Live your best life & take care
Reading the instructions on cleansing and care products can be misleading. When do I pat my skin dry first or when do I apply the product on damp skin? Even many recommendations from skin care guru's or skinfluencers are not completely correct.
In general it is recommended to apply a serum, eye care or moisturising / hydrating care product on damp skin, or immediately after bathing for the following reasons:
The primary benefit of applying skin care products to damp skin is that the skin is more receptive to the ingredients. Water helps to increase the hydration levels of the skin cells, which then improves the absorption of the skincare products. When the skin is damp, the skin's surface is more permeable, allowing the ingredients in the skin care products to penetrate deeper into the skin, and work their magic. Absorbing the ingredients more effectively, this leads to better results.
The exception are products which require a very low pH level to penetrate, and be more effective, for example L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and chemical exfoliating "acids" like hydroxy acids. The reason is that water has a pH level of 7-8, acidic formulations will be "neutralised" on damp skin.
Applying skin care products to damp skin helps to lock in moisture, leaving your skin feeling soft, supple, and hydrated. Hydration is critical for the skin because it helps to maintain and restore the skin's barrier function. The skin barrier protects the skin from losing hydration and prevents irritants and bacteria from entering. Applying serums and moisturisers on damp skin, increases the hydration benefits from the products.
Another advantage of applying skincare on damp skin is that it helps to improve the spreadability of the product. When we apply products such as serum or moisturiser to dry skin, they tend to settle in one area and can be challenging to spread evenly. On the other hand, when applied to damp skin, the skin care products can spread easily and evenly across the skin surface, ensuring maximum coverage and benefit.
The exception are lipid rich products which are hydrophobe (water repelling), for example ointments, they might not spread evenly or easy on damp skin.
Applying skin care products to damp skin has been shown to improve their performance. This is because when products are applied to damp skin, they are less likely to evaporate, and the ingredients remain active for longer. This increased contact time with the skin leads to better, more effective results.
The exception are products containing vitamin A, retinoids, tretinoin, retinal, retinol, retinaldehyde as damp skin increases the risk of irritation.
Sensitive and hyper-sensitive skin
Usually people with sensitive and hyper-sensitive skin have an impaired skin barrier function, hence ingredients will penetrate better in comparison to a resilient and well-functioning skin barrier. Applying products on (hyper)sensitive skin will therefore increase the risk of irritations. Be mindful which ingredients you use and use a pH rebalancing toner after cleansing and prior to any serum or care product you use. A toner is anyway an affordable product, which I highly recommend to use in every skin care routine. Read more.
Study results on patients with dry skin and healthy volunteers
In healthy subjects, compared to at control sites, the Stratum Corneum Water Content (SCW) was significantly higher at sites treated with the moisturizer immediately after bathing, with 1.0 and 2.0 mg/cm2 of the moisturizer, and with once- and twice-daily applications.
In patients with dry skin, the SCW was significantly higher compared to control sites after 8 weeks when the moisturizer was applied twice daily. Read more.
One of the current trends in skin care which I don't recommend for most skin types is "slugging". It means that a thick layer of an occlusive or semi-occlusive petrolatum-based product is applied most often shortly prior to bedtime.
One of the benefits of slugging is that this thick layer is acting like an extra barrier for the skin, hence reducing trans-epidermal water loss and penetration of particle matter or irritants.
However, for a normal, combination or oily skin with an intact barrier slugging doesn't make any sense and will increase the risk of the development of milia (milk spots) are small, white cysts on your skin especially seen in the under-eye area, comedones (white - or blackheads) and worse papules (inflamed bumps) or pusteles ( a papule with a white or yellow tip). Moreover, a thick layer of product will rub off on your pillow case during the night.
Slugging might make sense if your skin barrier is compromised (not intact), for example after a chemical peeling, more invasive laser treatment, over-exfoliation, or when you have extreme dry (lipid lacking) or dehydrated (water lacking) skin. It might also help to prevent irritants or allergens to enter the skin, hence decrease barrier related skin (hyper)sensitivity. However, I would "slug" very consciously and on recommendation of the dermatologist or plastic surgeon after a procedure as there are fantastic products available in the pharmacy or drugstore for (hyper)sensitive, (extreme) dry or dehydrated skin without risking slugging-related skin problems.
Instead of a 100% petrolatum-based product, Aquaphor might be a better option at all times (also extreme cold weather), as it doesn't contain water (no risk of freezing), does contain humectants (they can bind and attract water), is semi-occlusive (protects but still "breaths"), is dermatologist recommended, affordable, available in a spray (no touch), tube, or tub and very well researched (evidence based) for a large variety of purposes.
Dermaplaning is an exfoliation method done by dermatologists, plastic surgeons or aestheticians using a 10 gauge scalpel to gently scrape off the top layer of dulling dead skin cells in order to reveal a smoother fresh skin surface.
Furthermore you achieve a smoother make-up application as it also removes facial hair and peach fuzz or vellus hair. Cosmetic dermatologists sometimes use dermaplaning to help to prepare the skin for procedures like laser treatments and chemical peels as it creates a more optimal "canvas" to work with. As the top layer of the skin is removed, it would allow better penetration of skincare products.
Dermaplaning is supposed to be suitable for almost all skin types except those with active acneic skin. However, I would be careful if you have fragile skin, are prone to get broken capillaries, red dots or redness. If done well, the procedure is painless and is comparable to shaving. Prior to the procedure, the skin will need to be cleaned and dried. Sometimes AHA and BHA (Alpha & Beta Hydroxy Acids) or a combination of both are used as preparation. The skin is pulled taut with one hand, and in the other hand a sterile 10 gauge blade (scalpel) is placed on the skin in a 45 degree angle. With short strokes, the dead skin cells and peach fuzz is "shaved" off.
Dermaplaning instantly improves the skin's texture. The skin surface will feel very smooth. There is no downtime, however you may be left with some redness or sensitivity. It is claimed that vellus hair does not regrow darker or stronger, it just might feel different as the ends are cut off straight. However, speaking to dermatologists with experience in dermaplaning, they gave a clear warning that they did see a more coarse hair regrowth in costumers with darker skin tones (Fitzpatrick scale 3 or higher).
There are some devices developed for dermaplaning at home. One of those devices is called Dermaflash and the device is shown in the article picture. It's currently only available in the US. I did try the Dermaflash. The design looks aesthetically pleasing, but found it to be quite large, thus suitable for bigger areas like the cheeks, however more difficult to use when more precision is requered around the brows, lips and nose. Some use a smaller and very affordable eyebrow razor. Although you may get satisfactory results after using a home device, the safest and best results you will obtain when dermaplaning is done by a professional. The treatment results will keep approximately 3 - 4 weeks. Ask your health care provider if dermaplaning would be a suitable exfoliation method for you. Personally, I prefer the use of gentle acids over any mechanical form of exfoliation, however both methods don't remove facial vellus hair. That could be a valid reason to opt for dermaplaning. Don't forget to use adequate sunscreen afterwards.
click here to read more about chemical vs mechanical exfoliation
We can support's skin natural exfoliation process in various ways, for example with mechanical or chemical exfoliation.
Desquamation (shedding of skin cells thus exfoliation) is an important part of the skin's natural regeneration or renewal process.
Already in our twenties, this process slightly, however increasingly starts to slow down (Kligman 1983). As a result, the cells on the surface of our skin (corneocytes) become bigger (Kligman 1989) and a little disorganised. This leads to a duller appearance (loss of radiance) and a more rough texture of our skin.
A very comprehensive comparison of both methods:
The word "acid" unfortunately sounds very harsh and skin-unfriendly. Many acids are actually skin's own, like for example lactic acid is a skin's own natural moisturising factor (NMF) and so is hyaluronic acid. The level of NMF's decrease as we age and our skin my lose the ability to maintain well hydrated. Many years ago the benefits of lactic acid were capitalised by using baths filled with donkey milk. Citric acid is commonly used in skin care products and toners to balance skin's pH. Gluconolactone is only gradually penetrates skin and is very gentle.
It's unfortunate that "acids" have such a negative connotation, as our skin (healthy and problematic) can benefit if we use them regularly. Moreover, I prefer this method over mechanical exfoliation for all skin types, however particularly if you have dry skin, acne- or redness prone skin, sensitive skin or mature skin.
The risk of exfoliation is over-exfoliation. Over-exfoliation is damage of our skin barrier and the symptoms are very comparable to dry or (hyper) sensitive skin symptoms, which are: redness, irritation, tightness, excessive dryness, dry patches, flaking skin, uncomfortable stinging, or even burning sensation. Whenever you experience one or more symptoms of over-exfoliation, it's recommended to reduce the number of times you exfoliate and support the skin barrier repair with a moisturiser.
Hope you enjoy healthy skin & take care.
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