The layering of skincare products with The Ordinary. It’s a fantastic line but it can be confusing and today we’re going to talk about layering your skincare. Before we dive into what you should put on first and what you should mix and not mix, we have to define layering.
We know what it means to layer sweaters over t-shirts in the realm of clothing, but what does it mean in our skincare? When we’re talking about layering skincare we’re talking about what products you put on first, second, third, etc. Instead of just doing product types such as your cleanser comes before your moisturizer we’re actually going to talk about these solutions, the texture, and feel of these different products. We are going to play a little bit with cosmetic chemistry and talk about what’s actually happening in these tubes and glass bottles that then translates to benefits for your face.
Knowing the order of your skincare can be complex. We break it down to the simple steps below that explains how you should approach products in general.
Phase 1: Cleanse
- Makeup Remover
Phase 2: Consistency
Phase 3: Complete
There are three phases: first, you cleanse, then you do consistency and third is complete. Consistency, the middle part is the most difficult and that’s what we’re going to be talking about when it comes to layering these products. Remember that the very first step is to cleanse. If you don’t cleanse the skin first, meaning removing dirt oil, makeup or anything that was left on your skin throughout the day none of the other products can do their work. In the end, you have a complete phase. For instance, you may want to use your sunscreen last or you may want to use your makeup last. Your makeup is the completing step and it should not happen somewhere in the middle.
The consistency part is the middle and that’s what we’re talking about when we layer. The Ordinary has actually made it really easy even though it’s very complex. On their website, they nicely lay out the pH which stands for Potential Hydrogen: how alkaline or acidic products are. They also laid out if the product is formulated with water, oil, silicones or something else and depending on the texture and the feel and consistency of these products we can see how they’re supposed to work on the skin and which ones we should apply first.
Now there are two main parts to every single beneficial skincare, you have a vehicle and an active. What does that mean? Let’s say you are driving a car to the beach. The car is the vehicle, and you can’t get to the beach without it but you are the active part. The car isn’t going to do anything, it’s not going to go to the beach unless you are physically driving it there, you care pressing the engine and steering the wheels to make it work – the same thing happens in your skincare bottles.
The vehicle is what makes up the bulk of these products, either it’s a cream, oil or a watery liquid. The active ingredient is the thing that is actually doing the work such as the acid that’s going to help exfoliate the skin or the vitamin C which is doing the active part of brightening the skin. Of course, different active ingredients like different habitats. Some of them like watery solutions and some of them like oily solutions.
When it comes to The Ordinary, there are five different types of solutions or vehicles that they use.
- Anhydrous solutions – Without water, liquidy like water but they don’t actually have water in them. This really comes into play with antioxidant formulas such as The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% and Ferulic Acid 3% because certain antioxidants are actually destroyed by water.
- Suspensions – these are unique formulas that have one thing that is literally suspended in another. Think about a mechanical exfoliant that has little beads suspended throughout a sunscreen that, even though it looks like it’s all one colour, on a micro-level, there’s actually these little pieces of the active titanium dioxide suspended in the rest of the vehicle. These are heterogeneous solutions and it really just means where one ingredient does not completely dissolve in another.
- Emulsion – they are kind of special, they sound complicated but really all it means is mixing two things that normally don’t want anything to do with each other. Think of oil and water that will not mix together. This where emulsifiers come in, it acts as a mediator that blends oil and water completely. This is how creams are made.
So these are some general guidelines of cosmetic consistency. Think about it, water is a lot more liquidy than an emulsified cream, so if the water goes on first it has a better chance to penetrate and then the cream can, later on, lock it in.
So if you’re looking at some products from The Ordinary website and you’re trying to see where this might fit into your routine, check the details. They’re going to tell you what kind of a solution it is and then you can deduce where that consistency would play into your routine.
Remember, the lightest things first, heaviest things last.
The other important thing is just to turn and learn your ingredients. The front packaging of every single cosmetic product is all marketing, buzzwords and claims and flashy little graphics to get you to buy. The truth of your cosmetics is always on the ingredients list – that is going to show you what’s actually in the product.
Open up a product and take a look. Is it more liquidy? Is it thicker like a cream? Naturally, you can kind of put those on in order. Some things that can be a little bit more tricky are things like sunscreens or products that have a little bit more silicone in them. In such cases you can switch, for instance, you can put your sunscreen on before your moisturizer if you really want that sunscreen penetrating deep and you want to lock it in.
Again, when we talk about layering we’re talking about the vehicle. The thing that’s actually going to deliver all the benefits to your skin is the active ingredients and they can be picky.
When it comes to active ingredients you want to make sure that you’re not mixing any that you shouldn’t. For example, The Ordinary highly discourages using the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% with the Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres or the Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone. The reason why? Pure Vitamin C at 23% or 30% is very potent and when these two get together they don’t like each other.
There are also other product combinations such as a vitamin C and your sunscreen that actually work well together, when paired, they actually boost each other’s efficacy.
We hope you learned something from this article and as always, you may contact us if you have any further questions on the products we offer or just looking for some skincare advice.