Relationship between foaming, cleaning; application order for skincare products

July 1, 2006

Is there a relationship between the foaming of a cleanser and its ability to clean?

Q. Is there a relationship between the foaming of a cleanser and its ability to clean?

This idea is only partially true. Bubbles are created by a foaming agent added to cleansing formulations. Bar soaps and liquid body washes that foam abundantly have a high concentration of foaming agents and seek to produce abundant foam only for consumer appeal. Products that foam excessively and have a strong fragrance are labeled as "high impact" cleansers in the industry.

Q. What is the proper order for the application of medications, cosmetics and skincare products?

A. It is very important that skin care products are applied in the proper order. For example, if a topical medication is placed on top of a sunscreen, it will not work, since the sunscreen will create a barrier to medication penetration.

Remember that anything that has clinical efficacy must touch the skin surface to work. For this reason, the prescription medication is always the first product applied to a clean, washed face. Most topical medications contain penetration enhancers to breach the stratum corneum ultimately reaching the viable epidermis and dermis to exert their clinical effect.

After applying the medication, the next product applied should be a moisturizer. The moisturizer may enhance penetration of the medication through occlusion and is generally relatively inert preventing an active substance from inactivating an important chemical in the medication. Following moisturizer application, the sunscreen should be applied or the moisturizer can also contain a sunscreen combining these two steps.

Next, the facial foundation should be applied followed by powder, blush and any other colored cosmetics desired.

The proper order for product application is: medication, moisturizer, sunscreen, facial foundation, powder, blush and other colored cosmetics. This optimizes the functioning of the medication and allows the best final cosmetic appearance.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a clinical associate professor of dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C., and primary investigator, Dermatology Consulting Services, High Point, N.C. Questions may be submitted via e-mail to zdraelos@northstate.net
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