Tolerance through Microdosing.

Building your skin’s ability to use potent ingredients.

Retinol, Azelaic Acid, Salycic Acid, Lactic Acid, Bakuchiol, and the like are all wonderful ingredients, how so? Learn about each of the former here. Having said that, all these ingredients come to conquer, they are potent and plenteous, hence making it essential to build your skin’s ability to tolerate them. While other ingredients like Niacinamide and hyaluronic acid are easier to start using, however, it is then essential to ensure that the different ingredients you use do not interact negatively with one another. As a result, when it comes to developing a regime, it is essential that one is able to put together an array of their favourites without irritating the skin. How does one do this you might wonder?

In order to answer this question, we delved deeper and decided to seek advice from an industry professional, we asked them what they thought and this is what we learnt.

Research suggests that irritating products aren’t completely off-limits, sometimes while an ingredient may be temporarily irritating, it is actually most likely working on the skin and treating one’s concerns. For instance, you may find that when you try new retinol, you experience a slight sting on the surface of the skin, this is completely normal. Therefore, it is important first to determine whether the product suits you, or has brought on a form of contact dermatitis. Once you are aware, then you are able to, if it is not dermatitis (which we would recommend that you see a dermatologist for), take your skin on a boot camp of sorts. Your skincare routine will continue to evolve, is what research suggests and we totally agree, as your skin continues to change as you grow through different phases of your life.

This is where microdosing comes in, while there is little research, this is exactly what microdosing is in the skincare world, it is a new term for building tolerance.

Theoretically, the term Microdosing comes from using drugs (THCs and psychedelics) in really small quantities that stimulate both, productivity and creativity in individuals. In the skincare world, however, Microdosing is used as a technique where active ingredients such as acids, vitamin C, retinol, and the like are used in smaller quantities. With consistent use, the view is that even with small amounts, therefore showing little to no side effects, results will show. Often, using just a single active in higher quantities leads to adverse effects on the skin leading to redness, rashes, and more, therefore, microdosing has become a go-to for many with sensitive skin.

When Microdosing, people apply as low as 1/10th of the recommended quantity, and build up the number of times in the week they use it.

Which actives should you Microdose with?

There are plenty of skincare ingredients in the market today that solve various skin concerns, and Microdosing with them will only benefit you more. A few skincare flag bearers that are apt for this process are Retinoids, Vitamin C, and a few exfoliating acids like glycolic, lactic, azelaic, and salicylic acid.

According to Dr. Snehal, a board-certified dermatologist from Mumbai, India “if you’re using Vitamin C or Retinol every day, you can alternate the application or you use it with the same or even a higher concentration but only for an hour before you wash it off. This helps increase the skin tolerability.” We believe this is another way to Microdose as well, using it for a small amount of timed then rinsing it off the skin such that only a small amount penetrates overnight.

Pro Tip: It’s always better to apply new ingredients at night when your skin is not exposed to pollutants and the like.

While one can play with concentrations in Microdosing, we believe in using small amounts of products with potent concentrations so that you are only Microdosing with plenteous products.

Now that we’ve learnt a little more about this process, let’s look at the recommended concentrations of the products one should use, and whether or not they are suitable for Microdosing below.

Is it for you?

On learning more from Dr. Snehal about the subject she said, “Microdosing is a good idea especially for people with compromised skin barriers or for someone who is suffering from rosacea or eczema.”

Having said that, while it works best for sensitive or compromised skin, microdosing has benefits for other skin types too. It all boils down to using ingredients that help the skin look and feel better. It is ideal for sensitive skin types as it uses lesser portions that don’t affect the skin or cause allergies or breakouts. Also, this process gives enough time for a person to understand what’s working for their skin. Microdosing as a process is also more sustainable and also doesn’t deprive the user of active ingredients that actually have so much scope to do wonders to your skin.

What you should take note of before, during and after this process.

  1. While Microdosing may be recommended by some dermatologists, it is a new trend, and therefore one must act with caution as you would when trying anything new.
  2. Take it slow. Understand the impact of all ingredients on your skin, learn how your skin responds, and then increase the amount slightly and the number of times it is used in a week. Microdosing can be done daily but as a beginner, start with 2-3 times a week.
  3. Never skimp on your moisturizer and your sunscreen. Apply generous amounts to your skin for sun protection and moisture.
  4. Remember what works for somebody else may not work for you. Ingredients have a different way of reacting on every skin type so understand your skin, the right ingredients for it, and its pace.


  1. Rodan, K., Fields, K., Majewski, G., & Falla, T. (2016). Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare. Plastic and reconstructive surgery. Global open, 4(12 Suppl Anatomy and Safety in Cosmetic Medicine: Cosmetic Bootcamp), e1152.
  2. Zoe Diana Draelos, (12 Jul 2009). The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy.


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