Where does one begin with this topic? I will start by first acknowledging my lack of authority on this topic. I am not a dermatologist, or a trained esthetician, my knowledge, and understanding of this subject are slowly developing. Primarily, I cannot afford to buy an $80 serum and apply it after a product that prevents its efficacy.
So, how does one properly layer their green skincare products? As always, before you start to layer your products, make sure to cleanse your skin. Now, with the assumption that our skin is nice and clean, let’s begin. First step, tone. Most toners in the green beauty world are sold in bottles that distribute the toner via a mist spray. There are a few toners on the green beauty market that you would apply via pouring a little out on a cotton pad and wiping/daubing around the face, but the vast majority are misters. I typically spritz my face 3 to 4 times making sure I got everything covered if I did this more carefully, I probably would only need to spritz my face twice. Give the toner a little bit of time to absorb, but not too long. I typically start with the next step while my face is still damp as this helps the absorption and penetration of the next product.
Currently in my rotation of toners is the amazing Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator. This has a lovely fruity scent and features an aloe and water base with a host of lovely oils and herbs. Another beloved toner is Odacite’s Hydra-Repair Treatment Mist. The Hydra-Repair is an aloe and rosewater base with a number of plant extracts. At night I have been using Amly Botanicals’ Silver Rich Face Mist. The Silver Rich Face Mist is a water and sweet orange flower water base with a number of flower extracts and a few oils thrown in.
Next comes the water or aloe-based serum. When I first dived into this topic, what kept tripping me up was the blanket assumption that all serums are water-based. However, sitting on my shelf is a whole bunch of oil-based products labeled serum. According to an article by Into the Gloss, traditional serums ARE water-based. Water-based serums have smaller molecules and thus are able to penetrate deeper into the skin, which is why, if you are using a water or aloe-based serum you should apply it before any face oils or oil-based serums. In applying serum, remember, start the application of your serum while your face is still damp from the toner step. This will increase the absorption of all the active ingredients you are about to pump into your skin. Put a small amount (one pump, or 2-3 drops or so) onto your fingertips and quickly pat little dots of the product onto your cheeks, forehead, and chin. From there, start to press your fingers on your skin. Think of it as pressing your serum into the skin. Work your way around your face pressing your fingers into your skin to assist with the absorption of the serum. Serums are often spendy because they are full of active ingredients. It would be a shame if you applied your water-based serum after an oil-based serum (if you are using both in your routine) preventing the water-based serum’s efficacy. In trying to understand the difference between water-based versus oil-based serums, I realized that I did not have a water-based serum in my skincare repertoire. I promptly took care of that and have been quite happy with my new Kyrpris Antioxidant Dew, which touts a whopping 26 active ingredients!
I follow my water-based serum step with my eye treatment. Now, before you apply your eye treatment make sure you have allowed the serum you just applied to absorb! Give yourself at least 5 minutes before you start with the eye treatment. I think regardless of your eye treatment product category (oil, gel, or cream) you do not want to follow it any later than your water-based serum step. You can even apply it before the water-based serum step if you really want to make sure the skin around your eyes get the love and attention it deserves. My skin is always in need of hydration, which is why I use the Antioxidant Dew from Kypris first, before my eye treatment. My current eye treatment is Maya Chia’s Eye Achiever, which also happens to be oil-based, so for me it makes more sense to use my water-based serum first. Eye treatments can also be very spendy, so again, you want to make sure you are getting most out of your investment by applying the eye treatment before a whole host of other products. For those of you looking for a great eye product, read my previous blog post about the Eye Achiever.
Okay, now that we have toned, used our water-based serum, and taken care of our eyes, we get into the oils!!!!!! Anyone who pays even the remotest attention to the beauty world (both conventional and green) cannot help but notice the proliferation of the face oils on the market these days. Some oils are simply one oil, like argan oil or marula oil. Other oil products, like some of the ones on my shelf, are labeled serums and are made up of a blend of high-quality oils. I am going to lump these oils together as I do not think there is a ton of value in using multiple oils in one go. If you fall into the opposite camp just stick to the rule: apply lightest to heaviest. I find that with oils a little goes a long way, so a pump or 2 drops or so of oil onto the fingertips, then the quick pat of little dots of oil on the cheeks, forehead, and chin, followed by our pressing (you could also call this patting) technique explained earlier. Now, just sit back and let the oil absorb before moving on to the next step.
For a simple, one oil product, my go-to is La Bella Figura’s Barbary Fig Seed Oil, also known and Prickly Pear Seed Oil. This is a lightweight oil, so if you wanted to use multiple oils this would be one you could reach for first. I like it because it is suitable for those with sun damaged skin and after 2 years living in Belize I am pretty sure I fall into this category. Another go-to daily oil-based serum I use a lot is Kari Gran’s Essential Serum. It is a blend of 15 plant and essential oils, it helps with cell tissue regeneration and is a great choice for my often dry skin. The Essential Serum feels pretty light too. Personally, I only apply one oil in my routine. At night I skip the water-based serum and after my eye treatment, I reach for May Lindstrom’s Youth Dew. This is a heavier oil-based serum and one that gives my skin an orangish tint, another reason why I use it at night. The Youth Dew helps balance skin, and also is great for maturing skin.
Now moisturizer. Your moisturizer is what seals it all in. I will not call this the last step because if your moisturizer does not have SPF in it, you should follow with SPF. This is another product category that I have been ignoring with my expansion into green skincare products. I went berserk for oils and cleansers but my shelves are deficient in this category. Currently, I use one of two products. Josh Rosebrook’s Vital Balm Cream, or Belif’s Moisturizing Bomb. The Vital Balm is awesome for the winter when my skin is super dry and in need of a heavier product. The Moisturizing Bomb is a bit lighter. Again, before you apply the moisturizer make sure the oil (if you use any oil-based products) has had enough time to absorb into the skin.
And lastly, apply sunscreen. Sunscreen is always your last step. I ran out of a good SPF recently and bought Alba’s SPF 30 Facial Sunscreen while I was doing my weekly grocery shopping. Not the fanciest sunscreen in the market, but I was in a pinch and so far I have been happy with it. I don’t know about anyone else but I spend time in the sun, so I need an affordable sunscreen because I burn (hah! no pun intended) through it quickly. I run, play tennis, bike, hike, etc., in the sun, so the thought of smearing an $80 sunscreen over my face when I do these activities is a bit too much for me. Not saying that I do not want to try out said $80 sunscreens, but I will wait until the cooler months of the year when I am inside more than outside.
Well, folks, like I said, I am not an expert in this topic so I would love to hear how you handle the layering of your products or any tips and tricks you use.