First of all, I love the word efficacious. Sounds like what it means: effective. Also, I love providing services, products and skincare tips that give you the desired results that you want. In short: I choose my products and tactics precisely to be effective.
The efficacious order of product application revolves around these points:
- Thinnest to thickest: toner, serum, hydration, oil, SPF
- Most active closest to skin; most occlusive on the outer layer
- Water-based substances first, progressing to thicker more emollient products
There are some trends around these points that work to *hip up* the never-changing steps:
Layering/Stacking: this is an on-trend way of saying exactly what I said above. We are layering on the our toner, serum, moisture and SPF in a precise way so that the stacking of these specific products gives your skin the most of what it needs.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say you’re getting ready for bed and your goal is to minimize the harsh effects of UV exposure (sun damage) on your face, neck and chest. You cleanse with Lift Away; gently pat of excess water and apply Stem Factor directly to the skin. Then you use Infuse or Boost to wet/provide slip to Correct so that you can massage it into your chest, neck and face. You add a bit more Infuse or Boost so you can give your facial skin a lift with massage. Then you take a quarter size of Enrich moisture to lock in the two serums and press the moisture into your skin. Since it’s been so chilly, you use 3 drops of Nourish; warm the drops in your hand and pat onto your skin.
Voila, you’ve got your most active products closest to your skin. Your products are less likely to evaporate into the air due to TEWL (trans epidermal water loss) because you’ve applied your moisturizer on top. Moisture + oil creates a highly emollient barrier to keep out drying air. Moisturizer also feels great while adding some temporary plumpness/firmness to your skin.
Sandwiching is a similar trendy word, used to help people use more harsh retinol products by applying a layer of moisture, then the retinol and then moisture again. This extra step is not necessary if you use Osmosis’s Retinaldehyde products (see this post).
Slugging takes the layering and stacking process to the extreme by applying an exceptionally emollient or occlusive product as the outer layer, giving you a jelly or snail slug like appearance.
This all makes sense; follows a logical progression, amiright?!?
We want our active, nourishing and targeted serums closest to the skin because that is how we work with the epidermis, dermis and the supporting tissue. When we don’t feed and stimulate the skin, it can become *starved* and then look dull, compromised, clogged, over-dry, less resilient and lackluster.
Increasing blood flow, removing debris/dead skin and remodeling collagen with the right nutrients (retinaldehyde, niacinamide, amino acids) allows the skin to thrive.
There is a contrary trend on tiktok to reverse the order of application. I get it; it’s fun to go against the grain. And feel free to give it a go and report back. Also, please know, you are wasting the valued ingredients of your serums by giving them additional work. Active serums are made with highly advanced delivery systems to get their active ingredients into your skin to help you achieve your goals.
Many serums already have a low level penetration rate due to their lack of effective delivery vehicles. So, putting moisturizer on first is like leaving oil and dead skin on your face, putting up road blocks for those already hard-working delivery systems that you have paid for … yep, that’s right. Part of the expense for professional products is that very technology to deliver those active ingredients.
Do you ever wonder if people make up stuff just to see if someone else will try it? I do … and this is one of those times.
Thank you to everyone who asked about the best way to apply your wonderful, specifically chosen, professional products you’ve invested in … y’all the real MVPs!