Beauty: Layer Your Skincare So Your Skin Can Feast on Moisture, by Kristen Ma

When it comes to skincare, most people have been taught to follow the classic three step program: Cleanse, Tone, and Moisturize. We’ve also been taught to switch to heavier creams come wintertime. Of course this can work for those with pretty hydrated skin… but, most people still feel dry even after all these precautions (especially those who live in cold climates like Canada!). There’s a simple reason for this: emollient creams simply aren’t enough! We need oil and water in order to layer our skincare.

I am a big fan of layering. I think it’s almost essential during the drying, dehydrating winter season. While it may seem like yet another step we have to take, investing in a good quality serum is important. Our skin is made up of both oil and water, and it is imperative that we mimic this. My skin-savvy mother always uses the analogy of a brick wall when explaining this:

“Our skin is like a brick wall. Our skin cells are the bricks – full of water. In between, our oil is the mortar. If we become dehydrated, our bricks shrink causing space between the mortar and brick.”

In other words, our skin cells need water to maintain their health – but oil helps retain the natural water. It also helps protect our delicate skin against the elements as it acts as a barrier against harsher climates. Without either water or oil, the subsequent dehydration can make you more sensitive as irritants can penetrate more easily.

While it may seem excessive, my winter regime consists of multiple steps to guard against dryness and dehydration (I also get eczema which flares up when the skin is excessively dry). Every morning and night I use a cleanser, toner (alcohol-free), serum, lotion, facial oil, and mineral sunblock or make up (mornings only). Oh, and eye cream! This can be called a basic daily winter regime. Combining hydrating masks once or twice a week also goes a long way in keeping hydration levels up.

If you’re feeling frustrated that your skin is still depleted despite using the heaviest of creams – invest in a serum to go underneath it. Our mums used to tell us to bundle up and wear layers in the wintertime (which explains why I own some of the ugliest polar fleece vests). It stands to reason that we need to do the same when caring for our skin.

Kristen Ma PhotoKristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up.  She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India.  She is also a Certified Esthetician with eight years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia.  Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company.  Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine.  She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine.

For more information on Kristen, please visit