A skincare method known as “retinol sandwiching” has been trending lately on TikTok. Skincare junkies say that this method is foolproof and allows you to enjoy the benefits of using retinol without any drawbacks.

While it sounds great, there are a few reasons why you should avoid this method. Before we spill the details, let’s first understand what retinols are and what they can do for the skin.

What are retinols?

Photo source: @gelaburgos/TikTok and @sunscreengodmother/TikTok

Retinol is also known as vitamin A. It is a highly raved about skincare ingredient that can reduce the appearance of fine lines, reduce scarring, improve your skin’s texture, diminish enlarged pores, and also unclog pores to prevent acne breakouts.

Retinol usually comes in the form of serums and creams for you to apply to your skin during your nighttime skincare routine.

However, all these benefits come at a price. Using retinol products can be slightly drying and irritating for some of us.

This is because retinol speeds up the shedding process of your dead skin cells. However, as there may be a delay between the shedding and the time when your newer skin cells can come to the surface, your skin is exposed, which can lead to redness and irritation.

That is why retinol should always be applied in moderation and if you’re starting out for the first time, it would be wise for you to observe and take note of how your skin reacts to this skincare ingredient.

Related read: 16 best retinol creams that smoothen wrinkles, fade dark spots, and clear acne scars

What is “sandwiching”?

Photo source: @glowwithava/TikTok and @hannabunnyb/TikTok

“Sandwiching” is a skincare method often used to give your skin a boost in hydration. This is achieved by layering your skincare products between damp skin and a thick layer of moisturiser.

When doing this method, you’ll be encouraging your skin to absorb your skincare products better so you can max out all the benefits they can offer.

As always, everything must be done in moderation and this is exceptionally so for the “sandwiching” method.

Always apply thin layers of skincare products on damp skin before following up with a richer formula. Should you overwhelm your skin and overload it with various products, the active ingredients in each product might cancel each other out.

This will nullify your entire routine or even trigger skin irritation.

Related read: If your dry, dehydrated skin’s hungry for hydration, make it a “moisture sandwich”!

Why you should NOT be hopping onto the “retinol sandwiching” trend

Photo source: @hello.glen/TikTok

Now that we have a clearer understanding of what retinols and “sandwiching” are, it’s time for the big reveal.

Skincare enthusiasts claim that this method is a holy grail because it will give your skin added hydration to battle irritation and redness caused by retinols.

Sounds good, right? But after further inspection, you’ll see that there is an issue with this method.

Moisturisers have occlusives that will create a barrier for your skin. If you “sandwich” your retinol in between layers of moisturiser, you’re preventing your retinol from being absorbed into your skin, causing them to remain at the surface of your face without ever penetrating through.

So, in order to get the results that your retinol promises, you should always apply it on clean dry skin.

If you have sensitive skin, don’t be disappointed by the let-down of “retinol sandwiching” there are still many ways you can enjoy them.

You can apply retinol in moderation and slowly condition your skin to adapt to its harshness.

Try incorporating them into your routine one to three times a week or even carry out the “skin cycling” method which is a four-day routine that uses retinol and exfoliants to help tame breakouts and even out skin texture.

By doing the routine over a span of four days, you’re giving your skin time to get used to retinol and reduce the chances of irritation.

Photo source: @drwhitneybowe/TikTok and @_skincaretips101_/TikTok

Retinols can be harsh on your skin so we want to remind you once again that the ones who ace skincare are the ones that monitor their skin after every harsh product or a new routine.

Everyone’s skin is unique and it isn’t easy to give a broad-based recommendation, especially when it comes to the stronger ingredients.

When you’re using retinols, it’s all about experimenting. If your skin gets too irritated, hold off on it for a while and monitor how long your skin takes to recover.

Take note of how often you’re applying and the amount you use each time. Fine-tune your routine until you get the results you want.

Featured image credit: @themashedpotatoes/TikTok, @hello.glen/TikTok, and @tissam.e/TikTok