• Dr. Carin Litani

How to: Layer Your Skin Care Products

So many creams, so little time!!! The world of skincare is super overwhelming. Every make-up brand and celebrity has their own magic cream. Seriously Madonna, you too? I’m not going to get into why most of the stuff promoted at department stores or by your favorite instagram celebrity is mostly a super expensive moisturizer. And don’t get me going on your local injector's namesake brand. We can save that for another time (in short: science, clinical trials, preservation of active metabolites, stabilizers, etc.)

I just want to go over in what order you should apply your products. This matters because these products are expensive and if layered incorrectly, they may not penetrate the skin effectively (they won’t do their job!) and/or cause skin irritation. Just remember, go from thin to thick.

CLEANSE → SERUM GELS CREAMS

Let’s go over a typical skincare routine that most people should consistently follow….

Evening routine:


  1. Cleanse and remove your makeup. Get all that dirt and pollutants and grime from the day off your face! Use a makeup remover cloth or micellar water to wipe off your makeup first then cleanse with a gentle cleanser and rinse off.

  2. Exfoliate 2-4 times per week. Use a cleanser containing glycolic, salicylic or lactic acid to really open up those pores and remove those sticky cells clogging them. Don’t overdo it though or this can cause irritation.

  3. Power packed serum. Your skin is super thirsty and fresh now so it’s ready to absorb those concentrated growth factors, antioxidants, or skin lighteners you have in your chosen serum. Pick a serum with ingredients that target what you are trying to improve (redness, brown spots, wrinkles, texture).

  4. Retinol/retinoid. Scientifically proven for decades to stimulate collagen and prevent wrinkles. Unless you are pregnant, please use this forever.

  5. Eye cream if you must.

  6. Moisturizer. Lighter in summer and thicker in winter.


Morning routine:


  1. Cleanse or just use micellar water which is what I do. Your face isn’t that dirty after sleeping right?

  2. Serum

  3. Moisturizer with sunscreen.


The sunscreen is your makeup does not count. Use a sunscreen under your makeup please.


I don’t believe in toner.


If you have a prescription topical from your dermatologist (for example, a rosacea or acne medication), this goes on your skin first after cleansing. Then your skincare which should be adjusted by your dermatologist to accommodate your skin condition. Usually, once your condition stabilizes, you can restart your skincare and limit your medicated creams.


Don’t waste your serum by dropping it into your palms first. Drop it directly unto your face! That shit is pricey!