Some skincare terms immediately pique your interest (think: slugging), and “moisture sandwich” is among the latest buzzy skincare phrases to capture our attention. And we can thank Dieux Skin co-founder and CEO Charlotte Palermino for putting it on our radar. Her recent Instagram reel highlighted the benefits of dampening your skin as you layer your face and lip products to trap water inside.
To further understand why we should incorporate this unique stacking technique into our routines, we tapped Palermino to break down everything you need to know. From how you should approach sandwiching your skin and lips to the types of products you should use, the skincare expert shares it all below.
What Is A Moisture Sandwich?
As with most trendy skincare terms these days, the phrase “moisture sandwich” likely originated from Reddit. It refers to the process of layering your skincare products. “I typically refer to sandwiching in regards to trapping water in the skin and reducing transepidermal water loss,” Palermino explains. “By putting lighter, more watery products on damp skin and then layering something thicker, that water gets trapped for longer, allowing for more hydrated and happy skin.”
In her Instagram video, Palermino shows how she applies the moisture-sandwich method to her face and lips. The technique slightly differs for each area.
- For your lips: Palermino recommends dampening your mouth with tap water, applying a simple moisturizer, and then following up with a thick balm. “By dampening your mouth, you’re giving the moisturizer more of an opportunity to penetrate. It gives humectants or water-loving ingredients (like glycerin) in the formula more to hold on to. And then using something truly “occlusive” (or an ingredient that reduces evaporation of water), you’re giving your mouth an opportunity to heal and soak up all that water,” she explains.
- For your face: “Some people have acne, in which case you’re going to want to be cautious around any rich creams as they can exacerbate breakouts. And if you have dry skin, vaseline might be your new nighttime mask,” she says.
Her biggest rule of thumb for moisture sandwiching your face is to make sure you apply your moisturizer to skin that has been dampened with a mist or tap water. “From here, I apply moisturizer,” she shares. “If you have dry skin, this is where you could add a face oil and then something that’s more like a balm, but it depends on your skin type and climate.”
Bottom line: Following the moisture-sandwich routine will enhance your skincare experience. “In doing this, you’re just trapping moisture and allowing your skin to receive skincare better, Palermino says. “Dampening your face helps with product penetration.”
The skincare guru also says that this technique also has some cosmetic benefits. “Yes, you can apply highlighter, but if I layer my skin in such a way that’s it’s glossy, that works too,” she says. “Knowing my skin is protected and hydrated under my glow is just another benefit.”
When it comes to her lip sandwich, Palermino reaches for an affordable moisturizer like Neutrogena Hydroboost or CeraVe. She’ll then apply Chemist Confessions Balm Voyage ($29) as her topper. “You could use Vaseline, Aquaphor, or any thick chapstick you have lying around,” she tells us. “One brand I’ve been loving is Hanahana beauty’s Shea Lip Balm ($12). It’s perfect to put over a basic moisturizer.”
For her face sandwich, there are a couple of products Palermino is keeping in rotation. Currently, she applies Deux Skin’s forthcoming serum and then Triple Lipid Repair ($128)from Skinceuticals. “Any moisturizer works better when you dampen your face first, so don’t feel like you need to drop a ton of money on a moisturizer,” Palermino says. “I’m a fan of drugstore brands like La Roche Posay, Avene, First Aid Beauty, and Cetaphil.”
She’ll typically round out her nighttime routine by applying Aquaphor, Vaseline, or Chemist Confession’s Balm Voyage. But on the nights she uses a prescription retinoid, she’ll forego this step. “Because these thicker waxes and balms are occlusive, they can intensify the irritation of actives, so please skip on the nights you’re doing a treatment or prescription that can be irritating,” she explains.
Palermino offers one disclaimer regarding moisture sandwiching: “Don’t do it with retinol, exfoliating acids, or anything that can be irritating just to be safe.” She also emphasizes that while Vaseline doesn’t clog pores, it can trap sebum, dead skin, and bacteria and trigger breakouts for people with acne-prone skin.