Ever thought that the pressure of having impeccable skin is growing? Or did you ever find that your bathroom cabinet is bursting? Even if boosting the skincare products was never on the horizon for you, these are skincare hacks that will help you in your daily life without doing much work.

Assuming you’re using actives in your skincare. It may be that you’re using a retinoid product, vitamin B or C, or even a combination of all of these and you’ve maxed out. That is to say, you’re getting good results but without any side effects. You may want to maximise their use before splurging on buying stronger variants.

If you want to level up without buying new products, it boils down to how the actives penetrate the skin.

Where do all the actives work in the skin?

Let’s take a step back and look at how your skin works. The skin has three different layers:


The epidermis including the skin barrier is the outermost layer of skin. It’s primarily made up of dead skin cells and fats that cements them together. The epidermis resembles a bit a brick and mortar wall when looked at under a microscope. It serves as a protective barrier to keep harmful bacteria and other harmful pollutants out and to also lock moisture and nutrients inside.

Photo by Andreas Schantl


Below the epidermis is the dermis, the middle layer of the skin. It’s in this layer where much of the magic happens. Most of the skin’s primary functions are located here, as well as your nerves, proteins, sweat and glands, hair follicles, enzymes, and blood vessels.

The dermis is mainly made up of collagen, elastin, and fibroblasts that generate the aforementioned proteins.

Subcutaneous Layer

The lowest layer is a layer of fat that basically attaches your bones to your muscle and bones. It serves as an insulator and acts as a thermostat. It houses blood vessels, nerve endings, the roots of your hair follicles, and the deepest sebaceous glands, which create oil. Lastly, the subcutaneous layer is like a padding in that it protects your muscles, bones, and organs against injury.


Now, you want your skincare with the active ingredients to work in the layer in the middle layer, the dermis. And to get there, they have to travel through the actives to go below the outermost layer, the epidermis. The actives make their way through the glue and not straight down through the bricks (cells). This means timing is crucial. Now you also know why the Koreans recommend to apply toner within 10 seconds of washing your face.

When you want to apply any of the active ingredients is when your skin is super hydrated – satiated with water. That is straight after a shower, bath, or just plainly after washing your face. You can also mimic this state of hydration by drenching your skin with a few layers of toner.

When you’re skin is well hydrated, the dead skin cells clump less together so that the pathways through the lipids are wider. The analogy would be that the bricks are less tightly packed together and the wall has more mortar. To reinforce the effectiveness, add a moisturiser after a few minutes.

Moisturise (Lock-in)

To keep the state of hydration and to prevent the dreaded trans epidermal water loss (often abbreviated to TEWL), you apply a moisturiser as a sealing layer. The moisturiser locks in the water in your skin. Use a moisturiser that is suitable for your skin needs.

Chemical exfoliant

An exfoliant prep can increase your skin’s ability to accept skincare. A chemical exfoliant used once or twice a week will loosen the lipids and fats in the epidermis that holds together the dead skin cells. A chemical exfoliant not only leaves your skin clearer but also helps other skincare products penetrate deeper.

Use a chemical exfoliant that is apt for your skin. So, if your skin is acne-prone or oily, go for salicylic acid. Otherwise, incorporate an AHA, something like glycolic acid.

Physical exfoliant

Give yourself a polish with a physical exfoliant. You can start with a very gentle option such as gauze. When you’re comfortable with gauze, you can graduate to a konjac sponge. If you feel you want more of a polish, opt for a brush. Although, if you choose a konjac sponge, you can use it daily and have a wonderfully gentle exfoliant and cleanser in one.

Skin needling

Even if micro-needling sounds old-fashioned, it can increase the penetration of skincare into the skin. If you want to do it at home, choose a roller with a depth of 0.25 mm. Remember to always disinfect the roller before and after use.

Sheet Masks

Apply a sheet mask after any actives because the occlusive design and extra moisture from the sheet mask help your skin to absorb any product you previously applied.

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