What is skincare microdosing?

One of the latest and buzziest skincare terms is microdosing. Normally, it refers to a practice of ingesting micro quantities of psychedelic substances (like LDS and psychedelic mushrooms) to boost creativity. Allegedly, Steve Jobs was a fan. Likewise, “baby botox” is all the rage. That refers to having small quantities of botox injected into the areas of the face to minimise wrinkles. That way more natural look is achieved (instead of the forehead being frozen). So what is microdosing in skincare?

Let’s back up a little bit. Ask any skincare nerd, they’ll tell you, it’s easy (so easy) to go overboard. We’ve all been there. When you first do a deep dive into skincare, you need your vitamin C, retinol, acids. They all do fab things for your face, and you slather it all on with wild abandon. We overuse ALL the products, but our moisture barrier can only take so much. The skin turns into a sensitised, irritated, flaking mess.

This is where microdosing comes in. In other words, less can definitely be more.

So how would that look in practice?

We understand the urge to go for products with higher percentages of actives. It means we’ll get the results we want faster, no? In theory, yes. But even if your skin is not typically reactive, higher percentages can cause your skin to become sensitised. And truly, there is no need for that.

To give you an example with our Mandelic acid range. We offer 5% moisturiser, 10%, and 15% serum. However, as our customers know, we recommend our Ultralase 15 Mandelic acid serum only to people who have prior experience with using acid-based products. Ultralase 10 Mandelic acid is the most effective strength for most skin types.

The same applies to our retinol serums. Boots conducted research for their new No7 Advanced 1.5% Retinol Complex Night Concentrate. It showed that 0.3% of retinol is the sweet spot. You get all the benefits, but none (or very mild) irritation. Vitamin C at 20% might be tempting. After all, who doesn’t need a bit of antioxidant action? But 10% works, too.
Lower percentages of actives will still deliver results over time, but with far less irritation.

And then we are going back to what we’ve been saying ad nauseam – start slow. You don’t need a chemical exfoliant twice a day, every day. Or retinol nightly. If your skin is on the sensitive side (waves hand in the air), your skin might be just as happy with chemical exfoliation a couple of times per week. Monitor your skin and see how it reacts to the product. If there are no signs of irritation, by all means, you can up the frequency.

If you never used a retinol product before, apply it every couple of nights. If your skin is tolerating the product well, build up to nightly use. That said, this is applicable for over-the-counter retinol products. Prescription-strength retinol is a different game altogether.

Microdosing might be a new term, but it is just common sense to keep your skin healthy and your moisture barrier intact. Also, don’t forget your sunscreen. That is one skincare product we shouldn’t skimp on.

Have you tried microdosing?

Roberta Striga