Skincare layering EXPLAINED + Affordable Products I Like
I only started paying attention to my skin in my early 30s.
I’m 35 now and have finally figured out a simple skincare routine that works.
If you are confused about how to incorporate multiple products in skincare and have no idea what order to use them in, this article is a great place to start.
Skincare routine for beginners
How should you order your skincare routine?
Keep it simple:
Cleanser -> Serum/Actives -> Moisturiser -> Sunscreen
Bonus: Exfoliate 1-2 times a week. There are both physical and chemical exfoliators on the market
Difference between physical and chemical exfoliators
Physical exfoliators use tiny beads to mechanically remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, while chemical exfoliators use acids to do the same.
Chemical exfoliators work deeper into skin layers, but it takes longer to see results.
Physical exfoliators are generally best suited for normal, oily, and combination skin types. Chemical exfoliation is better suited for dry and sensitive skin as they are gentler.
Cleanser -> Serum/Actives -> Moisturiser
Bonus: Apply face masks suitable for your skin/skin concerns 1-2 times a week.
What is the purpose of cleansers?
Cleansers remove makeup, dirt, sweat, sebum, and leftover product, keeping the skin clean and preparing it for subsequent products.
Don’t use soap-based cleansers – soap strips your skin of natural oils and dries it, causing premature aging.
Affordable soap-free cleansers I love:
DHC Face Wash Powder
This affordable Japanese luxuriously silky powder is loved by celebrities. It cleans beautifully without leaving skin feel tight or dry.
It has mild exfoliating properties too leaving skin squeaky clean.
Price: £7.5 – £12 for 50g.
Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Mousse
A one-and-done cleanser for oily, dry, or combination skin types that discourages excess oil production and protects dry areas. Formulated with bergamot, spearmint, and lavender, it smells refreshing and skin is left feeling comfortable and clean. Never tight, pulled or parched.
Price: £16 for 150 ml.
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming Gel Cleanser
Effaclar Foaming Gel Cleanser is a foaming cleanser specially formulated for sensitive, oily, acne-prone skin.
The Effaclar Foaming Gel Cleanser cleanser respects the skin’s PH balance. The gentle formula has a pH 5.5 – the average PH value of the skin’s surface, so there is no disruption to the skin’s natural balance.
I love this French dermo-cosmetics brand famed for its collaboration with dermatologists. Shop La Roche-Posay range on Notino.co.uk.
What is the purpose of serums?
Face serum is always applied before moisturiser.
Serum is a skincare product that delivers highly concentrated active ingredients directly into the skin. An example of active ingredients include hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid, retinoid, and vitamin C.
Face serums are often used to manage specific skincare concerns, such as wrinkles, acne, dryness, dullness etc.
There are many different types of serums, each with a unique purpose and ingredients. Serums can come in different formulas, including gels, oils, and light creams — they can even have a water-like consistency in some cases.
Serums can include several active ingridents or only 1.
Affordable serums I love:
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
A cult favourite, this gentle leave-on exfoliant with salicylic acid quickly unclogs pores, smooths wrinkles, and brightens and evens out skin tone.
Price: £9 for 30ml.
Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
A hydrator that smooths and plumps with hyaluronic acid.
◉ Smoothing serum that offers short and long-term hydration.
◉ Boosts skin hydration after 1 week (with sustained results after 4 weeks).
◉ Strengthens skin barrier after 4 weeks.
◉ Noticeably smoother and more supple skin after 4 weeks.
◉ Reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles after 4 weeks.
Price: £8 for 30 ml.
Corsica Snail Mucin Essence
This Korean cult product is used worldwide to target dullness, brightening, and plumping the skin minimising the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
It contains allantoin, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid—which all have beneficial effects on aging skin.
◉ Snail Secretion Filtrate: A snail extract that brightens, hydrates, and supports healthy skin repair
◉ Sodium Hyaluronate: A form of hyaluronic acid that dramatically boosts skin moisture
◉ Arginine: An amino acid with antioxidant properties that supports elasticity
Price: £16 for 100 ml
What is the purpose of moisturisers?
Moisturisers improve skin hydration by increasing its water content. Moisturisers keep your skin looking age-appropriate.
As we age, the oil glands that keep skin healthy begin to lose their power, making it to where they create fewer oils. Moisturising daily causes the glands to not have to work as hard to keep your skin healthy throughout your life.
Just like serums, some moisturizers contain active ingredients. However, its thicker consistency means the active ingredients don’t penetrate deeper layers of skin as well as serums. There are various skin care sets on offer at Notino.co.uk made up of various skincare layering products that are perfect for gifting.
Face oils have become increasingly popular in recent years. Oils don’t replace moisturisers, but they are perfect to combine with your moisturiser for extra vitamin boost.
Affordable moisturisers I like:
Eucerin UreaRepair plus 30% Urea Creme
Eucerin UreaRepair PLUS 30% Urea Cream is suitable for areas of hyperkeratotic (the medical term for thickened) skin and for people with Keratosis Pilaris and Psoriasis. It can also be used for adjunctive care in combination with the treatment prescribed by your dermatologist.
This is an excellent product if you have very dehydrated, patchy, dry skin and fine lines.
Price: £14 for 75 ml
Cera Ve Moisturising Cream
Great for sensitive skin, no scent, and is highly moisturising.
Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream has a unique formula that provides 24-hour hydration and helps restore the protective skin barrier
Price: £10 for 454g
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturiser
Perfect for oily skin.
Effectively a giant glass of water for thirsty skin, the refreshing water-gel consistency contains a hyaluronic gel matrix that thoroughly moisturises skin and keeps it hydrated throughout the day.
It’s lightweight, silky and perfect for layering under makeup.
Price: £8.60 for 48g
Why it’s important to wear sunscreen daily
Sunscreen is actually the most important part of your skincare routine, but many people skip it or wear it only during summer.
Dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen all year round, because the sun is always present, even on a cloudy day. The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays which contain free radicals that can cause damage to your skin.
This damage includes:
◉ Pigmentation/ discolouration
◉ Skin thinning
By applying sunscreen regularly, you have a 24% less chance of developing signs of aging. Wearing sunscreen considerably diminishes ageing and it’s so easy to apply ut if it’s part of your daily skincare routine.
There are 2 types of sunscreen:
◉ Physical/mineral: these minerals block and scatter the sun’s rays before they reach your skin. Examples of these ingredients include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
◉ Chemical: ingredients like avobenzone and octisalate absorb the UV rays instead. As a result, the rays don’t reach your skin or damage it.
It doesn’t matter if you have a physical or chemical sunscreen, it will always be the last step in your skincare routine. This is because sunscreen works by forming a thick, even layer over the skin – you don’t want to disrupt this layer too much with subsequent products.
If applicable, any makeup products (primer, foundation, etc.) would come after sunscreen – but all skincare products come before.
Affordable sunscreens I like:
Eucerin Oil Control Dry Touch SPF50+
This is a chemical lightweight sunscreen with no white cast.
Facial sun protection gel-cream with very high SPF that offers an anti-shine effect for 8 hours. Formulated for the specific needs of oily skin, it regulates sebum secretion.
Price: £12 for 50ml
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Lotion SPF 50
It’s hard to find a mineral sunscreen that doesn’t leave a white cast.
Out of all the sunscreens I’ve tried, Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen SPF 50 is pretty good.
The white cast is minimal and almost invisible.
Lightweight, non-greasy sunscreen that dries on the skin immediately leaving an invisible finish.
Price: £18 for 59ml