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Pre-Skincare: What You Need to Know

In order for the skin care products you use to really be effective, your skin needs to be properly prepared beforehand.

What does this entail?

Well, that depends on which skin care products you use.

However, in order to save you some time and effort, many brands have now created “pre” skin care formulas, from pre-shaves to pre-masks to pre-cleansers. These are designed to fully prepare your skin for the treatment or product that is coming next, enabling you to experience the maximum when it comes to skin-boosting benefits.

Pre-Shave Oils and Creams

Shaving is a popular form of hair removal, and is something that many people do on a daily basis.

However, unless you are using the right products, shaving can sometimes be quite harsh on the skin. Shaving is actually a mild form of exfoliation, meaning that each time you shave, you are also removing some of your skin’s outermost layer.

Doing this too much can leave your skin feeling dry, red and sore.

This is where a pre-shave product comes in…

They come in a few different forms, from a pre-shave cream to a pre-shave oil to a pre-shave scrub, but they all essentially do the same things:

  • Provides a layer of protection between your skin and the razor blade, which is especially important in areas where your skin is extra sensitive
  • Lubricates the skin, resulting in a close but comfortable shave without any razor burn or rashes
  • Moisturizes the skin
  • Softens the hairs, giving you a much smoother and sleeker shave 

How exactly do you use a pre-shave product?

They are designed to be applied to your skin, in the places that you intend on shaving. Leave the cream or oil to soak into your skin for a few minutes, before applying your shaving cream or foam.

Keep in mind that pre-shave products are not designed to replace shaving foams and creams, they are designed to be used in addition to them.

Pre-Wax Cleansers, Lotions and Oils

If shaving can be harsh on your skin, then you can only imagine the toll that waxing can take.

Just like with pre-shave products, there are so many different pre-wax products out there.

The main ones that you will find are:

  • Pre-Wax Cleansersthese cleanse the skin of any oils, sweat, pollution, makeup and skin care products, while also re-balancing the skin’s pH level and tightening pores to ensure a smoother result
  • Pre-Wax Lotionsthese also cleanse the skin, as well as prevent the wax from becoming tacky
  • Pre-Wax Oilsthese soften the skin and prevent the wax from sticking to the skin, making the process much more comfortable and efficient

Which one do you need?

Ideally, all three, especially if you wax on a regular basis. You would use them in the order in which they are listed above. 


Have you ever heard of double cleansing?

This cleansing method consists of using an oil-based cleanser first, followed up by a water-based cleanser.

A pre-cleanser is an oil-based cleanser, and is designed to be used right at the beginning of your skin care routine.  

You are probably thinking…

What’s the point of a pre-cleanser?

Well, as you likely already know, oil and water do not mix. This means that when you apply a water-based cleanser to your skin, and this is usually what standard cleansers are, it will not be able to properly clear away any oil-based remnants on your skin. 

You should be using a pre-cleanser if you:

  • Have oily skin
  • Use waterproof makeup
  • Use waterproof sunscreen

A water-based cleanser will not be able to properly tackle the oil from either of those three sources, whereas an oil-based pre-cleanser would. The oils in this cleanser attract the oil-based contaminants in your skin, almost like a magnet. When you then wash the cleanser away, all of these oil-based impurities are also removed along with it.


As you have probably guessed from the name, pre-serums are designed to be used before a serum.

Wondering what the difference between a pre-serum and a serum is?

They may look similar, but a serum is packed with a high concentration of active ingredients that are designed to target specific skin issues. On the other hand, a pre-serum contains ingredients that will support the function of those in a serum, therefore boosting the effects of a serum.

They also provide your skin with moisture and hydration, meaning that the serum you then apply will be absorbed by your skin much quicker and easier.

Do you really need one?

This depends…

If you have a skin issue that is particularly bothering you, and you are using a serum that is formulated to target that issue, then a pre-serum could definitely help you to see results much faster.


When using a face mask, the last thing you want is for your skin to contain any impurities.


Because this blocks the active ingredients in your face mask from properly penetrating into your skin. It can also mean that the impurities are pushed deeper into your skin by the mask, where they will then cause so much damage.

What does this have to do with pre-masks?

Well, a pre-mask has a few different functions:

  • To remove any impurities that remain on the skin 
  • To boost the way in which your face mask’s active ingredients work
  • To help your face mask glide on much smoother, and also be removed much more easily
  • To moisturize the skin so that it can better absorb the mask’s ingredients

Wondering if you actually need to use one?

A pre-mask isn’t essential, but it can definitely make a difference. Since you likely only use a face mask once or twice a week, using a pre-mask first to boost the effects of your face mask isn’t too much more effort, and can really bring about huge improvements in your skin. 


Pre-peels usually come in the form of a solution, similar to a toner, and are designed to be used before a chemical peel.

What is a chemical peel?

A treatment that makes use a chemical solution that is applied onto the face to remove dead skin cells, while triggering the skin to produce new ones. Essentially, a peel is just like a more intense form of exfoliation.

So, what does a pre-peel do?

It usually lowers the pH level of your skin, while also cleansing and disinfecting it.

Why does your skin’s pH level need to be lowered before a peel?

Because chemical peels are acidic. If your skin’s pH level is too high when you apply a peel, it will only end up neutralizing the acids, meaning that you will not receive their full benefits. By lowering your skin’s pH level, the acids in your peel will be able to work to their full potential.

How long do you need to wait after applying a pre-peel?

This depends on the product that you choose. It can range from anywhere between 2 minutes to 30 minutes, so make sure that you read the product instructions first.

Is a pre-peel worth it?

Yes. A chemical peel can have so many benefits for your skin, but can’t be done too often, so you might as well make the most of each and every peel you have done.

Pre-Tan Primers and Exfoliators

Trying to get a tan?

Hopefully, you are already aware of all of the damage that the sun can cause to your skin, and are going to tan as safely as possible. 

Tanning safely includes the following:

  • Wearing a sunscreenthere is no sunscreen out there that can provide 100% protection from the sun, so even if you wear a sunscreen, you can still tan
  • Taking regular breaks from the sun this gives your skin and body some time to recover
  • Moving into the shade once your skin has reached its melanin cut-off point – there is only so much melanin, which is the pigment that gives you your tan, that your skin can produce
  • Cleansing and exfoliating your skin a couple of days before you want to tan – this gives your skin some time to recover before being subjected to UV rays

The last point on that list is what a pre-tan primer and exfoliator will cover…

A pre-tan primer and exfoliator will help to remove any dry or dead skin cells, ensuring that the tan you receive is smooth and even.

However, since both of these products will remove the outermost layer of your skin, this leaves your skin extremely vulnerable, making it important that you give it a couple of days to recover before lying out in the sun.

Do you really need these pre-tan products?

Truthfully, not really. Just about any cleanser or exfoliator will have the same effect.

The one benefit to pre-tan products is that some of them will contain added ingredients that will help your skin to fight against UV damage, such as green tea extract and lycopene. However, not every pre-tan product will have these, so you are better off just using these ingredients in other parts of your skin care routine.


Unlike the products mentioned above, a pre-moisturizer is nothing new…

This is simply another name for a serum

A pre-moisturizer, just like a serum, is designed to be applied to your skin before a moisturizer

Thanks to its lightweight consistency, a serum will quickly soak in to your skin, putting their active ingredients to work in no time at all. On the other hand, moisturizers tend to sit on the surface of the skin. While they do still have huge benefits, they do not penetrate quite as deeply as serums.

Wondering why a serum needs to be applied before, instead of after, a moisturizer?

Well, when it comes to layering your skin care products, you should always try to apply the thinnest one first. With a moisturizer being quite thick, this should be the final step in your skin care routine, followed up only by either a sunscreen or a facial oil.

A moisturizer will form a protective layer over the surface of your skin, ensuring that all of the ingredients you have just applied in your serum have nowhere else to go but down into your skin.


A pre-foundation is simply another word for a primer.

They are designed to be applied before any other makeup product.

What do they do?

They are actually quite helpful in a few different ways:

  • Creates a smooth base by removing any imperfections and filling in any gaps caused by large pores or fine lines, meaning that makeup can easily glide on to your skin
  • Can mattify oily areas by soaking up excess sebum, preventing shine and meaning that you will not have to re-apply your makeup quite as much
  • Will ensure that your makeup lasts longer
  • Gives your skin an extra dose of moisture and hydration 

If you have never used a primer before…

This is a product that is definitely worth a try, especially if you often wear makeup. You will likely notice the difference after the very first time you use it, not only when it comes to the staying power of your makeup but also the overall health of your skin.

Thanks to all of the new research constantly being done, new skin care products are continually being released on to the market. While the overwhelming amount of choice can seem confusing at times, many of these products are actually extremely beneficial, and can make a huge difference to both the health and appearance of your skin.

If you are ever unsure about certain skin care products or ingredient, it always helps to do a bit of research beforehand, so that you can really be sure about what you are applying onto your skin. If something sounds appealing after your research, give it a go, so long as you first make sure that it has been formulated for your skin type.


By Lionesse

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