A ton of these so-called “skincare hacks” flooding your social media feeds are anything but safe, and rarely, if ever, have seen the inside of a lab. Loads of “influencers” push them just to nab more followers, but the reality is most of them are just fads. Remember the trend of using lemon juice on dark spots? It turned out to be a disaster that makes the skin extremely sensitive to the sun. This is why you’ll see most dermatologists warning against the majority of these flashy tricks. However, there are still a handful of skincare hacks that have stood the test of time and are both safe and effective. We’re here to dish out the details on them.
These skincare hacks actually work
Hack 1: Ice cube “sealing” after serum
Did you know that cold can reduce pore size and tighten the skin while locking in the active ingredients from a serum? Here’s a DIY skincare hack: After applying a serum, gently rub an ice cube over your face. This could seal the serum’s active ingredients into your skin for more benefits.
Hack 2: Rice water toner
Rice water is rich in antioxidants, amino acids, and minerals—basically all the good stuff for your skin. It also has a slightly acidic pH, which can balance the skin’s natural pH. Use rice water as a toner before applying your moisturizer. This can enhance your skin’s ability to seal hydration.
Hack 3: Aloe vera layering with hyaluronic acid
Aloe vera contains polysaccharides that work to retain moisture, while hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant that draws in moisture. Apply a thin layer of aloe vera gel, let it absorb, and then apply a hyaluronic acid serum. This could potentiate the moisturizing effects of both.
Hack 4: Slugging
Slugging is a skincare hack that involves applying a thick layer of petroleum jelly over your regular nighttime skincare products to lock in moisture. This technique uses petroleum jelly to form a protective barrier on the skin to reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL), allowing your nighttime products to work more effectively. The semi-occlusive nature of petroleum jelly also aids the skin’s natural recovery process during sleep by sealing water molecules underneath. It’s especially beneficial in dry, cold climates or artificially heated environments. However, those with oily or acne-prone skin should proceed with caution and consider patch testing, as the method could potentially cause breakouts or worsen existing conditions.
Hack 5: Skin flooding
Skin flooding is another skincare technique aimed at intensely hydrating the skin. The method involves applying an excessive amount of hydrating products and layering them to ‘flood’ the skin with moisture. One would start by applying hydrating ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or vitamins, followed by heavier moisturizers or oils, and finally sealing everything in with an occlusive like petroleum jelly. This layering and sealing technique ensures that the hydrating ingredients are absorbed into the skin and deliver maximum hydration.
Hack 6: Honey and yogurt prebiotic mask
Honey has natural antibacterial properties against bad bacteria, and yogurt contains beneficial bacteria. Mix honey and yogurt to create a mask. This could feed your skin’s good bacteria while suppressing bad bacteria, which can greatly improve your skin microbiome and overall health.
Hack 7: Green tea steam
Steam makes your pores expand, while the antioxidants in green tea can combat skin-damaging free radicals and reduce cell inflammation. To benefit from this skincare hack, boil green tea and use it as a facial steam. After steaming, apply your preferred serum. The dilated pores will facilitate the absorption of both the active ingredients from the serum and the antioxidants from the green tea, meaning they’ll work better.
Hack 8: Oil cleansing
This skincare trick is based on the scientific principle that like dissolves like and has been proven effective for oily and acne-prone skin. Basically, oils can dissolve oils; hence, oil cleansing can remove excess sebum and oil-based products like sunscreen more thoroughly than traditional face washes. Use a natural oil like jojoba or grapeseed every other day to cleanse the skin. Rub both hands to warm the oil and apply it to your face in a circular motion. On off days, use a gentle cleanser to remove residual oil.
Hack 9: Enzyme and acid exfoliation
Enzymes break down proteins and loosen the dead skin cells, while acids like AHA or BHA can dissolve the “glue” that holds these cells together. First, apply a fruit enzyme mask (e.g., papaya or pineapple) for about 5 minutes. Rinse off and immediately apply a mild AHA or BHA solution. The enzyme pre-treatment could render the acid exfoliation more effective. This should not be done more than once a week to avoid overstressing the skin.
Hack 10: Niacinamide and zinc timing
Niacinamide boosts skin-barrier function and controls sebum, while zinc has anti-inflammatory properties. Apply niacinamide in the morning to control daytime oil production and zinc in the evening to benefit from its anti-inflammatory properties when your skin is in repair mode overnight.
Hack 11: Peptides or vitamin C with iontophoresis
Peptides and vitamin C can signal skin to produce more collagen, but their large size can make them less bioavailable. Iontophoresis is a skincare method that uses electrical current to push the molecules of those active ingredients right into the skin. It’s proven to work well in treating photoaging, hyperpigmentation, and oxidative stress. After applying a peptide serum or vitamin C, use a home iontophoresis device to increase skin penetration. Follow instructions carefully to avoid irritation or burns.
Hack 12: Activated charcoal and salicylic acid
Activated charcoal acts like a magnet to pull out impurities and sebum from the skin’s surface, and salicylic acid can penetrate the skin’s fat layer to exfoliate inside the pores. Apply a thin layer of salicylic acid and follow with an activated charcoal mask. This trick works great in clearing the skin on multiple layers and reducing the chances of blackheads and pimples.
Hack 13: Coenzyme Q10 and vitamin C
Coenzyme Q10 promotes cellular energy production, and vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that the body needs for cell regeneration and to restore the skin’s protective layer. Apply coenzyme Q10 serum and let it fully absorb before applying vitamin C serum. Coenzyme Q10 will boost the energized skin cells to utilize the regenerating properties of vitamin C more efficiently.
Hack 14: Hyaluronic acid and glycerin
Both are humectants but work best at different humidity levels. Mix hyaluronic acid and glycerin in a 1:1 ratio and apply to the face before sealing it with an occlusive. This could offer superior hydration by drawing moisture from the air across a broader range of humidity levels.
Hack 15: Oscillating retinol and AHA
Both ingredients increase skin turnover but can be irritating when used together. But here’s a skincare hack that everyone can benefit from. Use retinol for two weeks and then switch to an AHA for two weeks. This could maximize cell turnover while minimizing irritation, as each active gets a “rest period,” reducing the potential for over-exfoliation.
Hack 16: Ferulic acid, vitamin E, and vitamin C
Yes, vitamin C is great on its own. Still, using it along with vitamin E and ferulic acid provides even more skincare benefits. Both vitamin E and ferulic acid stabilize vitamin C and maximize antioxidant protection. You can either use a serum that contains the three ingredients, such as SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, or apply vitamin C and follow with a vitamin E oil and ferulic acid booster. This hack works very well for those who live in a city with high UV index and pollution levels, where free radicals levels are higher.
Hack 17: Micro-needling with hyaluronic acid
Micro-needling creates tiny punctures in the skin, which makes it easier for your favorite skincare products to sink in. After using a home micro-needling device, immediately slather on a serum packed with hyaluronic acid or peptides. The micro-channels will deliver the hyaluronic acid and peptides deeper into the skin for more intense hydration and collagen-boosting effects. The results? Smooth, plump, and moist skin.
Hack 18: Fasting mimicry with polyphenols
Fasting can trigger autophagy. Autophagy literally means “self-eating,” and it allows cells to break down and recycle their components, essentially cleaning out cellular debris and damaged cellular structures. The body can then use these recycled components to generate energy and create new cellular parts. Certain polyphenols can mimic this effect. That said, to amplify skin autophagy, apply a serum rich in these polyphenols (e.g., resveratrol, quercetin) during periods you’re fasting or consuming fewer calories. This approach leverages the cellular cleaning properties of autophagy and the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cell-regenerating properties of polyphenols for maximum benefits.
Hack 19: Oxygen infusion with peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen, supplying extra oxygen to the skin. After cleansing, apply a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution (be sure it’s very diluted to avoid irritation) to your face, typically not exceeding a 1% concentration, followed by your regular serums and moisturizers. This could mimic the effects of professional oxygen facials, which are known to enhance cellular respiration and metabolism.
Hack 20: Caffeine under LED mask
Caffeine can constrict blood vessels to reduce puffiness and swelling, and LED masks are known to improve skin tone and stimulate collagen. Combine the two? It’s like hosting a spa day for your skin! Apply the eye patches, and then let the LED mask illuminate your face. It’s a dual-action that could enhance both the tightening and anti-aging effects.
Hack 21: Ascorbic acid and ascorbyl palmitate
Ascorbic acid is water-soluble and works in the skin’s aqueous layers, whereas ascorbyl palmitate is fat-soluble and works in lipid layers. Use an ascorbic acid serum in the morning and an ascorbyl palmitate cream at night to cover all bases for vitamin C absorption.
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