What's a "Moisture Sandwich," and How Can It Help Improve Dry Skin Types?
When social media's favorite esthetician (and co-founder and CEO of cult-classic brand Dieux) Charlotte Palermino posted on Instagram about a trend she sourced on Reddit, dubbed the "moisture sandwich," beauty enthusiasts everywhere were intrigued. The practice involves layering certain hydrating ingredients to prevent water loss, but does it meet doctors' standards? To better understand this viral technique, we asked board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Shafer Clinic Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD, and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jenny Liu, MD, to weigh in. Below, they share whether or not this trend is worth your time.
A moisture sandwich is a product layering method that traps hydration into the skin and lips. It involves placing lighter formulas on a damp face, then layering on thicker ones to seal in the water. According to Dr. Engelman, this requires three steps: First, dampen your face by splashing it with water or spritzing on a mist ("Doing this right before your skin care routine allows the moisture left on your skin to get partially absorbed along with your products, giving your skin an extra dose of hydration," she notes.) Next, apply the product with the most liquid-like consistency, like a serum. Finally, finish with a thick, rich occlusive, like Vaseline ($2.29, target.com) or Aquaphor (from $3.59, cvs.com).
According to Dr. Engelman, the moisture sandwich checks out. "As the skin pulls in your topical products, it also pulls in some of the water, which equals more hydration," she says. Dr. Liu agrees, noting that this method improves the complexion's barrier by decreasing the rate of water loss and providing additional ingredients to support overall skin health. As for frequency? Both experts say that you can practice this routine on a daily basis, especially if you are particularly dry. "I recommend doing this every time you apply skin care products, morning and night," says Dr. Engelman. "You can do this all over your body, too. I'm a fan of the 'soak and grease' method, which works the same way: Immediately after showering, apply a body oil or lotion to trap extra moisture into your skin."
Oily Skin, Think Twice
Dr. Engelman and Dr. Liu explain that negative effects are minimal, as the moisture sandwich is suitable for all skin types. But if you are oily or acne-prone, be mindful of which products you use—and avoid too-thick occlusive products. Stick to lighter ones, instead: "In general, I recommend avoiding thick or jelly-like formulas on the skin of the face, as they prevent your skin from breathing and can lead to clogged pores and acne," says Dr. Engelman.
Products to Try
You can likely attempt the moisture sandwich using products you already own, so long as you layer them from thinnest to thickest. But if you're searching for few new formulas, Dr. Engelman suggests beginning with Glo Skin Beauty's C-Shield Anti-Pollution Drops ($96, dermstore.com) and following those up with Elizabeth Arden's Hyaluronic Acid Ceramide Capsules Hydra-Plumping Serum ($51, ulta.com) to hydrate skin and protect its natural barrier. Then, apply your eye cream (she likes SkinMedica's Instant Bright Eye Cream ($88, dermstore.com)) and seal everything in with a heavy moisturizer, like Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Cream ($29, sephora.com). Dr. Liu, on the other hand, prefers to use the Exuviance Glycolic Perfecting Moisturizer ($47, ulta.com) as a last step.