Gliding is a trending moisturizer application technique—here’s what you need to know

When it comes to skincare application techniques, most of us use our fingertips to apply our favorite products. But it’s 2022, and if you’re still applying moisturizers and serums with your fingertips, you might not be getting the most out of your products. Immerse yourself in skin gliding, a unique way of skin care with specially designed brushes for a smoother application.

Skincare brushes have their roots in spas, where estheticians have long used spatulas, fan brushes, and body brushes to apply lotions, masks, and serums. But it doesn’t stop there. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King believes there is a connection between skin gliding and ancient Asian cupping and gua sha techniques, which also glide over the skin to increase blood flow. “When it comes to skincare products, we adopt the idea of ​​gliding with a dry brush to apply the product instead.”

Fascinated already? Then read on to find out everything you need to know about this trend that could make you apply your skincare products in a new way.

What is skin glide?

Matthew Waitesmith, founder of Artis Brushes, describes the skin glide as a gentle motion used to apply, mix and spread formulations onto the skin using specialized brushes. “Most skin care products are invisible when applied, so we can’t see if the distribution is even. We assume that using our fingers is satisfying, but formulas often get sloppy and uneven,” he shares. Waitesmith and his team tested the difference between finger and brush application when applying moisturizer. Examining the results under a black light, they noticed uneven application with fingers and even application with the brush, with less product consumption. “When you’re spending money on a product that promises to work, don’t you want application to be as consistent as possible?” That is the goal.”

However, not all formulas follow the trend. King says liquid products like serums, lotions, and oils work best. “Heavier creams and balms are harder to spread.” But is it better to pick up a product with a brush than with your fingers? Nanuet, New York dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD, says a brush spreads the product better but doesn’t increase its absorption. “Also, every time you run the brush over the skin, the product is likely peeling off the skin,” she explains.

What to glide with and how to do it

Just as every skin care product isn’t designed to glide across the skin, neither is every brush. Instead, consider using a dense-bristle brush that’s easy to hold and maneuver, like the Artis The Fini Brush ($30). “It works well with moisturizer and sunscreen for the face and body, and even self-tanner,” says Waitesmith. Other options include Undone Beauty’s Seamless Brush ($18) and the Anisa Beauty Neck Treatment Brush ($30).

Gliding is easy and won’t add any time to your regular skincare routine. First, load your brush with the product of your choice. Then gently glide the brush over the skin, applying in circular motions and small circles without applying too much pressure.

Is skin sliding better than fingers?

Your skin will be fine if you don’t use a tool to apply your products. However, cosmetic chemist Victoria Fu says that gliding the skin with a brush results in a more even and thorough application.

Just because it’s trendy to apply your products with a brush doesn’t mean everyone agrees with the practice. New York dermatologist Jody Levine, MD, recommends applying skincare products with clean fingers. “Brushing can irritate the skin and over time it can build up dead skin cells, dirt, oil and bacteria,” she adds.

Still, gliding is a more hygienic method of applying skincare products, since applying with your fingers (when dirty) can contaminate your products and spread bacteria to your face. “You’ll also get better, more even coverage with a brush without that dirty-hand feel,” adds King. “And it can help with microcirculation, as long as you don’t have super-sensitive skin.” However, the cleanliness factor goes out the window with using a dirty brush. Cosmetic chemist Gloria Lu says a good skin brush should have antimicrobial synthetic bristles, but be careful leaving the product on the brush for too long can cause bacterial growth. Washing your brushes regularly is important to avoid build-up of product and bacteria.

In the end, skin gliding is perhaps more of a ritualistic experience than a scientifically proven one. If skin glide lets you dial into skincare more than ever and allows you to be consistent, then we say stick with what works for you.

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