Every product that you use seems to tell you that their ingredients are able to “penetrate deeply” into your skin. But do you know how skincare products really work and what determines how deeply their ingredients can go into your skin? We break it down for you so you can make sure your regime works better.

aesthetics treatments for brighter skin

Size does matter

The size of the molecules of ingredients determine how far they can penetrate into skin. This is why you’ll often hear brands boasting about how they have harnessed technology that can make the molecules of ingredients smaller – this is because it is an indication that the product would absorb more easily by skin and penetrate deeper into the skin. Such technologies are important because many common ingredients that we know are good for our skin, including collagen and hyaluronic acid, have molecules that are too large to be absorbed by our skin if they exist in their usual state. But with technology that breaks down their molecules into smaller size, it is then possible for them to penetrate deeply into skin.

Are the molecules kept stable?


Some active ingredients are unstable. What this meansn is that the molecules tend to break down or lose their effect when exposed to light or air. Vitamin C is one of them; while it is an effective form of brightening ingredient that also has small molecules for easy penetration, vitamin C is highly unstable and can break down when exposed to light. (This is why most products that are rich in vitamin C comes in opaque containers.

Look out for terms such as “microspheres” or “microencapsulation” technology in the product that you use. Such technologies encapsulate the molecules of active ingredients to protect them, so they will remain effective and not be affected by the environment.

Other than creating a shield for active ingredients, some brands have invested in the technology of activating the ingredients only upon usage. Such products sometimes come in a few parts that require you to do your own mixing, and in some cases, you may see the terms “time-released” to describe the products.

How can we improve the penetration ability of our products?

Exfoliating our skin regularly is an important step to ensure penetration of products. When we exfoliate our skin, the top layer of dead skin cells is removed so the ingredients is able to go into our skin without any barrier. Also, the more hydrated your skin is, the better the penetration of products will be. Apart from including exfoliation and hydration as important steps in your regular skincare, you can also use devices to improve penetration. Microcurrent, light, and ultrasound devices have been touted as great supplements to skincare product to amp up their efficacy.