It is common knowledge that different people can get very different results with the same product. Experts usually explain this fact by variations in individual body chemistry. Sometimes it is indeed true. However, quite often the truth is far simpler. Different people often get different results because they apply skin care products differently.
“It is common knowledge that not all products work equally for everybody. But you can maximize the efficacy of your anti-aging products by making sure you apply them correctly, under the best skin conditions as possible”. ~Marie Bertrand
Keep in mind that lack of results does not necessarily mean that you are applying your skin care incorrectly. Quite a few products don’t work whether you apply them correctly or not. Many products work for some people but not for others even if applied correctly. Still, it is quite common that a product fails to work due to incorrect application.
Let us take a look why and how the method of application makes a difference. In essence, a topical skin care product, such as a skin cream, gel or lotion, is a mixture of chemicals (as in molecules). Some of these molecules are active ingredients (natural or synthetic substances responsible for biological action of the product), while the rest are inactive ingredients (substances that help protect and deliver active ingredients). Ultimately, the effectiveness of the product depends on whether (1) active ingredients work, and (2) whether they penetrate into your skin deeply enough and in sufficient amounts. The former depends on your choice of a product, and the latter – at least in part – on how you apply it.
Skin is a dynamic system whose condition and properties depend on temperature, hydration, environment and other factors. Therefore, the skin’s ability to absorb topically applied chemicals can vary greatly. Here is what you can do to ensure optimal penetration of active ingredients:
Cleanse your skin before applying skin care products (particularly if you have applied anything to your skin since your last skin cleansing or washing. The best time to apply skin care products is after you are fresh out of a warm shower or bath because not only is your skin clean but it is also thoroughly moist and should better absorb whatever you apply to it. CAUTION: Do not wash your skin with hot water, excessive heat accelerates skin aging. The water should be comfortably warm but not hot. However, if you plan to apply potentially comedogenic products, splash some cool water onto yourself when finishing your wash in order to close pores. Also, don’t spend too much time in the shower to avoid excessive exposure to chlorine in the water.
It is best to apply most products when the skin is moist because active ingredients can penetrate better when they are dissolved. Once your cream has dried up, the rate of penetration decreases dramatically. Don’t wipe your skin dry after you cleansed or washed it if you intend to apply a product. If the skin is too wet, just pat it a little with a towel. Alternatively, you can use a spray-on toner before applying your moisturizer to ensure your skin is slightly damp. My favorite is Dermalogica’s UltraCalming Mist.
Warm skin absorbs ingredients better. Before applying a product, make sure your skin isn’t cold. Apply a warm towel if needed.
When cleansing your skin, don’t use regular soap or shampoo (too drying and will disrupt your skin’s pH), simply use a good moisturizing cleanser and warm (but not hot) water. Here are a few moisturizing cleansers I like during the cold winter months:
- IMAGE VitalC Hydrating Facial Cleanser
- Dermalogica AGE Skin Resurfacing Cleanser
- SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser for sensitive or dry skin
The uppermost layer of the skin, called stratum corneum, is composed mostly of dry, dead cells. If this layer becomes too thick, as in aged or poorly maintained skin, active ingredients of a skin care product have trouble penetrating deeply enough to have an effect. Some people remove stratum corneum by using organic exfoliants such as alpha hydroxy acids, enzymes or other molecules. While some exfoliation may be beneficial, overusing it may do more harm than good to your skin. For most people with sensitive skin, a gentle scrub that provides mild exfoliation without doing any harm is a safe and sensible alternative. If you have fairly resistant skin, you can use exfoliating toners, serums or lotions to improve product penetration.
Use short, firm strokes to apply skin care products (it is best to use the middle finger). Do not stretch the skin. Do not rub. After applying, gently tap the area with your fingers for half a minute.
“For added efficacy, you can also do monthly skin procedures such as dermaplaning (a safer, healthier form of microdermabrasion that does not pull on the skin) combined with a mild chemical peel. As the only scientific skin care clinic in Calgary, SkinScience has over 15 different types of peels, that can be customized to your skin type and concerns”. ~Marie Bertrand
And that, my friends, is how you maximize the efficacy of your serums, eye creams, lotions, creams and other skin potions!
Got questions? Contact us for more information, or to book your customized exfoliating procedure! 403-287-1477.
In healthy skin,