If you consider the basic three-step skincare regimen a bother, La Mer has trotted out a product that, ideally, calls for a five-step routine.
Called the Hydrating Infusion ($195, right), the potion, launched early this month, is meant to prep your skin before you apply serum to your face.
The five-step regimen involves cleanser, toner, infusion, serum and moisturiser.
That does not include other specialised potions like eye creams, pimple creams, whitening treatments and sunblock.
The ultra-luxe skincare brand said in its press release that its infusion treatment 'pre-wets the skin to receive and maximise the transformational benefits' of Creme de la Mer, its famed moisturiser.
The Hydrating Infusion is not the first product of its kind.
Cream-based emulsions ($46 to $61) from Laneige also prep the skin for instant and more effective absorption of moisture and nutrients, said Lynn Tan, a trainer with the Korean brand.
Such products can be used with skincare products from other brands, said skin doctors who spoke to Urban.
They work by mimicking the condition of the skin just after a shower when it is moist.
Dr Low Chai Ling, medical director of The Sloane Clinic, said that ingredients penetrate better when they are dissolved in water.
While the experts say the infusion preps the skin for the serums and moisturisers, you could just as well prime your skin more cheaply by simply warming and moistening it.
So, is all that layering necessary and just how much is too much?
Technically, there is no limit to the number of products you can slap on at any one time.
However, Elizabeth Tian, principal pharmacist at the National Skin Centre, warned that using two or more products together may affect the pH level - the acidity or alkalinity of the liquid - and concentration of the skincare aids.
Doing so may deactivate or reduce the stability of the active ingredients and affect the absorption of the products, Tian pointed out.
Dr Low said that the indiscriminate use of several products may also lead to side effects like redness, irritation or flaking.
However, she added that most over-the-counter products have lower concentrations of active ingredients than prescription-based ones, so the chances of such adverse reactions are lower.
That said, layering requires time.
Both Dr Low and Tian said you should wait one to five minutes between layers. This will allow your skin to fully absorb a product before you move on to the next. But at this rate, you could be spending up to 25 minutes preening.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with sticking to the classic three-step care.
Dr David Orentreich, guiding dermatologist of Clinique, which popularised the three-step routine said it was developed to take care of the most basic skincare needs.
The approach, he added, works for women, men, teenagers and adults across all skin types.
But there are times when it is necessary to 'step up' or 'step down' the care, he said.
'If you have specific concerns, such as discolouration, lines and wrinkles or sagging skin, I would recommend adding a creamier anti-ageing product or serum to your basic regimen,' he said.
5 STEPS TO BEAUTIFUL SKIN
The basic must-do in your skincare regimen to rid your skin of all traces of dirt and grime.
If you are wearing make-up, be sure to use a make-up remover first before cleansing your face.
Use this to remove remaining traces of oil, make-up and dirt. Also known as a lotion or softener.
A liquid meant to give the skin a burst of hydration to prep it so as to allow the skin to fully absorb the serum and moisturiser that follow.
A treatment lotion containing active ingredients like antioxidants and vitamins that are used to nourish and repair your skin. Choose from a wide variety of serums that target various skin concerns from anti-ageing to pore refining. Also known as essence.
A cream that hydrates your skin as well as locks in moisture on the surface of your skin. Also known as emulsion.
This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times on Oct 31, 2008.