I frequently get asked to create a BB cream and why we didn’t add a tint to our newest product, our Pigment Lightening Serum. I also get asked why I don’t wear any foundation or tinted moisturizer (fine print disclaimer: when my face is really blotchy, I will use the Laure Mercier Tinted Moisturizer in Nude).
The answer is two-fold.
First, I believe in taking care of one’s skin and complexion. Which means there should be no need for foundation or moisturizer. It is almost a dare I make with myself – let me see if I can have such good skin care rituals that I don’t need foundation.
Second, I avoid tinted anything because the color in foundation, BB creams, tinted moisturizers is created by metal oxides. Mostly iron oxides. Look at the ingredients in your tinted product and let me know what you find. Who cares, you might ask… Here is the scientific truth (do not keep reading if you don’t want some real scientific jargon; or grab a coffee first): excess iron is bad for our health, in many ways (it is involved in Alzheimer’s, glaucoma, and more), including on the skin.
Excess iron accelerates aging. Don’t stop taking iron supplements if you have a medically-diagnosed iron deficiency. But don’t increase your iron intake if you don’t need to. That means no supplements with iron in them. And no skin care products with iron or iron oxides in them, including tinted anything. How is excess iron bad? Excess iron is a catalyst for a chemical reaction called Fenton chemistry, which leads to the creation of one of the worst free radicals, the hydroxyl radical. We know this to be true: free radicals are bad and accelerate aging. Do you really want to use anything that will increase the level of free radicals on your skin? I didn’t think so. It kind of defeats the purpose of all of those anti-aging and antioxidant products you use… (As a side note – think about this: one of the theories about why women live longer than men is that we have a generally lower iron status because of menstruation and delivery… Just saying.).
So there you have it. The science behind why I prefer not to wear tinted face products.
One of the most frequent questions I get about skin care, is in which order to apply products. Indeed, if you are using a moisturizer, a serum, foundation, and a sunscreen in the morning – what goes on first? And what if you add a treatment product on top of that?
Here are a few good rules of thumb to make the most out of your skin care routine, as recommended by my father, dermatologist Dr. Luigi Polla. Keep in mind that these recommendations are not product specific, but work even if you are using products from different brands.
- The foundation of any skin care routine is a clean canvas – only apply products to perfectly cleansed , dry (or damp) skin.
- Apply products from thin to thick. Serums first, followed by gels, followed by creams. If you start with the thicker product, the penetration of the thinner products will be impeded and diminished. In general, try to avoid mixing hydrophilic (water-based) products with oily products. The latter tend to prevent the penetration of the former.
- Sunscreen should be applied after all other treatment products have been applied. Meaning, after your serum, after your moisturizer, after your eye cream. If you are using a daily moisturizer with sunscreen, apply your serums and eye cream first, then your moisturizer with SPF.
- Makeup should be applied on top of your sunscreen. Remember, makeup is meant to cover your skin. Foundation and concealer should be applied after your sunscreen. If you are using a tinted moisturizer with SPF, apply this as you would a moisturizer with SPF (after serums, anti-aging treatments, and eye creams, before concealer and/or foundation).
- These general rules apply morning and evening, with the exception that moisturizers with SPF and makeup should not be applied before going to sleep.
- Some prescription products require specific direction. For example, retinoid creams are best used in the evening, applied 15-20 minutes after cleansing the skin, before anything else. This ensures the optimal penetration of the therapeutic actives. Creams and moisturizers should then be applied on top of the treatment product.
A couple more things to remember. In general, using products from different (non-prescription) brands will not affect the efficacy of each product. Also, the idea that your skin gets “used” to a product and that you need to change your routine every couple of months is not supported by much scientific evidence. However, your skin care routine should be adjusted according to the seasons, and when your skin type evolves (we tend to get dryer as we get older). And remember to always listen to the recommendations of your dermatologist or skin care professional. Watch this video to learn more about how to layer your skin care products.