Skin Care Application: Too Much of a Good Thing


Last week on the Atopalm blog, we talked about how to properly apply and layer skin care products. (If you missed it, check out the Applying and Layering Skin Care Products post!) As sort of an add-on, I decided to also go over why it’s so important to follow beauty product application directions.

Many people think that skin care product application directions are superfluous. While it’s true that some cleanser instructions are fairly obvious (“Massage into damp skin. Rinse.”), even many of the simplest skin care products have a certain application process that can enhance the product’s efficacy, or even cause unnecessary damage to the skin. Here’s a look at common application specifics, and why they matter.

Damp Skin
Almost all skin care products recommend that one applies the product onto damp skin. There are absolutely many products that require dry skin, but applying products to damp skin is absolutely the most common recommendation.

To understand why, think of your kitchen sponge. When it’s used regularly and remains damp, it absorbs liquid readily. However, when it’s been sitting out and allowed to become dry and hard, it actually won’t absorb almost any liquid until it’s been moistened again.

Your skin works the same way. Dry skin somewhat repels liquids, creams, and the like. Moistened skin, however, will drink it up, allowing the active ingredients to penetrate deeper and provide better results.

Application Dosage
Another common application recommendation is the amount of product to use. A bottle will specify a pea-size amount, quarter-size amount, or even a dollop! These application amounts may sound made-up, but you should actually think of them as dosages. You wouldn’t take twice the prescribed amount of a medication; why would you twice as much product?

When a beauty product is formulated, especially highly active products, the formulators will figure out the exact dosage needed to provide great results without causing irritation. These “dosages” also help your product to last longer, as most people tend to over-apply, thinking that more is better. But, there can be too much of a good thing! Even a great product can cause irritation and damage when used too liberally.

Pay close attention to the bottle’s instructions on how much of your skin care product to use, and you’ll find that your results are better, with fewer (or no) adverse effects, and that your product lasts longer. It’s a win-win-win!

Specified Fingers
Now, this one is something that a lot of people find odd: when a skin care product specifies which fingers one should use to apply said product. Many people probably assume that the writer just got bored, or wanted to trick people into looking silly while applying face cream with their pinkies!

This beauty application step actually does have a reason, though. You’ll usually find these sorts of instructions on eye cream, and it will usually specify the ring finger. This is because the ring finger is generally the weakest finger on the hand, and the eye area is one of the most delicate places on the face. Weak finger + delicate area = reduced risk of skin damage. That’s all there is to it!

Now, if you find a product that tells you to apply a scrub with only your thumbs, you’re probably looking at the work of a prankster.

Time of Day
Last but not least, one of your beauty products may tell you to apply it at a certain time of day. You may think, “It’s face moisturizer. I’ll just use it when I want to use it.” However, there really is a different between some day and night formulations, and you actually risk damage to your skin by misusing them.

For example, a nighttime moisturizer with vitamin A is specifically designed to renew skin while you sleep. Its ingredients would work with your body’s natural healing process to reduce damage. The vitamin A would be included to reduce sun spots, fine lines, and wrinkles. What vitamin A can also do is make your skin highly sensitive to sunlight, making extreme skin care damage more likely.

Adversely, a daytime moisturizer is created to hydrate and protect while out and about. It probably has an SPF, and is focused on keeping sun and environmental damage at bay. While using a daily moisturizer at night may not cause damage, it does neutralize the product’s protective benefits, thereby making it an inferior skin care product.

Hopefully these tips sound more helpful than bossy; they’re intended to help you get the most out of your products! Just take a look at your regimen’s individual application directions and you’ll find that the instructions may not sound quite as silly as they used to.

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