Microdosing: the increasingly popular practice – well, in certain circles, at least – of ingesting micro quantities of a psychedelic substance (such as LSD, MDMA, or psilocybin – the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) in an attempt to improve creativity and focus, and decrease anxiety and depression*. As it turns out, your skincare practice can benefit from a similar approach. The principles of microdosing – think a staggered, less-is-more methodology – when applied to certain skincare actives can produce better results. By taking everyday ingredients and using them in a hyper-precise way, real benefits are possible, according to the experts. Here’s what you need to know…
The ingredients to microdose
While not every ingredient in your skincare regimen will be a fit for the microdosing model, some of the most classic complexion enhancers qualify.
“The ingredients most amenable to microdosing are those that are more likely to cause skin irritation when used haphazardly, such as retinoids/retinols, hydroxy acids, and antioxidants like vitamin C,” says New York-based dermatologist Dr. Brendan Camp. “Each holds the promise of fresher, healthier, younger-appearing skin, but the delivery is slow and sustained.” Lower concentrations allow skin to acclimate while reaping the benefits, and, at the same time, risking fewer of the side effects that come with higher doses. It’s why most dermatologists will advise retinol newbies to start with application three nights a week, versus nightly. And while it’s tempting to choose products boasting the highest concentrations, more isn’t always better for your skin. “When integrating retinols, hydroxy acids – such as glycolic, lactic or salicylic acids – or vitamin C, going straight for the highest concentration available will not make your skin look better faster, and it may derail your plans entirely by causing irritant-contact dermatitis, which presents with redness, scaling, burning, swelling, and sometimes pain and blistering,” adds Camp.
The benefits of precision dosing
Just as precise amounts are integral to the efficacy and experience of traditional microdosing, the same is true of skincare products. “You’re always looking for the optimum quantity or concentration to be able to see a desirable effect while minimizing the negative effects,” says dermatologist and advisor to Noble Panacea, Dr. Anne Chapas, who draws a parallel between skincare and drug dosing. “What we especially see with skincare and pharmaceuticals is what we call the bio-availability, or how long the effect lasts before your body breaks it down.” The greater challenge with skincare is that skin is a natural barrier, whose goal is to keep things out, which means optimal dosing of the correct concentration is that much more critical. What can be just as crucial, adds Chapas, is the ingredient-delivery system. And to make it even easier, super-smart brands like Noble Panacea have products that dispense precise daily doses, catering to what your skin actually needs. “This helps deliver the product at the right concentration throughout the day, not in a strong peak when you first put it on and then with very limited effects for the next 12 hours,” explains Chapas. Single-dosage skincare also helps maintain the integrity of ingredients. “Noble Panacea’s intelligent sachets protect ingredients at a molecular level, to preserve the freshness and potency of an active without exposing it to cross-interaction,” adds brand founder Sir Fraser Stoddart.
And the one product you should never microdose
All skincare pros agree that if there’s one product you should always take a diametrically opposite approach to, it’s sunscreen. That one-and-done morning application that most of us adhere to is simply not enough, says brand founder Dr. Barbara Sturm. “One of the worst approaches is putting sunscreen on in the morning and calling it a day,” she says. “Sweating and other influences reduce its protective effects and expose you to the premature aging and cancer-causing rays you may have thought you’d checked the box on. The more broad-spectrum sunscreen you apply, and constantly reapply, the better.”
*These drugs have serious associated risks and are illegal in many countries. There is still limited research demonstrating the efficacy and safety of microdosing and the effects may vary from person to person.
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