F is for Flout Convention: Why Use Just One? Cocktail With Two or More Serums to Customize Your Skincare

by Janine on 25 May 2013 · 4 comments

flout conventionI swoon over Laura Carinci’s glowy complexion when I see her. Swoon-worthy skin is one of her identifiers. “Oh yes, Carinci, with that amazing skin,” I’ll say in conversation. (Look how glowy it is in this post.) And she’s a firm believer in a couple of cocktails a day to keep the aging away.

In my oddly organized mind (shut up, Staff), Laura is filed under “Great Skin.” She’s also filed under “Loves Layering Serums,” and has been since she and I first talked about it a couple of years ago at the Intercontinental on Bloor, outside a TIFF gifting lounge by Murale and Sally Hershberger. (She got to see Clive Owen, I think.) Using more than one serum back then was a bit of a novel concept — serums were still a relatively new concept (this post includes a PDF that explains them and their benefits). Even now, when pretty much every brand has one or three, most people who use serums use only one.

The other day I decided it was high time I asked Laura to share her layering habits with us because I realized I swoon about her skin even when I see her on Twitter. Here’s how she’s mixing it up:

I’m using just one serum right now, but in the past I’ve layered on three at a time.

During the day I pump two or three small drops of my serum into my hand, mix it with the Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer with SPF 15 and then put that combo all over my face (I kinda feel like the primer is a serum of sorts so it’s like I’m applying two). Then I put on my BB Cream with SPF on top of that. Right now I’m really into the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream SPF 30.

At night I do a serum and then a face-oil on top once the serum has soaked in. I like to use Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, Rodial Glam Balm Multi or anything Weleda.

I will pretty much try any serum once. Some of my favourites: Tata Harper, Reversa Antioxidant Booster Serum and Ole Henriksen Vitamin C Collagen Booster.

tips for layering your serums

I’ve been layering serums lately, too — hydrating, brightening, and antioxidant boosters. Here are a couple of things I’ve picked up:

  • The thinner the serum, the easier it is for the skin to absorb, and the easier it is to layer.
  • Layer serums in order of consistency, starting with the most watery.
  • Avoid serums with dimethicone, cyclohexasiloxane, pentaerythrityl tetraethylhexanoate, and dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer ghettoed near the top of the list. Those are silicones and polymers that tend to leave a silky film on the skin, which makes layering anything on top of it difficult. Plus, confirms a cosmetic-chemist source, although those ingredients slow the loss of moisture from the skin, they don’t do anything active to hydrate or brighten or nourish the skin. They’re inert. Band-aids.

Cocktailing_Four must-have anti-aging skin-care ingredients_LIZA HERZ_Zoomer magazine_June 2013

Need help to decide which serums to add to your regimen? For the June issue of Zoomer Magazine, beautygeek Liza Herz — by the way, her first name is pronounced LEEZA — wrote about key ingredients to consider for cocktailing purposes. A great tip from Dr. William McGillivray, the Vancouver-based derm she consulted:

  • If retinol is a bit too much for your skin, soften its sting by applying a facial oil first.

“Cocktailing: Four Must-Have Anti-Aging Skin-Care Ingredients” is on page 42. The issue is on stands now.

Do you use a serum? or serums? Do you have a favourite combination? Does using “cocktail” as a verb freak you out?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Gaelle 25 May 2013 at 1:04 pm

Hi Janine!

Thanks for this post, which makes me very curious about layering. But I have a question: I’ve heard that it was better to use products from only 1 brand, in order to help to regulate skin PH. I don’t know much about PH and I don’t know if that makes much sense. In one hand, I’d love I experiment and take the best products from each brand, but wouldn’t it be better for skin to stick to a routine and a brand? I feel really lost between what I see as the wise, grown-up method and the more exciting one.
Thanks of your insight!



Janine 25 May 2013 at 8:40 pm

I don’t think there’s much to that pH thing, but I’ll check with a couple of sources. The benefit of sticking within a single line of products is a certain amount of consistency and the assurance that every component works together without the potential for an oops. And you can still do that, use a collection of productions from one line, and augment with boosters from other brands. You’d have no problem with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, peptides or antioxidants. You’d need to be careful about retinol or glycolic acid if the family of products you were using also contained retinol or glycolic, though.

That said, every single product I use is from a different brand. *grin*


Gaelle 26 May 2013 at 5:18 am

Thanks a lot for your reply (and for correcting my spelling mistakes: I write with an IPAD and sometimes the auto correct gets mixed up between English and French)!

Personally, I get much too excited to try new brands and new products and I can’t stick to only one brand, but there’s a part of me that would like to. I often have the image of grown-up, elegant women being faithful to one brand of makeup, one perfume, … and on one hand I find this consistency attractive. But it’s also quite boring when I try to follow it.

I will definitely try to mix serums as you advice, though, because their consistency makes it easy to mix and match!


Ange 17 June 2013 at 1:51 pm

The first serum I ever used was Pure + simple’s Algae Serum – at the time I had no idea what the difference between serums and lotions and creams were – and my skin LOVED it. After that, I educated myself on serums, lotions and creams, and now, from time to time, I will try a different serum – the results were always the same: my problematic and finicky skin prefers the nourishing and calming effects of Pure + simple’s Algae Serum. I don’t think I will ever stop using it but now I know I can try cocktailing it. Thanks!


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