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layering skincare products

How to Layer Your Skincare Products

While your individual routine may vary due to skin type, skin concern, time of the year, and hormonal fluctuations, the basics of layering stay the same. You layer or apply products by format first then by water solubility and thickness. The below is a guideline on how to layer products, referencing Prequel skincare products, but is not necessarily a proposed routine. Prequel products were created as stand alone products that can be seamlessly introduced to your skincare routine. Not every step or every Prequel product may be appropriate for your skin. A routine composed of various product combinations is very personal and at Prequel we hope to offer you the tools to customize your skincare needs.

1: Cleanser

Start with a cleanser. If you have dry skin or are wearing sunscreen or makeup start with an oil cleanser or oil-based cleansing balm. This type of cleanser helps remove oil soluble product on the skin and excess sebum while providing sacrificial lipids. These skin lipids are not stripped away when you follow with a water-based cleanser. This double cleansing process allows better removal of impurities from the skin while helping to keep the skin barrier intact. Your water-based cleanser can be a foaming cleanser or a cream cleanser. Foam does not necessarily equate to better cleansing. If you have oily skin and don’t need to remove makeup or sunscreen you can skip straight to a water-based cleanser. We offer Gleanser a high glycerin non-drying cleanser with proven 24 hour hydration so even if you want to skip the oil cleanser you don’t feel stripped. Learn more about Gleanser in our blog.

2: Toner

A toner or solution can prep the skin for your skincare or further aid in cleansing. For example, a glycolic acid solution can aid in exfoliation, helping your skin products work better. We offer our Universal Skin Solution Hypochlorous Acid Spray with hypochlorous acid that further purifies the skin. It calms, soothes, helps clear congestion, and promotes healthier looking skin. Let skin fully dry before layering additional products. Learn more about the benefits of hypochlorous acid.

3: Serum or Essence

These lightweight water-based products often contain active ingredients catered to specific skin concerns such as hyperpigmentation, dullness, redness, blemishes, or dryness. Actives can include vitamin C, peptides, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and more. We offer Lucent-C Brightening Vitamin C Serum to brighten the skin for a more even complexion. You can layer other thin water-based serums on top to address additional skin concerns. Learn more about the  Lucent-C Vitamin C Serum on our blog.

4: Gels, Lotions, Creams

These thicker water-based products often contain oil soluble or silicone soluble materials to provide softening or occlusivity, locking in moisture and preventing transepidermal water loss. All skin types can benefit from these products but the richness and heaviness of the product can be catered to your skin type. We offer a rich cream Barrier Therapy Skin Protectant Cream clinically tested for 24 hour moisture to soothe dehydrated skin. For those with oily or combination skin looking for lighter weight skin protection, we offer Skin Utility Gel Multi-Purpose Skin Protectant. You can even layer these products over other gels, lotions, or creams following the guidance of starting with lightest high water content products first and finishing with heaviest low water content products to lock in moisture. Learn more about Barrier Therapy and Skin Utility Gel.

5: Facial Oil

This is an optional step that many with combination or oily skin types may choose to forgo. Facial oils are anhydrous, without water, so they seal in moisture and prevent water from escaping. However, they may also limit ingredient penetration so are added as a last step in your routine aside from sunscreen.

6: Sunscreen (During the Day)

Always finish your day routine with a broad spectrum sunscreen that has a minimum of SPF 30. The choice between mineral or chemical sunscreen filters is based on personal preference. We offer our Sun Barrier Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++ Mineral Sunscreen to shield and protect from both UVB and UVA radiation.

7: Ointment (During the Evening)

At night, you can finish your routine with an occlusive product such as our Skin Utility Ointment Multi-Purpose Skin Protectant to seal in moisture. This practice of slugging helps reduce your skin’s natural water loss at night and leave skin feeling soft the next day. If you want something occlusive but not as heavy as the Skin Utility Ointment you can use our Skin Utility Balm Multi-Purpose Skin Protectant which is a water based occlusive product that helps reinforce a healthier skin barrier for long-lasting comfort.


The above is an outline of how to layer products by format, thickness and water solubility. It is meant to be a guideline on how to apply your products and doesn’t explore all possible combinations or how to create a routine by skin concern or skin type. You do not need to worry about time in between layering products with the exception of the Universal Skin Solution Spray which you should let fully dry before layering since it is a strongly oxidizing solution. Incompatibilities between products are rare so layering products with active ingredients such as retinol, glycolic acid, l-ascorbic acid and more should be selected based on skin’s tolerance. Listen to your skin. Start slow and low on frequency and concentration of products and gradually increase frequency and concentration. Example, start with 0.1% retinol every other day working up to every day application and then higher strengths. You can use a glycolic acid solution when using retinol but start low and slow and if you find your skin becoming red, irritated, or peeling then back off a little. Skincare is a journey and while everyone is moving toward the ultimate goal of a healthy-looking complexion, there are many paths to get there. Find what’s best for you.





DISCLAIMER: All skin care articles are intended to help educate on specific ingredients and skin care topics. Our articles are written to be informative and informational. Any reference to a specific patient experience is not a medical suggestion for treatment. Please note that any Prequel products with referenced ingredients are formulated for Cosmetic Use Only and NOT intended as replacements for physician advice and/or pharmaceutical product recommendations.

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