Video: Layering


Serum, oil, eye cream, night cream, moisturiser, sunblock, toner, kitchen sink. Sali explains WTF goes where and when.


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  • Alkistis

    Thank you, Sali! Great video and really helpful to have a clear list to refer to.

  • Lorna

    Hi Sali, I really enjoyed this video. I am using ole henriksen nurture me creme for rosacea. I was wondering if I can use a serum as well. It’s sooo confusing! Hope you answer this for me. Thanks

    • Sali Hughes

      Sure you can. I’d choose a rerun to further tackle your redness. Perhaps Avene?

      • Sali Hughes

        Serum not rerun. Autocorrect woe.

  • Flojo Gtl

    Wow we are being spoiled with videos today. Really great stuff Sali and timely given the current debates on layering in the forum. Great to see that we are mostly getting it right!

  • Ruby Scarlett

    Love it! Thanks Sali.

  • lillylilly

    lovely, thanks!

  • Lisa Papadogeorgaki

    Always looking forward to your videos, this one and the other one (The Guardian), so great and helpful, thank you!

  • lauraday

    Great video, Sali! I am keen to start using a serum but fear a breakout as I usually always have spotty skin. I was using a No7 one for a while last year but was suffering with more spots. Any suggestions for one that is good for combination skin? Also, where do I put blemish treatment on in all of this?!

    • Sali Hughes

      Hard to recommend something specifically as I’m not sure what your skincare concerns are, but lots of serums are completely oil free so it shouldn’t be an issue. Check the bottle for oil in the ingredients list and avoid any that include it.

  • Martina O’Kane

    Brillant video Sali! Thanks!

  • RachelB

    how long do you leave it between in step, i never know if products need time to absorb? I use benzoyl peroxide (effaclar duo) in the morning and a retinoid (differin) for acne at night, can i put serum over these after?

    • Sali Hughes

      I just give it a couple of moments – no need to fanny around.
      As for your second question, I’d need to know which products you are using and their formulation. But I would apply most retinoid creams after serum, provided it was a fine texture serum containing no oils or silicones.

      • RachelB

        thank you for taking the time to reply, really appreciated. I have learnt so much from your columns, FB group and this site. x

      • LoisM

        Hi Sali
        I sometimes use Dr Brandt Overnight Resurfacing serum with 2% retinol. I have dry/combination skin – was trying this product to unblock pores on my chin/nose. Should I also use a hydrating serum underneath for my cheeks? And then night cream on top?

  • Jinni

    Hi Sali, Thanks for the super helpful video – just wondering why it’s not a good idea to use facial oil in the day? That’s all I use and now I’m wondering what I’m doing to my skin!! Thanks, Jinni

    • Sali Hughes

      Wearing facial oil in the day does you no harm. It’s perfectly fine. The reason I don’t recommend it is that it doesn’t provide a good base for make-up, in my experience. Facial oil can cause foundation to streak, not stay on well and in some cases even change its colour. Primer over an oil can be a disaster too. I also find oil can become too greasy feeling in warm weather, causing make-up and sunblock to slide, and skin to become super-shiny. I find serum to be much more day-friendly for all these reasons. I use serum in the morning and oil in the nighttime.
      But if none of these issues apply to you, then go for it. You’re doing no harm to your skin. I just find the texture lends itself much better to bedtime use when make-up and sun protection isn’t an issue.
      Hope this makes sense.

  • Lopo

    Thank you so much. Loving the new site!!

  • mimi smith

    Thanks Sali I love your videos and so pleased to know I am doing it right. x

  • Ava

    Hi Sali- great video as always!
    I have recently bought the Shiseido suncream, which i love, so have been using that instead of a day cream. But if I’m also using Clinique CC cream should i be applying the suncream before (which I’m currently doing), or after? I have quite dehydrated skin, so think i need some form of moisture before the CC cream, or should serum be enough?

    • Sali Hughes

      I would do:


      Anything with a tint should go on last, as putting further skincare over the top will just make it streak. Also, Clinique CC has a high sun protection anyway, so you still have protection on the surface. I would be amazed if you need further moisture between the sunblock and CC, even if you are very dehydrated (as I am).

      • Ava

        All completely clear now, thanks for replying x

  • Mariella (Musing on Beauty)

    Sali, a question we were discussing on the forum: if you use VitaZings and a separate sunblock, in which order would you put them on? Technically, VitaZing is a moisturizer so would go first, but given it gives some color, putting on SPF on top seems weird… What do you say?

    • Sali Hughes

      If wearing both, I would always apply the block first, then the Vitazing.

      I would do:

      SERUM – SUNBLOCK – Vitazing

      Anything with a tint should go on last, as putting further skincare over the top will just make it streak. Also, Vitazing has a sun protection anyway, so you still have protection on the surface.


  • Alice

    Hi Sali, where would spot treatments fit in? Should cream/oil etc go over the spot and treatment product or keep the area dry?

    • Sarah_004

      Second request for where the spot treatment stage is please Sali. Incredibly useful video as ever.

      • Sali Hughes

        See above. xx

    • Sali Hughes

      As I say above, I’d apply the spot gel straight after serum then avoid those areas when it comes to applying moisturiser afterwards. If you have an oil free moisturiser then the avoidance is less important. x

  • picolin

    I change the routine depends on seasons. Spring/Summer: cleanse+serum+sunblock+TM in the morning, cleanse+serum+oil in the evening. Autumn/Winter: swap sunblock with moisturiser with SPF in the morning and add night cream after oil in the evening.

  • Ellie Mathews

    Hi Sali. Where in the routine would you reccomend applying spot gels/treatments? I am 21 and am still plagued with spots after several acne treatments from the doctor. My skin changes regularly from dry to oily to dehydrated then very oily then very dry. I react to skincare products really often, especially if the product has nuts in (as I am allergic to them). I hope you can help. Thanks x

    • Sali Hughes

      It really depends what treatments you’re talking about. But as for blemish gels, I would apply after serum, then avoid those areas when applying moisturiser. Sx

  • MonikasMirror

    Hi Sali, thank you ever so much for that video, extremely useful. I have a question about products of the ‘barrier repair’ type, like the Ultracalming barrier repair from Dermalogica and Orginis’ Skin Guardian. They are supposed to protect your skin and also prime it, and according to the manufacturers they go under your moisturizer. What are your thoughts on that? Thanks Sali

    • Sali Hughes

      Column on these coming soon. x

      • MonikasMirror

        I look forward to the column! Thanks Sali x

  • Fi Nightingale

    Sali has told me how to do this a million times, yet each time I get something new, I still have to ask which step it is #autumnleaves

  • Rooty Tooty

    So helpful thank you. I’m currently doing cleanse, serum , Cane + Austin sunblock and then VitaZings in the morning. I’m pretty confident this is the right order and combination for me on a sunny day when I’m out and about. The Cane + Austin is the first sunblock that has never made my face feel uncomfortable or break out so Thank You. I am going to put a question about night time serum on the forum as well. I need some recommendations that aren’t ANR. Thanks again.

  • HandCream

    Love it! Love it! Oh and Love it!

  • Jane Porter

    I think it has finally sunk in and I know what to do at last! Thank you. Amazingly, I put most things on in the right order but didn’t realise you could layer serum then oil.

  • Bobble

    Thank you! Very helpful x

  • Yvonne Sutherland

    Super helpful video as always!

  • EF

    I love you, but please don’t say ‘thanks for logging on’. We’re not ‘logging on’ to your website, we’re visiting it. ‘Logging on’ is when you sign in using authentication, e.g. username and password. ‘Log on to our website’ is often used as an example of silly things that non-tech-savvy old media types say. (I don’t think that’s what you are at all! But that is definitely the cliche you’re fulfilling here.)

    This has been a no-no for a while; here are some posts from 8-12 years ago mentioning it:

    • tootifrooti

      Does it really matter? Besides, if you’re logging on to use the forum part of this website, which I believe requires a username and password, then technically you’ve logged on. Anyway, life’s too short to worry about the specific use of certain words, surely? Great video as usual Sali. I always get confused about when I should be applying sunscreen (before/after foundation?) so thanks a lot for clearing that up :)

    • Sali Hughes

      My videos are unscripted and I have to think on my feet. I prefer them to be and sound spontaneous, but the side effect of this is that sometimes I say the wrong thing. It happens. I’ll live with it. Don’t really want to get bogged down in semantics. I hope you understand.

    • mrs doyle

      If that’s the main thing that you took away from this video then I’m not really sure you are the target audience for this type of thing

  • Jo Candice Marie

    I’m so glad I logged on to look at this today, been wondering about
    SPF/Serum and what way was best to wear them. I haven’t been able to log
    on to SHB in a week or so (or is it 8-12 years?) as I’ve been on hols
    but I’m really pleased to be able to be logging on again to see all this
    great shizzle. *logs off*

  • Suzanne

    Brilliant! I’ve being doing my primer wrong, so grateful for this.

  • Tessa

    Thanks Sali! Interesting to know that you can use your usual moisturiser as eye cream. I have very dry skin also, so may try this. Great video.

  • Jo

    Hi Sali

    Do you not recommend a gentle daily exfoliate? For example, an exfoliating toner or serum at night? Or do you do this more on a weekly basis?

    Thanks :)

    • Sali Hughes

      This totally depends on what you are doing to exfoliate in your daily routine. Ie. If you are using a hot flannel or muslin, you just won’t need to exfoliate as regularly as if you’re not, as the buffing motion of the cloth removes dead skin.
      If you want to use an exfoliating toner, then do this AFTER cleansing and BEFORE serum. If you are doing a weekly or twice weekly scrub/acid/pad/other exfoliant, then again, do this after cleansing but before serum. This does depend on the product however, as some are designed to work overnight. In this instance, I would apply it after cleansing, then moisturise around the eyes only, then go to bed. If you want to do this but have dry skin, then choose an overnight exfoliant with a creamy base, like Clinique’s Turnaround.
      Sali x

  • Katie

    Thank you! Can you tell me where sunblock goes please? On QVC last night they said sunblock needed to ‘bond’ direct with skin?!? Sure serum must be first but wanted to check!

    • Sali Hughes

      After serum. Sx

    • Sali Hughes

      Serum first, then sunblock. x

  • Aneres

    Thanks for the video. Very useful as usual. Although I’ve been using products in the correct order (pure luck more than expertise) I have just been slapping them on so it was good to hear that I need to massage the serum in etc. Will be trying that today before bed.

  • Kat Staniforth

    Loved your video. I’ve never bought a serum but I have samples from other purchases. I’ve never known when to use them and they’ve sat sadly at the back of a cupboard. But no longer are they in the shadows and I have the joy of trying them all out before committing to one. Thank you.

  • Beklet

    That glowing, dewy look; like you’ve been smeared with Vaseline. How do you do that? Is it primer or a highlighter?

    • Sali Hughes

      I might need to see a picture, as there are degrees of dewiness and each is obtained with different products – sometimes illuminator, other times face gloss, sometimes just rich moisturiser, and so on…

      • Beklet

        Sorry, I meant in this video. I should have been more clear. Your skin seems to gleam.

        Thank you for taking time to answer so many questions

        D xx

        • Sali Hughes

          Aha! Sorry. In this video I am wearing Laura Mercier Radiance primer, Suqqu cream foundation, Nars Radiance Concealer, By Terry Touche Veloutee, Clarins Mineral face powder, Aerin Illuminating bronzing powder. No gloss, Vaseline or Illuminator.
          I look after my skin. But the Radiance primer helps A LOT if you are prone to dullness, as I am.

  • Emily

    Hi Sali, thank you for a wonderful video. Whilst I already apply in this order I was wondering how much time you should leave between serum and oil or moisturiser? Is it simply a case of applying one immediately after the other? Or is it preferable to allow a minute or so between serum/oil and oil/moisturiser? For reference I have dry/dehydrated skin.
    Thank you so much.

    • Sali Hughes

      I leave a few moments – perhaps 30 secs, or until my serum feels well absorbed. If you massage your serum in well, then this should not take long at all.

  • Stefanie

    Dear Sali, thank you for your amazing video! In the video you said that you don´t use any special eye cream or eye serum. Do you think eye creams and eye serums are useless? I´m asking, because I use a lot of eye creams and I don´t know now if this is necessary ? Thank you very much for your help.

    • Sali Hughes

      No, eye creams and serums are great if normal moisturisers make your eye area puffy, which is common in oily skins. If this doesn’t happen to you, then just use your regular anti ageing moisturiser around your eyes.

      • disqus_g1msyLrZzt

        This is so helpful Sali. I had always thought of it the other way round, i.e. that because my skin, particularly under my eyes, is very dehydrated and dry I really needed eye cream. I have dark circles too so cling to the hope that eye cream may help but might just stick to concealer! Thanks, Elizabeth x

  • Katka

    Hello, I’m thinking of buying Ren ClearCalm Night Serum. Does anyone know if it’s ok to use this product during the day as well? Or is it too strong to use twice a day?

    • Sali Hughes

      No, I would use it only at night. Sx

  • Emma Law

    Great video, as ever. Glad to hear I’ve been getting the order right, but so useful to know where that new sunscreen slots in.

    Also, Sali where is your dress from? :)

    • Sali Hughes

      Dress is from Anthropologie. Sx

  • Maria

    Hi Sali, great video as always! Do you have any recommendations for a serum for relatively young skin (early to mid 20s)? My skin tends to dry and I like the idea of having another line of defence as well as moisturiser, but I’m not sure if the traditional anti age products would be suitable. Love the site, thanks again.

    • Sali Hughes

      I really like L’Oreal Laser Renew. It’s not too expensive and is lovely and hydrating without being at all greasy.

  • Kelsey A.

    Hi Sali,
    Love your videos. Here’s my question. I don’t like foundation, its too heavy on my skin, so I use a tinted moisturizer with SPF in. I also have oily skin so I’ve taken to using a primer in between my serum and my tinted moisturizer cause I find it helps it stay put. Am I losing all the benefit from my moisturizer or hurting the benefits from my serum by doing so? Thanks Sali! You have such a great take on the whole make-up/skincare adventure and how fun it can be!


    • Sali Hughes

      No, this is absolutely fine. As you’re oily, the serum is obviously keeping your skin comfy enough, and the TM is giving you some sun protection. Remember that it won’t be adequate for prolonged periods in the sun though – you will need a sunblock for that.

  • sonya

    what about chemical exfoliants like products with glycolic acid or retin a?

    • Sali Hughes

      See above.

  • Jen

    Hi Sali, thanks for the great video. Just one question, I recently bought Kiehls dark spot corrector for some small areas of pigmentation on my face. Should this go on first before serum or after? Thanks!

    • Sali Hughes

      I would put that on under serum so it’s closest to the surface of your skin.

  • Jo Wolfie

    Loved this video! So, so helpful. Thanks Sali!

  • Martha

    Thanks for the video! I am 16 and at the moment just use Neutrogena oil free moisturiser and when it’s dry/sunk in, a bit of No7 foundation over. I have combination skin, would you recommend me buying a serum and a primer? I was also wondering if you rate Topshop’s Magic Liner in Engraved? (they have discontinued the KOHL you recommended in your Guardian column a while ago).

  • Prudence Manor

    Hi Sali, many thanks for the video, it’s a delight to watch. I am using Clarins Radiance Plus Golden Glow Cream Gel, which has a cream consistency. I have been rubbing it in directly after cleansing, trying to leave it a few mins then a layer of moisturiser as my skin is dry. I like it, it’s a fake tan, but I am not orange, def more radiant than usual! Is this correct? Have you tried it? I know you love Clarins but not heard anyone mention this product

  • AbiGailForce

    Hey Sali, loved the video! My wee question is, why you are so against toner when the likes of Caroline Hirons swears by it? I hear the whole ‘use toner to help your moisturiser really soak into your skin’ line a LOT.

    • Sali Hughes

      I love Caroline. I just happen to disagree on toner. If you use a liquid exfoliant (looks the same as toner, see my column on these), then it’s doing something. But I am unconvinced that floral/plant infused water does anything whatsoever in aiding the efficacy of moisturiser. I simply don’t see how it can.

  • JulieB

    Great video, thank you Sali. Good to know I have been using products in the correct order, but I didn’t know about how best to apply a serum – I will pay more attention to blending this in. My skin thanks you for recommending ANR which I use at night time and the new Clarins serum for day time.

  • Isabel Necessary

    Thank you. I finally ‘get’ serums. Put one on to take care of the basics and then add whatever else you feel your face needs that day. I love it. So simple. Just bought the Aldi one as I am skinto

  • Carrie

    Hi Sali, I am so grateful for this video. Thank you so much! I have a quick question about sunblock. I read your Guardian column about this, and am interested in purchasing one for days where I will be outside a lot. I have an oily t-zone, and normal everywhere else (except dryness around my mouth and eyes). I would like a sunblock that moisturizes enough (without being oily), so that I could skip a separate moisturizer (as you said you do with the Givenchy one). I was leaning toward the Estee Lauder one that you recommended. Would this one bee good, or something else?

  • Irit

    Hi Sali, love the video! I have been using serum every night after I clean my face (Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair) but I only use serum and nothing else. Will it still work?

  • Becky

    Hi Sali,

    I get terribly confused with serums. Having had good reports about Vitamin C, hyalauronic , glyluronic and mimox serums (to name but a few ) How on earth does one decide ?!! — which ones do you rate? And if you want to use more than one, do you alternate morning and night? Please Help!

    • Coolchik

      Im with @Becky on this. Im also overwhelmed by the various brands and specifications…. Please can you shed some light on how to pick one that will tick all the boxes…
      thanks in advance

  • Lucie

    This is something I wish I had seen years ago. Thanks Sali! One question. Really interested to hear that serum does more for your skin than moisturiser. I didn’t realise and normally did t bother with serum. So what I am wondering is do you think you should spend more on a good serum and then just get an average moisturiser?

  • Ellabiker

    Gosh I had missed this! As helpful as ever, thank you. A quick one though: I use both Clinique’s even better and ADR at night, so which of the two should I wear first? I then follow all with oil. Thank you!

  • katiekoo

    i know you said you dont like toners, does this include exfoliating ones? what is your opinion on liquid gold?xxxxx

  • Katem


    I used Avene Thermale Anti-Redness cream as a moisturiser (you recommended this in the Guardian and it works amazingly for me – thanks). Can it be used on the eyes as well?

  • Menina_do_monte

    Hi Sali! Thanks for a another great and instructive video.
    Teresa, a fan from Germany

  • riona

    CC creams. I love the idea but wonder about the application. I love the clinique one cos it’s factor 30. But it’s a well known fact that we rarely use enough sunscreen for it to be fully effective. However, using make-up, less is quite often more. . So does that mean that what we think of as factor 30 s more lke 20 and below.?

  • alex monteny

    I have a question, probably too late, but I’ll try anyway. I have melasma, and a dermatoligist has given me a prescription cream full of hydroquinone, which I use in the evenings on the dark spots. Do I use this before serum and oil/nightcream, or after the serum? Or du I use nothing else on those spots, that could interfere with the working of the hydraquinone?

  • Annelie Karlsson

    I’ve just caught up on this – great video and definitely cleared up some confusions for me! I’ve been putting the oil on first, then serum, so will do it the other way round from now on.

  • Victoria

    Hi Sali, such a useful video! I sometimes use Beauty Flash Balm – where do you see this and other illuminating creams fitting in to the daily skincare routine?

  • Andrew James

    I love this video i think Layering is such an important thing that a lot of people dont do even with makeup layering helps to keep the product on a lot longer but not many people know that

  • ElisabethOB

    Hi Sali – I use a powdered bronzer, but find it sits rather like liquid mud if I use it after a moisturiser – even after waiting half an hour or so after moisturising. Any suggestions?

  • Amy Rushton

    Hi Sali – really helpful video. I tried serums after your beauty column in November – as I’m on a budget, I tried Boots’ No 7 Protect and Perfect. It has truly transformed my skin! I’m v much a combination-on-the-slippery-side-of-oily and it v quickly helped to smooth the overall texture and balance the oiliness. However, I didn’t realise that it’s best to massage serum into the face so it’s good job I watched the tutorial! Hitherto, I’ve been skimming it over the skin. Let’s see how a change in technique may further transform my skin! A xx

  • MonikasMirror

    H Sali. I have just read an article in the June edition of Allure magazine about facial oils. They say that you should apply moisturizer before facial oil, as oil can penetrate the cream but not the other way around. Also, I have read that Dr Neal Schulz from DermaTV recommends putting sunscreen before moisturizer as “Sunscreen molecules must align and orientate parallel to each other, creating a grid that absorbs UV energy” and creams can interfere with this grid. What are your thoughts on that? Thank you

  • sarah chalmers

    Hi Sali,

    Thanks so much for this, at 40 I’m faintly new to this beauty lark. but have severe “genetic” roseacea.
    My comfort and everything product is Aveena daily calming moisturiser (from the Baumann book as recommened in the Caitlim Moran video at the start).

    Many thanks for that. It helps, a lot.

    Great site.

  • Una

    Love love your advice about layering.I was totally confused until I watched your video.By the way your skin is gorgeous.

  • Claudia

    Love your video! Before bed, I cleanse, serum (Estée Lauder ANR), moisturizer (either La Mer or Dermalogical night). I have a bottle of Dr. Brandt Glow night resurfacing, can I laye that along with my current serum? Which would go on first?

  • Laurence

    Hi Sali, I would be interested to know why “a toner doesn’t do anything for your skin”?

  • Emily Cooter

    Thanks so much for this, Sali – so helpful. Particularly pleased to hear that it’s ok to have a ‘can’t be arsed’ attitude to eye creams, hurrah!

  • Pinecone

    I like facial oil at night. I use Nuxe. But, Sali, is often get mixed up at night. Is it ok to put on oil after moisturizer?

  • lula tallula

    This is a really useful video – so wish I’d seen it earlier! I am in my mid forties and have a fairly pale east asian skin tone with no wrinkles yet! However I have noticed brown age spots developing and was wondering where you would apply dark spot lighteners/brighteners? Would these go after your serum immediately before moisturiser? Thank you for any advice x

  • Charlotte

    Hi Sali. I love your website & book, thank you so much for all of your help! After reading your article yesterday re retinols I just wondered where Indeed Labs Retinol Reface would go in my routine? Many thanks, Charlotte

  • Marilou Marilou

    Hi Sali what are the specific products you mentioned on this video I love to try it ?

  • shada

    Hi Sali
    thanks for the tutorial, really great tips and advice.
    I’ve recently bought Hyalouric Acid 2% +B5, Advanced Retinoid 2% and Vit C 23% + HA spheres.
    I don’t use serum (unless one of these is classed as that? Bit confused on that one), so I believe the morning routine for me is cleanse, moisture (Hyaluronic) or suncream (if I’m going out) and then primer/makeup. And the evening is cleanse, hyaluronic and then oil.
    I think the retinoid and vit C are evening applications, but I’m not sure in what order? Could you advise please? thanks, Shada

    • Keily G

      I’d love to know this too! :)

  • Amy

    Hi Sali – This is so helpful! Where would you recommend slotting in Mirvaso gel in the morning routine? My dermatologist has just prescribed that to me to help reduce rosacea redness. I haven’t started using it yet.

    Can you recommend a good SPF 50 moisturizer that doesn’t leave white dusty look on skin or rolls up in little white bits when I rub it on? Dermatologist recommended Anthelios XL Roche Posay but it does that on my dry skin unfortunately.

    I love Liz Earle hot cloth cleanser but have to avoid hot cloth cleansing with rosacea apparently. Boo.

    Thanks Sali – great video. x

  • Lesley McIntyre

    Thanks for this Sali, sooo useful :-) Should I use an exfoliating toner after the cleansing and before the serum?

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