Image: Anna Efetova for Getty

The viral TikTok (or #BeautyTok, to some) trend, “retinol sandwiching,” is one of the hottest trends in the beauty industry…over 22.5 million views and counting.

But how does it work and how do we do it?

Janna Ronert, IMAGE Skincare founder and esthetician, describes the skincare technique as “using a layer of moisturizer before and after you apply retinol so it’s ‘sandwiched’ between two other layers of product.” The idea is to limit irritation to the skin, which can sometimes be caused by retinol.

Ronert recommends always choosing a lightweight moisturizer to ensure you don’t deplete the effectiveness of the retinol too much and to reach for an encapsulated retinol. “Even before you add the sandwiching technique, an encapsulated retinol is already less likely to cause irritation. I usually recommend including the moisturizer after retinol because without the added layer of hydration, the risk of sensitivity is higher. In addition, I always find that retinol can be drying on the skin – even for those with oily skin – so most people need to load up on moisture when using it to avoid dry or flaky skin.”

Is this trend new?

While this trend might seem new to many, it’s actually a commonly recommend one in the beauty space. “Estheticians and skin experts have been recommending laying retinol with moisturizer for years to prevent the negative effects of irritation, dryness and flaking that retinol can cause,” says Ronert.

Image: Anna Efetova for Getty

And it’s certainly a worthy trend.

“I’m a fan of retinol sandwiching because you can get a big dose of retinol for plumping collagen and a super dose of hydration in one program,” says Ronert. “It can help alleviate any irritation – such as flaking or dryness – that can sometimes be caused by retinol. It acts as a barrier between the active ingredient and the skin. In addition, moisturizing after using retinol helps seal in moisture which can help limit any sensitivity.”

The key is to choose the right formula for your skin and to stick with it. “Pick a retinol with an enhanced delivery system such as the aforementioned encapsulated retinol. This type of retinol means the active ingredients penetrate deeper into the skin layer before being activated, so it is highly effective but still gentle on the skin. The IMAGE Skincare AGELESS total retinol-A crème is the ideal intensive blend of encapsulated retinol, glycolic acid and lactic acid. Even before you add the sandwiching technique, an encapsulated retinol is already less likely to cause irritation.”

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