You’ve heard of the Golden Rule, but what about the Golden Minute? The Golden Minute is a term I coined to describe a mistake (or rather, the solution to a mistake) I see people making all the time in skincare. In this post, I’ll explain exactly what the Golden Minute is and how you can use it as a skincare hack to achieve a healthier moisture barrier.
I’ve been telling my clients about this “hack” for decades, and I love it because it’s an easy way to make the products you already use work even harder for you!
What is the “Golden Minute?”
The Golden Minute refers to the 60-second window of time after you finish cleansing your face. But wait, why is this important?
After cleansing, your skin is particularly vulnerable to moisture loss through a process called transepidermal water loss (TEWL). When TEWL occurs, water evaporates from the outermost layer of the skin into the surrounding air.
The reason washing your face makes skin more vulnerable to this process is that it removes everything that was helping keep moisture within the skin. The skin has a hard time holding on to moisture by itself and needs a little help from what we call occlusives. Occlusives are substances that create a barrier between your skin and the surrounding air. This keeps harmful substances (like potential irritants) out, and beneficial things (such as water) in. Your skin’s natural oils act as an occlusive, but many common ingredients found in moisturizers are occlusive as well.
When you leave your skin bare after cleansing, you leave it open to moisture loss that can lead to dehydrated skin and a damaged moisture barrier. (This is one of the reasons I caution against just splashing your face with water in the morning.) A damaged barrier can lead to a whole slew of issues, including (but not limited to) redness, flaking, irritation, tightness, and rough-feeling skin. You have about 60 seconds after cleansing before this moisture loss starts to occur, hence, the Golden Minute.
How Can I Use the “Golden Minute” to Prevent Dehydration and Build a Healthier Moisture Barrier?
The rule is simple: once you’ve cleansed, apply the rest of your skincare products within 60 seconds, starting with an alcohol-free toner. It may seem like a small thing but by avoiding unnecessary moisture loss, you’ll prevent dehydration and keep your skin healthier overall.
The reason I suggest using an alcohol-free toner as your first step right after cleansing is that it gives the skin an immediate drink of water. In addition to offering instant hydration (which will make your skin look better), a toner can remove chlorine and harsh minerals found in tap water. It can also help keep your skin’s pH balanced. (Still not convinced? Here are 5 benefits of using an alcohol-free toner.)
Next, apply your serum—these usually have a light consistency, and you always want to apply your products in order of thinnest to thickest. Serums contain a high concentration of performance ingredients, so this will typically be your “treatment” product, meaning the product that targets specific concerns. Once your serum has been applied, top it all off with a moisturizer for your skin type. By applying your toner, serum, and moisturizer within that 1-minute window, you’ll ensure that everything gets delivered into your skin and actually stays there.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it, my “Golden Minute” skincare hack! Of course, it sounds more exciting to call it a hack, but what this really comes down to is understanding the basic functions of human skin and some of the science behind it. What people don’t always realize is that it isn’t just about which products you use, it’s also about how you use them. Let me put it this way—if you wash your face twice a day, that’s 730 times a year you could be dehydrating your skin. Applying your products quickly after cleansing instead of leaving the skin bare will help you prevent this so you can maintain a robust moisture barrier. And after all, a healthy barrier is the key to healthy skin!
Next, read all about eight common cleansing mistakes you need to stop making.
Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”