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

Satisfy your inner mixologist and super-charge your skincare at the same time. Create a cocktail of complexion-boosting ingredients for a brew more powerful than any one moisturizer.
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What? Layer serums? Why? How?

What? Layer serums? Why? How?

I 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 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. They're inert. Band-aids. Instead, your moisturizer on top will serve as a barrier to prevent serum goodness and hydration from evaporating from your skin.
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 – pronounced LEEZA – Herz 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?