Never mind the aesthetically-pleasing visuals or videos where your favorite brands and content creators let the dropper (also called pipette) caress their skin, with serum or oil streaming down their face. It may look oddly satisfying, giving this impression of quenching thirsty skin and creating dewiness, but common sense must be restored as this trend should not become a habit.
The reality is that this "practice" will most likely aggravate your skin or reduce product efficacy. It may be "Instagram-worthy" but beauty-wise, it is a different story. Here’s why.
The risks for your skin health
With the dropper coming in contact with the skin (even on a clean face) there is a risk of contamination, and recurrent contact can then lead to an infection.
The function of preservatives is precisely to avoid contamination, and an effective preservative system will get rid of the fungi and bacteria that may develop.
However, the quantity of preservatives is usually as minimized as possible since they are commonly known allergens and irritants. Usually, cream products in jars tend to have a higher amount of preservatives than bottled products, because it is frequent for users to dip their fingers into them. This does not apply to serums or oils.
Therefore applying a serum dropper straight onto the skin is increasing the risk of contaminating your product.
An often unsuspected cause for acne or breakouts
As aforementioned, bottled-up products tend not to have a high concentration of microbe-fighting ingredients, so once you introduce bacteria and oils from your skin into a full container of product, you're creating a petri dish, this shallow transparent lidded dish that biologists use to hold growth medium in which cells can be cultured. This brings back some high school science memories.
It is even more problematic if you already deal with any active breakouts or issues on your face - even if it’s barely visible on your skin. The repeated misuse of the dropper in a contaminated bottle will create a vicious circle where you’re literally reintroducing microbes onto your skin, thus wreaking havoc on it. You’re never giving your skin a break nor an opportunity to heal, thus increasing the risk of spreading acne or breakouts all over your face and aggravating any existing conditions.
What about slightly lifting the pipette in the air to avoid contact with the skin?
This may avoid contamination, but it is very likely that you’ll use more product than necessary since the content of it will dribble all over your face. Serums are usually very concentrated products as they aim to target specific skin needs. A little goes a long way, and with this method, you’ll go through your product in record time without actually reaping the most benefits from it.
The right technique
Use your clean hands (nature’s best massage tool) and pat the product in. Just dispense an appropriate amount of product onto your clean hands without touching the actual tip of the dropper.
Depending on the product, take 3-4 drops or the full dropper, then apply to your palms, gently rub them together and lightly pat the serum/oil onto your skin.
Rubbing fingers activates the serum and allows for deeper penetration of the product when warmed up, while gentle pressure and small patting motions allow for better absorption. It saturates the skin with lasting hydration without excess tugging.
Pressing in your skincare products avoids any unnecessary pulling and friction of the skin, which means less collagen breakdown and fewer risks of sagging and wrinkly skin. Furthermore, it stimulates blood flow delicately, thus promoting a vibrant glow.
This skin patting technique is originally part of an ancient Asian beauty tradition and is still popular in Japan and Korea. If you're familiar with J- and K-beauty, they also have makeup foundations with cushions, precisely because they prefer to pat instead of massaging and rubbing.
Take the time to treat your skin mindfully
Instagram and TikTok do not reflect reality, it’s not about getting ready or un-ready at the speed of light. In our fast-paced society, everything becomes condensed and hectic, but in order to maintain some balance and sanity, slowing down is crucial. For the sake of our wellbeing.
Your beauty ritual is precisely the opportunity to make time for yourself and create your personal bubble to re-center and cleanse all the negativity or stress away. Take your time to apply products with clean hands and press them into the skin.
Breathe. Smile. Enjoy. Your skin and mind will thank you for it.