Dara Kennedy

Dara Kennedy worked in beauty product development and marketing for more than 10 years before starting Ayla. She is a graduate of Princeton University and holds an MBA from Harvard. A longtime yoga practitioner and mother of 2, she's been a supporter of non-toxic beauty products for years.

We love answering customer questions, and we’ve answered a lot of them over the past five years. So we thought we’d sprinkle a few of your most frequently asked ones — and our answers, of course — here and there into our blog. (Thank you, Customer Guide Lisa, for the excellent idea.)

Q: OK, I’ve got a bunch of products here that I’m really excited about…but how do I use them? Do I put on my serum, and then my oil? Or the other way around?

We love this question, since we want you to get the most out of your products, too! Here’s the order we suggest.

Prep: Start by washing your face and spritzing on a toner or mist, if you use one. (We recommend it, since these water-based products are refreshing, fun to use, and can be very helpful at preventing skin from becoming dehydrated.)

Step 1: If you use a spot treatment like Medik8 betaGel on your breakouts, apply it now and allow it to dry.

Step 2: Apply a serum. Active products like serums will be able to penetrate more deeply if there isn’t a rich cream or oil in their way. Your serum might be:


  • A hydrating, firming serum for anytime (like Luzern Firming Collagen Booster), which works beautifully layered underneath an oil — this combination makes skin look extra glowy and dewy

If you’re using more than one serum, you should apply your products based on weight and activity: the lightest-textured, most active ones first. For instance, a combination we love at night is Luzern’s exfoliating Serum Au Vin, followed by their Serum ReHydrate. (If you’re not sure what to do, just call or email us.)

But don’t go too serum-crazy; dermatologists we admire, like Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale, recommend a more minimal approach so that you’re less likely to end up with irritated skin.

Step 3: Apply your moisturizing cream or oil once your serum is dry. Oils can actually be great to use instead of creams during hot summer months since you can just pat them on sparingly; Vintner’s Daughter is particularly nice since it has a small particle size, which allows for better absorption and a less greasy feel on skin. And during cooler months, patting an oil on top of a cream can turn dry skin to dewy.

Step 4 (daytime only): Apply your sunscreen last, always: it’s designed to form a protective shield over your face.

Then, if you wear it, move on to makeup.

And a final word on timing: We completely understand the need to rush through your skincare routine to get to work, appointments, and children on time. But waiting will prevent your layered products from pilling, especially if you wear foundation. Think about saving time by brushing or flossing your teeth in between steps; your layers will wear better, and your dentist will be delighted.