Hair & Beauty

What Is Skincare Microdosing And Should We Be Doing It?

By Morgan Reardon
22nd Sep 2021

Samantha Harris stares down into the camera. Shards of light crossing her face.

Every day it feels like there is a new skincare trend that is fast gaining devotees, usually thanks to perfect-skin possibilities and bold promises. But how can you tell if a trend is actually worth trying or merely just a fad? After all, it’s a big risk to mess up your entire skincare routine on something that’s simply marketing spin at its finest. 

You may have heard the latest buzz surrounding a trend called ‘skincare microdosing’ but rather than jump on the bandwagon, we consulted an expert first. Below, Biologi’s Dermal Specialist Lucy Macdougald details what it is and if we should be doing it.  

What Is Skincare Microdosing?

Well firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room here—it has nothing to do with drugs. Although, it is likely that skincare microdosing did get its name from the idea of taking drugs (such psychedelics) in tiny quantities, which is said to improve everyday functioning. But that’s obviously NOT something we condone so I’ll get that out of the way first! 

Put simply, skincare microdosing is a less-is-more approach to skincare. It's where you use small—tiny even—amounts of powerful active ingredients consistently to get the results you want (without having to deal with any downtime). The principles of skincare microdosing lend itself to a staggered approach, starting with low doses or percentages of products and gradually building them up for daily use. This way, your skin is more likely to get used to the ingredients, rather than being overwhelmed and potentially reacting adversely.

The idea behind microdosing is to not overdo it on potent synthetic ingredients, so say for example you’re using a retinol, you would start off smaller using between 0.1 and 0.3% (rather than going straight to a 1% or 3%). That way you can get results without irritation. 

What Are The Benefits Of Skincare Microdosing?


The key benefit of microdosing is that you can introduce potent ingredients into your skincare routine without posing a huge risk of irritation or harsh reactions. What many people need to be aware of is that when introducing active ingredients into their routine, it has to be done intelligently and slowly. Skincare microdosing lends itself to this because the whole idea is to not overdo on any synthetic active ingredients. You’re introducing them slowly and in smaller percentage amounts.

Another thing to know when it comes to active ingredients is that some of them don’t actually ‘like’ each other. So unless you have a thorough knowledge in this area, you risk adverse skin reactions, especially when layering potent skincare products. For example, applying a Glycolic Acid to remove dead skin cells, then applying a product with Salicylic Acid, can cause major reactions to the skin by stripping the epidermis. Another common example is applying retinol and hydroxy acids together—they also both possess potentially irritating side effects when used on their own, but especially when combined. Both retinols and hydroxy acids are incredibly harsh on the skin, so they cause even more detriment when used together. 


A skin purge is an adjustment phase that occurs when active ingredients speed up the skin cell turnover rate, causing an array of temporary side effects like blackheads and pimples. During this time, any pre-existing clogged pores beneath the surface of your skin (microcomedones) are pushed out, which can cause your skin to flare up or break out. Due to the cellular turnover during a skin purge, the surface layer of skin begins to shed more quickly, so our skin expedites its recovery and pushes everything to the surface. This usually happens if you have clogged pores which can cause pimples, or if you have excess sebum or smaller pimples which can then turn into larger ones. While a skin purge is actually a good thing for the skin in the long term, it can be a bit of a shock when it’s all happening at once. Skincare microdosing is likely still going to cause your skin to increase its cell turnover rate and potentially purge a little, but the skin gets time to adjust to the products so the adjustment phase isn’t as bad. 


Another benefit of microdosing is having the chance to see how the product is working and what the real results are. Often when you’re introducing new products into your routine it can be in a more haphazard way so you’re less likely to attribute certain changes to specific products. Skincare microdosing allows you to really analyse what is happening to your skin during the process and better monitor results. 

What’s The Best Way To Implement Microdosing?

The way I’d suggest to approach this kind of routine is really dependent on your skin type and current routine. It’s likely that your skin might have become used to (or even reliant on) your current products. So, you’ll want to start off small no matter what you decide on (and if needed, try to phase your current routine out). For example, if your routine currently consists of potent actives but you want to try other actives in a microdosing way, phase out your current ones. That might mean going from using it every day to every second day, or going from every second day to twice a week. Then, decide on the active you want to introduce into your routine and find a product that contains a smaller percentage. What you choose really just depends on what your skin might need. 

For example, you might be keen to try Vitamin C in your routine for its ability to diminish hyperpigmentation, fine lines and visible sun-damage, as well as promote collagen production. There are many products available on the market that offer ‘Vitamin C’ however it is normally Ascorbic Acid (which is a synthetic form of Vitamin C). Vitamin C is notoriously unstable because once the nutrient is extracted, exposure to air or water means it will break down and oxidise in as little as 30 minutes (that’s why manufacturers add synthetics to keep it stable). In these cases, is it better to introduce a synthetic form in lower percentages. Biologi’s Vitamin C serums (Bf Restore Face and Body Serum and Bk Eye Rejuvenation Serum) are actually 100% active, but because they are plant based—and the only natural Vitamin C in skincare available—you can safely introduce this into your routine in a similar way. Our unique extraction technology was designed in-house and has revolutionised the way we can extract these actives and keep them stable. 

Or perhaps your skin is looking a little dull and has a few blemishes. I would recommend introducing our Bd Face Luminosity Serum into your routine but only using it every second day. The Bd serum is amazing for invigorating dull skin, improving complexion, and clarifying skin that’s prone to oil and breakouts. However, if your skin is highly sensitive then we recommend you start with the Bf or Bk serum first to help improve the barrier function of the skin. Then Bd can then be introduced thereafter. Due to Bd having high potency, it is common to experience skin purging when you first introduce this serum to your regime, however this can be one of the best things that can happen to your skin. 

One product you should never microdose in any way is sunscreen—please always use sunscreen on your entire face and body and apply it regularly. This is nonnegotiable.

To see what new beauty products Urban List is loving this month, head here

Image Credit: Supplied 


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