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The Right Way to Layer Your Skincare

Serums, moisturizers and spot treatments, oh my! If you’re anything like us and have a full skincare/makeup cabinet, it can be intimidating to figure out how to incorporate your latest products into your routine. And you're not insane for feeling that way... The order you're applying things does matter!

When in doubt, follow the golden skincare rule of cleansing your face first, then applying products from lightest to heaviest is generally the best way to go. 

Here's your step by step guide to layering your skincare:

Step 1: Remove makeup

Whether you’ve got a face full of makeup or just a bit of highlighter and mascara left on your complexion, it’s crucial to remove your makeup before you cleanse. We’re a huge fan of wipes, like SLMD's Step Zero: Cleansing Wipes, which effectively and gently get the job done.

Step 2: Cleanse

Cleansing your skin is essential. Just like you wouldn’t get into a set of freshly washed sheets in dirty clothes, you should not apply skincare products to dirty skin. Over the course of the day, dirt and oil is bound to accumulate on your face — so you especially need to wash that off at night before applying any other products before you go to sleep. We’re not excusing you from washing your face in the morning, though. As we sleep, our skin cells regenerate meaning dead skin cells may be on the surface of your skin, and especially need to be washed away in the morning.

A dime-sized dollop of your cleanser of choice is the perfect amount to remove the day’s dirt and grime without stripping your skin of natural oils or irritating your complexion. SLMD's Salicylic Acid Cleanser is a great choice because it's gentle but great at exfoliating and unclogging pores. A toner can also be applied after you wash your face —  to remove any excess grime and give your skin an extra dose of nutrients before you apply other products. Put a 3-5 drops on a cotton ball or pad and move it over your skin, or put the same amount into your clean hands and pat into your face. If your toner comes in a spray bottle, it can also be spritzed directly onto your skin.

Step 3: Treat

Here’s where it can start to get complicated. Serums and treatment products are potent concentrates of ingredients — like retinol, benzoyl peroxide, and hyaluronic acid — which can be used to target a range of skin concerns, from dark spots and discoloration to acne and aging.

You only need a pearl-sized drop of your go-to serum or treatment lotion or gel — which should be gently applied in upward strokes until it’s fully absorbed. Make sure you do some research on your ingredients if you’re mixing more than one treatment product. For instance, a serum like SLMD's Retinol Serum should be saved for nighttime skincare as it can degrade in the sun and make your skin more susceptible to UV damage.
If you are using a treatment with benzoyl peroxide — this can be used day or night following cleansing your face. After applying a serum or treatment product— now would be the time to apply a spot treatment, like SLMD's Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment or BP Spot Treatment to any problem areas, if you feel like they need a little more concentrated attention. These are also potent products, so enough to cover your spot should do the trick.


Under-eye creams are another beneficial and often overlooked part of skincare. Your under-eye area is one of the most delicate portions of skin on your body, so avoid anything irritating to such a thin area like retinols or fragranced products. For daytime, try something brightening like niacinamide or caffeine-based products, and for nighttime you can opt for restoring and hydrating ingredients, like peptides and hyaluronic acid. Different concerns, like dryness, puffiness or discoloration, can call for different products and consistencies, so go for one that targets your needs. Gently apply a pea sized amount with your ring finger from the outside to inside, along your orbital bone and brow bone, to avoid accidentally getting product into your eye or pulling at your skin.

Step 4: Moisturize

Finally, it’s time to seal it all in! Once you’ve let your previously applied products settle into your skin, apply a nickel sized amount of your favorite moisturizer, llike SLMD's Facial Moisturizer or a hydrator like SLMD's Hyaluronic Acid Serum.


Step 5: Protect

Sunscreen is quite possibly the most essential step in your routine, so if your daily moisturizer isn’t already equipped with SPF protection, try SLMD's Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 or go for a powdered sunscreen, like UV Bounce, that’ll keep away the UVA and UVB rays and set your makeup.
Now go enjoy all your skincare goodies without stressing about the order you’re putting them on! Knowledge is power.

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