Floats, whipped cream, extra Starbucks caramel — sometimes the best things in life just need a little kick to make them even better. And skin care is no different, especially when you're targeting multiple needs or a single persistent issue. "Cocktailing is the mainstay of what I do," says Santa Monica-based dermatologist Karyn Grossman. "And you don't need 12 different products that all do the same thing — sometimes just two is enough."
But before you go mixing every single vial and tube in your medicine cabinet, use caution. Some ingredients layer better than others, some don't mix at all, and some require an acclimation period. "Cocktails can be very aggressive," says Dr. Grossman. "What happens often is that people use too much too fast, and the skin becomes inflamed and irritated. Don't start it all on the first day."
And you should also be careful about the order in which you cocktail. "As a general rule, [layer products] from lightest to heaviest," says Joshua Zeichner, dermatologist and director of cosmetic research at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. "Essence, serum, then cream. My only exception is, if you are using a potentially irritating product, like a retinol, you can apply a moisturizer first to prime and hydrate the skin."
Until someone comes out with a magical product that addresses our every need (seriously, it's 2015, people!), we asked Dr. Grossman and Dr. Zeichner for their tried-and-true product combinations. Click ahead to find the best skin-care combos, and get ready to start layering.