How to Use Skincare Products in the Right Order?

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There are plenty of beliefs surrounding skin products and how to use them. One common belief entails using skincare products in the right order.

It says that the best way to layer skincare products is to start with the product that has the thinnest consistency and move to those with a thicker consistency. Thus, according to this belief, you should always apply a serum before you apply a cream. Since the molecular size is small, it won’t get blocked by the larger molecular size of creams.


Our Skin is Made Up of Large Molecules

The chemicals present in your intercellular lipids and sebum such as wax esters, squalene, triglycerides, fatty acids are quite large in comparison with water. Despite this, water moves in and out of our skin fairly easily.

How Should You Use Skincare Products in the Right Order?

Here are some tips that will help you layer your skincare products like a pro and derive the highest benefit from them.

Tip #1 – It’s Best to Go from the Thinnest Texture to the Thickest One

Going from the thinnest texture to the thickest one is good because it implies that you’ll have oils above and water underneath. This way, you can try to trap the water beneath the oil. Note that this technique isn’t suitable simply because of the molecular size.

Tip #2 - Molecular Size Is an Aspect of Viscosity (The Thickness of a Particular Product), But It’s Not Everything.

For instance, decane which is 12 atoms long is less viscous than water which is 3 atoms long. However, when we talk about emulsions – which is the main kind of product in skincare – this comparison holds no value because everything is a mixture of substances that have various molecular sizes.


What Happens If You Fail to Use Skincare Products in the Right Order?

For most ingredients, it won’t really make a difference if you fail to use skincare products in the right order. This is because none of the skincare ingredients actually form an impenetrable layer on our skin for a long period of time. In fact, barrier creams that are specifically designed to prevent other chemicals from penetrating into the skin aren’t really good at this.

Ideally, you should be more cautious of using ingredients that are known to pass through ineffectively such as Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Thus, you should apply them as directly onto your skin. Moreover, you should also be cautious of applying thick coats of oil beneath humectants, if you want to moisturize your skin.

However, even then, layering doesn’t just revolve around molecular size. For instance, the main ingredient in coconut oil, trilaurin has a molecular weight of almost 600 daltons. On the other hand, even hyaluronic acid, which is incredibly low in terms of molecular weight weighs almost 6,000 daltons. But almost everyone will recommend you apply the hyaluronic serum beneath the coconut oil. Nevertheless, this order will also be in line with the “thinnest to thickest” texture rule. (Michelle, 2018)


Last Few Words

There are numerous guidelines and myths on how to use skincare products in the right order and as seen above, the most popular one is to layer according to the molecular weight. However, it’s a good rule of thumb to layer your skincare products in order of thinnest to thickest, so make sure you follow that!



Michelle. (2018, December 3). SKINCARE LAYERING: NOT ACTUALLY ABOUT MOLECULAR SIZE. From Lab Muffin:

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