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Skin Secrets #1: The Corneocyte Phenomenon
Applying Products on Damp vs Dry Skin
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, just a deer with a background in chemistry and a hyperfixation on skin. This is not medical advice.
TLDR: just use this moisturizer while you’re still damp from your shower.
Did you know that you can optimize your routine for your individual needs just by tweaking the dampness of your skin?
It’s true! You can think of your skin like a sponge. A damp sponge will absorb soap far more efficiently than a dry sponge, right? The epidermis works the same way.
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I’ll spare you too much of the “sciencey stuff”, but essentially, the mechanism of action here is volume expansion of corneocytes. Corneocytes are the dead skin cells that make up the outermost layer of the epidermis.
Corneocytes increase in volume when hydrated (ie. when your skin is damp) and become more permeable. When your skin is dry, the corneocytes are far less permeable. Generally, we want to apply our active ingredients on damp skin.
However, there are actually two ways to leverage the corneocyte phenomenon:
Maximizing absorption of a product
Minimizing absorption of a product
Example 1: Maximizing Absorption
If you have dry skin, you will understandably want your moisturizer to be absorbed as much as possible. In practice, this could look like moisturizing while you’re still damp from your shower to lock in hydration.
Example 2: Minimizing Absorption
Let’s say your skin can’t quite tolerate a strong product yet, and you need to give it time to adapt. In practice, you could apply a retinol on dry skin for a few weeks or months before slowly working towards applying on damp skin. Dry skin will absorb less product than damp, decreasing the chances of irritating your fac, and you would still get the benefit of increased rate of cell turnover from the retinol
That’s all for now! Happy skincare!
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