The $5 trick that will make your actives work *so* much better

The $5 Trick Set That’ll Make Your Skin Care Actives Work Way Harder

Who would have thought?!

Beauty Crew Digital Content Editor / June 28 2019

When you’re dropping a heap of coin on expensive beauty products, you want to make sure they’re doing the hard yards for your skin. 

‘Cause what good is that $453 Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum if it’s not actually imparting all of its pricey goodness into the skin?

That’s where this cheap trick for getting your skin care actives to work harder comes in. All it involves is your existing skin care and a sheet mask, which you can buy for as little as $5 or less.

Brisbane dermatologist Dr Davin Lim explained the process via his Instagram page:

“[A] great thing about [using sheet masks] is because it increases your water within your actual epidermis, it can help you with your actives. So if you’re using your vitamin As, Bs and Cs and you want to take it a step up, what do you do? You use the mask,” says Dr Lim. 

“If you think about it logically,” says Dr Lim, “your vitamins A, Bs, Cs, alpha hydroxy acids – they all work in your dermal layer or the lower parts of your epidermis. The upper bits of your skin [where we apply our skin care] are basically dead skin cells which get shed at 28 days anyway.”

Fair point – what’s the use in slathering on all that good stuff if it’s just treating skin cells that are about to be shed in a month’s time?

So how does Dr Lim’s active-absorbing trick work? 

In a nutshell, incorporating sheet masks into your skin care regimen can heighten the effectiveness of the actives in your skin care by increasing your skin’s water levels.

“Using the mask increases the water content in your face and that’s how the molecules [in your skin care] get delivered. They go through this jigsaw (which is keratinocytes) and they have to go through that because it’s conducted through water,” explains Dr Lim.

“So all your drug delivery systems are conducted through all of this. They don’t go through the cell, they go in between the cell and down to the base of the membrane. Then hopefully they go through the base of your membrane and into the dermis and that’s where it makes its molecular action. Or if [the actives are] targeting the melanocytes, [hopefully they] hit your melanocytes at the base of your epidermis. So by using this [mask] in the appropriate manner, you’re increasing your actives.”

Dr Lim says this trick also works well for avoiding skin sensitivities which can arise when higher concentrations of products like retinols or retinoic acids are used. This is because the sheet mask gets the lower concentration working more effectively than it ordinarily would, thus avoiding the need for something more potent to get through the epidermis.

Well there you have it. The secret to getting your skin to better absorb the actives in your skin care isn’t going out and buying stronger formulas, it’s simply getting your existing ones to absorb better by applying a hydrating sheet mask before you apply your active serums!

You can hear Dr. Lim’s explanation for yourself below:

Keen to try Dr Lim’s trick yourself? Some of our fave sheet masks that you can pick up for  just $5 are Garnier Hydra Bomb Ultra Hydrating Rejuvenating Tissue Mask, Glow Lab Hydrating Face Mask and Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Hydrating Facial Sheet Mask.

Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Hydrating Facial Sheet Mask

Garnier Hydra Bomb Ultra Hydrating Rejuvenating Tissue Mask

Glow Lab Hydrating Face Mask

If you’re looking for more clever beauty advice, check out these hot tips from nine beauty editors.

Will you try this skin care trick for getting your actives to work harder? Let us know in the comments.

Main image credit: Getty

Isobel is a Digital Content Editor at BEAUTYcrew, marie claire and InStyle. When she's not busy hunting for the latest beauty news, you’ll find her arranging her skincare collection in search of the perfect “shelfie.” Isobel was previously BEAUTYcrew's Junior Beauty Writer.