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How do skincare products penetrate your skin?

fresh faced model with her hands gently touching her face. Text says "Skincare 101"  "Skin care products" "how do skincare products penetrate your skin?"

Your skin is made up of layers with the utmost top layer mostly consisting of dead skin; yuck! However, this dead skin is important as it holds moisture and protects your body from bacterial and chemical invasion! So how do skincare products penetrate your skin? The short answer is by breaking through the dead skin layer (aka epidermis) via the lipid matrix (which consists of fatty acids, ceramides, and cholesterol) between the cells. 

Size matters

The smaller the molecule size of a product’s active ingredients, the better the penetration and performance of your skincare product. Additionally, you want the molecules of the skincare product to be water-loving and fat-loving (hydrophilic and lipophilic). This allows the molecules to transfer well from fat (lipids) to water-filled cells. You will find that eye creams are created with smaller molecules. 

Wet exfoliation for penetration

Okay, things are starting to sound dirty! But alas, it’s not! We’re just washing our faces. To start, a skincare product will penetrate better if the area is moist versus dry. Therefore, to increase your skincare product’s effectiveness, you must apply some sort of heat and moisture first. For example, using hot water, fill your sink with hot-hot water. Allow the steam to come up to your face. Then, wet your face and with soft fingers move in circular motions. Pair with a gentle cleanser that contains an exfoliating element (i.e. rice) to remove makeup and dead skin from your face. Now rinse with warm water. Pat dry (not too much!). The act of massage, heat, and moisture will prep your skin to absorb skincare products more effectively. 

young woman freshly out of a shower with a white towel holding her hair out of her face. She is softly applying moisturizer to her face with her middle finger, which is the softest finger
Applying your skincare product after a shower will save you time!

Hot tip! 

Shower first and allow the hot water to warm up your skin. Wash your face in the shower. Once finished with your shower, apply your favorite moisturizer or other skincare products. It’s a time-saver! 

Stay tuned…


In the next blog, I will talk about both the inactive and active ingredients found in skincare products. I’ll share some of my personal preferences for what to look for when shopping for an effective skincare product. 

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jennifer@jenniferleejohnson.com

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