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As much as we wish we could have just one serum or treatment product with all the latest active ingredients, responsible formulators know that some ingredients, combined in a single product, may conflict with one another. Other ingredients may get compromised, resulting in a low-performing serum or treatment product.

Your best bet is to layer quality treatments with targeted ingredients that are specific to your varied skin conditions. Layering also gives the flexibility to venture out using other brands—it's good to shake-up your regimen every once in a while and keeping with only one skin care brand isn't absolutely necessary. 

The concept of layering is specifically for your "treatment" products.  Basically, most skin care brands categorize their products like so:

Sun protection

Most serums, treatment lotions, and treatment creams fall under the "treatment" category. This is where you want to layer.  There are some rules to follow to receive the best results:

  1. Pay attention to the active ingredients. Take a look at the ingredient listing on the packaging. Generally, the active ingredients are listed in the top part of the label. Also, descriptions on the product packaging can be helpful to understand what the active ingredients are.
  2. No need to layer the same predominant type of treatment product. For example, layering a vitamin C serum from one brand over a vitamin C serum from another brand isn't necessary and could actually irritate your skin.
  3. You can layer exfoliating treatments, keeping in mind the actives should be different from one another. An example would be layering a retinol lotion over a glycolic serum. This makes a powerful combination however, so use as tolerated. Also note, retinols are generally applied as part of your evening regimine due to potential sun sensitivity.
  4. Apply your vitamin C serum or lotion first, after cleansing. Then follow with as many serums, treatment lotions or treatment creams as you wish. Typically layering is up to four treatment products before moisturizing and sun protection.
  5. Give at least 5-10 seconds between layers. Fanning your face with each layer can speed up the process. 
  6. Some treatments are more of a liquid while others may be a lotion or cream type. A good rule of thumb is to layer lightest to heaviest or thinner to thickest. Keep in mind, a vitamin C serum or vitamin C treatment lotion is generally applied first after cleansing and before other treatments.
  7. Check with your doctor if you are using a topical medication for your face. Generally, medication goes on first (prior to your vitamin C serum or lotion) but you will want to know if any of your treatment products may conflict with your medication.
  8. Treatment serums, lotions or creams are not moisturizers. They can have hydrating benefits and are used prior to your moisturizer. Check the ingredient listing, description on the packaging or have a skin care professional help you understand the product.
Examples of popular active ingredients in skin care treatments are:

Vitamin C
Hylauronic Acid
Kojic Acid
Coenzyme Q10
Alpha-Lipoic Acid 


Layering treatment products is a great way to utilize varied ingredients for visible changes to your skin. Your skin care professional can help guide you to layering specific treatments for the best results. 

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