Layering: do or don’t ?

By the 02 July 2014

Modifié le 10 June 2020

Ah, layering ! Here is a ritual that raises debates, polemics and unchaines passions. But, what is layering exactly ? Is it goog for you ?



Definition: 10 steps of layering from Asia



The principle? Successively apply every day and in a precise order, different cosmetic products on your skin, every one of them has a specific purpose.


Every person who has adopted layering doesn’t necessarily do all of these steps, some don’t even agree on the number of steps. To simplify things, layering usually has 10 steps.

In the right order:

  1. 1. an oily make up removal cleanser
  2. 2. an aqueous make up removal cleanser (foamy or not)
  3. 3. a soothing lotion
  4. 4. a “sheet mask” or a tissue mask (optional)
  5. 5. a serum
  6. 6. an eye contour
  7. 7. a light moisturizing cream = an emulsion
  8. 8. a richer moisturizing cream
  9. 9. a specific treatment (anti-aging, acne,…) (optional)
  10. 10. a UV protections (morning) or night cream (night)

Even though this list is intimidating, in reality, few people do the compete ritual, especially in the west where steps 4, 8 and 9 are almost inexistent.

Why do people use the layering method?


The objective of the Japanese and Koreans, through this complex beauty ritual is in reality to multiply the sources of moisture for the skin. Every step must gorge the skin in water and active ingredients.

The specific treatments are in charge of keeping the complexion as white as possible and to treat pigment spots they might have. Genetically they are less subject to wrinkles than westerners, nothing is more important to Asian women than to keep their porcelain complexion.

Layering is also defined by a two-step cleaning method that starts with an oily cleanser and continues with rinsing with an aqueous product. As the same way as the famous milk + lotion ritual, starting with an oily products is a good way of eliminating impurities and/or make up that is of an oily nature and dissolve better in products that are too.

The layering method, an art form in Asia, isn’t as intuitive in the west.


Layering: pros and cons

Layering, if it introduced itself in the west, isn’t universal yet.
There are the ones that are for: strong supporters of this complex beauty ritual. May it be to resolve a very specific skin problem or just for the pleasure of allowing yourself a moment of well-being and relaxation, to take time for oneself, layering has true fans.

And there is a big majority that is against this method, usually for a simpler daily routing. Lack of time to respect the steps of this beauty ritual every day, limited budgets (such a complete routine empties one’s wallet…) or simply not wanting to apply so many products… Not feeling the need to take such care of one’s skin, many are perfectly happy with a good cleansing or make up removal and a cream.

This more pronounced need for a simplified beauty ritual shows especially well through a remarkable success of another beauty ritual, also from Asia: the famous BB creams. Indeed, on the contrary to over-lapping products, a BB cream is a single product with different simultaneous actions allowing to reduce the number of steps during your daily routine.

We can also note that the way cosmetic industrials keep on multiplying products, is an evident way of inciting to buy more and more. With ranges wider and wider, with products specialized on one aspect of the skin, it’s a way of rising the mean basket and their income. If most of the women that happily use the layering method are convinced of its use, many others who have a simple beauty routine are in an awkward position when faced with the ads.

They must be reassured, because in the end, layering is a personal choice, according to ones wants and needs, cutaneous feelings, one’s culture and possibilities. The most important thing for the skin isn’t the quantity of products used but their quality.


Our advice for women who use the layering method… and all the others too 😉


Rather you like overlapping products or not, here is some advice for the best beauty routine possible for your skin:


Advice n°1: make sure to use products for your skin type and the actual state of your skin


For 90% of us, our skin is a combination type with a tendency to dehydration, which can give the impression that our skin is dry. Just as much, skincare labelled “for dry skin” doesn’t usually fit this skin type: continuously using them will only accentuate sebum production and participate in pimples and black heads forming. The best way of choosing good products is to start by knowing your skin.

You can do our skin diagnosis for free on our website by answering our short questionnaire; there are good tips at stake ! 😉


Advice n°2: read the list of ingredients of all of your products with care

Most cosmetics contain a lot of questionable ingredients for the skin and the environment. In conventional cosmetics, we find for example mineral oils derived from petrol (paraffin, vaseline, silicones), harmful preservatives (parabens, methylisothiazolinone, phenoxyethanol,…), and ethoxylated components (the famous PEG’s) and irritating detergents with sulfates (Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) to only cite a few.

Most of these ingredients show true harmful effects when we expose ourselves continuously and their actions combine. It’s what we call the cocktail effect, we talked about this effect in our article on endocrine disruptors. In short, they are molecules that change the function of hormones and, for most of them, stay stocked in our bodies. Accumulated, they may strongly influence the functioning of our hormones and lead to cancers, hormonal dysfunctions, genital perturbations… nothing we want. If the legislations try to control the dangers of these molecules by imposing low concentrations, they constitute a true danger on the long term when repeatedly exposed and the accumulation of different molecules.

It is thus crucial to pay attention to the compositions of beauty products, and to carefuly read the list of ingredients. Yes, it is tedious but in long term, we quickly recognize the the products with safe and sound formulas. This recommendation is even more true when we apply a lot of different products on the skin because we raise the risks of exposing ourselves to toxic molecules. To all the fans of layering, if you use safe formulas, then no worries!

To give you an idea of what you should avoid, check out our NO-list: it has all the ingredients we have banned from our formulations, either because there are bad for the skin or because they are useless…


Advice n°3: privilege products with vegetable oils


Unfortunately, most cosmetics are full of ingredients useless for the skin. With very few different active ingredients, present in restrained concentrations, but with many fillers, production costs are lowered.

The main fillers are mineral oils, esterified and hydrogenated. These oils replace vegetable oils that are rich in active ingredients (fatty acids, vitamins,…) and truly act on the skin.

The supremacy of filling oils in cosmetics explain why many people complain that after many years of use, they never truly saw an improvement on their skin. This also explains for some people their need to use many products at the same time in order to receive, by their accumulation, a sufficient dose of active ingredients.

In a cosmetic product said natural or organic, we unfortunately too often find esterified or hydrogenated oils,, usually palm oil derivatives, that are implied in massive deforestation in South East Asia.

According to us, it isn’t necessary to multiply cosmetics to take care of your skin. It’s better to have a simple routine, rich in active ingredients and lacking toxic ingredients, than a complex ritual with cosmetics that aren’t very effective and filled with synthetic components that have nothing to do on your skin.

In conclusion, for an optimal beauty routine, multi-steps or not, be careful your products don’t contain or have few filling oils but, mainly vegetable oils. It’s better for the skin and for the environment!

There you go, we could say a lot more on the subject but in any case, multiplying products in a beauty routine isn’t better or worse than a simple routine. Layering is a personal choice and requires to be very vigilant concerning the beauty products in the routine.


And you, what do you think of layering? Have you ever tried it? Why do you like (or not) this ritual? Tell u everything, we’re waiting for your comments ! :)

This post is also available in french.

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