When I put on my skin-care products every morning and night, I like to think about it as if I’m frosting a cake. I let each layer dry individually before moving onto the next, which, when you’re working with a 10-step routine, can be massively time consuming. But recently, I’ve been wondering: Are you even supposed to let your skin-care products dry before applying the next layer?
“I let dry only for the amount of time it takes me to open the next container,” says Connecticut-based dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara, who notes that as long as you pile on your products from lightest to heaviest, you should be all good to go back-to-back-to-back.
According to Tina Hedges, founder of Loli Beauty, there is just one caveat to this method. “If you are using an acid treatment, it’s best to apply this first and wait a few minutes before applying your moisturizer—if you apply a moisturizer too quickly, it could ‘deactivate’ the exfoliating treatment by changing the pH of the acid,” she explains. “On the other hand, it’s always best to apply a face oil on damp skin, so if you’re using a toner or essence, don’t wait for the skin to dry. If you want pure, skin-quenching moisture, then slathering an oil, lotion, or cream over your toner, essence, or hydrating serum is great as it will lock in the hydration.”
In fact, letting your products mix in with each other—instead of painstakingly applying them one after the other—is actually an A-okay way to do things. Personally, I love to mix hyaluronic acid with my retinol and AHA serums for some added hydration, and have been known to put a drop of facial oil or two into my moisturizer on particularly dry days. Think of it like your own personal skin-care cocktail—really, everything you’re putting on is technically winding up in the same place.
Oh, and one more thing: “If you’re applying a sunscreen, it’s best to wait a few minutes before applying over your moisturizer as the film formers that adhere the sunscreen to the skin may not set as well on an oilier surface,” says Hedges. “If you’re using any type of treatment serum or sunscreen, it’s best not to add anything into these bases as you may impact the efficacy or the adherence to the skin.” Welp, you’re welcome for all that time you now get back.