What’s the right order to apply a BHA serum?

Little Rhino asks…I would like to add a B5 Serum into my skincare routine. I use a BHA ( salycic acid 2% ) lotion in the am/pm. I works well with my skin and mild acne. However, I do need a little extra boost of hydration. So the B5 sounded like a great place to start. Can these two products work together.  If yes, serum first-then lotion or vice versa?

The Beauty Brains respondLautrec_woman_at_her_toilette_1889

Lil’ Rhino’s question is really a “two-for-one.” Let’s break it apart and try to answer them one at a time.

What’s the right order to apply products?

The quick answer is that you should apply the BHA product directly to your skin first so nothing interferes with its exfoliating action. Ideally you should let it work for 2 to 5 minutes before applying any other product.

Is Vitamin B5 good for skin?

Ok, now that we know to apply moisturizer after a BHA treatment we need to find out if vitamin B5 is worth using as a moisturizer. (Note: For the sake of accuracy we need to point out that Vitamin B5 is pantothenic acid. Panthenol, which is typically used in cosmetic products, is the alcohol version of B5. So it’s chemically close but strictly speaking it’s not the same. Okay, now back to the answer…) To be honest, the answer to this one surprised us a bit. As a whole, the use of vitamins is over-rated in skin care and we didn’t expect to find that the B5 provided any specific benefit when applied topically. Surely any moisturizing effect is the result of the other ingredients in the formula and not the vitamin itself, right?

Wrong! At least according to one study which showed that lotions with panthenol helps skin retain moisture. The researchers tested three versions of a moisturizing cream formula: a control version without panthenol and versions containing 1% and 5%. Their results showed that after using the creams for 30 days, both of the panthenol-containing versions reduced moisturize loss through the skin better than the control.

What does this mean?

We don’t think this means you need to run out and spend a lot of money on a Vitamin B5 lotion because this study wasn’t designed to show that it works better than other, less expensive, ingredients. It just shows that B5 does provide protection against moisture loss. Should you buy a B5 cream? IF you know the product contains at least 1% panthenol and IF that product is not too expensive, then it could be worth a try. Just be sure to use if AFTER your BHA treatment.

Image credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/Lautrec_woman_at_her_toilette_1889.jpg

Reference: J Cosmet Sci. 2011 Jul-Aug;62(4):361-70.