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Whether your skincare routine leans minimalist or maximalist, there’s a precise science to layering your products in the correct order. No matter how many products you use or how effective your active ingredients are, they can’t do their job correctly if you’re not paying attention to the process. To encourage formulas to penetrate at the deepest levels of your skin, they need to have a clear route to their destination.  

Intentional skincare layering is essential to getting the most beneficial absorption out of each step—something Tata always pays careful attention to, no matter the season. Inspired by the early childhood lessons her grandmother and mother taught her on the power of routines, she applies the same philosophy to her beauty routine by building an ‘elevator’ of active ingredients in her skin, step by step.

To show you exactly how it’s done, we’re sharing Tata’s current summer skincare routine and teaching you how to properly layer every single product. Read on for her maximalist warm-weather ritual.

Step One: Cleanser

Cleansing may seem like a throwaway step in your routine, but it’s actually the highly underestimated foundation to achieving healthy skin. When you use overly harsh cleansers, you’ll notice that your skin feels tight as your natural barrier function becomes compromised and loses hydration. Avoid this by choosing treatment cleansers specifically suited to your skin type. 

In the summer, Tata always starts her skincare routine with our Purifying Cleanser, a daily detox that washes away impurities, dissolves buildup, and clears pores. The refreshing gel-to-oil formula is made with our Purple Clay Complex, pomegranate enzymes, and white willow bark for a renewed, fresh-looking complexion. Avoid wetting your face before applying your cleanser. “Water dilutes the potency of formulas, so always apply your cleanser onto dry skin to get the best results,” says Tata.

  1. Purifying Cleanser
    Purifying Cleanser

    Pore Detox Cleanser

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Step Two: Essence

  1. Concentrated Brightening Essence
    Concentrated Brightening Essence

    Dark Spot Corrector

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Once your face is cleansed and fresh, you can start layering on the rest of your products, starting with essence.

“Essence is the first layer because it’s like the skincare elevator that helps the rest of your products penetrate deeper,” says Tata. Her current formula of choice is our Concentrated Brightening Essence, a booster that promotes cell turnover, evens skin tone, and hydrates. It’s packed with 33 high-performance ingredients like caviar lime and fermented sugar peptides, all chosen to target texture and hyperpigmentation for an illuminated, even-looking complexion.

Essence should always make your skin feel a little wet; this helps soup up your serums and maximize their results. Saturate your face with 1-2 pumps and don’t forget to cover your neck, too.

Step Three: Serum

Move quickly for this next step to preserve optimal moisture levels. Tata always applies her serum while her face is still damp from her essence application for better absorption. Right now, she’s reaching for our Rejuvenating Serum daily. It’s a do-it-all anti-aging treatment designed to smooth wrinkles, brighten, firm, and plump. The award-winning formula contains winged kelp, sea fern, and microalgae carotenoids for supple skin.

When it comes to choosing your serums, consistency is key. The same formula applied daily over a period of time will always give you better results than cycling through several different serums in a short time frame.

  1. Rejuvenating Serum
    Rejuvenating Serum 2.0 - 50ML

    intensive age defense

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Step Four: Eye Treatment

  1. Elixir Vitae Eye Serum
    Elixir Vitae Eye Serum

    Ultimate Wrinkle Solution

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The delicate skin around your eyes is one of the first areas on your face to show signs of aging. Counteract this with a daily eye treatment like our Elixir Vitae Eye Serum, packed with 63 high-performance ingredients to target deep wrinkles and under-eye bags. Tata loves this hyper-potent formula for its ability to fill the look of wrinkles, restore volume, and brighten the look of dark circles. 

To add a micro moment of happiness to her routine, Tata loves doing a quick eye massage as she applies this eye serum. Pump a small amount onto your ring finger, then gently press it in going 5x clockwise and 5x counterclockwise around your eye.

Step Five: Moisturizer

Once she’s applied her anti-aging actives, Tata always layers on a moisturizer to give her skin a plumped effect at the surface level. Moisturizers also let the actives beneath go to work treating wrinkles and boosting collagen more effectively. When the weather’s warm, there’s nothing better than our Repairative Moisturizer, a silky lightweight hydrator that hydrates, plumps, and smooths with hyaluronic acid for a dewy finish.

The same wisdom applies here as with your essence and serum: Don’t forget to cover your neck, too. “The neck is an area that a lot of people forget about, but it needs some TLC,” says Tata.

  1. Repairative Moisturizer
    Repairative Moisturizer

    Anti-Aging Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer

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Step Six: Face Oil

  1. Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil
    Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil - 30ML

    Vitamin A Natural Retinol Face Oil

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One of the most common skincare layering mistakes we see is applying face oils too early in your routine. “Oils can penetrate everything, but not everything can penetrate oil—that’s why it should always be your last step to seal in all of your skincare,” says Tata. Applied too early, it can prevent the active ingredients in your other products from working effectively. Applied as a finishing touch, it creates a protective layer that helps everything beneath do its job.

If you’re worried that a face oil will feel too heavy for summer skincare, try Tata’s favorite: our Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil. A few drops of this lightweight, youth-giving face oil will impart just the right amount of breathable glow for you to look illuminated, never greasy. The supercharged anti-aging formula contains vitamin A from rosehip to regenerate and rejuvenate your complexion. It even helps control breakouts and excess sebum, making it the perfect finishing touch.

During the day, don’t forget to add your favorite sunscreen to protect from UV rays. Six steps, one set order, and your healthiest, glowiest skin. Still have questions about Tata’s summer skincare routine or tailoring these steps to your skin type? Book a complimentary session with our Skincare Concierge for personalized expert advice and get layering.

Author Bio: Tata Harper Journal contributor Sarah Y. Wu has a decade of experience in the industry as a beauty editor, copy director, and brand consultant. Her bylines have appeared in outlets including Teen Vogue, Forbes, Glamour, WWD, and Byrdie. She also copywrites for some of your favorite skincare, fragrance, and makeup brands. While she’s tried thousands of products over the course of her career, she’ll always save a spot in her beauty routine for Tata Harper’s Elixir Vitae and Aromatic Bedtime Treatment. Connect with her on Instagram @say.wu.