Comparison of skin hydration in combination and single use of common moisturizers (cream, toner, and spray water)

What’s the best way to organize your skincare routine? Should we layer from thickest to thinnest? Where does sunscreen go?

I’ve been asked this a lot and I don’t have the answer. Most research on skincare application is done with just one product. Sunscreens are always tested on clean skin with no other products. If you want to get as close to the protection on the label, it’s best to recreate the conditions it was tested on, which means applying it on clean skin and not following it with anything else. The same applies for most cosmetic products as well.

That’s not realistic for everyone and many of us enjoy using multiple products. But the reality with a lot of the advice found online and from experts is that it’s just advice and often isn’t based on evidence – especially scientific evidence.

A group of Chinese researchers performed an experiment looking at the effect of different combinations of three products (moisturizer, toner, and mineral water sprays) and different application routines on skin moisture. Keep in mind that the only endpoint measured was stratum corneum moisture measured by the Corneometer, a capacitance measuring tool often used in cosmetic research. This experiment doesn’t provide any insight beyond skin moisture, like skin penetration of an active affected by combination or routine, for example.

20 female volunteers participated in this experiment. Eight 3-by-3 cm squares were drawn on the legs and forearms of each volunteer and were randomized to receive eight different routines and combinations – including a square with no product applied, acting as a control. The baseline moisture levels of the squares were measured and categorized into ‘normal’ or ‘dry’ by a limit of 35 a.u. (a measurement unit used by the Corneometer).

The 8 different combinations and routines are as follows;

Toner and Toner reapplied every 2 hours (T-T)
Cream then Toner together (C+T)
Toner only (T)
Cream only (C)
Cream then Water reapplied every 2 hours (C-S)
Untreated (Control)
Cream and Toner reapplied every 2 hours (C-T)
Toner then Cream together (T+C)

Stratum corneum moisture levels were measured every 2 hours, including a baseline, and participants were kept in a 22 °C room with a 50% humidity.

The products included in the test were a Winona brand Cream with the ingredients:

Aqua, Glycerol, Butyrospermum Parkii Oil, Dimethicone, Glycereth-26, Tridecyl Trimellitate, Pentylene Glycol, Hexyldecanol, Sucrose Polystearate, Diethylhexyl Cyclohexane, Petroleum Jelly, Tocopheryl Acetate, Prinsepia Utilis Royle Oil, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Beta Glucans, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cetylhydroxyproline Palmitamide, Alpha Bisabolol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Acrylamide, Acrylamide/ammonium Acrylate Copolymer, Acrylates/c10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Tween 20, Xanthan Gum, Disodium Edta, Polybutene, Polyisobutene, Butyl Stearate, Stearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin

a Winona brand Toner with the ingredients:

Aqua, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerol, Glycereth-26, Trimethylpentanediol/adipic Acid/glycerin Crosspolymer,
Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Beta Glucan, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose

and Avene Thermal Spring Water was used as the Mineral Water Spray.

While applying any form of skincare product created an increase in skin moisture in dry and normal skin, some combinations were significantly more effective than others.

Table VI is mislabeled and is the data for Dry Skin

Because the normal or dry categories were determined by Corneometer, there’s no way to self-categorize unless you have a Corneometer handy.

From this experiment, the increase in moisture from Cream then Toner, or Toner then Cream, or Cream only were about the same. This implies that the total amount of cream and toner applied is more important than the order of application. As well, this also implies that the increase in moisture is mostly from the cream and not the toner.

The researchers speculate that the increase in moisture reaches a peak depending on factors like the environment which slowly declines after application. Toner on its own did increase moisture of the skin, but even when combined with cream never surpassed the moisture gained from cream alone.

In terms of supplementation of with Water or Toner, the greatest increase in moisture was achieved with application of a Cream then Toner every 2 hours. Supplementation of Water after Cream application reduced skin moisture with each application. Toner with additional Toner supplementation increased skin moisture over time, but was still less than Cream and Toner.

I think reading descriptions of the effects is likely a bit confusing, so I encourage you to use the interactive charts to compare different applications.

Also keep in mind that this experiment used three specific products and concentration of ingredients will vary between products. So it’s best to use this information as a guideline, but not a rule.

Li Yuanxi, Wei Hua, Lidan Xiong, Li Li, Comparison of Skin Hydration in Combination and Single Use of Common Moisturizers (Cream, Toner, and Spray Water), Journal of Cosmetic Science (2016), PMID: 29394018

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#BeautyRecap: March 13th, 2018

Products and Reviews

MAC Cosmetics is expanding its loose glitter pigments

Benefit relaunches Gimme Brow+,

L’Oreal Unveils DOSE, its skin-care lab-in-a-box,

Serena Williams is launching a beauty brand too

A look at skincare line Eir

A preview of Colourpop’s Pretty Fly collection

A look at Drunk Elephant’s C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream

A look at the Makeup Revolution Renaissance Illuminate highlighter palettes

A review of the La Prairie’s Platinum Rare Cellular Night Elixir Serum

Cover FX launches 40 shades in its new Power Play Foundation

A look at exclusive palettes coming to Sephora in March

David Beckham launches skincare range House 99 with L’Oreal

16 of the best Japanese brand skincare products available in the US

11 Paula’s Choice products recommended by Allure

Best lipsticks for darker skin tones recommended by Teen Vogue

15 beauty apps recommended by Elle

Retail and Trends

elf Beauty’s CEO talks about the dramatic rebound in retail

Beauty products account for 2.2% of per capita spending in Iran

Skincare and Beauty

Unwrapping the mystery of ancient cosmetics

How skin care became an at-home science experiment

The ugly world of counterfeit cosmetics

Estée Lauder chief Fabrizio Freda on winning over millennials

“Please don’t call J-Beauty ‘the new K-Beauty'”

Controversy surrounding Tati Westbook’s Halo Beauty Supplement

Pat McGrath shares her beauty routine

Jacob Tobia featured in a campaign for Fluide Beauty

A dermatologist shares their in-office treatment for treating hyperpigmentation

Iman Hariri-Kia shares her experience with Accutane

How selfies can distort an image of your nose

Botox and breast augmentation are the most popular plastic surgery procedures in the US

Kendall Jenner reportedly hospitalized after a reaction to a vitamin IV drip

Daniel Kaluuya wore Fenty to the Oscars

Beauty according to Marc Jacobs

Kim Kardashian and Madonna may collaborate on a beauty product,

Aja Naomi King, Camila Cabello, and Elle Fanning on beauty

Asia and World

AmorePacific’s Mamonde cosmetics make inroads in US

Tokyo: Cosmetics company director nabbed in ¥260 million tax probe

LG vice chairman fears protectionism in the US

Aekyung pursues IPO in a bid to expand abroad

Outreach and Sustainability

U.S. clothing, cosmetics on possible EU retaliation list

Research and Innovation

Increased topical generic prices by manufacturers: An isolated trend or worrisome future?

In vivo validation of the multicomponent powder (Vitachelox®) against the deposition of polluting ions
Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology

Occupational immediate contact allergy to hydrolysed wheat protein after cosmetic exposure
Contact Dermatitis

Eucalyptus species as a cause of airborne allergic contact dermatitis
Contact Dermatitis

Occupational contact allergy to sodium cocoamphopropionate in a skin protection cream
Contact Dermatitis

Contact allergy to moisturizers in Finland: the tale of the lurking tube in the medicine cupboard
Contact Dermatitis

Photoaging and skin cancer: is the inflammasome the missing link?
Mechanisms of Ageing and Development

Demodex mites modulate sebocyte immune reaction: Possible role in the pathogenesis of rosacea

Chemical stability analysis of hair cleansing conditioners under high-heat conditions experienced during hair styling processes

Effects of botulinum toxin on improving facial surgical scars: A prospective, split-scar, double-blind, randomized controlled trial
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Efficacy of a cosmetic phyto-caffeine shampoo in female androgenetic alopecia
Dermatologia e Venereologia

Microneedles as enhancer of drug absorption through the skin and applications in medicine and cosmetology
Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

3D skin models for 3R research: the potential of 3D reconstructed skin models to study skin barrier function
Experimental Dermatology

Counterfeit esthetic devices and patient safety in dermatology
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology

Beyond the physicochemical barrier: Glycerol and xylitol markedly yet differentially alter gene expression profiles and modify signalling pathways in human epidermal keratinocytes
Experimental Dermatology

Changes in filaggrin degradation products and corneocyte surface texture by season
The British Journal of Dermatology

Photodamage attenuating potential of Nectandra hihua against UVB-induced oxidative stress in L929 fibroblasts
Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology

Blunt cannula subcision is more effective than Nokor needle subcision for acne scars treatment
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology

Antiaging and antioxidant effects of topical autophagy activator: A randomized, placebo‐controlled, double‐blinded study
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology

Protective properties of geniposide against UV-B-induced photooxidative stress in human dermal fibroblasts
Pharmaceutical Biology

Geniposide prevents H2O2‐induced oxidative damage in melanocytes by activating the PI3K–Akt signalling pathway
Clinical And Experimental Dermatology

Plants and natural products for the treatment of skin hyperpigmentation – a review
Planta Medica

Physiological and molecular effects of in vivo and ex vivo mild skin barrier disruption
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology

Liposome-encapsulated baicalein suppressed lipogenesis and extracellular matrix formation in Hs68 human dermal fibroblasts
Frontiers in Pharmacology

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#BeautyRecap: March 6th, 2018

Products and Reviews

A look at elf’s Line and Define eye tape

Kat Von D Beauty launches 10 new Everlasting Liquid Lipstick shades

Glossier launches Lidstar, a metallic eye shadow

Kiehl’s launching Glow Formula Skin Hydrator

Sunday Riley to launch a foundation

Swatches of the Nars highlighter powder

Marc Jacobs Beauty to expand its Coconut collection in April

Ever Skin debuts a makeup line

A preview of the Nars Orgasm Afterglow lip balm

A look at Tarte’s Be a Mermaid and Make Waves eyeshadow palette

Bliss is relaunching its entire range,

A look at Makeup Revolution’s foundation stick,

Rebels Refinery’s skull lip balm is now available at Target

A look at the INC.redible Jelly Highlighters

Retail and Trends

South Korean brand Mamonde is now available at Ulta

How California’s Proposition 65 may affect aloe products

Storybook Cosmetics now available at Ulta

Ulta and its executives lied to public and SEC over used beauty products, per new lawsuit

A government report finds Amazon and Walmart are selling counterfeit products

Is artificial intelligence in marketing overhyped?

Can traditional beauty companies compete With disruptors dominating Instagram?

Skincare and Beauty

Kadeeja Khan calls out L’Oréal after being dropped from a campaign due to “skin issues”

Dr. Pimple Popper’s new TLC show This Is Zit

Isotretinoin may be cited as a factor in a murder trial

Should you throw away your lipstick after being sick?

“How to layer your skincare products” by Elizabeth Seigel at Allure

Advice on choosing a sunscreen for sensitive skin by Chloe Hall at Elle

Sonequa Martin-Green shares her morning beauty routine

AndreasChoice’s Andrea Brooks shares her beauty routine

Kat Von D talks about her Beauty Pro program for makeup artists

Kim Kardashian says she regrets getting the “vampire facial”

Lucy Hale shares her skincare routine

Asia and World

Hong Kong cosmetics retailer Sa Sa to close all stores in Taiwan

Chinese influencer Candy Lian draws 4 million online viewers for Tokyo show

JD enhances makeup brand sales with AR/VR ‘Styling Station’ that lets shoppers try before they buy

Alibaba’s Tmall platform hosts beauty awards and summit in Shanghai

Aekyung Industry to launch IPO for parent company

Cosmetics and hair products manufacturer, Godrej, will spend Sh50 million in research aimed at developing new products for the mass market

Outreach and Sustainability

L’Oreal to Use Kentucky landfill as a renewable energy source

L’Oreal USA announces an initiative for its operations facilities to become carbon neutral by 2019

Personal Care Products Council asks beauty editors to help set the record straight on science and safety of cosmetics

How packaging recyclability can shift sustainability expectations for startup beauty brands


Algenist names Rose Fernandez CEO

Estée Lauder Companies appoints Philippe Pinatel to MAC Cosmetics leadership team

Research and Innovation

Tanning addiction: Conceptualisation, assessment, and correlates
British Journal of Dermatology

L-carnitine mitigates UVA-induced skin tissue injury in rats through downregulation of oxidative stress, p38/c-Fos signaling, and the proinflammatory cytokines
Chemico Biological Interactions

Cathepsin D contributes to the accumulation of advanced glycation end products during photoaging
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology

The role of the physician in patient perceptions of barriers to primary adherence with acne medications

Tanning and sun-protection behaviors among sexual minority men

Synergistic effects of long-wavelength ultraviolet A1 and visible light on pigmentation and erythema
British Journal of Dermatology

Human skin in vivo has a higher skin barrier function than porcine skin ex vivo – comprehensive Raman microscopic study of the stratum corneum
Journal of Biophotonics

Endocannabinoid tone regulates human sebocyte biology
Journal of Investigative Dermatology

Physiological and molecular effects of in vivo and ex vivo mild skin barrier disruption
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology

Assessing the safety of superficial chemical peels in darker skin: A retrospective study

Skin cancer prevention messages on Facebook: Likes, shares, and comments

A comparative review of the isotretinoin pregnancy risk management programs across four continents
International Journal of Dermatology

Hyperpigmentation and higher incidence of cutaneous malignancies in moderate-high PCB and dioxin exposed individuals
Environmental Research

Plants and natural products for the treatment of skin hyperpigmentation – A review
Planta Medica

Liposome-encapsulated baicalein suppressed lipogenesis and extracellular matrix formation in Hs68 human dermal fibroblasts
Frontiers in Pharmacology

Prevalence of contact allergens in personal care products for babies and children

Formulation and evaluation of polyherbal anti-acne gel
Research Journal of Topical and Cosmetic Sciences

A single center clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of a tripeptide/hexapeptide antiaging regimen
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology

Silk fibroin produced by transgenic silkworms overexpressing the Arg‐Gly‐Asp motif accelerates cutaneous wound healing in mice
Journal of Biomedical Materials Research

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US FDA warns that biotin supplements can interfere with lab tests

Are you taking biotin for your skin and nails? Be aware that biotin supplements can interfere with many lab tests. Some of the currently known interactions are tests measuring amounts of troponin, which are often used to diagnose heart attacks. Biotin supplements may also interfere with tests measuring hormone levels involving the thyroid.

The FDA is warning and helping to raise awareness of this side-effect,

“Biotin in blood or other samples taken from patients who are ingesting high levels of biotin in dietary supplements can cause clinically significant incorrect lab test results. The FDA has seen an increase in the number of reported adverse events, including one death, related to biotin interference with lab tests.”

Their recommendation for consumers is to talk to their healthcare provider about biotin supplements and for healthcare professionals to report adverse events to the FDA through the MedWatch report system.

I know supplements seem like an effective way to boost your beauty, because who doesn’t like the concept of beauty from within? But be aware that supplement claims are not regulated by the US FDA, nor do they require testing or approval.

“Federal law does not require dietary supplements to be proven safe to FDA’s satisfaction before they are marketed”

“For most claims made in the labeling of dietary supplements, the law does not require the manufacturer or seller to prove to FDA’s satisfaction that the claim is accurate or truthful before it appears on the product”

The US supplement industry is huge, poorly regulated, generally poorly backed by research, and has large profit margins. It’s easy to see why it can be an attractive market to enter, but don’t trust your health to anecdotal evidence.

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#BeautyRecap: February 27th, 2018

Products and Reviews

Fenty Beauty launches Dirty Thirty limited-edition highlighter for Rihanna’s birthday,

Urban Decay launches Pink Backtalk palette

A review of the Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

MAC Hint of Color Lip Oil now available in the US

A look at the MAC and Nicopanda collaboration

Kylie Cosmetics announces the Eye of the Storm eyeshadow palette

Charlotte Tilbury talks about her new Hollywood Flawless Filter

Retail and Trends

Former Ulta Beauty employee says she felt pressured to resell used products

Inside Soko Glam: New York’s South Korean beauty brand pop-up

“Blue Mercury is Macy’s secret weapon”

Revlon announces partnership to produce fragrances for AllSaints

Weleda announces first brand campaign

Coty focuses on AI with growth accelerator competition

ColourPop now available at Ulta

Skincare and Beauty

A look at the PiQo4 laser for treating hyperpigmentation on most skintones

“What being a makeup artist in the porn industry is like”

Covergirl features Amy Deanna in their new campaign

Jackie Aina shares her beauty routine

Johnny Weir shows off his favourite South Korean brand skincare items

Makeup artist Antonio Bermudez shares his skin routine for acne

Tati Westbrook announces makeup line

Singer Lorde calls out annoying things people say to those with acne

An overview of Merkel cell carcinoma

Rachel Nussbaum on her experience with “slugging” or using Vaseline

Model Amy Pejkovic and her experience with blue light for acne therapy

An interview with Patrick Starrr on gaining confidence

Women with vitiligo share their experiences about representation

11 cleansing oils recommended by Glamour

10 face moisturizers recommended by Elle

Glamour’s selection of South Korean brand beauty products available at the drugstore

Asia and World

An economic look at why South Korean men are wearing makeup

South Korean beauty products remain a hot seller in China, even as missile row simmers

South Korean cosmetics brands lay foundation in Europe

Japan’s cosmetics exports hit fifth straight annual record


Glossier raises additional $52 million USD in funding

Research and Innovation

The “Dermatologist Recommended” label: Is it meaningful?

Isotretinoin therapy: A retrospective cohort analysis of completion rates and factors associated with non-adherence

Effect of platelet-rich plasma on scalp hair diameter
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology

Antioxidant action and protective and reparative effects of lentinan on oxidative damage in HaCaT cells
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology

Clinical evidence for washing and cleansers in acne vulgaris: A systematic review
Journal of Dermatological Treatment

The effect of skin surface topography and skin colouration cues on perception of male facial age, health, and attractiveness
International Journal of Cosmetic Science

Extracellular matrix regulation of fibroblast function: redefining our perspective on skin aging
Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling

Human skin in vivo has a higher skin barrier function than porcine skin ex vivo – comprehensive Raman microscopic study of the stratum corneum
Journal of Biophotonics

Randomized split‐face, controlled comparison of treatment with 1565‐nm nonablative fractional laser for enlarged facial pores
British Journal of Dermatology

Tanning addiction: Conceptualisation, assessment, and correlates
British Journal of Dermatology

Alternative test models for skin aging research
Experimental Dermatology

Bamboo salt suppresses skin inflammation in mice with 2, 4-dinitrofluorobenzene-induced atopic dermatitis
Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines

Exposure of human melanocytes to UVB twice and subsequent incubation leads to cellular senescence and senescence-associated pigmentation through the prolonged p53 expression
Journal of Dermatological Science

Effects of pregnancy on skin properties: A biomechanical approach
Skin Research and Technology

Topical glucose induces Claudin-1 and Filaggrin expression in a mouse model of atopic dermatitis and in keratinocyte culture, exerting anti-inflammatory effects by repairing skin barrier function
Acta Dermato-Venereologica

Decrease in diversity of Propionibacterium acnes phylotypes in patients with severe acne on the back
Acta Dermato-Venereologica

Antidepressants have anti-inflammatory effects that may be relevant to dermatology: A systematic review
Acta Dermato-Venereologica

Debunking the myth of wool allergy: Reviewing the evidence for immune and non-immune cutaneous reactions
Acta Dermato-Venereologica

Combined fractional treatment of acne scars involving non-ablative 1,550-nm erbium-glass laser and micro-needling radiofrequency: A 16-week prospective, randomized split-face study
Acta Dermato-Venereologica

Efficacy of a daily protective moisturizer with high UVB and UVA photoprotection in decreasing ultraviolet damage: Evaluation by reflectance confocal microscopy
Acta Dermato-Venereologica

Cathepsin D contributes to the accumulation of advanced glycation end products during photoaging
Journal of Dermatological Science

Impact of hand eczema on quality of life: metropolitan versus non ‐metropolitan areas
Contact Dermatitis

Dermal anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects of Compritol ATO-based Resveratrol colloidal carriers prepared using mixed surfactants
International Journal of Pharmaceutics

Topical delivery of L-theanine ameliorates TPA-induced acute skin inflammation via downregulating endothelial PECAM-1 and neutrophil infiltration and activation
Chemico Biological Interactions

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Visualizing how a daily sunscreen can protect the skin from UV damage

Optical coherence tomography and reflectance confocal microscopy can be used to non-invasively to visualize deep into the skin. Using these techniques we can actually see changes in the structure of the skin and its cells.

This group of researchers with funding from La Roche Posay used the imaging techniques to compare the effect of UVB exposure on skin protected with a high SPF and UVAPF sunscreen and skin that wasn’t protected.

What they found was that doses of UVB that caused long-lasting erythema (redness) caused morphological changes in the skin. Changes observed were spongiosis (abnormal accumulation of fluid), microvesicles, sunburn cells, and blood vessel dilation. None of these were observed in skin that was protected by the sunscreen.

A minimal erythemal dose or MED is the amount of UV energy that causes long-lasting redness in the skin. Just 1 MED was enough to cause morphological changes and 2 caused significantly more. This also relates to SPF. An SPF of 2 would provide enough protection to protect an average population against 2 MEDs.

If reducing your risk of developing skin cancers and preventing photoaging are a goal of yours – this is a great reminder and justification to wear your sunscreen daily!

Antonio Gomes-Neto, Paula Aguilera, Leonor Prieto, Sophie Seité, Dominique Moyal, Cristina Carrera, Josep Malvehy, Susana Puig, Efficacy of a Daily Protective Moisturizer with High UVB and UVA Photoprotection in Decreasing Ultraviolet Damage: Evaluation by Reflectance Confocal Microscopy, Acta Dermato-Venereologica (2018), DOI: 10.2340/00015555-2736

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