Should You Rub or Press Your Products into Your Skin? Here’s How To Tell.
By Kendall Farr, Licensed Esthetician, SPADA Skincare
“How should I apply this?” I love this question when it’s asked during treatment because different product formulations and different skin types will benefit from rubbing sometimes and pressing other times. Knowing how to apply your products means real results versus potential irritation. Here’s a handy rundown on whether to rub or press.
Rubbing vs. Pressing
Are You Normal to Dry or Normal to Oily?
Rubbing works well for skins that are normal to dry or normal to oily to boost blood circulation. When your complexion looks a little dull, using gentle, circular motions when applying cream or a creamy cleanser creates increased blood flow to the skin. This can get your skin glowing and aid in lymphatic drainage too. Your blood nourishes your skin so think of this temporary stimulation as a kind of healthy pressed juice with an extra shot. Stimulating your blood flow also helps bring fresh oxygen to your skin.
Sensitive? Prone to Redness or Brown Spots?
Sensitive skins and skins prone to redness and vascularity (broken blood vessels) should avoid vigorously rubbing in their products. Instead, gently pressing in things like serums and moisturizers is a better way to go. Rubbing can irritate and overstimulate sensitive skins (more redness). The same goes for skin with chronic hyperpigmentation (lots of stubborn brown spots) as rubbing can stimulate already overactive melanin cells. And consider spinning cleansing brushes as vigorous rubbing. These are not your friends if your skin is easily irritated. A creamy cleanser that has lots of slip like GM Collin Sensiderm Cleansing Milk works well using very (very) gentle circular rubbing.
The Benefits of Pressing
When it comes to serums, creams, and eye creams, here’s why pressing is effective. First, it’s a gentler application technique than rubbing in your products (less pulling on your tender facial and neck skin). Second, by pressing a product into the skin with gentle pressure, you may enhance the absorption.
Pro Tip: For all skin types, the surest way to enhance absorption is by applying products to slightly damp skin. Boost product penetration by misting your skin with an alcohol-free toner like GM Collin Hydramucine Hydrating Mist post cleanse and before applying your serums and/or moisturizer.
Products to Press
- Eye creams: Always. Apply a half pea size drop and dab between your ring fingers. Start at the inner corner of the eye and work outwards towards your temples to support this thin skin (it’s 10x thinner than the rest of your face). A potent formula like GM Collin Bota Peptide Eye Contour offers a collagen boost to delicate skin.
- Aqueous Serums: Aqueous (liquid) serums like GM Collin Vital C15 Serum for antioxidant protection and brown spot prevention or GM Collin Vasco-Tonic Serum for soothing and anti-redness are always best pressed into the skin for total absorption.
- Gel Serums: Same idea. Gel formulas applied and spread between your fingertips and palms and then pressed firmly into the skin provides maximum absorption.
- Sunscreens: If the formula is creamy, try gently rubbing it into your skin until absorbed. A mineral (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) formula like GM Collin SPF 50 Protection Veil is enriched with oils including vitamin E so applying the liquid to the fingertips of both hands and then pressing it into the skin creates a barrier (think of a mirror) that bounces UVA and UVB off the skin. Finish the application with light strokes.
Assess your skin type. If your skin is not easily irritated or hyperpigmented then a gentle rubbing motion will give you a glow and added circulation. Never rub aggressively or use hard pressure. If your skin is more sensitive (read easily irritated) and you have dryness, redness, and hyperpigmentation (or both) then press. This will keep your skin calm and soothed and will also enhance your product absorption.