, we have balanced our medical-grade skincare products with a botanical line selected by our licensed esthetician.  All products are available for purchase at or at our clinic in San Diego, CA.

Designations 2016


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