skincare layering

Skincare Layering and Application 101: Daytime and Evening Routine for Women Over 50

Skincare Layering and Application 101

Daytime and Evening Routine for Women Over 50

skincare layering
Skincare Layering for woman over 50

As we age, our skin needs to change. Collagen and elastin production slows down, leading to fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of firmness. Skin also becomes drier as oil gland activity decreases. Additionally, age spots and discoloration appear more readily due to years of sun exposure.

While genetics plays a role, a proper skincare layering routine focused on layering products in the optimal order can help minimize and treat the visible signs of aging. Women over 50 can achieve healthy, youthful-looking skin by being strategic with ingredients and formulas. This article will provide an in-depth guide on skincare layering products properly for both day and night.

Story at a Glance:

  • Properly skincare layering products in the correct order maximize their effectiveness and absorption. Lighter, water-based products should go on before heavier creams and oils.
  • AM routine: Cleanse, chemical exfoliate, toner, antioxidant serum like vitamin C, peptides, moisturizer with SPF, eye cream.
  • PM routine: Double cleanse, chemical or physical exfoliant, antioxidant serum, retinoid, thicker moisturizer, eye cream, occlusive if needed.
  • For sensitive skin, introduce products slowly, avoid irritants like fragrance and alcohol, buffer retinoids with moisturizer, and use anti-inflammatory ingredients.
  • Women over 50 should focus on ingredients that counteract aging, like retinoids, vitamin C, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and sunscreen used properly in layered routines for smoother, more youthful skin.
  • Pay attention to how your skin responds, adjust products, and order accordingly over time. Patience and consistency are key.


The Basics of Skincare Layering

Skincare Layering products helps maximize their effectiveness. Rather than mixing everything together, you apply products from lightest to richest consistency. This allows key active ingredients to be absorbed fully before applying the next step.

Some basic guidelines for skincare layering:

Go from water-based to oil-based formulas. Oils can prevent water-based serums and treatments from penetrating optimally.

Active ingredients like vitamin C and retinoids should be applied before creams and oils to allow proper absorption.

Products meant to exfoliate chemically, like AHAs and BHAs, should be applied before heavy moisturizers, which can buffer their effects.

Hydrating toners and essences should be applied first after cleansing to boost the absorption of subsequent products.

Occlusives and petrolatum-based balms should go on last to seal everything in.

Sunscreen should be the final step before makeup in the AM to get complete UV protection.

Adjust product order based on what your skin needs most. For example, if using retinoids, they may go on first before anything else.

Daytime Skincare Layering

Here is a step-by-step guide to skincare layering your daytime skincare routine:

Sesderma Cyspera (optional)

Cyspera is a novel serum that works to stabilize retinoic acid activity. If using, apply 2-3 drops to clean dry skin up to an hour before your regular routine. This pre-treatment enhances retinoid absorption.


Start your routine by washing your face with a gentle cleanser. Opt for a gel, milk, or cream-based cleanser without sulfates, alcohol, or fragrance. Cleaners with antioxidants like vitamin C are also great for the AM.

Recommended: Agency by Curology, Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil, SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser, Paula’s Choice RESIST Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser


After cleansing, exfoliate to slough off dead skin cells. Doing so allows your other products to penetrate better. You can use a physical scrub with beads 1-3 times a week or a chemical exfoliant like an AHA/BHA product daily. Another option is a cleansing brush device for physical exfoliation.

Recommended: Cure Aqua Gel Gentle Exfoliator, Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, NeoStrata Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Lotion 10%


Follow cleansing and exfoliating with an alcohol-free toner or essence. These provide an extra layer of hydration while removing any last traces of dirt, oil, or impurities. Look for formulas with antioxidants skin-soothers like green tea or hyaluronic acid.

Recommended: Cosmedix Purity Solution Nourishing Oil Balm, SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Gel

Antioxidant Serum

Serums with antioxidants help neutralize the free radicals that cause accelerated skin aging. Apply antioxidant serums early in your routine since active ingredients degrade when exposed to light and air. Vitamin C is ideal for the AM. Others, like niacinamide, can be used morning or night.

Recommended: Timeless Skin Care Vitamin C Plus E 20, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster.

Acid exfoliants

Light chemical exfoliants like lactic acid or willow bark extract can be used in the morning several times a week. Start with lower percentages, around 5%, to avoid irritation when layering with other actives. Using acids helps keep skin smooth and boosts collagen production.

Recommended: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Intensive Peel, Maelove Moonlight Retinal Serum

Peptides/Growth Factors

Peptide serums help stimulate collagen and elastin synthesis to reduce wrinkles and increase firmness. Growth factors like Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) also help with cellular renewal and regeneration.

Recommended: Neocutis BioSerum Firm, SkinMedica T.N.S. Essential Serum

Retinol (low percentage)

While prescription-strength retinoids are best for the night, low percentages of OTC retinol formulas are acceptable for the day. Look for encapsulated retinol around 0.25-0.5% or retinaldehyde options, which are gentler. Slowly introduce AM retinol 2-3 times a week first.

Recommended: Verso Super Facial Oil, Murad Rapid Retinol Eye Renewal Triple-Action Eye Cream


After water-based serums, finish with a moisturizer ideally containing broad spectrum SPF 30+. For additional hydration, layer a hyaluronic acid serum underneath. Make sure to apply enough sunscreen to get labeled SPF protection.

Recommended: EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, SkinCeuticals Daily Moisture + SPF 50 Sunscreen

Eye Cream

Use a separate eye cream with SPF daily to prevent fine lines and collagen breakdown around the delicate eye area. Look for lightweight gels or creams containing antioxidants.

Recommended: SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50, ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Ultralight Emulsion SPF 50+

Evening Skincare Layering

Your evening routine focuses on repairing skin damage sustained during the day and applying treatments too strong for daytime use. Here are the nighttime layering steps:

Sesderma Cyspera (optional)

As in the morning, apply Cyspera before cleansing for added retinoid benefits.

Double Cleanse

Always double cleanse in the evening to remove sunscreen, makeup, and grime built up during the day. Start with an oil or balm cleanser to melt everything away. Follow with your regular water-based cleanser to wash residue away.

Recommended: Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm, Paula’s Choice Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser


After cleansing, use a physical scrub or chemical exfoliant before heavier moisturizers. Focus on chemical exfoliants like retinoids, AHAs, and BHAs at night when sun exposure isn’t a concern. You can also use cleansing devices or towels for physical exfoliation a few times weekly.

Recommended: SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream, NeoStrata Resurface Glycolic Skin Renewal Peel

Antioxidant Serum

While vitamin C is best for the day, other antioxidant serums are beneficial in the evening. Look for formulas containing green tea, coenzyme Q10, resveratrol, vitamin E, and ferulic acid to neutralize free radicals post-cleansing.

Recommended: SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Repair Cream


Prescription retinoids like tretinoin and tazarotene are the gold-standard anti-aging ingredients and work best at night. OTC retinol is an alternative if the skin can tolerate it. Introduce slowly 2-3 times a week, applying after water-based products but before moisturizers. Monitor for dryness and irritation.

Recommended: Agency by Curology, Altreno Lotion 0.05% tretinoin, SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream

Hydrating Serum

Hydration is key when using retinoids to counter dryness and peeling. Layer a hyaluronic acid serum before retinoids, or use lighter moisturizers first. You can also “buffer” retinoids by applying moisturizer before and after to dilute effects until the skin acclimates.

Recommended: Timeless Coenzyme Q10 Serum, SkinCeuticals HA Intensifier, First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum

Thicker Moisturizer

After serums, apply a richer night cream or mask to hydrate and nourish skin overnight. Look for omega fatty acids, ceramides, and anti-inflammatory ingredients like colloidal oatmeal. You can also mix in a few drops of facial oil.

Recommended: Oneskin, Agency by Curology Skincare, SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore Cream, Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer, Agency by Curology

Eye Cream

Finish with a nourishing eye cream suited for nighttime. Look for peptides, retinol, and antioxidants to treat fine lines while combatting puffiness and dark circles. Using a separate eye cream ensures you get this delicate area.

Recommended: SkinCeuticals AGE Eye Complex, RoC Retinol Correxion Anti-Aging Eye Cream

Occlusive (optional)

If you have dehydrated skin, finish with an occlusive layer like petroleum jelly or a thick balm to seal in moisture and prevent transepidermal water loss. Occlusives are usually too heavy for daytime under makeup.

Recommended: Aquaphor Healing Ointment, La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm B5

Tips for Sensitive Skin

If you have sensitive skin, introduce new products slowly and observe for any irritation. Here are some extra tips:

Avoid fragrance, alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, and citrus oils, which can trigger sensitivity. Focus on gentle formulas without soap, sulfate foaming agents, or harsh surfactants.

Do a patch test before using new acids, retinoids, or necessary prescription treatments.

Reduce exfoliating to 1-2 times a week and use lower acid percentages

Always use sunscreen if using retinoids or acids to avoid photosensitivity

Apply moisturizer first to buffer prescription retinoids like tretinoin and tazarotene.

Opt for lower OTC retinol strengths around 0.25% to start

Pay attention to product order – apply retinoids and acids before creams to avoid dilution

Use anti-inflammatory ingredients like niacinamide, green tea, aloe, chamomile, and colloidal oatmeal.

Avoid combining multiple acids or irritants together in the same routine.

Drink plenty of water, limit alcohol, and protect your skin from extreme weather.

By slowly introducing new anti-aging products one at a time and being diligent about layering routines properly, women over 50 can achieve healthy, youthful skin that minimizes fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and dryness.

Be patient, pay attention to your skin’s needs, and adjust your regimen accordingly. With trial and error, you can discover your perfect mix of science-backed ingredients to turn back the clock.


Proper skincare layering of effective ingredients is key to maximizing anti-aging skincare benefits. By following the daytime and evening routines outlined, and layering your skincare products, women over 50 can counteract visible signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, and uneven texture. Using vitamin C, retinoids, peptides, antioxidants, hydrating serums, and sunscreen in the optimal layered order allows for enhanced absorption and performance. 

Adjust products based on your skin’s needs and introduce new actives slowly. With a consistent, personalized regimen focused on evidence-based ingredients, mature skin can look visibly smoother, firmer, and more youthful regardless of age. Implementing the right layered skincare routine can help maintain healthier, younger-looking skin for decades.