This popular skincare technique might be halving the effectiveness of your products

Written by Morgan Fargo

A case for not creating ‘skincare smoothies’. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that beauty and skincare trends are just one giant game of Mad Libs. Whether it’s skin flooding, moisture sandwiching, patchwork concealing or sieve diffusing, there’s always a new, unorthodox way to describe the methods by which we look after ourselves.

One new method, a surprising and slightly haphazard approach, is to create a ‘skincare smoothie’ whenever you come to do your routine. A technique of blending every product you use into one big blob, the trend stopped me in my tracks – mostly because it’s a total diversion from current expert thinking. But, could I be wrong? Could smoothies come to rule my morning routine in the bathroom and the kitchen? 

What is a skincare smoothie?

An approach popularised on social media, a skincare smoothie is the act of blending oils, serums, mists and creams into one handful, or more accurately, globful, of product. Often, people mix the products directly on top of the bottle or applicator – a practice that makes my hygiene-conscious skin crawl.  

Initially the trending fodder of aesthetic brand Drunk Elephant, skincare smoothies have since spread to include other brands and ingredients. One video shows a nighttime skincare smoothie consisting of three types of moisturiser and The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Again, all the products are mixed directly on top of one of the moisturisers.

(If you want to minimise the spread of bacteria – from your hands to the products and from the products to each other – mix it on a clean surface instead and don’t touch applicators to your skin or to each other.) 

Are skincare smoothies beneficial for your skin?

“In short, no,” says Dr Sasha Dhoat, consultant dermatologist at Stratum Clinics. “The order you apply your skincare matters in order to optimise the benefits of the product on which your hard-earned pennies are spent.” Muddling products together can interfere with how well they absorb and the efficacy they can then have. Not only that, but the technique may affect the stability of the formulas themselves.

“Not all formulas will mix well together and may end up ‘pilling’ on the surface of the skin, preventing products from absorbing properly and creating an uneven texture,” explains Ada Ooi, celebrity facialist and founder of 001 Skincare. “Mixing can also cause formulas to separate, creating a gooey mess that won’t absorb effectively.” 

How to layer skincare like a dermatologist

“Start with a clean canvas and only apply products to gently and thoroughly cleansed skin. After that, apply skincare products in sequence, from thin to thick. Toners first, followed by serums, gels and lastly creams,” advises Dr Dhoat.

“It is important to note that certain products are more effective at particular times of the day. Vitamin C, (a powerful antioxidant that brightens, protects against sun damage and promotes collagen production), is best applied in the morning, as it offers skin-protecting properties that can help protect cells against pollution and other environmental factors.

“Retinol, or topical retinoids, on the other hand, work best in the evening, as they can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.  

“Sunscreen should be the final step in your skincare routine after all other treatment products have been applied.” This is because SPF, once applied, will stop the absorption of other products applied to the skin afterwards. “Make-up should be then applied on top of your sunscreen.”

Sunscreen is a non-negotiable, even if the make-up you then go on to use contains SPF. Not only are you likely not using enough of the product to receive the broad protection your skin needs but it’s also much harder to ensure even and adequate application.  

Is more or less better when it comes to your skincare routine?

Like any habit that serves you, consistency will always triumph over complexity. My skincare routine contains four base steps that I use 95% of the time. Then, when I have a particular issue or concern I want to treat, I cycle in specific products to do that job, rather than throw a kitchen sink’s worth of product at my face each day to little avail.

“I often have patients coming to me as they have complex (and expensive) 10-step routines, suffering from problematic acne, due to excessive layering of several thick products and oils, or eczema, due to combination and overuse of drying, irritant products, such as retinoids, acid exfoliants, (AHAs and BHAs) and benzoyl peroxide. Sometimes, less is more,” says Dr Dhoat.

“Most importantly, your skincare routine should be adjusted according to the influence of the seasons, your skin type at different sites (dry in some areas of the face, greasy in others), age, specific goals, (eg acne-prevention skin or dyspigmentation reversal) and any skin conditions, such as eczema or rosacea. Skincare should be bespoke and not one-size-fits-all.” 

The bottom line on skincare smoothies

How you apply your skincare is, of course, up to you. While smoothie-fying your skincare could save you time, it might negate the benefits you’ve specifically selected the products for. If time-saving is your main reason for wanting to try the technique, perhaps look at simplifying your skincare routine instead. Fewer steps may shave off minutes and maintain the integrity of your skin absorbing and gleaning the benefits from each product.  

Main image: Getty

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