The art of layering your winter wardrobe:

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The art of layering your winter wardrobe:

It’s cold and brisk! Your skin has never felt more signs of wear and tear as it does during these harsh winter conditions.  Dehydration, dry flaky patches, and sensitive skin are on the rise.  Most of us slather on globs of thick, occlusive crème to remedy these skin nuisances.  Making a small investment in changing your winter skin care wardrobe will transform your skin from dull and parched to glowing, hydrated and comfortably moisturized.  The technique to get the most from your skin regimen is called “layering.”  Layering” creates the perfect recipe to feed your skin what it needs in the right amounts so ingredients are absorbed effectively; completing a comfortable winter wardrobe for your complexion…


Layering your products means applying them in a specific order one after the other as opposed to mixing them together at once or relying on a one specific cream that claims to “do it all.”  Unfortunately, a one step miracle in a jar doesn’t deliver the optimal results one would hope for.  There are different “active” ingredients in products; these active ingredients are the first three to four ingredients on a label.  An active ingredient means there is a concentrated amount of those ingredients in that specific formulation.  At concentrated amounts, these ingredients create the activity in the skin to accomplish its task whether it be calming, or purifying or hydrating etc.  The challenge is that not all active ingredients work best when combined together in a single formulation.  Some active ingredients penetrate better when combine in a certain base like a liquid, while other ingredients are delivered more efficiently through an gel, or cream base.


Having a comprehensive results-oriented home care program is like putting together the pieces of a puzzle.  Each component carefully fits together to create a whole picture.  Which pieces of the puzzle one needs for their goals is tricky and may require some trial and error.  Because no two persons skin is alike, each individual may require different ingredients in their “puzzle,” and therefore have a varying “winter wardrobe,” from the next.


Let’s start by outlining the steps in how to care for your skin and continue on to discuss how to apply your layers.  Cleansing, toning, and exfoliation are important preparation steps to create a clean, absorbent palette to accept the absorption of the next serums and creams to follow.  We will begin by cleansing.


Daily cleansing is step 1.  It is preferable to choose creamy, or milk cleansers for dry skin, and a hydrating gel cleanser for combination to oily skin.  Avoid bar soap, or harsh foaming cleansers that strip the skin of all natural moisture, and beware of the ingredient “sodium lauryl sulfate” that acts like a detergent on delicate skin.  Your skin should feel supple and soft after cleansing.  If it feels tight, this is a sign that you’re over stripping your skin.


Toning is an essential step that most people neglect.  Toning is one of the most important habits to practice; its purpose is to create balance in the skin.  When we cleanse the skin we are lowering the natural pH intentionally, in order to break down oils and grime in the pores.  A toner increases the pH of the skin, restoring it to its proper levels.


Exfoliation is an essential step in healthy, glowing skin.  Exfoliation via a mechanical or enzymatic product breaks down the dead, flaky skin cells that build up on the skin’s surface.  Our skin naturally exfoliates itself; known as “cell turnover.” Cell turnover is our own built-in exfoliation process that becomes sluggish with age; as early as our 20’s.  Old cells die and are sluggish making our skin look dull and flaky. Without exfoliation, these dead cells continue to collect, leaving our skin dry, dull and incapable of absorbing products.  It is essential to stimulate “cell turnover.”  Think of it as recycling skin cells; out with the old, facilitating the production of new cells.  By increasing cell turnover via exfoliation, our skin begins to function more efficiently.  Actually, our creams are unable to do much of anything, until the skin is well exfoliated and prepared for proper absorption.  Once our skin is well exfoliated, we may proceed to the “layering’ process to deliver our skin in proper doses what it needs.


Hydration is a key component in healthy skin.  A concern of many is their skin is tight.  “I drink tons of water,” is what most say, however they don’t realize that hydration is not only an inside out approach, but also an outside-in approach.  Water must be intentionally trapped into the skin cells and fill in the cracks in the cell membranes; preventing trans epidermal water loss which is evaporation of water from the skin.  Hyaluronic acid is the key ingredient responsible for accomplishing this task.  Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which draws water into the skin; in addition its molecule size is of low weight and can be absorbed into the cells, replenishing lost water.  This is a step in your skin care wardrobe that most people are not aware of.  This ingredient is typically found in a refreshing, clear, watery consistency serum.  A pea size should be dispensed into the palm of the hands and massaged into the skin in upward strokes until it disappears.  Application of twice a day will deliver optimal results and should be layered with other serums and a moisturizer.


Application of a topical antioxidant is like an anti-aging insurance policy for your skin.  Naturally, the environment outside such as pollution, and UV rays creates free radical production that alters our cells.  Free radicals damage the integrity of a once healthy cell, creating premature aging & wrinkling.  Free radical production is also responsible for the development of skin cancers.  Luckily, antioxidants are our savior.  When we apply an anti-oxidant rich serum to our skin, it acts as a repellant to free radicals and negates the damage that these cellular scavengers would cause.  There is a range of antioxidants on the market.  Vitamin C is a tried and true antioxidant.  Resveratrol & acai berries are another two powerful antioxidants.  An antioxidant serum is typically the applied after your toning step in the morning.  If you’re using a hydrator, read the label to see its recommendation.  Following, apply any day lotion or creams, and finish with a sunscreen, preferably a separate SPF 30 daily.


A product that creates “cell turnover” is recommended in the evening only.  Ingredients that exfoliate the skin at a cellular level to create turnover are retinols, and acids, AHA’s & BHA’s most commonly.  This layer is first applied after your toner in the PM ONLY.  Initially it is prescribed that this product be applied only 2-3 times a week, spaced apart in the beginning until the skin becomes acclimated to its potency.  Once applied, wait 20 minutes for absorption, and follow with a hydration serum layer, and finally a lotion or cream moisturizer.  Lotions and moisturizers are the “layer” that lock in all the other applied ingredients, and protect the skin and keep it soft.


A rule of thumb for layering is applying your products in the order based on their consistency.  Liquid substances should always be applied first, followed by gels, then lighter lotions, and then creams.  Sun blocks should always be applied as the last step in the “layering” process; but before any cosmetic foundations or powders.


Layering may seem tedious, and time consuming, however once understood and learned, it is a quick 1-2-3 quick fix to the many skin care conditions that one faces when putting on their daily skin care wardrobe.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing results from your efforts.



Michelle Kelly, owner of La Piele Spa would like the opportunity to consult with your skin care wardrobe, and help pair together the correct layers of your skin care puzzle to give the optimal reflection of healthy skin. To schedule your consultation, call us at 631-629-4334.  Our fee is $50, which may be applied directly towards skin care products or a skin service.

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