Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Sritama Dutta (Medical Science) on 29th Jan 2021

Layering Serums: The Ultimate Guide by Minimalist

Ultimate Guide: How to Layer Serums

YYou can find multiple active ingredients that can address any of your skin concerns. But not all ingredients are versatile enough to solve all your problems. So, what do you do when you need more than two active ingredients for your skin? The simple answer lies in "Layering" or "Cocktailing."

Keep reading to understand how layering works and what ingredients could be combined to get the desired benefits.  

Some Things to Keep in Mind While Layering Serums and Oils: 

1. Learn the Art of the Cocktailing 

The science and art of knowing how and what ingredients must be layered on the skin is known as "cocktailing." It is essential to understand which ingredients go well together and which ingredients must not be mixed.

Applying the ideal combination of serums is not an easy task. Thus, to make it convenient for you, we have enlisted the best "cocktails" or combinations of ingredients you can adopt in your daily skincare regime.  

2. Pay Attention to the Consistency 

The more lightweight the ingredient is, the more readily it gets absorbed into the skin layer. Thus, when you want to use several ingredients simultaneously, these must be layered according to their consistency.

The lightest one with the thinnest consistency should be used first, which are usually face serums. This means you would have to pay a little attention to the concentration gradient. This helps to make the skin more receptive to the other active ingredients.  

3. Take Three 

There is no evidence that you have to limit the numbers of serums you want to use on your skin. However, dermatologists have suggested that one should stop at three. Piling more products on your skin is not only a time-consuming process, but it can also reduce the efficacy of the ingredients. Layering too many ingredients at once can lower the chances of absorption by the skin cells.  

4. Gentleness is the answer 

Being rough with your skin will never give you any good results. You need to be gentle and tender with your skin and let it adapt itself to the ingredients you choose to apply to the skin. According to skin experts, gently massaging the serum on the skin improves circulation and helps your skin breathe.  

5. Take Your Time 

Any ingredient that you apply to your skin needs some time to get absorbed in your skin. Thus, after you use a serum, it is recommended to wait for at least two to three minutes before you apply the second serum. It helps prevent the pilling of the ingredients and ensures that the serum gets completely seeped into your skin cells.  

6. AM or PM? 

You can use active ingredients in your morning as well as night-time routine. However, some ingredients can make the skin more susceptible to sun damage, like retinol and hydroquinone. Thus, it is advised that layering should be done at night. It helps prevent the skin from harmful UV rays. Also, at night the skin repairs itself when you sleep. So, the active ingredients work more effectively at night. But if you prefer layering your skin in the morning, make sure your skin is well protected with a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or above).  

A Quick Guide of Layering for All Your Skin Concerns: 

Active skincare ingredients are not magic potions that can erase all your skin woes at one go. Though you can find a remedy for all your skin concerns from the vast array of active ingredients available, only one ingredient cannot possibly solve all your problems. Thus, the answer is layering.  

Here's a concise guide addressing all your possible skin concerns you might face: 

1. For Exfoliation 

If you are distressed with soft dried up skin layers, you will benefit from chemical exfoliation. Dermatologists recommend that a combination of facial acids such as AHAs and BHAs along with a potent hydrating agent can be beneficial for you.  

2. For Treating Hyperpigmentation 

Various ingredients can help in treating hyperpigmentation of the skin, like Alpha-Arbutin or Niacinamide. A combination of Hyaluronic acid, 10% Niacinamide, and Vitamin C serum has proven to be very effective in treating hyperpigmentation. Another alternative is layering Hyaluronic acid along with Alpha Arbutin.  

3. For Moisturization 

You can apply a facial acid such as salicylic acid on your skin for proper moisturization, helping unclog skin pores. Then gently massage a considerable amount of hyaluronic acid to draw moisture to your skin and keep it well hydrated.  

4. For Reducing Wrinkles and Fine Lines 

The most potent anti-aging ingredient is retinoids. They can promote cell turnover rate and improve collagen synthesis in the skin cells that make the skin firmer and more resilient. A combination of retinoids, along with hyaluronic acid, is recommended for those who want to retain their skin's youthfulness. The hyaluronic acid will help hydrate the skin cells, make the skin appear plump, and help get rid of wrinkles and fine lines.

Another alternative ingredient that can help in reducing fine lines and wrinkles is the newly developed multi-peptide serum. You can layer this with facial acids that will help the skin become more receptive to other serums' benefits.   

5. For Soothing Skin Irritation and Inflammation 

If you are experiencing skin irritation or inflammatory wounds on the skin, using a combination of niacinamide serum and hyaluronic acid can help you reduce the symptoms. Even layering Vitamin C and Hyaluronic acid can help address the signs of inflammation.  

6. For Improving Skin Texture 

Rough and dry skin can be a bother. But few active ingredients can help you in improving your skin texture

The most popularly followed skincare regime to get an improved skin texture is: 

  • Cleansing the skin with a mild cleanser. 
  • Exfoliate the skin with a combination of facial acids such as the Minimalist AHA/PHA/BHA.  
  • Applying a potent hydration agent like Hyaluronic acid
  • Protecting the skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
  • Even Niacinamide can help improve the skin's texture by boosting cell turnover and promoting collagen synthesis.

For Dry Skin: 

Dry skin can be managed by taking a little more care of your skin.  

Here's what you have to follow: 

For your Morning Routine: 

  • Cleanse your skin with a good cleanser. 
  • Apply a toner
  • Hydrate your skin with a combination of Hyaluronic Acid 2% and Vitamin B5. 
  • Layer it with Vitamin C+Acetyl Glucosamine Serum.  
  • Moisturize your skin with Seicalm 3%+ Oats moisturizer. 
  • Protect your skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

For a Night Time Routine: 

Before you retire to bed, you must help your skin repair itself.  

This regime can help you: 

  • After Cleansing your skin, apply a good quality toner
  • Gently apply Hyaluronic acid 2% for extra hydration
  • Apply the Minimalist combination of Lactic Acid 1% and Hyaluronic acid. 
  • You can also use Squalane 100% in case you have extremely dry skin.  
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  • Moisturize at last with Sepicalm 3%+ Oats moisturizer. 

For Oily Skin: 

Oily skin can sometimes be a boon, but too much oil can make your skin more susceptible to attracting dirt and microbes and increasing the risk of acne and breakouts. Here's how you can manage your oily skin: 

For Your Morning routine: 

  • Cleanse your skin with a soft cleanser.
  • Apply a toner; this will help in making the skin more receptive.  
  • Apply Niacinamide 10%+ zinc serum, which will help control the skin's excess sebum production.  
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For Your Night routine:

  • Cleanse your face again. This will remove all the dirt and impurities that collect during the day on your skin.  
  • Apply a toner to prepare your skin.  
  • Apply Salicylic acid 2% and gently massage your skin. This will help to slough off the dead cells and debris that get clogged in skin pores.  
  • Finally, moisturize the skin with Sepicalm 3%+ Oats moisturizer. 
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7. For Reducing Acne and Breakouts: 

Acne and breakouts are caused due to clogged skin pores with acne-causing bacteria, sebum, and impurities.  

Here's how you can manage your acne-prone, sensitive skin: 

A combination of retinol and niacinamide can be beneficial for this skin type. The vitamin A derivative, retinoid can tighten open pores and also promotes cell turnover. It also helps in controlling the overdrive of the sebaceous glands and reduces aggravation of sebum production.

However, retinoids can make the skin too dry. That's where layering with Niacinamide comes to help. It also helps in controlling sebum production and boost cell turnover. Niacinamide can also effectively hydrate the skin and make it firm yet soft and plump.  

The Bottom Line: 

Layering the skin with multiple serums and oils does not involve any rocket science with simple knowledge about ingredients and combinations. Layering on the skin with ingredients that can solve your skin concerns then becomes easier.

Skin experts suggest that a maximum of three active ingredients must be used for layering at once. Taking more than three will cause ingredients to pile up pointlessly and reduce their efficacy. However, it is also advised to perform a patch test before you begin using any ingredient.

Also, if you are layering any serum with facial acids, there remains a risk of purging. If you experience a little purging on your skin, wait for a few weeks, and your skin will grow again and will be as good as new.