How do productsinteract with skin

How Cosmetic Products Interact with your Skin

Use our guidelines and make the most of your skincare routine

All of the ingredients in our cosmetic products have been carefully selected to ensure that the products that you use interact well with one another, and that your skin care routine is the best for your skin type.

Crucial to understanding the interaction of cosmetic products with our skin is the knowledge of how the skin is structured. Our skin is made up of three layers, with the epidermis on the surface, the dermis beneath this and lastly the hypodermis which connects the skin to the bones and muscles of the body. The epidermis is comprised of five layers.

The stratum corneum is the top layer of the epidermis. It is most important since it protects the body from harmful microbes and pollutants. The stratus lucidium consists of dead skin cells and appears only in the thicker skin of our soles and palms. This layer is followed by the stratum granulosum, then the stratum spinosum and finally the stratum basale, which is responsible for the generation of new skin cells.

Absorption and penetration – the difference

Topical lotions do not all behave in the same way when applied to the skin. Skin absorption and penetration are not the same thing.

Since the skin is designed to keep the body free of external factors, it stands to reason that some products may not readily penetrate, robbing the skin of the benefits of that product, or alternatively protecting it from the risks.

A product that penetrates the skin goes no further than the top layer. It does not get into the bloodstream and it cannot affect the entire body. When a product is absorbed into the skin, on the other hand, it can reach the bloodstream and affect the entire body, though it may not always do so.

When we speak of skin care products being absorbed into the skin, we refer to the fact that it feels as though it has soaked into the skin, leaving no residue.

Knowing your active ingredients

Skincare products are made up of several ingredients. The composition of these, the molecular size, the stability of the molecules and how it is delivered are all crucial to its effectiveness. It must also match your skin type and the other skincare products that you use.

When a formula is not soluble or contains molecules that cannot penetrate the stratum corneum, they often contain other ingredients such as vitamin C to help the skin to take up the product.

It is important to understand how the polarity or charge of the molecules in the products affects their penetration value. An uncharged molecule moves more freely into the skin that a charged one will.

Another essential factor is the molecular weight of the product. Professor Jan D. Bos and Dr Marcus Meinardi set out the maximum molecular weight for skin penetration in their paper of 2000. This they said could not be more than 500 Dalton, anything larger would not pass through the stratum corneum.

The researchers used allergens to prove that this was so. All known allergens are less than 500 Daltons, anything more cannot penetrate the skin and will not, therefore, come into contact with the sensitizers that cause allergies. In addition, all topical pharmaceuticals have molecules of less than 500 Dalton. Transdermal drugs are also below 500 Dalton.


Massage is a great way of improving the penetration of products. This is particularly so for oily products that have smaller molecules. The increased activity created between the molecules during the massage is the reason why this is so. Ensuring that more of the product penetrates the cells through massage, will improve its effectiveness.

Apply products in the correct order and don’t rush it

Don’t rush when applying skincare products. Try to wait for each product to soak into the skin before applying the next one. The next product is ready for application when you can no longer feel the last on your skin. This depends of course on the formulation of the product that you have just used. Where possible you should order your applications according to molecular weight of the formulation. Lightest first.

Avoid heat

Some products should not be applied to the skin after getting out of a hot shower or bath. This is because heat can increase the interaction of the molecules and cause sensitivity or increase the discomfort of sensitive skin. Some products are more effective when used on slightly heated skin. This is particularly true for products such as serums and oils used to nourish and hydrate the skin.

Your skin needs conditioning

Dry and sensitive skin, as well as skin that is thin and delicate, such as the skin around the eyes, may require additional treatment. Dry, dehydrated or weather-beaten skin may be vulnerable and could benefit from massage when applying the formula. This will ensure that there is better penetration of the product in that area.

Enjoy your beauty sleep

Sleep improves the penetration of products into the skin. This is why it is so important to carry out your skin routine before you go to bed at night. During sleep, your skin is more active in shedding and generating skin cells. Because the skin is warmer it is also more permeable and receptive when you are asleep.