An Esthetician’s Guide to Layering Skincare

You’ve got your fresh new skincare products all lined up on your bathroom counter… so now how do you use them? The most important thing to remember about layering your products is making sure they work for you!

“It’s not about how many products you use; it’s that they’re the right products for your skin.”

—Justine Kahn, Founder of Botnia

Less is almost always more when it comes to getting the lasting results you’re looking for. Does your skincare offer nourishment without side effects? Let’s cut through the marketing noise and tell you what we’ve found to be truly important for a daily regime.


As a central rule of thumb, you need a face wash to cleanse your skin. You want to look for a formula that’s pH balanced and works to remove the impurities in your skin, not strip from the stratum corneum (the outer layer of the skin which serves as a barrier between the body and the environment), which can actually cause more problems for you to combat.

We’re especially huge fans of oil cleansing and believe it or not, it works for nearly every skin type! The beauty of oil cleansing is that it builds up the health of your skin’s barrier function as opposed to altering your pH or stripping your skin. Think: Oil attracts oil.  Oil cleansers remove oil-based pollutants like makeup or sunscreen and pull them out from deep inside your pores. It’s always good to follow up with a water-based cleanser to remove any of the remaining dirt and grime from the day. 


Do you ever have the sneaking suspicion that toner is unnecessary? Not true! It’s key for pH balancing your skin after cleansing. Why do you need to pH balance your skin? After washing your face, if you use a harsh or stripping cleanser to remove oil and buildup, your skin will be in a more alkaline (high pH) state, which will dry out and sensitize the skin, leading it to produce more oil to compensate, and on and on the cycle goes. This is where toner is key: it’s slightly acidic to bring your skin back to the optimal level (around 5.5 pH). We want this slightly acidic pH level for our skin to protect the acid mantle—a layer of acids and oils that shield our skin from environmental hazards like bacteria and pollutants. Check out the different methods for applying your toner here.

Hydrosols (optional)//

Where do these fit in? If you’re using an oil cleanser, you could benefit from a hydrosol. You can use this gentle floral water in place of a toner or in combination with a toner and press it into your skin for best results. You also have the option to use a hydrosol as a refreshing boost of hydration for your skin throughout the day. 

Serum (optional)//

There’s definitely a gray area when it comes to serums, and depending on what you’re looking for your skincare to do, serums can sit both underneath or over your moisturizer. 

To get real nerdy on you, the molecular weight of a compound’s molecules affect the way a product penetrates your skin. Products with smaller molecules penetrate more deeply into the skin, often working more effectively. Dehydration, fine lines, and wrinkles will generally need healing in the deeper layers of the skin.

One example of when a serum would sit underneath your face cream is with our Clarity Oil. You want to make sure that this serum sits next to your skin (not on top of your moisturizer) to get the highest benefit of the black cumin seed oil that helps with acne. With maskne, our oils help to prevent chafing on the surface of your skin and will protect your skin from that chapped feeling after wearing a mask all day.

To combat surface-level issues of the skin, a larger molecular weight of a product will sit on top of the skin and won’t penetrate as deeply. If your skin lacks hydration, you could add in a hyaluronic acid serum, or if you need an extra dose of antioxidants, you could add an oil serum. Physical sunscreens are a good example of protecting your skin on the top layer of the epidermis and creating a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. 


After all that work you’ve put into your skin, you want to seal it all with a simple and effective face cream or balm.

AM vs. PM Routine//

Have you ever thought about why your skincare routine might need to differ in the morning vs the night? During the day your skin works hard to protect itself from the environment while at night your skin switches into recovery mode to help repair and renew the skin. 

Your daytime routine can remain fairly light while still using moisturizing and hydrating products along with SPF to protect your skin from the environment! 

In the evening you’ll want to use your more exfoliating cleansers like our Essential Enzymes, a cream cleanser with a mild exfoliating effect, to help rid your skin of any debris from the day. This is also the time to apply heavier serums, moisturizers, and oils since your skin is working to restore and hydrate its cells, absorbing products more effectively!


Once a week, incorporate a mask of your choosing.

To recap, these are the three must-haves when it comes to layering your skincare products:

-Face mask

Truly that’s as complex as you need to go to get the best skin of your life. Keeping it simple offers the best results, so I offer you this: don’t overthink your skincare regime; with three or four products, you’ll have all that your skin needs to feel its best and thrive!


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